Category Archives: Inspirational

Practising Self-Love

Today, I have been reading up on self-love, in a continued effort to learn about self-improvement and therby improve myself. Self-love still sounds a bit weird to me. It sounds arrogant, bordering on narcissistic even. There is this concept of radical self-love. It says goodbye to “I am okay, you are okay”, because we are all more than just “okay”. We are great! However, though the aim is radical self-love, this self-love also extends into high esteem for others.

How do you practise self-love? There are many ways. Some people see it as spoiling themselves, but it is much more. We don’t just spoil the other people we love either, after all. We also take good care of them and we tell them we love them. In addition, we encourage them to go out of their comfort zone. We should do the same to ourselves. I am the most important person in my life. You are the most important person in your life. Treat yourself like you are.

The first step towards self-love is realizing that you are the most important person in your life. Practise positive self-talk everyday. You could do this by:


  1. Starting the day with an affirmation. You can choose standard affirmations, but it also helps to say something that makes you happy about yourself specifically, such as a positive thing about the previous day or the day to come.

  2. Challenging your inner critic. Don’t believe everything your mind tells you. You cannot always control your every thought, but practise thinking positive thoughts about yourself and challenging negative ones.

  3. Stopping to compare yourself to others. You are unique, so there is no-one who will be exactly like you. Therefore, there is no need to compare yourself to others, who might be better at some things than you are. Only compare yourself to yourself.

  4. Celebrating your wins, no matter how big or small. Be proud of what you have achieved. Reward yourself in a caring way if it helps.

  5. Forgiving yourself for mishaps in your life. We cannot always be cheery, positive people. Beating yourself up over a negative attitude, however, makes that attitude worse.

Another step is self-care. Self-care means giving your body the nutriiton, exercise, rest and comfort it needs. For exaple, eat healthfully, sleep well, avoid cigarettes, alcohol and drugs, and exercise regularly. You need to take extra care of your body when physically ill.

Mental self-care involves taking good care of your mind. For example, practise mindfulness, meditation or relaxation techniques everyday. I do yoga a lot to take good care of both my body and my mind. You can also take good care of yur mind by challenging yourself cognitively and emotionally. Cognitive challenges include brain gym, but also lifelong learning. For example, take up a distance learning course in a subject that interests you or go on a site like Busuu to learn a new language. You can emotionally challenge yourself by challenging negative self-talk and by going out of your comfort zone with your goals and aspirations. Emotional self-care also involves following your passion.

Self-love is also reflected in the relationships you have with others. Eliminate toxic relationships and surround yourself with people who appreciate and care about you. In turn, you will need to practise being appreciative of and caring towards othes. For example, express gratitude when someone is kind to you. Treating others with love and respect will make you feel better, too.

Everyday Gyaan

Change Is Inevitable: Your Attitude Towards Growth

Handling change is hard for me. I don’t like transitions, as they bring about a lot of uncertainty and therefore stress. I’d rather stay in my comfort zone and live my life as if the world weren’t changing arund me. That’s not realistic, however. I grow older with each passing day, even if I only realize it on my birthday or on January 1. Change is inevitable.

Growth is intentional. Many people make annual goals to make sure they do not just change, but grow as well. If you are anything like me, you are more interested in the process of writing about your goals than the process of meeting them. If you are antyhing like me, after all, you’re better at writing than at overcoming big challenges like overeating or mental health probems.

It can be overwhelming looking back at your annual or even monthly goals and seeing how few you’ve met, especially if you’re a pessimist. It is much more helpful in that sense to look at each day as it comes, appreciating the growth you’ve made that particular day. I may not have lost ten to twenty pounds yet and most likely will not lose them this year either, but each day without bingeing is a good day in the eating disorder department.

When you look at the future, like I said yesterday, you can have an attitude of hope or one of fear. When you look back at the past, the same is true: you can be appreciative or disappointed. When you do look back at your annual or monthly goals, you can have an attitude of appreciation for the goals you did meet or one of disappointment over those you didn’t. For example, I could focus on the weight loss and eating disorder recovery goals I did not meet (yet!), or I could focus on my blogging and writing goals. In these areas, I far exceeded my expectations.

Not only does growth help you reach your goals and thereby help you be more appreciative, but the reverse is also true. If you look back on your goals and decide you didn’t meet some, it is easy to allow your motivation to go down the drain and retreat into your comfort zone. When, however, you look back at your goals and see you met some, you feel more motivated to continue striving to meet your future goals. Like I said yesterday about passing or not failing Latin, having met some goals and having not met some goals, is essentially the same. It’s your attitude that makes the difference.

mumturnedmom
Everyday Gyaan
A Fresh Start

 

Hope Not Fear #MondayMusings

“May your choices reflect your hopes. Not your fears.” – Nelson Mandela

This quote was one of the writing prompts for last week’s Friday Reflections. However, I had already written about another prompt, and in fact, didn’t find out about this prompt until I’d written my post. Since this quote is very fitting for my life, I thought I’d write on it now.

