Tag Archives: health

Fighting The Battle In Silence

“How can I put this? There’s a kind of gap between what I think is real and what’s really real. I get this feeling like some kind of little something-or-other is there, somewhere inside me… like a burglar is in the house, hiding in a wardrobe… and it comes out every once in a while and messes up whatever order or logic I’ve established for myself. The way a magnet can make a machine go crazy.” ― Haruki Murakami

Only those who are in the same boat (or those who made the journey) would understand what Haruki Murakami is talking about. Even immediate family close as they are could impossibly fathom out the full extent of how it truly is unless they walk in the shoes of someone who is suffering from mental illness.

Bystanders will never understand. How could they if you yourself cannot make sense of what’s happening to you. It’s difficult when you cannot explain because words seem woefully inadequate to describe what’s going on inside your head which prompts those unexplainable actions that society frowns upon and made you an outsider.

How can you tell them you feel like___

You are a warrior in a dark forest, with no compass and are unable to tell who the actual enemy is, So you never feel safe.

You are in constant fight or flight mode.

I compare it with what one specialist said to me about my condition: That my body is like that of someone who is running a marathon but 24/7. I wonder what he would say if he could take a glimpse of what’s going on inside my head. I’m sure he will send me home with an instruction never to come back again.

I always have known that I would be an interesting subject for head doctors. I imagine some kind of role reversal happening. Me asking questions instead of the other way around. That would be fun I guess.

Like in real life when people always assume that I’m an open book but the truth is, I let them talk and I listen. Just listen. Without disclosing anything personal/private about myself. But they always come away with the same conclusion: That I’m an open person and we created some bond by telling each other our utmost secrets. I never correct their wrong assumptions. It is better that way.

Because___

“The majority of people dismiss those things that lie beyond the bounds of their own understanding as absurd and not worth thinking about. I myself can only wish that my stories were, indeed, nothing but incredible fabrications. I have stayed alive all these years clinging to the frail hope that these memories of mine were nothing but a dream or a delusion. I have struggled to convince myself that they never happened. But each time I tried to push them into the dark, they came back stronger and more vivid than ever. Like cancer cells, these memories have taken root in my mind and eaten into my flesh.” ― Haruki Murakami

How could I tell them the truth? How can I share to them what’s really bothering me? How can I disclose my utmost secret without scaring the hell out of them?

That’s why I never reach out to anyone and always decline offers of close friendships.

The very reason why I didn’t accept the invitations for coffee by that woman who lives across the street. I know for sure she is a good person. I see it, I sense it, I feel it. Despite my refusals when she saw that my husband hang a tarpaulin outside in honor of my becoming golden, she sent me a beautiful card and she didn’t even know my name. She just wrote Madam on the top of her message inside the card. She never failed to hand-delivered Christmas cards either. I see to it that I answered her effort and that is the only form of communication we have and she lives just across the street from me. It is a very big busy street with a lot of traffic but just across just the same.

Am I bad?

I think not.

In my eyes/mind, I’m saving her from oncoming disappointments, when I can’t/won’t deliver what expected of me. You see, any form of relationship is a two-way traffic. A series of give and take have to exist in order for the association to work out. It cannot be always coming from one side alone it’s understandable. And that’s why I have to keep a distance. To protect them from possible disillusionment.

Sometimes I wonder what she makes of me. If she takes it as a personal offense my continuing refusal to be closer to her. Does she have even a tiny inclination of how I really am? She must be aware that I like to be left alone judging by the lack of visitors knocking on my door. But I can say the same about her. At least I go out and work in the garden. I never saw her leave her place. She only comes outside to clean the windows and that’s it. Her husband is the one tending their front yard. Perhaps she thinks we are a kindred spirit. Who knows?

The truth is you never know what people think because like with every kind of illness which doesn’t show on the outside look could be deceiving.

If you are like me___

“You always look so cool, like no matter what happens, it’s got nothing to do with you, but you’re not really like that. In your own way, you’re out there fighting as hard as you can, even if other people can’t tell by looking at you.” ― Haruki Murakami

How to explain?

And even if you can, would they understand? Would they be willing to understand? Could you really open up about what’s really happening to you without being judged and your virtue torn to shreds? I think not. Our visually oriented society may not take the time to look beyond appearances. People tend to believe what they see; and if it can’t be seen, it simply doesn’t exist. Right?

Make that double when it comes to me. I made no secret of what’s going on with me mentally and physically. But I’ve warned you already about the iceberg theory. What you see is only the tip. There is a lot more going on underneath.

But that’s not for public viewing.

