The Value in Being Present

Mindfulness. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, I’m sure you’ve seen that word around somewhere. You may have heard people rant and rave about how they meditate or the benefits they’ve received from being mindful, but what does that even mean and how does one do it? Until fairly recently, I was someone who didn’t quite understand the hype behind meditation. I wanted to be someone who was committed to the practice, and I wanted to have that peace that everyone said mediation gives, but every time I tried to mediate, I felt anything but peace. Instead I felt restless and my mind would wander, and then I’d get frustrated with myself for my lack of focus.

Not coincidentally, I was also a person who struggled with prayer. For me, prayer was very formulaic. There was no power behind my prayers. No belief infusing them. I only did it because I felt that I had to do it, as a way to give back to God. The act of praying was so strenuous because I couldn’t focus that I seldom did it, which caused a great deal of guilt within me.

Looking back knowing what I know now I wonder, why did I ever think I had to pray? I really thought I was doing God, the God of the entire universe, a favor? That he would be upset if I didn’t pray? That I would be punished for my lack of commitment?

It’s a bit amusing now, but it wasn’t funny at the time. I was extremely frustrated to say the least. I wanted to pray. I wanted a deeper connection, I wanted to be happy and anxiety-free, but the harder I tried, the further out of my reach these things seemed to be.

When you think of the word God, what comes to your mind?

I hate to admit it, but I used to imagine God how he is often stereotypically portrayed; an old man with a long beard dressed in all white, living in the clouds, watching me with pen in hand, making note of my every move… the often confusing thing about that image though was that this man was somehow also my father? To be honest, I didn’t always get that fatherly vibe when thinking of God, but if I had to, I would’ve likened him to a father that has good intentions and cares for his children, but he isn’t easy to get close to. I knew God was my father and I was grateful for him. I knew that he was the one providing for all my needs- but I was always hesitant to ask him for anything else. Not that I didn’t think he was capable of providing, it was more of — did he actually want to? I didn’t get the sense that he did.

Needless to say, prayer wasn’t enjoyable and it didn’t bring me the peace I knew that it should. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the image I created of God was exactly what was blocking any sort of channel I had for hearing his voice or gaining His peace ‘that surpasses understanding’. I was failing to see God as the ultimate source of power and love in the universe, and even more so as my ultimate and unlimited source of power and love. My prayer time wasn’t a two-way conversation with God as it should’ve been. In fact, it wasn’t a conversation at all. A conversation consists of at least two people communicating, meaning both are giving and receiving information. When I did manage to pray I was giving God plenty of information, but I rarely ever quieted my mind enough to receive insight and wisdom back from him.

Another thing I carried that hindered my progress within my spiritual journey and connection to God was the false belief that I couldn’t believe in God and meditate or become spiritually enlightened. I truly believed that these things were sinful. Sometime in my life I picked up the notion from society, church, and people around me that suffering was necessary in order to be close to God. At times happiness seemed sinful or selfish to me. So meditation as a means to peace and enlightenment wasn’t a possibility for me because I didn’t want to have to give up my belief in God. It’s quite ridiculous I know, but unfortunately sometimes the church and other believers make people feel that they must choose God or happiness, they can’t have both.

Little did I know that prayer in itself is actually a form of meditation. Meditation consists of quieting the mind in order to release negativity and receive guidance. This guidance comes from the universe or God, whatever you prefer to call it. Since prayer is simply the act of conversing with God, prayer and meditation go hand in hand.

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A lot of people’s trouble with connecting to God comes from being too attached to the term ‘God’. We think of that old man high in the clouds, who is doing nothing but watching our every move and condemning us for our mistakes that I described earlier. When we think of God in this way, we make him out to be more of a superior human, rather than a God. This then leads to thinking God is subject to feeling anything but love toward us, but that isn’t possible because God is the epitome of love. God isn’t something that we can even create an image of. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and his ways are higher than our ways. Why should we, mere humans, be able to understand everything about God? As preacher and author Francis Chan stated,

“Not being able to fully understand God is frustrating, but it is ridiculous for us to think we have the right to limit God to something we are capable of comprehending. What a stunted, insignificant God that would be!”

-Francis Chan, Crazy Love

Just like with God, we often create a false image of love. We tend to only think of love as the romantic love between two partners, the one that can easily turn to hate over time. In actuality that isn’t love at all. That feeling is subject to change, and true love cannot change because God cannot change. True love is God in action. It is something we most certainly can have, however, we must choose love, rather than wait around to feel it. When we choose love, we are choosing to see God in that situation, person, or event. We choose to respond to all situations, pleasant or not, with love.

So many of us are frustrated and struggle with prayer and meditation because we create these false images of God. Thinking of God in any other way except as an all-knowing, all-powerful force of love sets us up for failure. We cannot connect with God if we do not know and recognize him completely.

We also struggle with prayer and meditation when we do it as a means to try and get something that we want, rather than doing it as a way to commune with God and receive his love. Whenever we try to control situations and manipulate outcomes, we are only getting in the way of the natural flow of the universe, which always brings out the best outcomes on its own. When we try to take over, we sabotage everything. We end up blocking miracles that would otherwise occur on their own.

Look at a flower. Do you see it TRYING to grow, TRYING to bloom? Of course not. It just does. It knows it’s intention, which is to grow and bloom, but it doesn’t worry about getting there. The same goes for a tree, or any other plant or creation of God’s. The clouds in the sky don’t try to rain. The sun doesn’t try to shine. We let those things function just as they are and we think nothing of it. It sounds silly thinking of those things trying to do what they are made to do. Plants, animals, and the natural elements don’t worry about meeting deadlines or avoiding storms. They just live out their purpose. So why can’t we trust our bodies and lives to do the same? Meaning, instead of trying to force things to happen in our lives, why don’t we just set an intention, and trust it to come to pass? If we do this, then we will no longer feel the need to set time frames because we know we will bloom at the exact right moment, or as the bible says, “In God’s timing”.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life

-Matthew 6:26-34, New International Version (NIV)

The same God that created plants, animals, the earth, the sun, the entire universe, the God that gives them life and being, created you and me, and is living within us, giving us being, this very moment.

So if we all have this power within us, why do so few of us in this world know it and access it daily?

