New Beginnings, Self-development

Does the Limit Really Exist? (How to Realize your Endless Potential)

I’m sure we all recognize a Mean Girls GIF when we see one. What an awesome part in the movie, right? Cady answers the final question correctly in the math competition, and her high school mathlete team takes home the title!

But that’s not the important part. What’s important is what comes right before she answers the question. Cady approaches her competitor, Ms. Caroline Kraft, who “seriously needed to pluck her eyebrows” and wipe the cheap lip gloss off her front tooth.

Mean girl's character, Ms. Caroline Kraft

But then Cady immediately recognizes, making fun of Caroline Kraft wouldn’t stop Ms. Kraft from answering the math question correctly. And it was at that moment that Cady realized, “all you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.”

Then that’s when she says it… “The limit does not exist!”

No Limits, No Worries

Hiker achieves her goal by climbing to the top of a mountain.

Think about your goals. Maybe one of them is to run a 5 km race in a time of 20 minutes. The “problem” you now need to solve is “how do I run 5 km in 20 minutes?” And the obvious answer: train.

So you train hard for 3 months and end up reaching your goal – woohoo! But then what…? Well, option (1) you maintain the same training methods to maintain a 20 minute time for next race; or option (2) you give yourself another problem to solve – you decide to crank your training up a notch and shoot to make a time of 19 minutes and 55 seconds for the next race.

Long distance runners in a track event.

That’s what I love about being limitless – once you reach a goal, you can push harder to reach a more difficult goal. You are completely capable of getting out of your own way, and working to solve the new problem in front of you.

And if you are ever doubting yourself, remember this phrase:

“You can do anything!”

…wait, what!? You think that’s a cheesy and unrealistic statement?! Hmmm… I think not.

Maybe that statement is just a fact. Maybe the problem is you don’t believe in yourself enough to understand that fact as true.

Well I think it is true. What’s more, I think that if you are a human being, the improvements you can make everyday and the problems you can solve everyday are limitless.

Your Limit Does Not Exist

What do you think it means to be limitless? And in what sense can a human being truly be limitless?

Let’s break down the answers to those questions:

To be limitless is to recognize who you are today, and then recognize that you can be so much more tomorrow (and more the day after that, and more after that … you get the picture).

Now in what sense can you be limitless? Well that answer is interesting for the following reason. You see, most people immediately answer the question with “we have limits because we are human”. Most people think, because we are human, we just can’t do certain things (for example, flapping our arms so hard that we fly, or growing a fury coat to keep us warm in the winter). However, an answer like that tells me you don’t truly understand the power of being limitless; because an answer like that simply focuses on physical abilities.

So to answer my earlier question: we are limitless in the sense of our mental capabilities, not our physical abilities.

The Proof is in the Pudding

Think about every time you trained or studied for something. If it was a race, maybe you achieved a personal best time. If it was a test, maybe you got a 90% and scored the highest in the class.

Whatever it was, you were successful because you worked hard.

Now here’s something to think about: what if you worked harder? What if you used your capabilities to take you further next time around?

Let’s start with the example of writing a test. “Hold on Ella! I have no plans on taking the EXACT SAME test twice. So then how can I tell if I’ve pushed myself to new limits the second time around?”

That is a valid question.

But you have to remember, your limitless potential has nothing to do with answering a multiple choice question correctly, and EVERYTHING to do with HOW you go about answering that question.

Think about it, even standardized tests like the MCAT, LSAT, and SAT use a variety of questions across each individual test. But what is similar for each test is 1) knowledge testing 2) analytical testing 3) and communication testing. So if you focus your studying to improve those 3 areas, it is likely you will improve your test scores regardless of the questions being asked.

So let’s say you want to read test questions quicker. If you simply physically try to read as fast as you can, you probably won’t see much improvement. Alternatively, if you use your mental capacity to research ways to read faster and implement them on a daily basis (ex. using your finger to guide you as you read), you will start to notice improvements.

Think about the hundreds of thousands of people who, over history have said, “I have no idea how to do this”… and then thought and thought and until they figured that sh*t out!

Think about all the athletes in history who have set world record after world record. It seems there is always a new and better way to train.

Whether it was Einstein, Napoleon, Federer, or Musk all those people had to use their mental capacity to solve their problems.

So if you want to take advantage of your limitless potential, you need to be able to think your way out of difficult situations.

