Saturday, June 29, 2013

You Are Never Trapped by Today's Decisions!

I have a decision to make and it is stressing me out. I’d like to share the process with you all so that you can hopefully learn from it.

I want to continue being on the dance team at my dance studio. I want to exercise, to learn multiple dances, to be a part of a group, and to perform. Dance makes me feel good and helps keep me fit.

I don’t want to have dance practice at the time it is scheduled every week. After a long stressful week, I need that time to relax, get extra sleep and recharge. I need to NOT HAVE A SCHEDULE OR TO-DO LIST HANGING OVER ME. That’s how I relieve stress – by NOT having something I have to do at an inconvenient time that affects everything else I do and interferes with the time I need to take care of myself. Not to mention it is going to be a pain in the butt getting there. I also want to make sure I don’t lock myself into never branching out and doing other things on that day. I NEED to meet new people. I NEED to get out there and do more things. I love the people at dance, but they are too busy and too far away to be day-to-day really intimate friends of mine. I really want friends where if I wanted to I could hang out with them right after work, or get lunch with them, or whatever normal people with friends do. I’ve always wanted that and I’m doing nothing about it right now. The weekend is the perfect time to branch out and do that – and here I am signing it away never to be used for that purpose. My schedule would be taken up by it and everything required pre- and post-class. It would take multiple hours to clean up and dry my hair and everything, and I’d feel rushed and stressed if I tried to do something afterwards. And I don’t want to “party”. I don’t want to do late-night stuff. That’s not the type of fun or mingling I want to do. Even if I wanted to, I don’t really have the energy to be out late anymore.

So how do I make peace with a decision here? I don’t want to say yes and then resent it; I don’t want to say no and then feel like I’m missing out and get back into a funk of no activity.

Basically I need to say YES but I need to make peace with that decision.

Okay, so I’ve acknowledged the good and the bad here. Let’s see how I can resolve this.

I will do dance team. However, I will not let that stop me from going to events on the weekend if they come up. Rarely have there been many events that I wanted to join. I will not let dance guilt-trip me out of living my life. It won’t be that often that I have to miss practice. But I OWE it to myself to get out there and do other things, too. I will take it day by day. I may have to make some tough choices, but I will do those on a case-by-case basis, not an overarching decision based on a “What if?” It will be okay. If I’m really stressed out one day, I can miss practice. I have permission to take care of myself. I’m not saying I’d do it every week, I’m just telling myself that it is an OPTION so that I don’t stress out about feeling trapped and obligated. If I need it, that option is there. I am not locking myself away. Let’s just take it day by day, week by week. It will be okay. It’s not even starting back up right away, anyway. It will be fine. I take responsibilities way too seriously and I take the fun out of my fun activities by turning them into obligations. I don’t need to do that. I am not trapped. I am free. Enjoy it.

See, this is one of those cases where different people need different advice. I feel like I can hear some readers saying, “You’ve made a commitment, what do you mean you don’t have to go every week??” But that’s the thing. Some people who are flaky need to have the severity of their commitments engrained into them. They need to hear, “You made a COMMITMENT. You HAVE to go. That’s that!” However, I was raised that way to the point where I get all stressed out and think it is the end of the world if I don’t do it, and I feel guilty, and I feel trapped, and I get all bent out of shape. So it’s not that I’m not going to go every week, it’s just that I have to allow myself the OPTION of not going. The FREEDOM to not go if I have a good reason. The OPTION alone will help me to calm down and probably have fewer issues and reasons to not go. If Friday nights I start getting all stressed out that I HAVE to go to bed early and I HAVE to go dance in the morning, I may likely stress myself out to the point where I can’t sleep and I then decide to not go. I’ll CREATE MORE absences. In fact, that happened a couple times last season. By giving myself PERMISSION to miss practice, I take away the stress. I bring back the joy. So my reasons for missing practice will be good ones, not just every week that I get stressed out about having to go to dance in the morning.

