Carving your own path(self-care journey)

As we look to others for guidance on self-care, motivational tips, or self help tips. It is important to know looking within ourselves and experiencing things for ourselves will be the major factor in helping oneself achieve their goals, find peace of mind and evolve as an individual. We can consume as much self-help content as we like, but our own journey is what really teach us the lessons we need to learn in life.

I consume many self-help vlogs, podcasts and books for inspiration and creativity. I do find I learn the best from my own experiences through trial and error by finding ways that work best for me. Taking action is how I learn and evolve. Consuming can only get you so far.

We are all different individuals, so there isn’t one size fits all self-care tips. What works for one individual, may not work for another. This is a continues journey, so people’s opinions on things change as they continue through their journey. I know mine has. It is a natural process on our journey through life.

It is important not to follow guidance step by step, word for word, tip for tip. They are a guide, a footprint, a baseline. Take in what works for you. In the end, it is up to you to figure out ways that helps improve your well being. Also, majority of these things are recycled again and again, just worded differently through the perspective of the person giving out the advice.

Take others advice, including mine with a grain of salt. What works for them, may not work for you. Different environments, different personalities, different lifestyles affect what works for an individual. Take in what you can, and create elements that can work for you. All in all, the journey to improving your life starts with you, and your willingness to take actions. Others may help, but your work is what truly matters.

treat yourself first

Self-love, respect and acceptance are important in life. When you value and respect yourself. Others will do the same. If you don’t, you will allow others to disrespect you. When you see yourself as unworthy. It becomes easier to make excuses for others treating you like crap, because you feel/think you are not worthy of their respect.

It is important to be comfortable being you true self around others. We shouldn’t tiptoe around everyone’s opinion of us. People will have their opinion’s regardless, and even if you try to please others. People may see you as a pushover, or a people pleaser. How people see you is out of your control. How you express yourself is in your control, so it is better to focus on working on yourself. It creates less stress and anxiety freeing yourself from the control of others opinions.

Yes, it is nice to be liked, but the freedom and peace you get from accepting people who don’t like you is rewarding in itself. Honestly if you are a person who values oneself, but treats others with value. It would be hard for anyone to dislike you. If a person doesn’t like you for being yourself, and standing up for yourself, than do you really need that person liking you?

A person not liking you is their problem, as long as you are not intentionally trying to hurt someone, but also in that case. It is still up to the individual in how they handle that situation. We can’t control a lot in life, but we should try to learn to control the little things we can.

You know your worth. You know there are others who appreciate, and love you for being you. There is a line between self-love and narcissism. Narcissism is solely trying to please yourself. Self-love is about putting yourself first, which allows you to spread that love towards others. Self-love is essential to living more peacefully, and for our mental well-being. Accepting who you are and knowing your worth. You learn to respect and love yourself and others, and by doing so, you get the same in return, because you wouldn’t be able to take someone else’s crap. You won’t allow anyone to disrespect your boundaries, and you learn to stay true to oneself, because you believe in yourself and your values. When you are true to yourself. You are able to connect with like-minded individuals, which allows you to build deeper connections.

There are plenty of times I said no, and didn’t go to parties I didn’t want to go. It isn’t being rude. I need my solitude, and prefer meeting up with one or two people. I also hate parties. You learn what you like, and go with that, and what you don’t, remove yourself from it. There may be times to make compromises, but it shouldn’t be an all time thing. Your needs should be met first, then that gives you the opportunity to meet the needs of others. Treating yourself is important for oneself, but also for others around you. Knowing yourself makes connections with others less stressful and confusing, because clear boundaries are set. Knowing who are, and your worth gives you the opportunity to learn more about others and their value.

Comparisons/Jealousy

This tends to hit us when we focus on just the positives of others lives, and focus on the things they have that we are missing. We want that part of their lives we don’t have. We see the grass greener on their side. But is it really?

We forget that others have their drawbacks as well. Everything in life has its pros and cons. All of us as individuals are blessed with things others don’t have. If you dig deeper. You realize you have something they don’t have. You recognize that their life isn’t all that great as a whole. It is just that aspect of comparison/jealousy that seems better. Things in life isn’t all great or all bad. There are good and bad aspects.