I’m honest about the skeletons in the closet and like I said I occasionally let them out to dance but I’m afraid you will never see them all at once having a ball. Not in this lifetime.

So what do I do with my self-imposed isolation?

Dream and fantasize.

I am a kind of expert in that. I’ve learned it early on when I want to escape the horror that is called home-where everything bad happens- done by the ones you trust and supposed to be having your back-family.

You see___

“The better you were able to imagine what you wanted to imagine, the farther you could flee from reality.” 
― Haruki Murakami

I don’t stay in my dream world. I’m too sober for that. I visited certain places in my head and talk to some people there only when necessary. Contrary to popular belief that those who are suffering from a mental disorder turn inwards because they don’t want to be cured- I do it to stay sane. To keep my sanity I have to go back to my core and get acquainted with who I really am so I can continue the pretense of being normal for the outside world so they don’t bother me too much.

And sleep.

Sleep is my cure for everything. I don’t get much that’s why maybe it becomes a sort of a treat. Everything is possible after I sleep.

But it seldom comes naturally. Most of the time if I’m lucky___

“I closed my eyes and tried to sleep. But it was not until much later that I was able to get any real sleep. In a place far away from anyone or anywhere, I drifted off for a moment.” 
― Haruki Murakami

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Thoughts To Ponder

Michael Jackson wanted to live for 150 years.

He appointed 12 doctors at home who would daily examine him from hair to toenails.

His food was always tested in the laboratory before serving.

Another 15 people were appointed to look after his daily exercise and workout.

His bed had the technology to regulate the oxygen level.

Organ donors were kept ready so that whenever needed they could immediately donate their organ. The maintenance of these donors was taken care of by him.

He was proceeding with a dream of living for 150 years.

Alas! He failed.

On 25th June 2009, at the age of 50, his heart stopped functioning. The constant effort of those 12 doctors didn’t work.

Even, the combined efforts of doctors from Los Angeles and California too couldn’t save him.

The person who would never put a step forward without the doctor’s suggestion for his last 25 years, couldn’t fulfill his dream of living 150 years.

Jackson’s final journey was watched live by 2.5 million people which is the longest live telecast to date.

On the day he died,i.e. 25th June ’09 at 3.15 pm, Wikipedia, Twitter, AOL’s instant messenger stopped working. Millions of people together searched Michael Jackson on Google.

Jackson tried to challenge death but death challenged him back.

The materialistic life in this materialistic world embraces materialistic death instead of a normal one. This is the rule of life.

Now let’s think.

Are we earning for the builders, engineers, designers or decorators?

Whom do we want to impress by showing expensive house, car and extravagant wedding?

Do you remember the food items at the wedding reception which you had attended a couple of days ago?

Why are we working like an animal in life?

For the comfort of how many generations do we want to save?

Most of us have one or two children. Have you ever thought how much do we need and how much do we want?

Do we consider that our children won’t be able to earn much and so its necessary to save some extra for them?

Do you spend some time with yourself, family or friends in the week?

Do you spend 5% of your earning on yourself?

Why don’t we find happiness in life along with what we earn?

If you think deeply, your heart might fail to work. You will suffer from slip disc, high cholesterol, insomnia etc. etc.

Conclusion: Spend some time for yourself. We don’t own any property, it is only in some documents that our name is written temporarily.

When we say “ this is my property ”, God passes a crooked smile.

Don’t create an impression on a person seeing his car or dress. Our great mathematicians and scientists used bicycle or scooter for commuting.

It’s not a sin to be rich, but to be rich only with money is a sin.

Control life or else life will control you.

The things which really matter at the end of life is contentment, satisfaction,  and peace.

Sadly, these cannot be bought.

~Khmerfeed via Facebook

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This is What it’s Like to Live with Borderline Personality Disorder.

My struggles of living with a borderline personality disorder — the suffering, the hopelessness, and the light.

“You’re too much.”
“You’re Intense.”
“You go zero to 60 in .2 seconds.”
“Stop being sensitive!”
“You must like chaos.”

I consistently replay these quotes in my head. The people who spoke them have come in and out of my life.

I feel emotions far more than the average person. Although on the surface that may not sound entirely life-altering, it’s crippling.

I suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder.

I live every day on the surface. Every emotion is ready to be set off—no matter what. When I’m happy, I’m euphoric. When I’m angry, I’m a monster. When I’m sad, I’m depressed. I have no in between. I’m either green or red. I have no yellow.

Putting my disorder into words is impossible. My mind is a maze, and it makes me sick to even think of it.

