Updated: Feb 23
You know it's bad when all you want to do is hide in your house, delete ALL your social media apps, "disappear" from society and sit on the couch, and cry. Maybe you identify with this, maybe not. Either way, this is the mental health challenge that I've privately struggled with off and on my entire life.
I know this probably doesn't fit the neatly framed version of me that most would rather look at and the one I've diligently tried to portray. However, this has been my reality over and over, and over again. That is until I began learning the power of self-healing.
There is a degree of shame that I feel in admitting my mental struggles, but also there is a real sense of freedom. Being vulnerable has sometimes left me feeling rejected, embarrassed, misunderstood, and sometimes very lonely. So, I shut up and held it all in. I don't recommend holding your feelings in, EVER.
Regardless of the outcome of this post, I choose to be my most authentic self in this lifetime. And at the end of this life, I want to be proud of the woman I've become and satisfied with a life well lived! When I look back on my life I will see where I broke cycles, destroyed destructive habitual patterns, and set countless generations free because I chose to heal!
The rewards of living in authenticity far outweigh the comfort of staying silent.
It has taken me years to learn that the longing to "disappear" from people has been programmed in from childhood. (You can read my story from a previous post.) In short, feeling isolated and helpless in the dark of someone else's mistakes, along with the monumental secrets I contained, were too big for a 6-year-old to process.
I didn't feel protected or safe. I didn't feel secure. I didn't feel valued or validated. I also didn't know how to verbalize any of it. So, I "disappeared" a lot.
Often, I "glazed over", staring into the distance, "checking out" even for a moment or two. I dissociated (disconnected or separated) from the world around me and even to this day struggle with memory loss as a result.
Suddenly, something would grab my attention and I was snapped back into my body, continuing on with life as usual.
As an adult, now in my 40's, I've learned a ton through years of self-healing. Now, when I find myself sinking into those old familiar habits, I've created ways that help me stay grounded, present, and awake in my conscious mind. Those "ways" that I've learned may not work for everyone, but if you can find even one thing helpful in this post today then that counts as a win!
*If you are having suicidal thoughts, and/or need emergency care, please call 911.
Also, the tips I share are from my personal experiences. I am not a therapist or a doctor. Therefore, the advice I give is NOT medical advice. I highly recommend reaching out to a licensed professional if you need medical advice.*
Get Out of YOUR Comfort Zone
To take your mental health power back, you may need to start with your environment. Sometimes we need a change of scenery.
Here's what I do...
I love being home! My house is my private, sacred sanctuary. It's my comfort zone! I value my time alone there, mostly because I have a more introverted personality. Even though I'm a people person, too much interaction for long periods is both physically and mentally draining for me. So, my home is my recharging station!
I love reading, researching, pondering, cleaning, listening to lectures and audiobooks, and anything that helps me rest emotionally and grow mentally. But when life circumstances become too much, it's not good for me mentally to stay tucked away in the house.
For me, my deepest healing place is out in nature. I don't even have to be healing from something to experience the beauty and peace of the outdoors.
However, if I am struggling, I take a walk, do some gardening, rake, or do anything that helps me process the feelings that I am dealing with in a calm, productive, and peaceful way. Being outside, by myself, is healing for me. I feel grounded and connected.
There are times, however, when being around people is a necessity, even when I'm overwhelmed. So, I will find a quiet place to hide for a few minutes, process my thoughts, and talk myself through them. If there's a mirror, I talk to myself in the mirror. As weird as that sounds, it helps.
I tell myself...
"You've got this. We're going to get through this. You're not just strong, you are the embodiment of strength. Strength is who you are. Everything you have ever needed is already within you and you are not alone. You are filled with divine love. The entire universe is on your side. Keep moving forward."
Talking to and encouraging myself haven't always been part of my journey, but I've learned that my greatest influence is my own mind. I hear my thoughts all day long and how I talk to ME will show up in my everyday life.
Ultimately, the responsibility for my life starts with me. All change or no change is a result of MY intentions.
I can remember (and sometimes still struggle with) a time when I consistently looked outside of myself for courage, permission, and validation. I didn't know who I was and I had no knowledge of how to be any different.
I had no guidance. I didn't know that I didn't know! I had self-sabotaging and relationship-sabotaging habits that I didn't know how to change. I was a mess, living a programmed version of myself, and feeling hopelessly bound to it.
Someone that I follow, and who has been a wonderful teacher in my life, is Lisa A. Ramono. Lisa is an author, coach, and survivor of abuse. She teaches mostly on the topic of codependency and how to come out of the programming of your past.
One of the things she talks about is that the habits we acquire (the programming), during abuse or trauma, are based on how we respond to life in survival mode. We unconsciously adopt ways of being, that help us survive what's happening in those moments. This causes deep wiring in our brains which takes a lot of inner work to rewire. However, those habits (programming), if we stay unaware of them, can be self-destructive in our lives and relationships. That's why consistent inner work is necessary and so transformative. Those ways of handling life have been your programming. It's who you had to become to survive!
So, it makes sense that who you HAD to become is not the real you!
That version of you is NOT who you are! <------ Read that again!
If your mind can be programmed in ways that helped you survive something awful, whether in childhood or not, you can re-program yourself to begin living a life of peace and rest! You can reset yourself and your life!
So, how do you start? I'm glad you asked...
Tell Yourself A New Story
(Change Your Tune)
You MUST start telling yourself the truth!
If who you are is a result of your past story, your old "ways of being", then you must figure out what your NEW story is and begin intentionally creating it into your new truth.
Something that helps me is music. Sometimes I meditate to soft music without words and I'm able to quiet the noise of negative thoughts. But sometimes I listen to music that tells a story.