Reflect and appreciate what you do have. Learn from the things you don’t have, and if you really want it, work for it, don’t dwell, and make a change. Your life has just as much value as any other individual. You just got to believe it, and take action. We all have value. We all have positive aspects to our lives. We also all have downfalls and drawbacks. Rather than just focusing on yours and making comparisons. Remember that other people’s lives isn’t as perfect as you think, and that they have drawbacks and insecurities as well. Remind yourself that you have things to be proud of, and appreciative of as well.

Mindfulness and Judging

With mindfulness practice we should try to limit judgment of ourselves, others, and the world around us. I have gotten better at not judging myself, and the world, but it still has been difficult not judging others. I recognize that judgment of others is more a reflection of myself, than others.

With mindfulness I have been able to become aware of when I judge others. It starts with awareness. After that, I reflect on why I am making this judgment. It is to compare?, to compete?, to feel superior?, or is it that they don’t fit my standard? It could be all of these things. Remember that the person you are judging has no clue you are doing it, so how productive can it be?

Judging others puts a negative stain on the person judging. It fuels hatred, jealousy, bitterness, and anger. Why do I need to create these emotions when I don’t have to. We can’t stop ourselves from judging. It is an innate human quality, but we can control how much and how long it consumes our lives. Become aware, reflect, learn and move forward. No use in dwelling over something you can’t change, and if you can, say something and take action in a positive and productive way.

Mindful Hobbies

I haven’t been as motivated to write lately. My productivity levels on writing oscillates from time to time. I thought of this idea to discuss my favorite mindful activities, and it has pushed me to write, so thought it would be a good idea to write this. I have been pretty busy with other fun activities, connecting with family and friends, so I haven’t had the energy to write. My next trip is to the beach, so I thought I will write something before then.

It is important to get out, connect, and do fun activities with others. It allows you to be in the moment, and enjoy the life, and the people around you. Mindful activities are a way to get a way from the noise of the world, from the busyness. To just be with oneself, your thoughts, your creativity. To do the things you enjoy doing. I will list a couple of my favorite mindful activities. I am sure you have similar hobbies to mine, and I am sure you have plenty of different ones.

  • Coloring-I have been really into this one as of late. It take a bit of time and energy, but it is nice getting immersed in it. Using your hands to create something is quite lovely and enjoyable. I also enjoy the finished product. I like to put the finished production my wall. I have a coloring book that has inspirational quotes, so they are nice to look at, and read for inspiration.
  • Plant care-Probably my favorite mindful routine. I like giving attention to all my plants, cleaning their leaves, watering them when they need, checking the soil. Taking each one to the sink, and caring for them. I have just enough, so that I am able to care for them. Having too many plants can be overwhelming, and time consuming, so I have the right amount that gives me the space to care for them where it doesn’t take too much of my time, and I am not neglecting any of them. I love getting my cup of coffee, and going at it.
  • Reading-I am currently reading a book on the mind and brain. I find this topic interesting as the brain and mind are quite fascinating to me. I have been trying to read more this year, and I have kept up with it. Reading allows me to be creative, it allows me to think, and it helps fuel inspiration. I also gain new knowledge and perspective from a good read.
  • Nature walks-I haven’t been doing much of this lately. It has been too hot, or I am too exhausted from work, or just not feeling it as much lately. I usually enjoy doing this, during the spring and fall time. I did go to a botanical garden last week, and it was quite lovely seeing all those pretty plants, and walking among nature. It gives you the opportunity to see the beauty of the world. It helps center you back to reality. It is refreshing and rejuvenating.
  • Journaling/Letting thoughts breath- Sometimes I just like to take a break from my computer, and just sit, and let my thoughts get some air. I sometimes write it down, but lately I just have been letting my thoughts out in the air. I sit, look at my plants, look out the window, and just breath. It is quite relaxing to do so. It helps bring me back into the moment.
  • Yoga/Dancing-I put these together, because I usually do them together. I start with a high activity, and wind down with some yoga. I like the mixture. I like to listen to my favorite songs at the moment, and dance to them. I like to get lost in the music, while creating my own choreography to the songs. I find this fun. It helps get my heart rate up, and then yoga helps wind it down, and calms my body and mind.
My go to playlist at the moment

Mindful hobbies/activities help keep the spark in your life. It brings joy, happiness, and fulfillment. It cultivates peace and calmness in this busy and unpredictable world. Once in awhile, or at least once a day, step a way, and find the quiet and joy.