It all boils down to the fact that the majority of us live under control of the mind. When the mind controls us, we will not live a life led by the holy spirit. Another term often used for the mind is ego. The ego is very strong, as it usually lives years and years without being discovered, if ever. The ego gets its strength from feeling special by singling itself out in some way. It lives for attention from us. So whatever form that attention we give comes through, the ego will take it; whether it be depression, self-pity, anxiety, doubtful thinking, pride, drama, fights, feeling superior or inferior to others, the list could go on and on. The point is, the ego feeds itself and gets its strength through our suffering.

The ego is constantly talking to us as we go about our day through analyzing, predicting, judging, fighting, dreading, and comparing. The disconnect from God happens when we believe that we are our ego, which is our thoughts and the feelings produced by them. We believe there is no “me” if our ego is gone.  If our egos die, if our thoughts die, then who would we be? Who is left?

The ego obviously doesn’t want to die, so it fights to keep the cycle going by continuously sending negative thoughts. The incessant chattering away of the ego blocks your communion with God and keeps you trapped in an unhappy, stress-filled life. The ego tries to get you to believe that without it you cannot survive. It makes you believe that it can figure things out for you and protect you through all of its worrying, dreading, and trying to make things happen. It makes you believe your negative thinking isn’t wrong, it’s necessary. But in reality, the only thing it really does is block you from God, because you cannot have the fullness of God, love, joy and peace in the same place where fear, doubt, anger, hatred, and despair reside. Until you are willing to let go of the negative thoughts and emotions, which can only be done by killing the ego, you will not experience enlightenment.

So how do you kill the ego? You kill the ego by observing it, because when you observe it you begin to realize it is not you. When you no longer identify with the ego, you gain the ability to instantly recognize the thoughts it sends as lies, and then you can easily refute those thoughts. When you do this habitually, the ego begins to die. This is what is referred to in the bible as “dying to self”; but contrary to what many believe it’s just the ego that dies, not the true ‘you’.

 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

-John 5:24, New International Version (NIV)

So you might be wondering, what does meditation and being present in the now have to do with all of this?

Every negative thought or feeling we have stems from not being present in the current moment. These negative thoughts are either caused by too much past, which leads to depression, or too much future, which leads to anxiety. Meditation allows you to remove your mind from time, and puts you into the present moment, the now. This is so important, because as Eckhart Tolle says in The Power of Now,

“Nothing has happened in the past; it happened in the Now. Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now.”

The Now is all that exists. If you aren’t living in the present, you are living a false reality. Living this way is a guaranteed way to lead a miserable life.

Another great point Eckhart Tolle makes in The Power of Now is when he asks,

“What problem do you have at this moment? Not in an hour or tomorrow, but what problem do you have now?”

Ask yourself that. Can you think of one right this very moment?

The ego is always telling us that we have a problem, that we have something to worry about. It may even try to convince us that our worrying is just planning ahead, but that is a lie. You can plan ahead without living there, meaning not worrying about the outcome. Every so-called problem is always future-based, and is tainted by the lenses and experiences of the past. Simply put, it isn’t real! What can worrying possibly do to change or prevent something that isn’t even real? If you live to see tomorrow, tomorrow will no longer be tomorrow, it will be ‘now’. As of right now, tomorrow isn’t real yet. If you find yourself worrying about tomorrow, ask yourself if there is anything you can do now, and if so, do it, but if you cannot do something until tomorrow, which doesn’t exist yet, why worry? Nothing can be done if it can’t be done now, so your worrying about any point in the future is always in vain.

So honestly ask yourself, “What problem do I have right now?” That question alone puts you into the now. It makes you present. It usually shows you that you really don’t have a problem. All we ever have is right now. When you stop fighting what is happening now, meaning you accept your current situation just as it is with no resistance, you will live in a continual state of peace.

This isn’t to say that we don’t ever change or strive to grow into a better person, or that we stop setting goals. Quite the opposite. Once we get rid of the ego, we then have space to hear from God exactly what needs to be done for change or growth. We gain the ability to clearly hear God’s ‘still, small voice’ that directs us on the right path for your life.

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If you are anything like I was, you may be thinking, “This all sounds great, but it’s easier said than done. How do you actually apply this? How do you stop the constant thoughts the ego sends? I’ve tried to stop but it keeps coming back. What am I doing wrong?”

Well first of all, let me say that the moment you realize you aren’t being mindful, or that you are thinking negative thoughts and shouldn’t be, that in itself is being mindful! However, it is very easy to start condemning yourself for not doing better right after this realization, and if you do this then you will quickly stop being present. Eckhart Tolle says that kind of scenario (judging yourself for not being mindful enough) is actually the ego sneaking in through the back door. So the moment you catch yourself letting your mind wander or thinking negatively, just observe the thoughts that come. Don’t judge them, or get frustrated with yourself for having them, because that only keeps the cycle of the ego going. Just listen to them, let them be. If you are feeling negative emotions, like anger or sadness, allow yourself to feel them fully. Don’t deny the feelings, don’t push them away. Witness them, forgive yourself and love yourself through them. You will then see that you are not your thoughts, because how can you be your thoughts and observe them at the same time?

When this shift of thinking occurs, you experience a radical transformation within. You will likely still have negative thoughts come to you for a period of time because complete transformation typically doesn’t happen instantaneously. The difference is that now you have the knowledge of knowing you aren’t your thoughts. You can easily bring yourself back into this awareness, and thus, back into peace.

“Don’t look for peace. Don’t look for any other state than the one you are in now; otherwise, you will set up inner conflict and unconscious resistance. Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace becomes transmuted into peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there, will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender.”

-Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

From then on, you can go to this place of presence and stillness, and if negative thoughts come, you can observe them, remind yourself that they are not truth, and watch them float away as quickly as they came.

You can find stillness and meditation anywhere, but in the beginning of your practice it may be easier for you to go to a quiet place in your home or any other place where you can easily minimize distractions. Going for a walk or sitting still in nature is also a wonderful way to be mindful. Nature can help you practice mindfulness because it allows you to observe how other life forms go about their lives still and unworried, yet strong and resilient, regardless of their outside circumstances. We can learn so much from nature if we just take the time to watch and listen.

