It’s amazing what a little will do

I’m a long distance runner and I recently developed something called plantar fasciitis on one of my feet. If not familiar, basically it’s where the tissue on your heel becomes inflamed. I rested it without running for weeks with minimal change. Anxious to get back to running. I did some research and learned resting it alone was usually not sufficient. But two small strategies a couple times a day made a huge difference for people. One was a stretch done for a few minutes a couple times a day and the other was rolling my foot on this spikey ball for about minute 2 x day. What a difference this made! Just being disciplined enough to do these two strategies helped me see such massive  improvement. I’ve gotten back to running long runs again, no need to rest it, and it continues to improve even though I’m a lot more active on it! Experiencing this change, makes me feel the same concept could be applied to other less observable areas of my life as well. Changes that require just minutes a day, but over time improve life tremendously.

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Being content

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When I run I tend to listen to the radio. Even if have a playlist with thousands of songs, having something a bit unfamiliar in the mix feels way better on the mind and more mentally stimulating. I don’t have as much control over what I hear, but I also don’t need the perfect song as long as I’m feeling fairly content. Moreover, if I’m in a restless mood, music I don’t like is a lot more dissatisfying. How I feel inside shapes the lens of how satisfied I am with what’s going on around me. I think the same is also true in our lives in general. For better or worse, what we are experiencing is always being interpreted and framed based on how we are feeling inside. Sometimes lack of contentment may be causing us to make mountains out of what we would otherwise view as mole hills. We may also sometimes be reducing to mole hills things with the right peace of mind, we would have otherwise viewed as mountains.

Depression

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In the book “The Power of Habit” author Charles Duhigg mentions old habits don’t actually get replaced in the brain when we trade them in for new ones. Both remain in our minds. We may strengthen the new but the old habits don’t simply just disappear. I feel this is true not only for action habits but thought habits as well. When I was in my early 20s, I went through a period of depression and suicidal thoughts I couldn’t lift. At the time I was under the impression time heals all wounds and I’d eventually chalk it up to just a small period of unhappiness in my life anyway, so I didn’t seek help. As a result I wasn’t getting the support I needed to heal from it properly. Just like a broken bone not set right, time may heal but without proper support, it won’t be restored to proper function. Several years into it fortunately I did seek counseling and was put on medication. One of the best decisions I ever made for myself.

I’ve never actually felt quite in as dark of a spot again, however, every time certain and significant enough stressors occur, those suicidal thoughts come back.  Just like a bruise, you don’t normally feel it but when the right pressure comes about, the hurt comes back. Knowing the thoughts are likely to come back with high stressors (even when I feel in a better place) makes me really protective of myself though. I have rules I know are important to keep myself safe like not living with someone that keeps unlocked guns in the house. It might sound stupid to most people who think they know me, but my brain instinctively knows that rule is important to keeping me safe. Recently when taking classes to become a counselor, I learned that among the most important things to know when screening if someone will carry out a suicide soon is #1 if they have a plan and #2 do they have the means of carrying it out. My mind knew some of that without knowing those facts.

If you feel really depressed or suicidal, although very helpful if you have a strong support network, even then it may be really hard for people in your life to understand the way you feel (because people can’t see emotions to know how bad it is). But don’t let that stop you from doing what you need to get in a safer spot (which may include counseling). Even if you know your not going to act on a suicidal thought, don’t allow those dark thought habits to get deeply set in your mind. Life is hard so don’t make it easy for those thoughts to come back when your going through another hard time. When I travel I tend to pack at the last minute and explain to people I mentally already know what I’m bringing, so I’m actually three quarters of the way packed. Don’t neglect your mental wounds so you’re already three quarters of the way packed. Seek out the proper help you need. 💗

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but…

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Lessening Anxiety

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I recently heard some advice for managing anxiety that’s been helping me a ton. A psychologist podcaster mentioned recently our brains are a lot more elastic than once thought…when we do something new and uncomfortable, we sometimes feel it’s just not for us, but actually the more we do it the new way, the more it reinforces pathways in our brain, and if done enough times it becomes a part of who we are. This could apply to anything from playing the violin to talking to more people at the office. Sure some tendencies may be innate, but it’s also become clear our behavior changes our brain, not just our brain influences behavior. Brain connections are kind of like roads. A new behavior might be like a small trail with hedges at first, but with time and enough reinforcement, it can become a paved road, and who knows a freeway.