Defy the Odds

Can you picture your limit? Can you aactually visualize a moment where you are working hard but cannot work any harder?

If you just said “yes”, you are limiting yourself! Here’s the thing about being limitless: potential exists in the future and limits exist in the past.

If you can visualize your highest potential, you believe there is an end point. You believe there is a point you will reach and never be able to move past.

So if you want to visualize your highest potential without turning it into an end point destination, here’s one of my absolute favourite tips:

Your highest potential is just a dust door.

So if you hit that 20 minute record in the 5 km race, in that moment you might believe you reached your highest potential. But as soon as you knock on that door, POOF it disappears!

And once you have no door in your way, you continue to set more difficult goals. You continue push yourself to a new level because you are thinking smarter not harder.

That’s why the #YearofYou mantra is so powerful. Because it truly embraces the power of being limitless. Each day, you can truly take another step toward making the next 365 days the best you’ve ever experienced.

So as always, I hope you have a happy Monday, and don’t forget to make this the #YearOfYou!

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*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional advice.*

Selfcare Tips

You’re Missing Something Vital (Mental Health vs. Mental Illness)

“You’re fine”, says the inner tough-guy.

Habit coach smiling in the face of adversity

…but maybe you’re not fine. Maybe you feel sad, lonely, anxious, and upset. But maybe that’s okay…

Sad and Anxious are Normal Emotions

Do you know what mental health is? I know the subject is heavily talked about nowadays, but do you fully comprehend what it means to have “mental health”?

Answer: It is literally the health of your mind. The good and poor health of all minds!

If you are a human with a mind, you have mental health. Just like if you are a human with a body, you have physical health.

And then we can go a bit deeper and ask, “what is a healthy mind?”

A healthy mind is one which enjoys life and living, is realistic and at peace, and is resilient after undergoing a difficult situation. A healthy mind properly balances the 3 parts of the personal development loop: self-care, self-development, self-discipline.

This seems pretty straight forward, right?

So then why does it also seem that the normal feelings of occasionally unhealthy minds (such as sadness and anxiousness) are quickly being labelled as feelings which require medication?

I think the push on mental health awareness has exploded since the recent BOOM of social media and campaigns like #BellLetsTalk. And as a result, mental health echo-chambers have been created online, opinions on such matters have been instensified in the hope mental health will improve, and poor mental health has been conflated with mental illness.

“Wait Ella…what is the difference between mental health and mental illness anyways?”

I’m glad you asked!

According to the DSM-5 (the Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5 Ed.), mental illness is, “… a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotion regulation, or behaviour that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. An expected or culturally approved response to a common stressors or loss […] is not a mental disorder. […]”

Interesting definition. There’s 1 sentence in there that catches my attention, and that is what I want to talk about today (I’d also love to know your opinion in the comment section below).

The eye catching sentence is…

“an expected or culturally approved response to a common stressor or loss […] is not a mental disorder.”

This statement is pretty easy to understand – normal negative emotions are not mental illnesses.

So what is normal?

In my opinion, normal is stress, anxiousness, and burnout after hustling hard through 4 years of university. It is not wanting to eat or get out bed after the loss of a loved one. And it is feelings of being incredibly sad and distraught after having a limb amputated.

As you can see above, there are feelings / responses which can be expected from people after experiencing something negative. And most people (maybe other than those with sociopathic tendencies… which can be attributed to a mental illness) would experience poor mental health in these circumstances.

So here’s where my issue comes in…and I’ll tell you about it using my personal circumstances for “credibility”

I believe that the push for raising awareness about mental health and mental illness has become so loud yet very unclear. I see individuals, business, and media outlets discussing poor mental health as one-in-the-same with mental illness. I see (although I whole-heartedly believe this comes from the right place) young people being told that feelings of sadness COULD be depression, which I believe is a problematic statement for one major reason:

It is correct! (Yes, you heard me right! The statement can be problematic for, in particular, young and impressionable people, because it legit makes complete sense

“Wait ..what?? Ella … what the heck are you talking about?”

Yes, I understand you’re probably confused, so please let me explain.

The Negative Feedback Loop of Mental Health

You see, by using the word “could” in a statement, the statement assumes that x (ex. sadness) might OR might not be y (ex. depression). The use of the word “could” leads to the acceptance of 2 assumptions, polar opposite of each other.

Now, the possibility that somebody may or may not have y (depression in this case), in combination with that person feeling like they’ve hit rock bottom, will tend to put them on the side of caution (…the same side I was on in 2017 when I thought I had depression).