I know, most people tell me this is all a bunch of crap. And that’s fine if you feel that way. But this is a very real concern for me, and I have to take it seriously. It affects my health. A lot. It is part of the reason I’m even on this journey in the first place. Things bother me too much and it affects my health and everything else. But with all these tools that I’m learning, by opening myself up to viewing life in a different way and by removing judgment and bringing in Love and Light, I’m able to make these steps and heal myself. Bit by bit. I have come a LONG way. I am handling stress SO much better. And that’s exactly what I want to share with you all.

I feel incredibly vulnerable doing this. I share a lot in this blog, and a lot of the voices in my head are telling me I shouldn’t. A lot of the voices in my head are telling me this will turn around and bite me in the future. But I think this is important. It’s important to see a journey like this first-hand. That’s why I think this blog is different from any others that I have seen – you get to see in real-time, almost day-by-day the changes that are taking place. You get to see the tiny, tiny progressions that end up getting from Point A to Point B. You get to see that ANYONE can do it if you just open yourself up, take the first step and believe in yourself. You see that all the changes don’t happen overnight, and you see how the changes fit into day-to-day life. You see first-hand how every experience is an opportunity for growth if you choose for it to be. I feel like this blog is very powerful, and hopefully anyone who reads it sees it in this way. That’s what it was intended for. To see a person with real struggles and real breakthroughs with personal growth. To know that YOU CAN DO IT. To see yourself in these posts. To see how I’ve taken lessons from books and other blogs and I’ve applied it to my own unique circumstances.

Anyways, the lesson here is to not stress yourself out unnecessarily. Take things one step at a time and give yourself permission to make adjustments as necessary. As long as you know the importance of your obligations, you can trust yourself to only make adjustments when they are really important. Trust yourself!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

On-The-Spot Stress Leaks Old Habits

As much as we learn and grow, extreme situations can rewind us back to old habits we thought we’d broken. I’m hoping that the longer the good habits are in place, the less likely this is to happen. It somewhat happened today for me.

Let’s look at the positive first, shall we? I think we should all do that when faced with a situation where we know we could have done a little better. First let’s look at where we came from and how much progress we have made.

At the end of the day, an emergency debugging situation sprang up. I had to debug from a distance at first, which is just as helpful as all you developers out there would imagine. There was a time crunch, and I had to figure out what was wrong and fix it ASAP. Obviously, at first glance you don’t always know what’s wrong. Non-programmers will throw in their two-cents, but that is usually completely useless, because they don’t know how the code operates and is organized underneath. They don’t know what touches what and how. All they know are the very mundane, simple symptoms: “It doesn’t work.” We programmers have to know HOW it doesn’t work. Does it present an error message? A blank screen?

Enough about programming, and on to the personal growth.

As far as the level of stress I FELT, I handled it extremely well. I was considerably irritated, but I was not overwhelmed with stress, which is a HUGE improvement for me. Hooray!

However, as communication went back and forth while I was diagnosing the problem, I got caught. I had to talk before I’d been able to process what I’d just seen. My mindset was on, “What??! That’s odd, what did I just see?” And I just wanted to get back to it and track down what was going on. So I said a no-no. I was too focused on processing and solving the problem that I wasn’t paying enough attention to my word-smithing (sarcasm intended on the priorities here). If you’ve been following my posts at all, you know what type of no-no it was. I worded it in an “I don’t know” kind of way. I quickly jumped back into solving the problem. I did get talked to a little about my bad wording. Half an hour later I’d not only figured out the problem but completely resolved it. I’m completely capable of solving the problem – I just have to make sure, even in odd stressful situations like that, that I don’t present it in a way that makes people doubt my abilities. I think the context was safe enough here, and when I was reminded how I should word things differently I was extremely frustrated because YES I KNOW. But yeah, always gotta be on top of your game.

It’s funny, because amongst other developers, communicating and complaining about bugs like that is completely fine. I just got too comfortable. You have to always remember to put your politically-correct hat on at the right times. Drop what you are thinking and processing and work on the wording. It’s sad, really. But that’s how it is. I understand. I’ve BEEN working on that. I just didn’t care enough this time. I was too focused on the bug itself. But you have to be aware of your surroundings. Sigh.