I have anxiety when I go out to meet people and will typically have a drink to ease it. But after hearing this, I considered the drink might be kind of just serving as a crutch. Without it, my brain would probably actually just work through those uneasy feelings and I would actually become better at handling the anxiety without needing the drink.

So I started ordering water or ice tea instead the last few weeks. When tempted to order alcohol, I just reminded myself that more I go without the drink, the better I’ll become at managing the anxiety without the drink. And it’s working. It wasn’t even as hard as I thought and I haven’t had as much extra anxiety as I thought. With enough times I likely won’t even want the drink simply because that’s just not how I usually do things.

Ps. If interested, the psychologist talking about this was Ellen Hendriksen…she has book on easing social anxiety called “How to Be Yourself”.

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The Narcissist

I have someone in my life I think is one. I think it’s important to set healthy boundaries with them, but I also feel it’s really healing to recognize they miss out on the most enjoyable aspects of life as well. That doesn’t excuse their behavior, but I do think it helps those of us hurt in their wake to understand their selfishness doesn’t serve them. Let me explain.

Some common traits of narcissists include:

Nothing can be their fault.
They ask very few questions and rely heavily on their assumptions.
They feel entitled to control things that aren’t theirs to control.
And they think they can’t change.

Taking a closer look at these…

If you can’t recognize anything is your fault, you can’t experience forgiveness and grace. Sure people can forgive others without them knowing, but you’d have to admit wrong before you’d actually be able to experience their forgiveness for yourself. And forgiveness/grace is one of the most healing and connecting emotions we can experience.

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If you ask few questions and rely heavily on your assumptions,  you can’t actually be close to anyone, and close relationships strongly affect health and happiness. To hear someone’s suffering, to feel their struggles, is key to knowing someone and a requirement to being close to them. When all you see is what you want to see in people, and can’t genuinely feel for them, not only are you not a support to that person, you can’t be close to them at all.

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If you feel entitled to control things that aren’t yours to control, not only do you cause others to resent your presence, you cause yourself way more distress and disappointment. Trying to dictate how things go in areas that are none your business doesn’t only make you overbearing and difficult to others, but it catches you up in drama you wouldn’t have if you would just relinquish control. On the contrary, if you respect others decisions to make their own choices, you actually might be asked for advice and have more influence. At a minimum letting go of that which isn’t yours to control will make your life calmer and less full of drama.

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And lastly, if you think you can’t change, you minimize your happiness because growth is important for happiness. To feel like your contributing, learning, advancing, is important for happiness. People who think they can’t change tend to remain stuck. Stuck in patterns that they may feel serve them the best but don’t allow them to know better things. It’s difficult for any of us to change, but if you stay stagnant, unfortunately you miss out on all the joy growth brings.

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So if you know a narcissist, I say try not to waste anger on their selfish behavior, they’re missing out on some of the most beautiful things in life.

Significance

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I love the below clip from the film 13 Reasons Why 2. It doesn’t actually represent the vibe of show very well but a couple really cool concepts are brought up in this clip. Towards the start, it’s brought up we’re just people among billions of others, living briefly, on a planet that is the size of a speck of dust compared to the galaxy, in one galaxy among tons of others in the universe. Given that, it’s easy to feel like we’re so small, nothing we do actually matters. Why worry about anything? We seem so insignificant. It’s a very helpful perspective to remember however, when needing to lift some weight off your shoulders when consumed with worry.
Another idea (towards the end) conveys the opposite perspective about significance though, and is just as true. Small actions we do in our lives can sometimes have a huge influence on other people. Even small changes can impact others and can domino into other changes that result in huge effects. In that light, just being here can be powerful in a lot of ways. When struggling with purpose and not sure about what to do in life, I find that’s helpful to lean on.
The first concept (we’re so small in contrast to the rest of the universe) can make us feel totally insignificant, and the other concept (even small changes can create a huge influence) can make us feel extremely significant. I think both thoughts serve some truth though, and can be helpful depending on the situation.

 

Stuck

I’m an anxious person so I’ve often thought I’m doing myself a favor by minimizing the stress in my life. My job can be challenging. When I do have a calm day though, strangely it ends up making me feel more anxious, bored, unhappy. And ironically when an emergency project arises where I end up being a huge help, it often ends up being the best thing that happened to me that day. My experience leads me to believe some stress is good, particularly when it relates to meaningful tasks. But I’m still having the darndest time not striving to make my day as calm as possible. Even though I know it doesn’t work, the logical side of my brain isn’t listening! Lol

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