Now, when someone sides with caution they take on a “just in case” mentality. This means, “just in case I have depression, I should take the necessary precautions such as get on medication and stay home when I feel like I am so sad that I can’t get out of bed.”

[which is exactly what I did]

Now fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with the “just in case mentally” because it is completely natural; it is essentially a flight or fright response to a dangerous situation.

And although the “just in case” mentality is natural, it still leads to an acceptance of a detrimental assumption (ex. the assumption, “I have depression”). And honing in on this negative thought can take someone to a dark place and leave them stuck in a negative feedback loop.

[Which is where I was stuck in 2017]

The negative feedback loop of mental health

Here’s the explanation for the logic model you see above:

Statement: I could have depression (remember that there is nothing wrong with this statement in and of itself)

HOWEVER, this statement then leads to an acceptance of two polar opposite assumptions: (1) I do not have depression and (2) I have depression

And because 1 of the assumptions is detrimental, you side with caution and the “just in case” mentality kicks in.

Since you are now preparing for the detrimental scenario, you have to adopt the idea that the detrimental assumption is true. That said, since the two polar opposite assumptions cannot both be held at the same time, you drop the assumption of the best case scenario in order to prepare for the worst one.

So back in 2017 when I fell into this negative feedback loop, I began to adopt bad behaviour that I subconsciously thought someone with depression would carry-out i.e. my mind behaved like a depressed mind, because I believed I had depression.

And once the negative behaviour started, my mind honed in on it and I started digging my rock-bottom hole even deeper. And once that happened, I started connecting the “depressed” dots of my life in hindsight; I thought, “all those times I was sad in my life make sense now. I must have depression.”

The mind is so incredibly powerful, it’s almost unbelievable how it can take hold of a thought and hone in on it. That’s why the power of self-talk is so incredibly important.

So as you can see, if a young, impressionable teenager hears a statement like, “if you’re sad you COULD have depression,” they might associate their rock bottom experience with actually having depression. AND THEN they might get stuck in a negative feedback loop.

“I can see how the power of thought is important Ella, but how does one get out of that negative feedback loop? How does one turn their rock bottom experience into their breakthrough moment?!”

Well here is how I did it, and maybe this can help you too:

1) I accepted the fact that I am more emotional than other people (at least it seems that way to me, and I’m totally cool with that). I realized that my über emotional state is actually an advantage, and if you think you’re emotional too, you can read about the benefits here.

2) I realized I needed to practice good self-care. (Even if you don’t have a mental illness, YOU HAVE MENTAL HEALTH so you need to take care of it. Don’t wait until you hit your rock bottom to start cultivating your self care tools.)

3) I simply decided that my mind’s focus must be on improving my life. And I accepted the fact that trying to improve it will be difficult at times.

I hit my version of rock bottom, so I needed to work hard to get out.

Let go or be dragged. - Zen Proverb

Do NOT be ashamed of hitting your rock bottom

Remember that suffering is relative, which means rock bottom is relative…

So maybe that means depression is relative too??? And if it is relative, maybe that’s ok… But since medication probably shouldn’t be used as a blanket cure-all for a relative and subjective human experiences, I think medical doctors and psychiatrists should be putting more emphasis on things like mediTation instead of mediCation. After all, any circumstances of sadness, suicidal thoughts, anxiousness, and overwhelm NEED to dealt with by the patient him or herself so that those feelings can be managed in the future.

In my experience, I can confidently say my weekly visits to the psychologist were what truly helped me end the downward spiral of my poor mental health, NOT the SSRIs my doctor prescribed me.

It was by learning to fill up my mental health toolbox that built my resilience and prepared me for the normal yet unfortunate challenges in life.

So even if you don’t have a mental illness, you have mental health… and in either circumstance you need to cultivate self-care practices. Don’t get caught in the “just in case” mentality, hone in on positive thoughts, and focus on making this the #YearOfYou

As always, Happy Monday ❤✌

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*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional health advice.

Selfcare Tips

Why active rest is NOT just for fitness

“I need a break… But I don’t understand how taking a break will help me become more productive!”

BE HONEST: Has the above statement ever crossed your mind?

Better yet, has that statement crossed your mind and then you actually continued to work?

And final question: Did you burn out after continuing to push yourself?

👋 Well I answer yes to all those questions, and I unfortunately learned the hard way about the necessity of taking breaks.