I have often been guided by fear in the choices I made in my life. For most of the eight years of my institutionalization, I have feared taking the leap towards independence. This led me to reject my husband’s idea of having me live with him, which he had voiced long before our wedding. I’d rather live in a supported housing accommodation, because I was deathly afraid of the situation I’d been in when living independently in 2007. At the time, I’d not coped from the start but I’d been on the waiting list for mental health services and the crisis team didn’t feel my situation was serious enough. Ultimately, it took me becoming suicidal in another city to get me the help I needed.

By letting my fears dictate my choices, however, I was not taking chances, for taking chances requires taking risks as well. Because no supported housing place could accommodate my needs, I remained in the institution for presently almost eight years.

I had a boyfriend and later a husband, of course, and I was and am totally in love with him. My fear guided my choice not to go live with him, because I feared if I needed to be admitted to the psychiatric unit again while living with him, he’d abandon me. Never mind that he stuck with me through eight years of institutionalization.

yesterday, I saw a thread on a Dutch eating disorder forum I particpate on that asked where you would be in ten years. I will write a more elaborate post on this later on, but what it taught me was to have hope. Still having an optimistic attitude from last Friday’s meeting with the social worker, I realize now that I need to let this hope shine through when I make my choices.

I remeber in high school needing to make SMART goals. The S stands for “specific”, and it had as an explanation: “Write down what you want to achieve, not what you want to avoid.” For example, you’d write down “pass Latin”, not “not fail Latin”. The Mandela quote I started this post with, illustrates the difference: while in a way, “pass” and “not fail” are the same, “pass” is based on hope, “not fail” on fear.

Back to my situation with regards to my going to live with my husband. I have often based my goals on fear, saying for example that I wanted to avoid being overburdened. I could reword these, saying for example I want to be supported. That is a much clearer, but also much more optimistic goal.

This post was written for #MondayMusings, which I co-host with Corinne of Write Tribe this week (see her post too). Please feel free to join in. Click on the button below to be taken to the linky.



Everyday Gyaan

#PowerMonday: Pondering Strength

Over at Strength adn Sunshine, Rebecca P. writes power Monday, in which she ponders the nature of strength. She considers herself physically and emotionally strong. I’d like to focus in this post on emotional strength, because I possess little physical strength.

What does it take to be emotionally strong? I’m generally seen as emotionally strong because I’ve been through a lot and made it through. I’m seen as perseverant by some. Others, however, don’t see me as such, because, if I truly were perseverant, I’d have overcome my disabilities and would live independently. Some people see me as someone who gives up particularly soon.

I’d like to think of myself as strong. Then again, aren’t the circumstances I’ve survived merely that, circumstances? In my #AskAwayFriday post last week, I said thaat the greatest challenge I’ve overcome is surviving prematurity. That being said, didn’t the doctors just keep me alive? I can’t know whether I showed any will to survive. Does this assumption that I’m strong for surviving, not condemn the non-survivors for being weak?

I struggle with the idea of emotional strength as a positive attribute, also, because it condemns the mentally ill. We’re not resilient, almost by definition, because we suffer from depression, anxiety or the like. I see people in my institution who are particularly passive or negative. Does this mean they don’t have strength, or does it merely mean they’re suffering from their illness?

There are these sayings going around. “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” In this sense, God is seen as the cause of our suffering, and we’re seen as the cause of our overcoming of it. This is probably a way to sustain our sense of self, believing we’re strong for overcoming something that life (or God) put us through. I’m more than happy to believe I’m strong for having survived premature birth, childhood trauma, disability, and other challenges. It allows me to believe in myself.

Appreciating Progress

There is a lot of debate in the disaiblity community about what to expect from children with disabilities. Some people say we need to treat them the same we would typical children, because the world isn’t going to adapt to them when they’re grown. Others say we need to stop expecting and start encouragign, valuing and being grateful.

Both these philosophies have some value. I derive my quality of life from meaningful activities rather than meeting expectations of measureable progress, but measureable progress is what politicians and insurance companies look for when fudning or deciding on funding of our care.

It is my belief that expecting a child to be the best self they can be, does not contradict being thankful for the little things they achieve. However, for this, we need to let go of comparing our children to others at all times. I can see how life skills training is important, because, well, the care system is on a tight budget and that isn’t likely to get ay better. But that doesn’t mean that as people with disabilities, as parents, as friends and family, we must take these skills for granted. They’re important, yes, but they don’t come naturally.

It’s true that health insurers won’t care to appreciate the little achievements your child has made, particularly if they don’t end up costing the insurer less money. Same for future employers if the grown child’s skills won’t make them more employable. That doesn’t mean you as a parent need to stop appreciating your child’s progress. Also, as parents, you will more than a future employer or health insurer appreciate progress that is not measureable, such as the child growing into a strong-willed, kind, honest individual, for example. Continue to appreciate this.

I derive quality of life from meaningful activities, from contact with caring relatives, from spiritual growth. These don’t cost my health insurance company any money. If you as a parent don’t appreciate your child’s activvities, friendships and spirit, who will? Friends, if they’re genuine, appreciate your child for who they are, not for the life skills they have or grades they earn in school.