Let’s get back to some positives. I did manage to declare my need for space and time to those it is appropriate to say that to. Sometimes I find myself acting extroverted in those cases, and that NEVER works out for me. Extroverts can think out loud and come to a solution. I can’t. I’ll just continue down the path I was on when I started speaking. If I shut up for a second, it all becomes clear, and I see where I need to go. By talking I’m just wasting time. Well – be careful, because that’s the attitude that got me in trouble!

Anyways, it’s all fine now. The whole mess was over a span of maybe one hour. But it was at the end of the day, so it left me in a really nasty mood. But it wasn’t the stress of the situation – it was the being called out on my wording. Because they were right, and I knew better, and it frustrated the hell out of me. And because I know I’ll probably get more of that lecture that I already know tomorrow.

But I can’t get defensive. I can’t roll my eyes. I have to just suck it up and take it. How I handle this says a whole lot more about my character. Rolling my eyes or disregarding the comment would make me look so bad and give the wrong impression. I do know, I do understand and I do care. Man-up and act like it.

It’s weird, when I started in the working world I was a complete robot. A smiling, yes-man robot. Somewhere along the way I started getting emotionally invested and having issues like this. What happened… That will change. I’m going to find the balance. I know what it is, I know what it looks like, and I’m going to make it happen. Just you watch.

Are there certain situations where you slip back into old habits? Do you know what you need to do to resolve it?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Believe in Yourself

When we stop attacking others and pointing out why we are better, we blossom.

“Why would they think that? That’s completely irrational. What a moron.”

When we stop abusing ourselves and looking for flaws in everything we do, we blossom.

“Damnit, why did I say that?? Why didn’t I do that?”

Stop trying to live up to some self-declared concept of perfection and just appreciate yourself. For some, that means stopping yourself from showing off or trying to take power away from others. For others, that means giving yourself permission to speak and command a room. For some it could be a small degree of both in various situations.

It all comes down to the same thing in the end. Confidence and self-love.

Those who are truly confident don’t come off as hostile or overbearing to others – that is just a plea for others to believe they are strong and confident, which will in-turn allow the person to continue feeling that way about him- or herself. Instead, confident people just live their lives. They are not afraid to appear weak, because they know they are not weak. They help when they can, ask questions when they have them, and spend their time and energy on the things that matter instead of playing political and manipulative games. They are not worried about what comes next, because they know they can handle it, whatever it is.

For those of you with the opposite problem, no matter how slight, give yourself a break. Stop worrying. Stop second-guessing yourself. Stop re-playing things in your mind and pre-playing conversations that have not happened. Be present in the moment. Take full advantage of the present moment. Don’t waste it building grudges and negativities your head. You are perfect. You are fine. The only thing holding you back is that you are psyching yourself out. Start looking at the positives, and focus on what you can do to improve – in communicating, in your career, in your relationships – change the perspective. When you get away from the offensive/defensive mindset, you can actually appreciate and take advantage of everything around you. When you get the hang of that, you’ve mastered confidence! And it will shine through you. You will feel more at ease.

Don’t worry so much about how other people will perceive you. STAND BEHIND YOUR WORDS. You meant it when you said it. If they perceived it another way, that’s fine, but you still MEANT it. Don’t backtrack. Don’t disrespect yourself by trying to erase the words and replace them with something else. Just ADD to them to clarify anything. Instead of saying “That’s not what I meant,” say “That’s not what I’m saying”. There’s a difference – the first one sounds like you made a MISTAKE. The second one shows that you are standing your ground, and working to help the other person understand.

Different people need different kinds of advice. That makes it tricky to write a blog post on one topic, because I know there are so many different perspectives to consider. What’s always true is that we have developed ways to protect ourselves. Some protect themselves by demanding that others think about them a certain way; others protect themselves by carefully wording things and not taking as many risks so they won’t be able to screw up. That’s just one pair of examples. Notice that they both protect the person – one by demanding the desired outcome, and one by avoiding the possibility of the undesired outcome. We can mix and match these approaches in our lives, and we have them in varying degrees. Be aware of it as you go through your day. Remind yourself that nothing can hurt you. You don’t need to work so hard to control the outcomes or the thoughts of others. As long as you are true to yourself and spreading Love and Light to others, it will be fine. You can get through it.