All I want is to be close to people. I want a relationship where I can share, love, be safe, but I become “too intense” and “too much” for anybody to handle. So, ultimately, I’m left with nobody. It’s a terrible cycle.

I suffer every day. I suffer with feeling overwhelmed all the time.

I find it difficult to communicate. What I feel in my heart and my head doesn’t translate. I can love you with my mind, body and soul while my words are the exact opposite.

I’m not trying to start drama and I’m not an attention seeker. When I “overact” it is not easy for me to recover.

I hurt. I hurt others. I’m depleted at the end of the day.

I am constantly afraid of the idea of being alone; abandonment is hell. I latch onto people and let go before they are able to let go of me.

Many believe that I am mean, narcissistic, a manipulator.

My moods change consistently and I have zero control over my emotions. I feel everything 24/7.

I was told there are two Monicas. The “Monica I love” and “the disorder.” The “real Monica” is nurturing, empathetic, passionate, enthusiastic, loving and happy.

Once that Monica is gone, you’re left with “the disorder,” which causes manipulative behavior, lying, distorting reality and pessimism.

How is it possible to have these contradicting traits locked into one human?

I’m going to open up my heart. I’m going to become vulnerable. I am going to be raw. There have been nights I didn’t want to be alive. There have been spirits of what I’d like to call “insanity.” I’ve had moments where I ran into the street while the one I love chased me—and I was hoping and praying a car would take me out of my misery.

Out of the pure pain of thinking the one I love would leave, I’d bang my head against a wall as hard as I could, hoping I’d be knocked out.

I tried overdosing three times October, two years ago. I’d had enough. I was bullied out of college and couldn’t handle the pain. I couldn’t handle being abandoned again.

I wanted to die.

I wanted people to care about me. No matter what it took. I wanted people to hurt and realize their wrong-doings. I wanted to punish the ones who didn’t understand. I wanted them to hurt as much as I did every single day.

When I’m down, I’m at rock bottom.

When I hurt, everyone needs to hurt.

I’ve read articles upon articles on how to deal with someone who has Borderline Personality Disorder. I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s nothing uplifting to be heard. I read constantly how people like me drain the ones around us. We drain the energy out of the ones we love. We leave them with nothing.

I’m here to tell you that although I’m difficult, I am worth it.

You may not understand me 100 percent of the time. (You may not even understand me five percent of the time, but I am still human.) I feel emotions to the extreme. I long to feel accepted and cherished.

Do not be afraid of me.

We as BPD sufferers are the “difficult ones,” but we aren’t impossible.

-by Monica Adrian Patro


“A mess of gorgeous chaos” is the perfect description of Monica Adrian Patro. Words that flood from her mouth can cut you deeper than a knife or sound like the Angels from above. Understanding the monsters she holds is far more complex than one could rationalize.

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Unlock joy in any situation!

True understanding and mutual respect do not bridge blames, destructive, negative criticisms, false excuses, and gossips. To express disappointments and ill-feelings are normal however to gossip around certain people and events in order to put another person down and destroy one’s credibility is a form of bullying whether one expresses it publicly or privately.

Beware of segregation, regionalism, individualism, discrimination, stereotyping, destructive criticism, false accusations, biased wrong assumptions, prejudice, senseless comparison, and unwanted competition because life is much more meaningful to live for where there are unity and harmony.”

― Angelica Hopes

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Mr. Sandman Is A Creepy Boogey Guy

I’m obsessed with sleep. You all know that by now.

Just recently my GP prescribed me Diazepam for muscles spasm and -you guessed it right- insomnia.

It doesn’t work.

What it did was gave me nightmares.

My nightmares like my dreams are in technicolor and complete. Beginning.  Middle.  End.

Like a movie.

And

They are either this or this.

But mostly it is just Sleep paralysis.

You know… the

…sounds such as humming, hissing, static, zapping and buzzing noises. Voices, whispers, and roars. Fear and panic. Sensations of being dragged out of bed or of flying, numbness, and feelings of electric tingles or vibrations running through the body. Hypnogogic hallucinations, such as a supernatural creature suffocating or terrifying me accompanied by a feeling of pressure on my chest and difficulty breathing. A menacing shadowy figure entering the room or lurking outside the window, while yours truly is paralyzed.

That, and a lot more.

Like I’m about to change into something else and I can feel my skin and bones splitting, forming and rearranging.

Tempting though to let it happen and see where it brings me, I have a strong inkling that if I let that happen, there is no way back, so, I have to wake up.

Mostly this happens when there is a full moon or when the moon is waning or waxing. Basically, all the time.

My sister called me a Lunatic.

Funny coming from here. But I took no offense. She called me also a paper doll.