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If I cannot get outside, I personally like to go to my bedroom, turn down the lights, light a candle or diffuse some essential oils, sit on my yoga mat and meditate. Bubble baths or bath bombs with candles lit are also another one of my favorite ways to meditate. Meditations can be guided (there’s tons of free guided meditations on YouTube!) or unguided. If you are going for an unguided meditation, you can just sit in silence and focus on your breath, or observe any thoughts that come and then practice releasing them. When you begin witnessing the ego’s thoughts it will leave because once recognized, the ego has no emotions to feed off of. Once the ego leaves, you will then reach a state of no-mind, or just simply ‘being’. It is an incredibly aware, present and peaceful state, almost indescribable, but when you reach it you just know. All I can say is that in order to truly understand what I am talking about you must try it for yourself.

I know that those who want to get started with meditation may be hesitant at first — I certainly was. I am still at the beginning of my journey but I have finally come to a place where I enjoy it and am reaping the mind, body, and soul benefits from it. If you want to know more, I highly recommend any books or teachings by Gabby Bernstein, Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Williamson, or Deepak Chopra. If you have experience or tips you’d like to share, or if you have any book recommendations on spiritual growth, please let me know! I hope you all have a wonderful week! 🙂

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Embracing Uncertainty

Hey there 🙂 It’s been a long time since my last post, and that is because I was student teaching and finishing my final semester of college. It was one of the most challenging yet rewarding things I have ever done, and I cannot believe it’s already over. On the other hand, I have really missed blogging and am so glad that I now have more time to focus on writing!

It feels amazing to be done with school, but with the excitement of graduating, also comes the unsettling feeling of having no idea what I’ll be doing in this next season of life. For the past several years, I’ve always had the comfort of knowing that at the end of a semester comes another one. And while at times I desperately wanted to be done with school and move on with life, college did provide a sense of stability and security. Now that it is finally over, the possibilities of what I could do are endless, which is thrilling, but at the same time it also leaves me with the anxiety-provoking question: Which path should I take?

Have you ever been here before? You beg for change, you’re tired of the same-old routine, you want something new and exciting, and then change finally comes. Only now that it’s in your face, it’s kinda terrifying. You may find yourself asking questions like, “What should I do next? What job should I take? Should I make that big move? What if I make the wrong choice? How do I know this is right for me?” Questions like these have been consuming my mind lately. It’s easy to daydream about how wonderful a big change in life would be, but when it arrives and it’s time to start making some life-altering decisions, it can be very easy to fall into the trap of fear and self-doubt.

Fortunately, now that I have some extra time on my hands, I’ve been able to sort of press pause and reflect. What I’ve come to the realize is that although I don’t have a set plan, yet, I do know what I want and where I want to be within the next few years, and that’s a all I need right now. After having given my life to Christ almost six years ago, I’ve learned that he is always faithful. He has never once not come through. He may not have always come through right when or how I thought he should, but he came through nevertheless. Ultimately, his way is always better than mine. So in this season of uncertainty, I am choosing to trust. I am choosing to trust that he has given me certain dreams for a reason, that he has a plan for me, and that he will make a way even when there seems to be none.

I have learned that living one day at a time, sometimes even one hour at a time, is necessary for a healthy mind. So now whenever I start to feel fear creeping into my mind, I stop and ask myself: Why should I worry? It won’t accomplish anything! When I worry, all I am doing is trying, yet failing, to answer questions that I cannot possibly answer yet. I’m great at creating all these scenarios in my head, but who’s to say that the pictures I form in my mind are the way things are actually going to turn out? This isn’t to say I don’t have goals, or that I sit on my couch just waiting for things to happen to me. It just means that I am no longer going to get too far ahead of myself or caught up in the details anymore. I know that if I submit my plans to God, and continuously choose faith in his promises over worrying and trying to make everything happen all by myself, he will be faithful to provide me with a much greater outcome than I could ever create myself.

One of the most valuable things I’ve ever learned is that God does not tell us our whole life plan ahead of time for two reasons. The first of these is because he doesn’t want to overwhelm us. If we knew everything that was going to be required of us in this life, it would see impossible since we haven’t had the time nor the experiences to prepare us for those things yet. The second reason he doesn’t show us the way ahead of time is because if he did, what would be the purpose of faith? Faith is believing in things not yet seen, so if we knew how every detail in our lives was going to turn out, our faith would be useless because we would put our trust in the outcome, rather than in the God who makes the outcome.

So if you are entering a season of uncertainty, just know that it is a normal part of the process in this thing called life. It doesn’t mean you won’t find your way. You may feel weak now, but on the contrary, this uncertainty is the very thing that is strengthening your faith. I have no idea what all the upcoming year has in store for me, but I am releasing my worry and control to the one who already has it all figured out.

 

 

 

P.s. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season! And if you would like, feel free to share this post with others! I plan to be writing much more frequently now so keep checking for new posts! 🙂

 

Healing is a Process

Living with an anxiety disorder is challenging on the easier days and downright terrifying on the more difficult days.

Unfortunately, I know this from firsthand experience. Until recently, I lived with an anxiety disorder that manifested itself with intense physical sensations. I experienced all sorts of scary feelings in my body; panic attacks, upset stomach, shaking, derealization, headaches, weakness, dry mouth, hot flashes and dizziness were just some of the many things I would feel on a day-to-day basis.

These feelings typically came about when I was out in public, like being in a big crowd, or somewhere that it wasn’t easy to escape without being noticed (sitting in class, eating in a restaurant) or in places with a lot of stimulation going on. Loud noises and bright lights really bothered me. There was even a time period where I could not bear to go into grocery stores because of the loud noises and fluorescent lighting. I know it sounds crazy, but it was that bad. It came on fast and intense, and left me feeling terrified to leave the house for fear of what might happen.

Many times I backed out of doing things because I believed I physically couldn’t. I thought surely I was going to faint, throw up, go crazy or die. My body felt weak all the time. Anxiety made me depressed. I isolated myself and so I lost a lot of friends and missed out on many of the typical college experiences because my anxiety always arose while I was out. The craziest part was that all of these symptoms seemed to appear out of nowhere.

I used to have lots of friends, I went out to parties and drank frequently, and never had any issues feeling this way. I would’ve thought someone who couldn’t handle sitting in class or at a restaurant for two hours was a crazy person. So when this became my life so suddenly, I was sure something was wrong. I thought I was really sick. It couldn’t just all be ‘in my mind’.