Back in the day as a singer, I always looked for songs that told a story. I loved the emotional impact the song made in my own life as well as the listener's. I loved relatable and engaging songs that helped get me out of the feeling of performing and
into the mindset of helping people.
Recently, I felt very overwhelmed at another low point mentally. Thankfully, the years of self-healing and personal work paid off and I was able to quickly bring myself out of it so I could enjoy the day...even with the memories of that experience still raw, it didn't have the emotional charge with it.
It takes a lot of self-love and patience to get to this point, and while I sometimes fail, I don't allow myself to quit.
First, I spent some time in meditation. I focused on what I wanted out of the situation rather than what was happening. I surrendered any attachment to the outcome I wanted and I asked myself, " What can I learn from this situation"? Most importantly, I surrendered to love. I spent some time journaling, surrendering, meditating, and yes even crying.
After that, I felt pretty good. As I said, the remembrance of the situation was still there, but it didn't control me or how my day went. I felt something so empowering and strong out of this. It wasn't a feeling of arrogance or haughtiness. I felt a strength come over me and oddly kept hearing in my mind the song, "Unstoppable" by Sia. So, I found the song and played it on repeat, over and over, as I felt stronger and stronger.
I genuinely felt unstoppable and strong enough to love myself, feel my feelings, and move through them with inner power. I wasn't trying to prove anything to anyone and no one needed to know how I felt that day. This was simply me overcoming myself with all shortcomings, flaws, hang-ups, distresses, or pain. This song reminded me that I'm an overcomer of every challenge I face. Even when the challenge is with me.
It was empowering to be reminded that I've conquered the darkest moments of my life and this will be no different. Anything that would try to take me down, won't be able to stand in the light that I am now!
I am unstoppable! I don't just carry the light within me...I am light!
At my truest core...I am light!!!
Maybe you don't feel empowered right now. Maybe you're having a difficult time. Don't think about making it through this year, this month, or even the week.
You can start right now by saying...
Even if it's just for today...I'm unstoppable today!
Chorus ("Unstoppable" by Sia)
I put my armor on, show you how strong I am I put my armor on, I'll show you that I am
I'm unstoppable I'm a Porsche with no brakes I'm invincible Yeah, I win every single game I'm so powerful I don't need batteries to play I'm so confident Yeah, I'm unstoppable today
With MY armor on, it isn't for the benefit of, or to be against others. It's so I can continue to move forward through what would try to destroy me (the past and negative programming) and protect myself (with love and gratitude) to make it to the other side.
Write Down Who You ARE
You may not be into journaling. That's ok. But hear me out.
When going through a major personal mental struggle last year, I decided again that I wanted to be a woman I was proud of. So I asked myself, "Who do I want to be in this situation"?
I already know who I didn't want to be. With countless flaws and weaknesses, I've had a hard time not despising that version of myself. I've been learning how to graciously and lovingly accept all parts of my life. So, what could I empower myself with to transform my thinking (even just for today)?
I went outside, sat down on my rocking chair on the front porch, put on my earbuds, and played a quiet instrumental. As I absorbed the music into my spirit, I took a few slow deep breaths. I quieted the thoughts racing through my mind and focused on the wind gently blowing through the trees. I watched as tiny birds fluttered around on the ground, happily living the day. I focused on the sun showing through the spaces of the trees making spotlights on the flowers in the grass below.
The hurt and overwhelm I was experiencing began to dissolve as I continued to ask the question in the back of my mind, "Who do I want to be right now"?
Then, like a beautiful breeze through my soul, My mind was filled with what I now call "creation statements". You've probably heard about the I AM statement. When you say, "I AM", you're identifying yourself with whatever follows "I AM". It's a statement of creation.
So, that day on the rocking chair, I put myself in alignment with how I wanted to feel, rather than how I was originally feeling. I wanted to feel good, whole, and deeply and unconditionally loved.
This was what I said slowly and contemplatively...
"I am whole.
I am love and I am loved.
I am peace and I am at peace.
I am abundant in all good things.
I am strong and I am strength.
I am powerful."
And so on...
Here's the reality. You don't just HAVE these things. This is WHO you are.
You ARE all of these and more from deep within your spirit.
Your life circumstances, traumas, and the opinions of others have caused you to forget who you are.
YOU ARE NOT WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU!!!
YOU ARE NOT YOUR WEAKNESSES!!!
YOU ARE NOT YOUR MISTAKES!!!
As Lisa says, "That's not who you are, dear one, that's your programming."
After stating all of the good that I AM, I began placing myself in alignment with those values and affirmations!
I then said...
"I align with wholeness.
I align with love.
I align with peace.
I align with abundance.
I align with strength.
I align with power.
This is who I am."
And so on...
If I can do this, anyone can!
Take some time to get quiet and ask yourself...
"Who do I want to be"? "Who am I"?
Surrender the desire to be who others want you to be. It's time for you to be aligned with YOUR truth only!
It may help you to get started with a value list to learn what your core values are and what you align with for your life.
I've made a list below of some core values that you can reference to begin your own "Creation Statements".
What do you align with??? What is your "I AM" story???
If you've never done this before, go through this list and choose the top 10 values that stand out to you the most. Then reduce that list to your top 5.
Write your core values down once a day for 30 days in the morning, and read them each night before bed. Be sure to write them and read them while in a relaxed and empowering mindset.
Say to yourself, "I align with..."
The more you remind yourself of who you are and create your new reality, the more you will build a new way of being and heal your life. If you stick with this, work hard on yourself, and never give up on your own growth process, I promise that you too will be UNSTOPPABLE!!!