Family.

They say

Either you hate them or love them.

I’m neutral.

I don’t feel anything.

What about you?

Do you have a similar experience?

Nightmares. Not family.

Well, do you?

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Why We Put Ourselves Last & Why Self-Care Should Be a Priority

By Jo Ritchie

“Be there for others, but never leave yourself behind.” ~Dodinsky

Sometimes, when we’re feeling stressed and running around taking care of everybody else, the healthiest thing we can do is to stop and consider how we can take care of ourselves.

While this seems obvious to some people, many of us struggle with the idea of putting ourselves first. We were raised to think we should always put others before ourselves and ignore our own needs—that it is somehow arrogant or self-centered, and not a nice thing to do.

So, why is self-care not held in high regard as the essential practice that it is for our well-being?

Here, I take a look at some misconceptions that hold us back from looking after the most important person in our lives, explore why self-care is better for others around us, and share my own list of self-care commitments, as somebody who has struggled with this in the past.

1. We think self-care means being selfish. 

Taking care of ourselves is the opposite of being selfish, as it strengthens us and enables us to support our loved ones better. We are no use to anyone if our energy is depleted because we have given every last bit of it away. Self-care is an antidote to stress, as it builds resilience so we can better cope with challenges.

Just think how they tell us to put on our oxygen mask first on an airplane before we help others. Yes, absolutely support others, but nurture yourself first.

2. We confuse “rescuing” with caring.

We often sacrifice self-care because we’re too busy trying to save everyone else. But people have to learn their own lessons in life, however painful that is. Who are you to decide that you know what is right for them? Now that is selfish, as it’s based on your own desires for them, which may not truly be in their best interests.

The way we can really help is to focus on ourselves and stop trying to run others’ lives. While we think we’re caring by “rescuing” them from unpleasant experiences in their lives, we are denying them the opportunity to face their own challenges, and grow stronger or learn a lesson from doing so.

This has been a hard truth for me to face, as I always thought I was being nice and caring. It’s even tougher to accept now that a close family member of mine is very ill, mostly caused by their own actions. I have an overwhelming desire to help and have tried on numerous occasions, but I now realize that they have to want to change.

By rescuing them every time, out of what we believe is love, the rest of the family are enabling this person to stay feeling helpless, and we are burning ourselves out with stress.

I don’t mean we should never help people, but there is a difference between providing support for somebody who asks and taking it upon ourselves to save somebody and make their life turn out in a way that we think it should.

3. We are accustomed to relationships based on neediness, not real love.

We often fall in love with the idea of being in love, because we watch Hollywood films that portray love as dramatic and needing to be with somebody 24/7.

When we give from this place, we give too much, because we believe we have to die for that person and other such dramatic statements. As Ernest Hemmingway wrote in Men Without Women, “The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much and forgetting that you are special too.”

Instead of spending our every waking hour thinking about that other person and forgetting ourselves, we (and our partners!) would be better served by focusing on ourselves. This way, we’ll be able to give from a place of wholeness, without expecting anything in return or feeling resentful.

As Rollo May said, “Love is generally confused with dependence; but in point of fact, you can only love in proportion to your capacity for independence.” If we take care of ourselves, we are more independent, less needy of getting attention or affection, and more capable of truly connecting with another human being.

4. We don’t realize we teach people how to treat us.

We teach people how to treat us by our own actions and attitude toward ourselves. By putting signs out there that you are a rescuer and will sacrifice yourself to help others, you attract the sort of people who want to be rescued and for whom it has to be all about them—not a balanced relationship.

Then, you have made it a self-fulfilling prophecy, by effectively bringing about what you always complain that you attract: people who take advantage of your good nature.

Here, it is useful to question whether they have really taken everything we have or if we have voluntarily given it all to them. Yes, they have played a part, but we can’t change them. We only have control over our own actions, so what part did we play?

Also, although this can be hard to hear, there is always a pay-off for us. Is it that you always get to be the “nice guy” or the “victim”? Take a long hard look now…

5. We expect others to take care of us.

While we might believe that our actions are purely altruistic and caring, are we actually expecting something in return?

I have previously been guilty of giving everything and believing I was being nice, but then feeling resentful when they inevitably didn’t give back in equal measure.

I complained to my friends that this or that person didn’t give me enough (and, in some cases, I wouldn’t have been wrong!) It’s easy to complain about what others aren’t doing. It’s hard to accept that we have chosen to give all our love to them and keep none for ourselves, expecting them to fill a gap they couldn’t fill, because it was our own self-esteem that was missing.