I went to the doctor (even though that gave me extreme anxiety too) and was told that I was totally fine and healthy. Then I got really depressed because I didn’t feel ‘fine or healthy’ one bit. I wanted an immediate cure to my problem and I wasn’t getting one. I started to think, “So this is going to be my life? I’m going to be isolated from the rest of the world forever? I’ll never have fun or be happy again?” I started to believe that I would be doomed to a life of confinement in my house for all of eternity. I couldn’t understand why this was happening to me. It wasn’t fair. I was a prisoner in my own mind and I couldn’t escape.

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Looking back now, five years later from when it all began, I can see that it was never random. In all actuality, the anxiety disorder I developed should have been expected. The only thing that surprises me now is that it didn’t manifest itself sooner.

My entire life I may not have suffered from a panic disorder, but I always lived anxiously. I had social anxiety growing up, and I always cared way too much about what other people thought about me… I obsessively worried about family, friends, money, school, boys, fitting in, you name it, I worried about it! I listened to negativity and drama from those around me and let it affect me, and I spoke negatively about myself and others. I did nothing to care for my mental health. I did not love myself, and I didn’t do anything I was passionate about. I didn’t have goals or dreams I believed I would accomplish. I didn’t feed myself healthy thoughts or practice self-care, ever. I always played the victim. It was always someone or something else’s fault that I didn’t have a better life. I had done nothing but feed my mind negative, self-sabotaging thoughts my entire life, so, it was no wonder I developed such intense anxiety at the age of 21!

What I didn’t know then that I do now is that your thoughts create your life. The thoughts you think have a DIRECT effect on your health. Your mind, body and soul are all connected and the well-being of one greatly impacts the well-being of the other two.

Think of it this way: Our mind is like a giant computer system and negative thoughts are like bad viruses that get in and infect it. One person says or does something that hurts you, or you listen to/partake in drama, negativity or gossip, then your mind processes it, internalizes it, and keeps it, like a file downloaded on your computer. We usually forget about the negative thought itself, but its’ effects are still there looming in our subconscious for years to come.

And the more we think negatively, gossip, or put ourselves down, the more used to negativity our mind becomes, and because our minds find so much comfort in familiarity, the cycle continues. Thus, the virus just keep getting bigger and bigger, you begin to internalize these thoughts as truth, and then when your mind becomes too full of them, they start to spread to other parts of your body.

Many times, your physical illnesses and pains are literally your mind crying out to you for help! It’s telling you something is not okay in here! The worried thoughts weren’t enough warning for you, so your mind has to get your attention another way. However, typically by the time you realize what’s going on, why your body is acting so strange, it’s too late. You can’t just stop it. You know it’s anxiety, you know it’s ‘all in your head’, but you can’t control the way your body feels. You’re in too deep.

This is what I would call rock bottom. The place where you feel you have no control over your life. You feel trapped in your own mind. In this place, you are always afraid. You never know how you are going to feel, or when the anxiety is going to arise. Life is draining, and it often feels hopeless. I know because I’ve been there.

But even though you can’t escape it, no matter how badly you want to or try to, there is some good news. You will get through it.

Believe me when I say I really believed I would never feel normal again. I begged and pleaded and cried to God to take it away, but he never did. I didn’t understand. I felt like he had abandoned me. I wasn’t hearing anything from him, no guidance toward a way out. I was angry with him for a long time.

As much as I wanted to, I knew couldn’t stay in the house forever; it just wasn’t an option for me. I had to force myself to do things like go back to school and work, otherwise I couldn’t survive. But after time and time again of forcing myself to go through class or work and sit through the anxiety, even though I was terrified, shaking, feeling like I was going to vomit, I couldn’t focus and my mind was screaming “Stop, leave, run, don’t go! Stay home where it’s safe!”, after sitting through all of those feelings countless times yet still surviving, I started to realize that anxiety couldn’t kill me. Then I began to see that it couldn’t really hurt me either. If I could just ride the feelings out, they would eventually dissipate. And after four years of feeling like I was going to faint or throw up or go crazy every time I was in a social situation, I began to figure that if it was ever going to happen, surely it would have by now, yet it never had. When I thought about it that way, that my worst fears literally never came to fruition not one single time, I began to call anxiety’s bluff.

Hitting rock bottom was actually a huge blessing in disguise. I had nowhere to go but up. My old life wasn’t coming back, so I had to recreate a whole new life, a whole new me. I was alone most of the time because I had isolated myself from people due to the anxiety. I had nothing else to do, so I started reading and found the love I had for it as a child again. I also studied anxiety and I learned all about it, which was very informative and helpful, but to be completely honest, nothing really changed until I began learning how to love myself and the power behind it. I quit trying to learn ways to stop the anxiety, and instead began retraining my mind toward positive thinking and self-love. Doing this was the catalyst that absolutely changed my life. Believing I am enough, that I can create my life and literally do anything I want to as long as I believe I can and put the effort in, has truly changed everything. It’s incredibly simple, yet incredibly powerful.

But as the title of this post suggests, this change did not happen overnight. It took time, and lots of it. It took hours of reading and self-reflection and forgiving myself. It wasn’t a linear progression, either. Some days I’d feel on top of the world, like I’d finally beaten my demons once and for all, and then something would happen and I’d have a few off days where I felt like I took 100 steps backward. But the key to my change was that I kept pushing forward despite the setbacks. I’m still working on it. I continuously have to replace negative thoughts that come to my mind every single day. I’ve learned that no matter how small or insignificant one negative thought may seem, I must replace it with love and truth so I don’t risk poisoning my mind again.

I will warn you: the anxiety will fight to stay. Our minds long for routine and familiarity, because it’s easy and comfortable. When you try to change your thinking, your mind won’t like it because it hasn’t been wired to think that way. My mind wasn’t used to love and positive thinking, so it felt forced and fake at first. But I kept doing it. I kept practicing it even when it felt phony. I spent time alone with myself, something I used to be afraid to do, and over time I began to enjoy it, then I began to need it. I started listening to inspirational podcasts. I found new people to look up to, people who lived lives similar to the one I wanted. I created a vision board. I started this blog and began writing a book. I began saying yes to things that got me out of my comfort zone. I started praising myself everyday and I’ve never felt better.

My anxiety doesn’t have much room to roam anymore. I’m too busy being productive to worry about most things. I am becoming so filled with love and light that there is nowhere for the negativity to stay. It tries to creep back in every now and then, the only difference is that now I see anxiety exactly for what it is, and therefore it can no longer control me. Anytime I sense anxiety within me now, I immediately capture it and throw it away.