Mindful Reminder Post

Just wanted to put this reminder out there. You will not agree with everyone’s opinions on subject matters of the self, others, and ideas. Try not to put your energy, or get angry over a different opinion, even if it is offensive, or crazy to you. Let them have their opinion. Focus your energy on yourself, your energy, your values, and your opinion. Don’t let the ego win. The ego wants everyone to agree with it. The ego wants to be right. We are all different. We all have different opinions. You can’t change that. No matter how angry, or defensive you get. Their opinions only hurt you if you let it. Agree to disagree and move forward. Educate others on your opinion, and open yourself up to others. Ignore hateful opinions. You don’t need that type of energy in your life. When you focus your energy on yourself, and the people who support you. You have no time to worry about others who add no value to your life.

Cognitive Distortions

After reading Dr. Burns book Feeling Great. It made me realize how much our thoughts and emotions intertwine with each other. Our thoughts can make things uncomfortable and difficult for us. It can allow us to see our emotions in a negative light. As I mentioned before, emotions just are, how we perceive them is what creates problems for us. He mentions the 10 cognitive distortions that cultivates suffering in our lives. Cognitive distortions can affect how we perceive ourselves, other people, emotions, and life situations.

Cognitive distortions cultivates self-hatred. It lowers your self-worth. It aides in painting ourselves, other people, and our world in a negative light. These distortions allow us to beat down on ourselves. It keeps us suffering longer than we need to. I wanted to discuss these distortions. We all have done these, but being aware of these distortions can help you to learn not to fall into these thought patterns continuously.

All or Nothing Thinking

When you’re convinced that you’re either destined for success or doomed to failure, that the people in your life are either angelic or evil, you’re probably engaging in polarized thinking.(healthline.com).

Life and people work in shades of grey. No one is completely one thing, or the other. Life is not one way, or the other. We will fail at times, and succeed at other times. This type of thinking can lead you down a miserable path.

Overgeneralization

When people overgeneralize, they reach a conclusion about one event and then incorrectly apply that conclusion across the board.(healthline.com).

One situation does not define every other situation. One person in a group does not define all people within that group. This type of thinking process can lead to bias and discrimination. It can also allow people to stay within their bubble, and not branch out. Life is unpredictable, things that happen in one situation. Most likely won’t happen in another situation.

Mental filtering

This distorted thought pattern is the tendency to ignore positives and focus exclusively on negatives.(healthline.com).

It is much easier to put the focus on the negative, which leads to suffering and misery. Life is full of positives and negatives. We got to find that balance.

Discounting the positives

Similar to mental filtering. Ignoring the positives, and putting focus on the negatives.

Learning to appreciate the good, positives, accomplishments, and joys of life is important. Try not to ignore what is good in your life. You may think everything is bad, but if you look more deeply, you’ll find the good.

Jumping to conclusions

Jumping to conclusions that aren’t warranted by facts.

  • Mind Reading-You assume you know what others are thinking and feeling.
  • Fortune telling-You make negative predictions about the future.

We all fall into this trap. This type of thinking leads to anxiety, tension, anger and frustration. We make stories about what others are thinking, and what the future will be, but this type of thinking isn’t helpful. We don’t know the future, and we don’t know how others perceive a situation. We should try to put our focus on things we can control, like ourselves.

Magnification or Minimization

Blowing things out of proportion, or shrink their importance significantly. You perceptions allow things to be bigger, or smaller than they really are.

We think something bad that happened is the end of us, our world is over, but most of the time, as time passes, we move on, and cope. Vice versa something may be important, but you blow it off, which can come back to haunt you. It is important to see the reality of the situation.

Emotional Reasoning

Emotional reasoning is the false belief that your emotions are the truth — that the way you feel about a situation is a reliable indicator of reality.(healthline.com)

While it’s important to listen to, validate, and express emotion, it’s equally important to judge reality based on rational evidence.(healthline.com).