Love yourself. Have real confidence. You deserve it.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

No Excuses!

Wow, what a busy couple of weeks.

So here’s a big realization I’ve made. I feel like I’m really good about doing things I “have” to do and following the rules even if I don’t “want” to, but I just noticed that there are some areas of my life where I was only doing things if I “felt like it”. Mastin Kipp on The Daily Love had a blog about this topic, and although I’ve seen his blogs on that topic before, it resonated more with me this time.

Specifically, I’d been trying to go for a jog in the mornings. For the past several months, however, I’ve been hitting snooze all the way up until I absolutely had to get up. Because I didn’t “feel” like getting up. And for some reason I accepted this phenomenon as a valid excuse.


I’m going to start doing things in that area of my life whether I “feel like it” or not. For example, I dragged myself out of bed this morning to go for a jog. I told myself I HAD to do it. I also told myself it would be EASY to do. In bed, I dread getting up, but I just told myself, “I have the workout clothes right next to the bed. All I have to do is throw them on and get myself outside. That’s it! It’s easy!” And I didn’t stop there! I also decided to not have ANY caffeine today. Towards the end of the day I felt a little lightheaded and I had a tiny headache. Withdrawal, I guess. I eventually gave in and had some headache medicine, which has a bit of caffeine in it, but that doesn’t really count, right? Still, no coffee and no energy drinks. Forget the caffeine – it’s just a HABIT to have coffee every morning. But I knew, even if I had withdrawal symptoms, this would be good for me. Lately I’d been wondering if I had no energy simply because I was crashing from caffeine, even if I was only having one cup of coffee with half a spoonful of sugar. Overall, I felt great today. I had the energy. When I got lightheaded I got irritable for a bit, but then I was fine again.

I’m thinking tomorrow will be easier as far as the symptoms? Maybe a little easier to get up, too?

I also feel like I hit my “second wind” as far as my positive and uplifting attitude. I was really getting warn out there. I need to recharge. But I feel like I got to a stressed out point and then just snapped into a calm. It was kind of freaky, actually. Not like a bad “snap” where I don’t care about anything anymore – a legitimate redirect into a peaceful state of being.

I’ve definitely been learning some other lessons, as well. Mostly about how to give advice, and what types of advice work in what situations. I generally try to be gentle but descriptive. I think I’m learning that, as long as it is truly from the heart and the other person knows it, you can be a little more blunt. At least with some people. And I realized that I’ve been holding back a lot of my analysis of people. I wasn’t trying to hold back or anything, I just felt like it would be rude to just up and declare what I think of someone and why they are the way they are. But actually, that’s probably some of the best advice I could give… and I finally gave it to one friend, because it came up in conversation, and I was thinking to myself, why didn’t I say any of this sooner!? He really appreciated it, and it seemed to really resonate with him, and he was able to take it even further. That’s awesome! So I really need to rethink what I think is “appropriate” advice to give, because I may have my priorities all screwed up as far as that.

I also had to deal with getting upset, but I quickly fixed it. I interpreted a situation in a negative manner and it pressed my buttons and I made a comment… not a mean or immature comment, just a true comment… well, let me give a LITTLE detail. I’m all about fairness. I hate double-standards and I hate hypocrisy. So when I see a situation like that, especially if it involves me feeling like I’m getting the double-standard, I get ticked off. So I just reiterated the standard that had been agreed upon that was apparently getting thrown out the window – except for with me. That’s how I interpreted it. But situations are not that black and white. I made peace with it. I can see why the circumstances are the way they are, and if circumstances changed, I believe the standard would be changed. It is okay and it isn’t a detriment to me. So that was progress for me.

It seems like disliking hypocrisy and fighting for fairness is a good thing, right? Haha. Everything in balance…… Can’t let it make you judgmental and negative! Sigh, such a difficult thing to learn.