Yes, somebody may take advantage of your caring nature, but if you lie down to be walked on, you can’t be surprised when people treat you like a doormat. Your self-care is your responsibility, nobody else’s.

6. We don’t realize our worth.

Ultimately, it boils down to the fact that we think others are worth more than us. If we are confident in our love for ourselves and treat ourselves as if we are worthy, then that is what we will attract back.

Yes, I’m afraid it comes down to that whole self-love thing again! There is a reason why this is a cliché, though, because the key to meaningful relationships really is to love ourselves first.

So, What Does Self-Care Look Like?

Self-care is essential for us all but looks different from person to person. We are all individuals with different preferences. Listen to your inner voice to find out what makes you content. Sometimes we can’t even hear our own inner voice because we are so busy anticipating the needs of those we care about, so you might have to listen carefully at first.

Below is my own personal list of self-care practices. I hope it gives you some inspiration for ways to take care of yourself.

I commit to:

1. Being fully in and embracing the present moment—mindful living

2. Preparing and eating three healthy meals a day, avoiding sugar fixes

3. Getting outside every day

4. Exercising every day

5. Doing something I enjoy every day—being creative

6. Spending time with positive people

7. Setting healthy boundaries—saying no more often

8. Identifying negative self-talk and changing it to positive

9. Pausing before reacting—do I really want to do this?

10. Getting one thing done every day, and celebrating this achievement

11. Looking after my health, body, skin, hair, teeth—regular appointments

12. Being grateful—starting each day with at least three things I am thankful for

13. Regular yoga and meditation

14. Laughing more and starting the day with a smile

15. Singing or dancing whenever possible

16. Having more fun and taking life less seriously

17. Treating myself with love and compassion—being my own best friend

18. Focusing on myself and prioritizing my needs—not focusing on the lives of others

19. Spending time alone and being still every day

20. Being my authentic self, not what others want me to be

21. Listening to my inner voice/intuition and doing what feels right for me

22. Avoiding over-analyzing a situation

23. Limiting my time on Facebook

24. Not worrying about what other people think about me

25. Getting a good sleep every night

26. Being patient with myself

27. My self-development, no matter how challenging

What’s your most important self-care practice?


About Jo Ritchie

After working in the corporate world for seventeen years, Jo redesigned her life to follow her bliss. She now travels the world running workshops and retreats and speaking about her experiences. Jo uses her background in martial arts, with her training in yoga teaching, coaching, and NLP, to help others find their power within.

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Listening To My Body

I have yet to learn.

I must have told you already in one of my so many blog posts that I feel guilty when I am not doing something. A day without anything tangible created is a day wasted. That’s my motto. I didn’t know when did the habit begun and where I’ve learned it. As long as I can remember, it is part of my life. Nobody taught me to feel guilty. If someone did I don’t remember.

The result is: I never rest unless I fall down dead. So to speak. As long as I can put one foot in front of the other, I’m up and running.

Some people run on reserve. I run on empty.

I go on and on till I collapsed out of sheer exhaustion. Sick for me means I passed out or delirious and can’t get out of bed. 40°C fever means I am still gallivanting out there and throwing up is part of life. I will lie in bed yes if I’m so dizzy I see stars or can’t open my eyes because of blinding headache. But the moment I can stand, I’m in the garage, on the floor repotting plants that don’t need repotting especially in the middle of the winter when they lay dormant and agitating them means risking their fragile life but still doing it all the while saying to myself: they don’t need moving, they don’t need water, wait till spring when they have the best chance to grow and flourish.

I’m crazy I know.

Look at me.

I still have a fever and didn’t sleep. I was up the whole night with my head in the loo yet I am here sitting in front of the computer typing nonsensical arguments with myself.

Why I do it?

I don’t know.

Bad habits.

Habits I really (really) have to unlearn.

I have to start listening to my body. (My mother-in-law said)

I’m not getting any younger. I have to accept that the way of life I gotten used to doesn’t fit/applies anymore to my present self. I have (there are so many I and have in this post) to take my foot off the gas pedal and stop before I crash. (As if I’m not crashing daily lately) There is no shame in being lazy every once in a while. Stop, smell the flowers (not roses, I hate roses especially red, they are so common) learn to sit and enjoy the moment instead of running a race. Chew your food, savor the drink, close your eyes and take pleasure from doing nothing.

Listen to your body and relax.

Relax.

Relax.

Relax.

Yeah.

Shit.

How to do it?

Can someone, anyone tell me?

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Quick Recap

Right after the New Year, I got the flu and took to bed.