I began to realize that this whole time my anxiety was just the result of my unhealthy mind trying to find some sort of outlet for the negativity. My body was only doing it to try and help me, so I forgave myself. Once I internalized this, I began the process of healing. It wasn’t quick. It wasn’t easy. It’s still ongoing, and I get the feeling that it will be for the rest of my life. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world now. Why? Because I am finally myself. It stripped me of absolutely everything I had, this false outer persona I used to put on for the rest of the world, and forced me to be more me than I have ever been before.

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So I want to ask you today, if God isn’t taking something away, could it be for a reason? Is he trying to teach you something? I know that for me personally, I always strayed away from God really easily until my anxiety started getting bad. Anxiety always helped me stay close to him because I knew I couldn’t make it through the day without his divine help. Because of anxiety, our relationship is so much deeper than it was before. I also know that I wouldn’t be doing the things I’m doing now and living a fulfilling life that I love if it weren’t for anxiety taking my old life away and leaving me to start a completely new one from scratch, which ended up being the one I’ve always wanted. And last but certainly not least, because I’ve come so far from where I once was when I began experiencing such bad anxiety, I know without a doubt that I am capable of just about anything! Right now I’m living a life and doing things that I didn’t think were possible just two to three years ago! It truly amazes me every time I think about it.

So if you are in a bad place today, I just want you to know healing is a process. It’s a journey. It’s terrifying at times and amazing at others. You’ll want to give up. But then you’ll do something you never thought you could and you won’t believe how far you’ve come. It takes time, but it is so incredibly worth it.

I challenge you today to start seeing your toughest battles as blessings in disguise. Ask yourself, what can I learn from this? How can I grow and be a better person because of this? If you need someone to talk to or help getting started on your healing journey, don’t hesitate to reach out. As always, please feel free to leave a comment or share this post if it resonated with you!

I leave you with some words of encouragement, and also my all-time favorite bible verse.

Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he did in fact was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its’ own in your weakness.” Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size — abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

-2 Corinthians 12:7 MSG

 

Social Anxiety: A Journey of Overcoming

I haven’t posted anything on my blog in awhile, not because I’ve given up or don’t want to, but because I’ve been dealing with quite a bit internally. It’s also not because I haven’t been writing, I have, for over a month actually, but I just wanted to be sure that I said everything I needed to say and I wanted to get it just right. For me, that usually takes some time.

To be completely honest, this post is not going to be an easy one. If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, then you will know I’ve battled with anxiety just about all of my life. However, in this post I’m only going to discuss one specific type of anxiety I’ve struggled with. This type of anxiety has been the one I’ve dealt with for the longest time, and it has been by far the most difficult to endure. If it isn’t already obvious based upon the title of this blog, the kind of anxiety I’m finally choosing to open up about my struggle with is social anxiety. In reality, it’s something I have never openly talked about with anyone. Literally everything within me is resistant to doing this, hence why it’s taken over a month to write this post, but I feel that if don’t, I’ll never be set free or capable of living a happy life. 

You see, while I realize that a lot of people don’t understand what it feels like to have generalized anxiety disorder, fortunately I believe that it’s finally starting to become more acceptable in our society. I don’t feel entirely alone in that area of struggle. But when it comes to social anxiety, I do feel completely alone. It’s not something I ever talk about with anyone, not even my parents, friends or boyfriend of five years. I went to therapy for months last year and could pour my heart out about my generalized anxiety, panic disorder and my relationship difficulties, but I could never muster up the courage to talk about the way I feel inside and the thoughts my mind has when I’m put in new or uncomfortable social situations. 

According to the Social Anxiety Institute, “Social Anxiety is the fear of interaction with other people that brings on self-consciousness, being negatively judged and evaluated, and, leads to avoidance.”

For me, social anxiety is that and so much more. It’s never volunteering an answer in class for fear of getting it wrong and looking stupid. It’s not wanting to admit things I haven’t done that I feel like everyone else has or that I feel like everyone loves to do. Social anxiety to me is avoiding going places where I might see an acquaintance because I don’t want to risk an awkward interaction. Social anxiety felt like getting asked the question I hated the most all throughout elementary and middle school: “Why don’t you ever talk?”, and not having an answer because I really didn’t know. It was dropping the same college course two semesters in a row on the morning it’s supposed to start because it was a discussion-based course and I heard that I would have to give a 10-minute presentation at the end of the semester, and the thought of doing that was just too unbearable at the time. It’s feeling totally alone in my mind and desperately wanting new friends, but whenever I do start making them and they want to hang out, I ignore them, or act disinterested or busy, because if they get to know the real me I’m sure they will stop liking me.

Writing about, let alone living that life, is exhausting! Not to mention, these are just a few of the many ways social anxiety has impacted my life. I don’t talk about it because I don’t like it. I’m embarrassed. I’m ashamed. I don’t want to be this way. I’ve always equated being shy with being weak, and I don’t want others to think I’m weak. 

I tried to hide my shyness with my external persona. I bought clothes I couldn’t afford, I never went anywhere without my hair and makeup done. I was very careful about what I posted on social media. I had friends that were loud, outgoing and popular even though I didn’t really connect with them. 

I did all this so my life would seem perfect to others. So just maybe they wouldn’t see how weak and alone and sad I really felt. But all these things were never enough. Inside I still knew who I really was. All the hiding and self-shaming did was isolate me even more.

Growing up I was so shy it makes me cringe to think about it. I literally wouldn’t talk to people I didn’t know. Anybody else besides family or friends I would freeze up around. The older I got the more I was able to talk to people, but the feelings inside of me were worse, because I was older and I knew better. I realized I wasn’t normal but I didn’t know how to change.

Since high school ended it’s been easier to forget who I was, or I guess I should say, who I am. I can avoid it much better now. I don’t have to see huge cliques going and doing things I’m not a part of. I don’t have to worry about who I’m going to sit with in class. I’m an adult. I make my own decisions now. I can come and go as I please from any place I’m at. I don’t have to ‘fit in’ somewhere anymore. 

But forgetting, or sweeping things under the rug, doesn’t work forever. It’s like putting a bandaid on your skin hoping to fix an internal wound. But no matter how many times you try to cover up the spot, a bandaid just isn’t enough to fix it. 

