Tools & Coping Strategies

1 Small Act of Self Care = 1 Small Success

Experiments show us possibilities
Success builds confidence
Mistakes build resilience
1 Act of Self Care = 1 Small Success

Disclaimer: I am not an expert by any means. Not a therapist, medical or mental health professional. I do not diagnose, treat, or tell people what to do. The main purpose of this website and blog is education and support. If you are unsure how the suggestions and resources here may affect you, please discuss any changes to your existing treatment plan with your medical and mental health providers first.

If you want to read my personal reflection about last week’s article on therapy, please go here. I posted an alter story on Untangled Connections.

If not, please skip down to today’s post about tools and strategies to manifest goals

Change = Stress = confusion + life challenges + tiredness….maybe?

January has been a big month. I started blogging here as a first start to my business. Added in a mailing list and Facebook page, but haven’t had the time to follow up on it.

p.s. joining the mailing list will give you access to members only affirmation cards (like at the top of this post), coupons/promotions when I start selling products, and exclusive downloadable recipes and writing/blogging tips when I get a chance to create and format them for you. Promise not to spam you with email – if you get more than 1 a month, it’s for a sale or bonus thank you to my guests.

Then I found a new apartment, broke current lease, and am moving in less than 5 days. Got the keys and moved some stuff to the new place yesterday, but still packing, working, and living at the old place for now. All this will have happened in less than 3 weeks.

Why share this? Because like me, many of you have busy lives and might sometimes, maybe, feel a mix of conflicting emotions about everything going on too.

Overwhelmed – that’s the word I forgot to include earlier. And it’s true. I often feel overwhelmed and like I failed because I didn’t finish my to-do list or had to adjust a deadline when something else comes up.

Learning from Mistakes

This is where the Affirmation Card graphic or infographic (what do you call them? cause I don’t know :/) comes in. One of the greatest lessons my past taught me is this: experiment and learn. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. Often the same mistake more than once until, somehow, I learned the lesson behind it.

Have you experienced that before? Fumbling around, not sure what you are doing, but figuring it out in the end?

That + plus insatiable curiosity is usually how I get into trouble (aka experiments and mistakes) that becomes learning opportunities. For your sake, I hope you find other ways to experiment. Trouble is not the best way to learn even if it is effective.

But that whole “figuring it out in the end” part I wrote about a little bit ago? That is success. Maybe a small success, one that you didn’t realize your achieved in the moment, but a success all the same. Maybe you blustered and faked your way through the whole thing – or you feel like you did – until the very end when the actions/thoughts/emotions inside you felt like you. i.e. you made it.

I don’t like the phrase “fake it ’til you make it” because the term “faking” feels negative to me. Don’t get me wrong. Going in with self confidence or a sense of safety/security helps in any challenging situation. And giving the appearance of confidence or strength to the outside world (even if you don’t feel confident inside) can help too.

But it’s not everything. There are other ways to give the appearance of confidence/competence/security without feeling like a fraud. Especially since sometimes “faking it” means trying to be someone or something you’re not instead of being your authentic self.

When you can feel comfortable, confident, and secure in who you are (aka yourself), you can give the appearance of (you name it here) without feeling or acting like a fraud. It’s not easy and is a continuous process, but definitely worth the effort – at least to me. In fact, learning to accept, embrace, love unconditionally, and feel secure in my authentic self has been an integral part of manifesting my health and wellness goals.

But I wouldn’t have realized this without developing resilience from making mistakes and building the foundation of confidence/security one small success at a time. Below are two tools I use to build and maintain my foundation. Maybe they will help you too.

Building the Foundation with Acknowledgement + Gratitude

First is Acknowledgement:
This is the scariest (to me) tool in my tool box because it means acknowledging, working with, and utilizing my weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and character flaws so they become sources of strength instead of hiding from, ignoring, or rejecting them.

Acknowledgement requires using other tools like mindfulness, self/other reflection, or meditation to examine who I am now; how I currently act/react/behave/feel/think about myself and others; and how that affects my relationships with self and others. Then deciding if I want to continue on my current path or change it. And how to make any changes.

You don’t have to do more than be aware of your thoughts, emotions, actions, and reactions in any given moment. I didn’t. In fact, I fought with and struggled against this concept for the first 3-5 years of my recovery journey because the concept was so overwhelming.

Start small. Each time you acknowledge something about yourself (positive/negative/neutral) is a small success.

Second is Gratitude:
My definition and use of this word may differ from yours. I believe gratitude is a belief, an attitude, a feeling, and an action (expression of the feeling or belief). It is something outside ourselves that can be expressed in many ways – like faith.

Sometimes gratitude is obvious, and sometimes it goes unnoticed.

But feeling and expressing gratitude brings joy into my life and allows me to feel connected to something bigger than myself. For example:

  • God/spritiual being or entity of your choice
  • Nature
  • Humanity
  • All living beings

Gratitude allows me opportunities to help others and accept help from others with grace and respect within the boundaries of what I can and cannot do.

It can be as simple as a night time meditation or prayer. It can be as complex as volunteering hours at a non-profit organization or allocating 10% of your pay to charitable causes. Or anything in between.

But gratitude, the giving and receiving, can also be an act of self care depending on the intention. I express gratitude multiple times a day as a way to help me keep my life in perspective.

Morning an evening mediation starts with this:

Dear Universe (or God or Goddess sometimes), thank you for the blessings in my life. Thank you for the every day miracles. Thank you for your unconditional love and acceptance; your guidance, protection, and support. Thank you for teaching me how to help myself by connecting me with guardians and guides.

AlterXpressions

With social conflict, I try to be kind and show appreciation when people choose to be kind and respectful instead of following the crowd or choosing to be rude/mean, etc.

Finally, I believe in “random acts of kindness” and giving away or donating items more often than selling them when possible.

Reflection question: How can you incorporate gratitude, if you want to, in your life?

Daily Self Care Challenge for this week.

Remember what I said at the beginning about experimenting and making mistakes? Well, this is my experiment (and potential failure) for the week.

Goal: I will try to post here one small act of self care every day until next Sunday. The post will include the following elements: action (what I did), intention (why is it self care), and a reflection to explain how it was as success.

Self Care Challenge 1 (done Saturday 1/18 for Sunday 1/19 since I will be out most of the day)

Action: Instead of going to the new apartment and finishing the move-in checklist like I planned, I stayed home to continue packing, support my team through an unexpected work issue, and rest.

Intention: self care to conserve and rebuild internal energy levels by staying inside and accomplishing tasks at home. Going out today would have triggered anxiety, agoraphobia, and/or panic attacks that drain my energy.

Reflection: Normally doing something like this triggers flashbacks and a shame spiral that leads me into negative self talk and/or reckless behavior no matter what my intentions are. This time, I used past successful experiences to cope with the negative feelings and address potential triggers.

By being honest with the property manger about the change in plans and making a decision to help my team (also acknowledging gratitude that my hard work and past actions enabled these people to trust me and ask for help), I was able to separate my past from my present and cope with the conflicting feelings inside my mind/body/spirit safely.

That gave me space to rest at home in between periods of packing, putting items in the donation area of my building, and sorting through paper work.

Packing, etc. was distraction enough to keep me from experiencing anxiety about the long wait periods associated with tech support or customer support phone calls and messages during off-work hours (part of my job as a team liaison with other departments) and being on call this weekend.

Each choice built a foundation to make the act of self care a success.

Reflection question: what does self care mean to you?

Love and Rainbows ~ TJ

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