You feel hopeless, so that means your hopeless. You feel sad, so you conclude you are a miserable person. You feel guilt, so you conclude you are a bad person. Your emotions don’t define who you are. Emotions come and go. They are a part of living, but they are not part of who you are.

Should statements

When people find themselves thinking in terms of what “should” and “ought” to be said or done, it’s possible that a cognitive distortion is at work.

I should be better at this. I should be smarter at this. I should know what I am doing. I should have known. I shouldn’t make mistakes. Humans are imperfect beings. We will not be great at everything. Give yourself a break. We can’t do everything. You are allowed to make mistakes. You are allowed to not know everything.

Labeling

Labeling is a cognitive distortion in which people reduce themselves or other people to a single — usually negative — characteristic or descriptor, like “drunk” or “failure.”(healthline.com)

You label yourself and others, instead of focusing on the specific problem.(Feeling Great).

We as individuals are a plethora of things. We are not defined by one feature. It is easier to just put a label on yourself and others, but we as individuals are more complex than that. We have many defining features.

Blaming/Personalization

One of the most common errors in thinking is taking things personally when they’re not connected to or caused by you at all.(healthline.com).

You may be engaging in personalization when you blame yourself for circumstances that aren’t your fault, or are beyond your control.(healthline.com).

Self-blame and blaming others is common, but not everything is your fault, and not everything is someone else’s fault. Life happens. Showing compassion for yourself, and others can help you live a more peaceful life. Just because you make a mistake, or do something wrong. Doesn’t mean there needs to be fault. Mistakes are part of being human. If you didn’t mean bad intentions, don’t be too hard on yourself. This also goes with blaming others as well. Recognize when there is truly fault in a situation.

All of these thinking patterns can create uncomfortable emotions and experiences in our lives. It can lead us away from a peaceful state of mind. These are thinking traps we all fall into, but being aware of them can steer you away from falling into these thinking patterns much less.

Sources: Burns, D. D. (2020). Feeling Great: The Revolutionary New Treatment for Depression and Anxiety. PESI Publishing & Media.

https://www.healthline.com/health/cognitive-distortions

A Society of Overstimulation

It just seems more and more difficult to focus, and to do the things that need to be done, be it for work, or for our own self-fulfillment. The digital/technological age has made it hard for us to just focus on one thing. I sometimes find it hard to sit through a 20 minute Youtube video without looking for something else to stimulate my brain.

It has become increasingly hard for us to do the tasks that need to be done, or to just simply sit and be alone, read, mediate, exercise, be creative. We just rather scroll, and watch videos or movies. It is just so much easier to do so. It doesn’t take a lot of energy to do these things. The things that can be beneficial for our mental and physical health takes work, so people tend to choose the latter.

Getting ourselves to focus is hard. Getting ourselves to get motivated and take action takes work. Getting myself to continue writing my book takes work, but I continue to remind myself, or be reminded that the end goal is most important. It doesn’t matter how small the step is, just do something.

I have found reading to be quite easy and pleasurable to do recently. I wanted to read, but never took the steps to read, until recently. Now that I am reading more. I want to read more. So the time I use to scroll. I use to do something more meaningful for myself, which is read. The power to scroll loses its appeal. It is all about learning to build these habits, even starting small makes a difference.

I was just watching a video of how overstimulation is ruining our lives, and it prompt me to write this. I mean, we all know it isn’t good for us to be on social media, watch TV, procrastinate, and do nothing that helps us grow, but we still do it, because it is easy, why not? The things we want in life takes work, and who wants to do that!? No one does, but it has to be done, if you want improvement in your life, if you want inner peace, or if you want to reach your goals.

Overstimulation is ubiquitous in our lives. Doing one task has become incredibly difficult. Enjoying the simple things have become incredibly difficult. People need their quick dopamine fix. Searching for the next thing to entertain them, rather than finding things on their own to entertain themselves. With the likes of Tik Tok(I believe to be the worse SNS platform) that has made it possible.

I fall for this trap, so I am not hear to preach to you all. I am part of this need for overstimulation. It is ingrained in us. I have a TV, computer, Alexa, and phone in my room. So I am surrounded by over stimulating objects. I do try to use one at a time, and be intentional with how I use them to the best I can.