I’m still reminded that I’m not over it when I’m in public and I insist on using the self-scan checkout even though I have a whole cart full of groceries, just to avoid having to make small-talk with a cashier. Or when I decline invitations to things I know I should go to and actually want to go to, but I worry about others getting to know me too well. Or when I get stressed out at the thought of running simple errands like going to the bank or making a phone call, because I don’t want to talk to anyone. Or when I get extremely annoyed with people out in public who try to make small-talk with me because it makes me so uncomfortable. Or that I’ve been writing this blog post for over a month but I can’t seem to finish it because once I make it available to read, people will discover who I am. The thought of people knowing my biggest secret is absolutely terrifying to me because I feel crazy for  getting anxious when doing such simple things.

At these times, I realize that I am definitely not over it. It’s still there. It may be a bit smaller and harder to notice, and yes, unlike when I was a child, I can talk to people I don’t know now. I can fake it all very well, but internally it’s still there, always lingering in the back of my mind.

However, I’m an adult now. I’m tired of fighting this; I’m so tired of hiding. The shame I carry from hiding who I really am is just too great to bear any longer. I have dreams I want to achieve, and this disorder is holding me back. 

It’s funny, I used to be ashamed of being an introvert. I thought ‘normal people’ (whatever that means) were all extroverts. However, I didn’t realize there was a difference between social anxiety and being introverted. To my surprise, I recently learned that an introvert is simply a person who needs alone time in order to recharge after social interaction. While social interaction drains an introvert’s energy, it doesn’t necessarily make them anxious to be social. Upon understanding the difference between the two, now I fully embrace my introvert ways. I realize I will always need alone time to recharge, and that it’s okay if I don’t like partying all the time like many people my age do. It’s okay that I would rather read a book at home instead. I’m no longer ashamed that I’m not extroverted.

Nevertheless, I don’t want to hold back and not do what I love, or miss out on making new friends anymore because I’m anxious. That isn’t an introvert thing, that is simply social anxiety. While the two are often highly comorbid, you don’t have to have both. It was such a relief when I discovered I can still be an introvert, without having to suffer from the crippling effects of social anxiety. 

I’m sure by now I’ve made it clear that I don’t want to have social anxiety anymore. But simply wanting to be different isn’t enough to fix the issue. Over the years I’ve learned that in order to truly get rid of a problem you have to do some work. You must dig all the way down to the roots, were the problem began, where the negative beliefs came from. Only then can you find the place where the lies developed, and thus, get rid of them. 

As I said before, for as long as I can remember, I didn’t like myself and I never knew why. And because I felt this way, I hid who I really was out of fear of being rejected. I was a painfully shy child, who simply did not want to be noticed by anyone. I wanted to figure out just where these negative beliefs and feelings began. Thankfully, after a lot of soul-searching, I can all pinpoint it back to one moment in time. 

I was about three years old. I was being dropped off at my daycare by my father. I  remember that I never wanted to go. Not because it was a bad place, I was just very attached to my parents. All I wanted was to be at home with my mom and dad, and so every time I was dropped off I would cry for who knows how long. In my small three year-old mind, I never had the notion to think that my crying might bother anyone else. I didn’t cry because I was afraid of someone there. I didn’t cry because I wanted to get attention. I just didn’t want my mom and dad to leave me. 

So as I said, one day I was being dropped off at daycare by my dad. I could feel the lump in my throat forming, the tears about to come as he left the room. But then I heard something. It was a young woman talking. I don’t remember her face, her name, or even how long she had been my teacher, but when I arrived she was talking to another worker there. And that’s when it happened. A very defining moment that would alter the rest of my life. 

When she saw me, I vividly remember her saying something to the other girl along the lines of, “Oh great, she’s here. Just wait, she’s going to cry, she always does. She never shuts up. It’s so annoying.” And they both rolled their eyes and laughed.

Now, I am an adult. I realize she had no idea I could hear her. I’m sure she didn’t hate me. In fact, I’ve worked in a daycare myself, I’ve seen children come in that cry often, and would be lieing if I said I never felt a tad bit annoyed or frustrated when a child wouldn’t stop having a tantrum. But I was only three at the time. I heard it, and I took very personal offense. 

This moment is one of my earliest memories, and what I remember about it the most is how I felt inside. I felt hated. For the first time in my life I felt like someone didn’t like me. I felt annoying. I felt unlovable. And I felt like I bothered this girl. Not only that, I immediately assumed that if I bothered her so much, then I must bother everyone else around me. 

So what did I do in that moment? For the first time ever, I didn’t cry when my dad left! In my mind, the hurt caused from her words and the sadness from missing my parents was immediately replaced with anger. “I’ll show her,” I thought. “I won’t let her have the satisfaction of being right and seeing me cry ever again.”

So I didn’t cry. And guess what? I never cried again, at least not in public. I wouldn’t dare let someone see me being weak. I wouldn’t give someone the opportunity to talk about me badly ever again. But with this deep resolve, I paid a very heavy price. 

I never let anyone see me cry again, but this also caused me to shut down completely. I didn’t let anyone see me show any emotions at all. I became very closed off, my guard was completely up. I would still talk to family, and I had friends, thank God, but I was very selective. I did not trust strangers or teachers. If someone seemed at all aggressive or was a dominating person, I wouldn’t talk to them. Not because I didn’t want to, I physically couldn’t. Something deep in my subconscious shifted that day and impacted my life from then on. 

I’ve always wondered why out of all the childhood memories I have, that one is so vivid and sticks out so clearly in my mind. I didn’t realize it until much later, but that moment was what caused me to dislike myself so much, and it changed my life forever. I don’t blame the girl, she didn’t know what she was doing. I just learned that it shows how powerful our subconscious minds are, even at a very young age.

Another issue that’s hindered my life has been due to the fact that I didn’t learn how to properly take care of myself. While I was a perfectionist at taking care of myself on the outside; meaning my hair was always done, I never left the house without makeup on, I always had to wear the cutest, most expensive clothing, I did very little for my mind and soul. I was always thinking negatively about myself. I didn’t think I was capable of accomplishing anything great. I didn’t have goals or dreams I believed would come true. I believed I had no talents and gifts, and I thought I was too shy to be good at anything.

My self-esteem was pretty much non-existant. I had nobody building me up or telling me to think otherwise. I also didn’t allow myself to do the things I really took pleasure in because nobody cool did those things. Instead, I partied, did what my friends did, listened to their music and dressed like them because it made me feel accepted. 