I was so ill I could not stand up for five consecutive days, not even to pee. I forgot what time of the day it was or what day it was. I did not even mind if the doors were open or if the lights were on or not. I was shaking violently under two layers of duvet, sweating like a dog but freezing at the same time. I could not swallow food or tolerate even a sip of water. I was miserable.

On the fifth day, though shaky on my legs, I managed a trip to the doctor. The time I spent in the waiting room was torturous. Every sound magnified by tenfolds and the lights! The lights hurt my brain and the smell made me want to puke violently.

I got medicine for my sinusitis but the flu, you know the flu__ there is no cure for it.

I am still shaky but I can go downstairs now and gulp fruits, the only type of food I can tolerate so far. I managed to take a bath yesterday. It took me two hours and by the time I’m finished I was so exhausted, I had to sleep.

I didn’t leave the house for three weeks now and if I spend another day inside I will be crazy so, sick or not I’m going somewhere, anywhere.

I hope to be back on my feet before February 1st because I have to attend a corporate reception/party of some sort. I don’t want to but duty calls.

Wish me well.

Quick Recap:

Two more trips to the doctor and two different antibiotics later and I’m still ill.

The dizziness,  the nauseousness and vomiting, the never-ending coughs,  the excessive amount of phlegm and the headaches never leave me. I’m out of my wits! What to do, what to do!

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How to Let Go of the Need to Be Perfect

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.” – Anne Lamott

You find yourself asking, “When will what I do be enough?” You wonder, “How do I know if I’m truly happy or just settling to be comfortable?” You catch yourself constantly striving for more—more money, more stuff, more beauty, more brains, more awards. But no matter how much you get, you never know if what you desire will help you become your best self or just drive you further down the dissatisfying road of perfectionism. I know the journey of perfectionism far too well. Every once in a while, when I least expect it, my own perfectionistic motivations creep up on me. They come into play most when I’m making decisions, working, or interacting with others.

It’s that feeling you get when you expect things of yourself that you’d never expect from others. It’s working yourself to exhaustion in hopes that you’ll feel whole, complete, worthy. It’s basing your self-worth on external accomplishments, feeling like you have something to prove all the time. It’s piling on the emotions of guilt, burnout, and self-hate. It’s always coloring inside the lines and giving yourself the metaphorical whip if you screw up.

Perfectionism lives and breathes in your fear of making a mistake. When you’re afraid of what might happen, you don’t always make the best possible choices.

Instead, you limit your options because you believe you’ll be unable to handle the outcome of your choices if they happen to be negative. Allowing perfectionism to run the show is like being on a hamster wheel; you just keep going and going and going, even after you’ve reached your original goal. You increase the stakes every time so that when you do accomplish something, you wonder if you could have done it better.

Feeling and thinking this way makes perfect sense because our culture puts a ton of pressure on us to be perfect. We’re made to feel as if there’s something wrong with us if we’re still single by a certain age, don’t make a certain amount of money, don’t have a big social media following, or don’t look a certain way. In the midst of all that pressure, it’s easy to forget all the great, unique things about ourselves.

Many of the people I work with in therapy are frustrated because no matter how hard they try, they still feel like nothing they do is good enough. Even after all the external successes they’ve achieved, they still aren’t happy, and they aren’t sure why. What I find is that most of the time, their goals never came from them. When you never feel good enough in the eyes of others, it’s hard to build a strong sense of yourself. It’s difficult to know what you truly want, what ultimately fills your true purpose.

Perfectionism stays alive when you look for other people to give you worth, relying on their opinions to give you a sense of your value.

It’s deceptive because other people can’t make you feel like enough; that’s a decision you have to make for yourself. What’s enough and not enough, and how far you need to go, are more effective when they’re determined by your inner values. Needing and lacking approval and acceptance will inevitably lead you to feel that what you do is never enough; you’ll spend your life looking to do better and more.

That’s why I’m offering another way to be—an alternative to the endless cycle of looking for personal fulfillment through grand accomplishments. I want to help you put an end to the cycle of perfectionism. Knowing who you are and what you value is vital. Once you have that down, you can make the decision to be enough in every situation you face. And, in time, each situation will serve as a way to guide you toward your true self and free you from the need to be perfect.

So how do I let go of perfectionism and have a strong sense of self?

Change your mindset. Our mindset contains our ideas and views about life, which come from our previous experiences and perceptions of the world. How we look at the world influences our experience in it. Our perception becomes our reality. Creating a good-enough mindset that isn’t filled with unrealistic expectations will help you cultivate a sense of wellbeing. Therefore, the first step to feeling like you’re enough is changing your mindset and old beliefs about yourself derived from past experiences of what’s expected of you. The rest is a process of changing the idea that you need to work harder for approval and using that energy to just be enough for yourself.