I now have my phone behind me, out of sight for now. I think it is best when working on a task, or doing something mindful that you keep your phone out of sight. It is easy to get dragged into the notification whole. It is also easier to pick it up, and look at it just to check if you have any notifications, man I do this a lot. I was able to do some writing today, and I started reading a new book as well. I also did my Saturday morning plant maintenance routine as well. I believe it was a successful proactive Saturday morning.

I am just trying to be more mindful, and trying to focus on one task at a time. This isn’t easy, especially watching videos, but it can be done with a certain amount of will. We can easily be distracted. I know I can, so I want to take this day to be intentional with how I put my focus on to things. One thing at a time. Be proactive. Be intentional. Keep distance from overstimulation. Things to remind myself, and hopefully I can remind you as well.

Letting Emotions Out

We are taught to embrace and express “positive” emotions, but told to repress the “negative” emotions. This mindset isn’t necessarily healthy for us to do so. All of our emotions should be expressed and accepted, even appreciated. I know that may sound strange, but things can be learned from “negative” emotions. One can learn to evolve and grow from these emotions. It is important to let out these “negative” emotions, so that we don’t allow them to fester and permeate our minds and lives. It won’t help to keep them in, to use drugs, alcohol, food, or other unhealthy habits to repress them. Bottling in emotions can lead to lower level of well-being and makes one less likely to achieve goals.

I put quotations for positive and negative emotions, because emotions are not necessarily good or bad. It is how we perceive them. Emotions just are. They are there to tell us something. They are there to guide us. We tend to see the more difficult/uncomfortable ones as bad/negative, and see the more comfortable/uplifting ones as positive/good emotions. Difficult emotions tend to make us feel worse about ourselves and our lives. Uplifting emotions tend to make us feel better. It makes sense, we as humans like categorizing things to make things simple, but I like you to be aware that emotions in itself are not good or bad.

With practicing mindfulness, you learn to feel, understand and accept all emotions. You learn is okay to feel these emotions “good” or “bad.”. You may even see the beauty in it. Emotions is what makes us human. It shows that we are caring. If you don’t feel any of these, than that may be something to be concerned about. So what are some ways to express and let out these emotions?

  • Cry-Sometimes you just got to let out a good cry.
  • Take deep breaths-This is always a helpful strategy to help calm and sooth an individual.
  • Vent to others-Let others know what you are feeling. It always feels good to let out what you are thinking, having others listen, and getting some empathy from others.
  • Journal-Sometimes you don’t want to vent to others, or have no one to vent to. This is also a good way to let your thoughts and feelings out. Just getting your thoughts out on paper can be therapeutic.
  • Exercise-Can help reduce stress, helps increase brain health, thinking and memory. Increases levels of endorphins, dopamine and serotonin(feel good neurotransmitters and hormones). It also gives you a nice sense of accomplishment and makes you feel good about oneself.
  • Get creative-Fuel that energy into something creative can be helpful and can help you create something beautiful.
  • Listen to comforting music-It can be uplifting music that can help you get into a happier place, or sad songs that help comfort you, knowing others have gone through the same thing.

Another important reason why we should express our emotions.

  • You won’t be able to enjoy happiness and joy: You won’t be able to appreciate the good times as much. Feeling joy, happiness, excitement, accomplishment, appreciation are wonderful feelings to have, but if you try to repress the more difficult emotions. It will be just as hard to express the more uplifting ones as well.
  • Fighting emotions leads to more suffering: The more you fight it, the harder it will be to move one. The more you repress it with something else, the longer it will stay with you. Facing it is the best to heal.
  • It doesn’t allow you to live life fully: Feeling emotions makes us human. It allows us to experience life. It pushes us to evolve and grow. It shows us we are caring and compassionate individuals. It shows us we want to improve and become better individuals. It keeps us alert. It keeps us moving. We need emotions to live.

We don’t want emotions to be expressed in a harmful, hurtful way, or become persistent. The point is to feel the emotions, cope in a healthy way and move forward. You don’t want to ruminate over the emotions for a long period of time, but you also don’t want to skim pass and repress them. There needs to a balance. Allow yourself to feel the emotion, but recognize that the show must go on eventually, express it in a healthy manner, and this should allow you to move on from it.