Looking back, I never even liked the people or things I surrounded myself with, but at the time, fitting in was the most important thing to me. Not surprisingly, I was never happy. I tried to be happy. I tried to force and fake it. I searched long and hard for happiness in people and things, but I just couldn’t find it. I realize now that I had hidden and suppressed my real self for so long that even I had lost sight of who I really was. 

Finding out how all of these thoughts came about in my life was such an astounding revelation, and once I did, I knew I was on the path toward healing these wounds I’ve carried for so long. As I continued to uncover all of the reasons why my feelings of anxiety and low self-esteem had developed, I decided to begin doing some research on how to overcome these demons. 

In my quest for discovery, I happened to stumble upon a really eye-opening video called How to Overcome Shyness from The School of Life YouTube channel. It talks about how many of us who suffer with social anxiety and feeling shy innately believe that shyness is an unfixable trait, and that we are incapable of ever feeling more confident in social situations. Because we believe it’s not fixable, we obviously don’t try to fix it because it feels hopeless. Thus, we never change! 

Thankfully, researchers have discovered that anyone can overcome social anxiety. The key to breakthrough is simply changing your thoughts. You do this by consistently replacing detrimental thought patterns with more positive, uplifting, self-loving affirmations. The key word here is consistently. You can’t do it one time and expect any significant changes to happen.

I always wondered why with some people I can barely even chat about the weather without wanting to run away, but with others, I can talk effortlessly about all sorts of topics for hours on end without ever feeling anxious, or like I don’t know what to say. From the School of Life video, I discovered that shy people have a very distinct way of interpreting ‘strangers’. We aren’t shy around everyone. We just become anxious and tongue-tied around those we perceive to be drastically different from us. The problem with this is, one, our perceptions and first impressions are rarely ever 100% accurate, and two, we make our beliefs and judgements based upon very surface-level traits; such as age, class, race, gender, tastes, backgrounds, religions, etc., instead of actually getting to know the real person and finding some sort of common ground. We unfairly categorize people into these fixed little boxes and deem them either ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’ in our subconscious minds.

This video also explains that socially anxious people suffer so much due to having a personality trait called provincialism, which is “an over-attachment to the incidentals of one’s own life and experience that unfairly casts others into the role of daunting, unfathomable, and unknowable foreigners.” 

This means that when shy people have social contact with anyone that they perceive as being from a different ‘province’ because of some external difference, (whether it be age, race, class, gender, hobbies, etc.) the shy person subconsciously decides that there is absolutely nothing that can be said or done because the other person is so much different, so much greater, smarter, richer, prettier, (you fill in the blank), and they couldn’t possibly relate to each other because of that difference. 

You see, the mind of a shy person fixates on these differences and it seems impossible to get over feeling anxious because their is mind telling is them that person is dangerous due to being different. On the other hand, the mind of a person who isn’t socially anxious is still very well aware of the differences between themselves and others, they just refuse to believe that makes them unworthy or less than, and so, they aren’t afraid to interact with a diverse range of people. 

Shyness ultimately stems from a hyper-awareness of our own selves and our shortcomings, and believing that these shortcomings will bother other people. We who suffer from social anxiety have an outrageous belief that a stranger might be dissatisfied or discomforted by us. Shyness is feeling special or singled out, but in a negative way. We think everyone is going to notice us. And while our intentions are good and they sound very humble, meaning we truly don’t want the spotlight on us, this thinking has the exact opposite effect. These negative thoughts of, “Oh no, everyone’s going to notice me!” are, in fact, making it all about us. 

Shyness, in a sense, is actually a form of pride. We are too fearful of losing our dignity. We are afraid of doing simple things like asking for help, because we might be pitied or seen as ignorant by the other person. In an attempt to never look foolish, weak or strange, we build walls up so that others will think we have it all together. But the consequence of this isn’t what we want, which is to be seen as having it all together. Instead, it tends to make us seem rude or stuck-up, and obviously makes forming relationships with others very difficult.

I’ve got good news though. Nobody is really noticing you all that much. It’s hard to believe, I know. To convince my own mind of this, I ask myself questions such as, 

“When someone else gets an answer wrong in class, do I belittle them in my mind? 

Do I stare at people going to the bathroom and wonder what took them so long when they come back? 

Do I remember that so-and-so already wore that shirt last month? 

Do I get annoyed with a person who asks me for help?” 

No! 

Well guess what? They don’t think that way either. I hate to break it to you, but you aren’t that important. In all honesty, everyone is too worried about themselves to think about your mistakes, what you look like or what you are doing. 

I have decided that from here on out, I am going to start saying no to fear, and start saying yes to things that scare me,  especially in social situations. Will I face rejection every now and then? Probably. Will I feel anxious? Of course. Will it kill me? No! I just desperately want to be free and I have so many dreams I want to accomplish, and in order to do these things I must be myself. I have to step out of my comfort zone and do the very things that my mind tells me I’m not capable of doing. 

Sometimes it’s hard to admit because my whole life I’ve told myself it was selfish and arrogant, but deep down, I do love myself. Who am I to believe that there aren’t people out there who will like me just the way I am? And so what if people don’t like me? My biggest fear has always been being disliked, but while it’s true that since I’ve kept myself hidden I haven’t given anyone much reason to dislike me, I’ve also not given many people much reason to like me either. How ironic! I’m hoping that taking this step allows me to finally find ‘my people’, instead of settling for those who I don’t much care for, but still hang out with just so I won’t feel lonely. I know I will make mistakes, and I’m sure I will sometimes still give in to fear, but I refuse to settle, or stay stuck and stagnant any longer. 

If you’ve read this entire post, thank you so much. I don’t know how helpful it was, but it was something I had to bring to light in order to be set free, even if no one reads, relates or understands it. 

If you have social anxiety, I want you to know that I get it. It’s hard. It’s lonely, but you aren’t the only one. You are not weird. You are not unlovable. And you don’t have to be this way forever. This disorder can be  defeated. There’s no need to be ashamed of it anymore. Bring it to light, ask God to heal you of it, and ask him to use what you went through for His greater good. 

If you suffer from this, I ask you to look back throughout your life, find the moment where it all began. At what point in time did you start to believe the lies that you weren’t good enough? That you were less than? That you were unworthy of love? That you should be ashamed of yourself? Find out who or where those lies came from, and refuse to accept them any longer. Then, every time you start to have a negative thought about yourself, replace it with truth. Turn the negative thoughts into positive, uplifting ones. And absolutely no more shame and hiding who you are. God can’t heal what you won’t bring out into the light.