Build self-reliance. You aren’t born with self-reliance, you gain it through trials and errors while you go through life making your own decisions. I started to develop confidence when I decided to think for myself and move forward with my decisions. People who act with self-reliance feel more in control of their environment, and feeling this way is an important ingredient of wellbeing. When what you do is in line with what you believe, your self-esteem and happiness grow. Being self-reliant means doing things for yourself. The more you do for yourself, the better you feel; the better you feel, the more confident you’ll become, and the less compelled you’ll feel to be perfect all the time.

Learn to let go. Try to let go of whatever it is that’s holding you back from accepting who you are. You’ll probably realize that you aren’t what other people say you are. You aren’t your pain, your past, or your emotions. It’s usually negative ideas about ourselves and hurtful self-talk that get in the way of who we really want to be and push us to never make any mistakes.

Make your own decisions. Start making your own decisions. It isn’t necessary to share every problem you encounter with everyone in your life. People do this to get advice, be told what they need to do, and pass their anxiety on to others. As you become more aware of what you want, you’ll start knowing the next step to take in your life, and you’ll recognize that nobody else has the answers. People who don’t feel good enough always look to others to make decisions for them. You know just as much as everyone else; in fact, you know more than others do about what’s right for you.

Remember, you can’t hate your way into accepting yourself. Convincing yourself of what a failure you are will never make any situation better, and repeating to yourself that you’ll never live up to your potential certainly won’t lead you to reach it. It’s important for you to remember that you are enough just as you are—and I promise, the more you practice it, the more you’ll believe it.

Make peace with the “now” before you feel satisfied with the “later.”We can’t feel totally satisfied with where we’re going until we can accept, acknowledge, and appreciate where we are. Make peace with where you are, and your journey toward something new will feel much more peaceful, rewarding, and satisfying.

Do you methodically look for evidence that you’re a nobody, that you don’t deserve acceptance, or that you aren’t living up to your potential? If so, I know how demoralizing and demeaning it can be. It will better serve you to focus on progress rather than perfection and on how far you’ve come instead of how far you have left to go.

One of the biggest pushes towards perfectionism is the need to always “get it right.” We strive for perfection and huge successes, and when we fall short, we feel worthless. What we don’t seem to realize is that working toward our goals and being willing to put ourselves out there are accomplishments within themselves. Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back for trying, making progress, and coming as far as you have.

By Ilene S. Cohen, Ph.D.

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Another Milestone

I realized something the other day while I was looking at my growing collection of succulents; I’m enjoying being on my own.

I know I told you already that I am a loner and prefer solitude than being in a crowd but there is some difference; before, I crave to be among people I have nothing to do with. I love to meet new acquaintances – preferably in far away places so I can run away if it becomes too much and strangers become too close – I love talking to random people, exchanging ideas and watching them doing their things as long as they don’t follow me home and insist to be my friends. Before, I resented being isolated. I was constantly homesick. I wanted to experience again the life I had before; the fun, the chase, the adventures, the thrill of discovering new people, new places and new things. I hated being settled, peaceful, grounded and (more or less) secure. To me it was boring, unimaginative, dead.

I still enjoy meeting people and going places and discovering new things but it is not a must anymore. At the end of the day, I am happy to be home. In fact, lately, while exploring new frontiers, at the back of my mind, I can’t wait to go home. I can’t wait till I am again inside my four walls where I can be alone and peaceful and safe. Safe from expectations, safe from demands, away from the prying eyes and prejudiced judgmental people. I can be whoever I want to be no one will force me.

Before, I charge my battery somewhere, the more peculiar, weird, bizarre, the better. These days home is where I recuperate and I get my fix from peace and quiet and safety my place offers. I don’t want complicated situations anymore. No more dramas, no more unnecessary commitments, no more pretending, no more catering to what society expects.

Today I realized another thing: I don’t have the urge anymore to control things. 

Before, I want everything the way it supposed to be, in my head. I got into a panic when things are not in their proper place and things don’t happen the way I expect and my weight is not 46 kilos. The moment the scale shows one or two gram more I will get so nervous I will go into crash diet and see to it that my weight is back on track within three weeks.

Now, I am 10 kilos heavier and have love handles all over the place but I can stand it. I don’t get agitated anymore when there is a glass on the kitchen counter or a cup somewhere in the living room and there are clothes that have to be ironed in bed. Mind you the glasses and cups and clothes will not be there for long, but they can stay there for a few hours till I find the time and urge to remove them. I can go out now without straightening everything till my house is picture perfect. In short, I’m learning to let go.