It takes time and effort, but the more you do it, the easier it will become. You see, the mind of someone with social anxiety and low self-esteem is so accustomed to negative thought patterns because they’ve been thinking this way for so long that negativity is their mind’s automatic response. But the more the mind is fed with positive, loving thoughts, the more accustomed it will become to positive thinking, and thus, the mind will begin to think positive thoughts with much greater ease. It’s by no means easy, but it is so incredibly worth it. 

With that being said, I leave you with one of my all-time favorite Bible verses.

“So be content with who you and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God, he is most careful with you.” 

1 Peter 5:6-7 The Message Version

This is my go-to verse when I’m about to do something really scary, especially socially-wise. God commands us to simply be ourselves and to get rid of the fake outer persona, by stripping down to our true, God-given self. When we do this, God will bless us beyond belief, and his grace will allow us to do the seemingly impossible  because it takes great courage and faith to do this. My advice is to trust God, stop worrying, and start being your true, authentic self. I promise when you do that, life will be so much better and you will finally be free. 

If you are struggling immensely in this area, please don’t hesitate to reach out,  it’s what I’m here for. 🙂 As always, please comment or share this post if it resonated with you!  

Also, if you would to like watch the video How to Overcome Shyness, I have inserted the link below. It was incredibly eye-opening and helped me tremendously! I definitely recommend watching it. 🙂 

How to Overcome Shyness

New Beginnings

To be honest, whenever I look in the mirror as of lately, I don’t particularly like what I see staring back at me. It’s not that I think I’m fat, but my body definitely isn’t the one I want. 

The body I want is one that is toned, strong, healthy and has a high endurance. The body I want is one I believe I’m more than capable of obtaining if only I cultivate traits like hard work, persistence, and most importantly, belief in myself. 

I don’t have that body right now. But instead of berating my body, crying in a bout of self-pity, or blaming bad genes, a lack of time, and just the sheer difficulty of exercise and healthy eating in general like I always used to do, I decided to look at the situation logically. What I realized was this: 

The only one to blame for my disappointment is me

I could have the body I want. I could get toned. I could feel stronger and healthier. The fact that I don’t have the body I want is not due to a lack of time, money or experience. I can no longer blame my parents for not pushing me harder to be more fit during my childhood. I can’t do these things anymore, because it’s always been my choice to not lead a healthy life, even if the choice was made subconsciously most of the time. If I never obtain the body I want, I’m the only one there is to blame. 

If the old me was reading this, being told that getting fit was all up to me would’ve made me want to give in before I even got started. This is because ‘I can’t do it by myself!’ was always my go-to mindset. But now that I know the power of the mind, and that I can literally do anything as long as I believe I can, knowing that it’s all up to me takes the stressful feeling away! 

While it’s true that nothing else in this world can make me get into shape, it’s also true that nothing else in this world can stop it from happening either! It’s totally, 100% up to me. So with this new awareness, I am choosing to get fit and I am choosing to stay committed to my goals, no matter what challenges present themselves throughout the process.

I have tried to get in shape countless times before, but I could never make it past a month or two. This is because thoughts like, “I’m not good enough, strong enough, athletic enough… It’s too hard…I don’t have time… I can’t afford the gym…I can’t do that because of my anxiety… I’m so weak… I’ve been working out for a week and I don’t see any results…It’ll take years to get to the place I want to be, so why bother?” consumed my mind and kept me from staying committed to living a healthy lifestyle.

The list of negative thoughts I’ve had when trying to get in shape in the past could go on for hours. Thankfully, now I am not only aware of how bad negativity is for me, but I’ve finally internalized the belief that negative thinking does nothing but hold me back. 

I must mention, this new way of thinking certainly wasn’t an overnight transformation. Because negative thinking was engrained so deeply in my subconscious for years, it was definitely a challenge learning how to rewire the strong patterns that had been created within my mind. But I finally decided enough was enough. All my life I listened to and believed the negative thoughts that entered my mind. I always gave into the negative thinking, which is also why I would always quickly give up on trying to become fit. In my mind, I truly believed that fitness just wasn’t in the cards for me. This one negative thought led to negative words about myself, which led to negative actions, or I guess I should say in this case, a lack of positive actions in my life. 

You see, thoughts, words and actions, are directly linked and greatly affect one another. Since I’ve learned this, I’ve been on a journey of renewing my mind and changing my life to make it one filled with purpose and fulfillment. And once I changed my thoughts, things became increasingly better for me in this area of life. So when I looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw, I thought, “If this mentality works for my career goals, why can’t I apply it to fitness as well? Why can’t I get the body I want? Be as fit as I want? Be as strong as I want?” And then it hit me; I most definitely can! 

So I’ve decided I will. It’s going to be hard, and no doubt there will be many times I’ll want to give up, but I’m so sick and tired of not being who I want to be. Fortunately, getting to this place is actually a blessing in disguise, because it’s exactly where true change and transformation begin. As the lovely Elizabeth Gilbert said in her book, Big Magic

 

I’m tired of my excuses. I selfishly want this, which is good, because this is what it’s going to take to make this goal become a reality in my life. It must come first. I have to want it more than anything else. Besides, if I don’t start now, then when? I’m certainly not getting any younger, and I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. 

It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.

-Hugh Laurie

It’s not about being ready, it simply comes down to how badly I want it. I’ve come to terms with the fact that it is going to suck in the beginning; there’s just no getting around it. But I’d rather live through the pain of hard work and soreness, than the pain of regret, or the pain of feeling sick, tired, and insecure for the rest of my life. 

My body, and yours, love us so much. They work so hard to heal and protect us. I’ve decided that it’s about time I return the favor and show my body just how much I love it back. After all it’s done for me, I simply refuse to take it for granted and mistreat it anymore. My body deserves good health. It deserves love. It was made to be pushed. It was made for hard work and movement. I’m ready to give it all I’ve got. 

I am certainly no fitness or health expert. I’m just beginning this journey. So if you have any fitness tips or advice on how you got fit, or how to stay committed to a healthier lifestyle, please let me know! I will keep you all updated on my new journey, in hopes that you all will hold me accountable! If anyone else is going through the same thing and needs some encouragement, just let me know, I’d be more than happy to help! If I can do this, then you most certainly can too! We are in this together! Stay strong. 🖤