I’m learning to let go of my paranoia as well. I can stand open windows now, doors too. Dark days don’t make me think of everything evil and I can take a bath now when I’m home alone and even dare to go into my dressing without locking anything that could be locked. The knife I still keep but I forget it’s there sometimes. I take it as a positive sign and continuing improvement of my mental health.

I don’t know if I’m really getting better or would really get better or I just resigned to my situation. Could be also that I’m just getting old and tired and lost my appetite for anything that rock my already shaky constitution and learning the value of restful and quiet uncomplicated existence.

Who knows…

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A Garden Enigma

I have a landscaped beautiful garden in my suburban home. Though it is done by a professional, I can’t help adding my personal touch to it, making it the cottage garden I adore and love but on a minimalistic side. There are still lots of blooms, but they are contained in specific spaces. The landscaper planted few key elements in clumps like Hydrangea Macrophylia, Spiraea Japonica ‘golden princess’ Some Buxus clouds by the front door, Choysia Ternata on the side gate and pachysandra terminalis as a ground cover. Oh, there is a lone  Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ at the front. There are also few trees suited for small-ish gardens like Cornus Kousa, Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ and a couple of Acers and three others I can’t recognize. I added a lot more since then.

There is a Hydrangea Petiolaris climbing on three poles by the right side of the house and a huge pergola at the very back of the garden covered with Wisteria. Directly by the kitchen door, there is a kitchen garden with three small pear trees and five different sizes of wooden vat planted with Mediterranean herbs. There are Lavander in some corner front and back, hardy Geraniums I can’t kill no matter what, a border of roses and one Hydrangea Quercifolia. Ah, I remember there is a large clump of Liriope muscari ‘Moneymaker’ also, and that was it.

The first thing I did when we moved to the place is to rip out the expensive real looking pseudo turf by the bay window at the front of the house and put a mixed border. You know… Delphinium, Asters; Monarda, Liatris, Phlox, Japanese anemone, ligularia dentata Desdemona and Othelo, Heucheras, Astrantia and such. I planted around the box clouds on the right side the same mix, they are under a small(?) grafted tree I don’t recognize. I think it is some Cherry Laurel on a stick, has white flowers with a subtle smell. The Buxus clouds suffered the heatwave this year so I dug them up and put them under the three towering Acers by the gate to recuperate and replaced them with a mixed border to mirror the left side under the bay window. This time I added Verbena, sedum (I doted them throughout the borders around the house too) Agapanthus, Rudbeckias, and Echinaceas. I added also some Valerian which seeded everywhere since then and bay leaves trees in the kitchen garden.

Did I mention there is an ornamental bubbling pond next to the circular terrace directly outside the bay french window in the living room? When we bought the place (which is a model/show house of excellent quality) there was only one kind of flower around it, Rudbeckia. I planted Echinacea, Verbena, some grasses, creeping sedum, and Crocosmia. D. Had his choice of water plants. No fish. I don’t do annuals unless they self-seed like Digitalis (by far my most favorite flower) forget-me-nots, Marigolds, Cosmos, and this year Hollyhocks because D. Not gardening not interested D. Decided he wants Hollyhocks. 

For all the beauty of the garden and all the hours I put beautifying and tending it we never use it.

I don’t know why.

We have a romantic bistro/Mediterranean inspired powder pink garden set directly next to the kitchen door by the kitchen garden in the view of the pond. There is a complete three-piece lounge set by the pond shaded by a huge umbrella, there is a big wooden bench under the pergola, and there are lounge beds around the garden but like my spare rooms in the house, they are museum pieces. Nobody uses them. I don’t go out in the garden unless to work, nothing else. Our front garden inside the first gate has a place for at least five cars but it is another lost space. Somewhere to traverse from the gate to the front door, that’s it.

I often wonder and ask myself why we don’t go out in the garden to relax. The only thing I could come with is the noise of the busy traffic outside the gate. Something we never anticipated when we bought the place. We heard the noise day and night and we don’t like it. Although there is a lot of space between our house and the actual road and there are double privacy hedges and trees still it’s not relaxing. If I can uproot the house and put it somewhere quiet I already did by now. I am willing to move one last time if I find a place that will make our current residence a second best but seven years of searching brings me nowhere and the longer it takes, the prospect of moving again doesn’t hold the same allure anymore for me. And my condition doesn’t make it easy either. 

I don’t know what we gonna do but in the meantime, I will enjoy (looking at) my garden from behind closed windows.

Next time I will tell you about a garden we do use. 

My words will either attract a strong mind or offend a weak one.

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