Habit coach sitting on a bench in Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton,  Alberta.

And that’s why I’m here now to explain what it ACTUALLY MEANS to take a lil’ break, and as a result, boost your productivity.

Remember that a “break” should be an “active rest”

When it comes to physical fitness, active rest is very important for productivity in the gym.

Active rest (or active recovery) is when you engage in low intensity and short duration movement, after an intense workout.The benefit of active rest as opposed to passive rest is that your body and muscles recover at a much quicker pace.

So, the quicker you physically recover, the quicker you can engage in high intensity workouts again. Therefore by taking active rests, you will be able to do more workouts, lose more fat, build more muscle, improve your cardio, and overall improve your physical fitness.

Now let’s apply the active rest concept to your mental and emotional recovery:

When you engage in light activity to keep your brain thinking and your thoughts organized, you’ll be able to more quickly recover from stress and burnout, as opposed to breaking by turning your brain off completely.

“So How Do I Active Rest for My Mental Health?”

1) Utilize Your Time, Don’t Abuse Your Time

A clock, which signifies the importance of time

Here’s a big myth: people think drinking and tanning on a beautiful beach will help them “clear their minds” when work becomes almost too much to handle.

And here’s the reality: a vacation definitely could clear your mind! But just remember, if you don’t utilize your time, the vacation will eventually end and you’ll end up back where you started.

To best utilize your vacation time, do some research on self-development tools to help counter stress and burnout.

So instead of simply mentally removing yourself from daily life, I recommend you keep yourself slightly engaged so that your daily life can be better tackled after your break.

When you fill your self-developmemt tool belt with the proper tools, you will be able to diffuse your work/life stress as soon as you get back to your job.

One of the most useful tools I’d recommend is meditation. Learning to be okay with isolation instead of stimulation can help manage the stress and overwhelm experienced in day-to-day life.

In addition, reading self-development books and listening to self-development podcasts can also provide you with amazing tools to be resilient when returning to the stresses of daily life.

So remember that taking a break shouldn’t mean “doing nothing”; it should mean “taking a quick step away from work so you can learn to do work better”. This is a great time to plug the phrase, “work smarter, not harder.”

2) Reorganize Your Schedule

Maybe you feel overwhelmed because you don’t manage your time.

Are you taking-on an appropriate amount of work? If you are, maybe you need to schedule yourself better so you know which tasks are top priorities.

When we don’t record tasks and projects in a planner, we end up storing them in our brains. This creates unnecessary stress and a lot of overthinking.

So instead of using a long weekend to take your mind off work, keep your mind on work for a brief time. Keep your mind on work for just as long as it takes to write everything in a planner. Then as soon as you write it out…LEAVE IT THERE. Remove the task from your brain and let it live on the paper until you need to revisit it.

You know what they say, “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. So write it all out, and pick it up as needed.

3) Don’t Stop Using Your Brain… Even When You Think You Should Stop

So if you have your schedule organized and you have the right tools but you still think you need a break, then take one. BUT do not break cold turkey.

Keep yourself thinking lightly by reading, listening to podcasts, engaging in recreational activities and interacting with real people. Playing brain games are great and all, but for light and effective stimulation, nothing is better than sticking yourself in a real-life scenario.

By remaining in a lightly active state, you will have an easier time transitioning back to daily life and problem solving.

And if you still don’t buy the “active rest thing”, here is a common example of the same concept used in emotional recovery:

When someone close to you passes on, you need to grieve – you need to think about that person and remember how special they were to you during their lifetime. When you take a “break” from daily life to grieve, you are allowing yourself to continue living happily in the best way you can.

So remember, you aren’t “taking a break”. You are taking an active rest!

Utilize your time instead of abusing your time, and as always, have a Happy Monday ❤✌

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*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional health advice.

New Beginnings, Self-development

Do These 3 Things BEFORE Getting Into ANY Relationship

Heartbreak. Break up. Let down.

I’m sure we’ve all felt some sort of gut-wrenching feelings after experiencing any of the three things mentioned above.

So how do we get past those feelings? How do we stop feeling lonely and start feeling whole with nothing but ourselves?

Answer: Heal yourself.

And before you roll your eyes at my seemingly woo-woo answer, please know that healing through coming to understand your true self is in fact practical, possible, and functional.

You have to heal yourself before you can love yourself.

…and most importantly, you have to do those things before giving your whole self to someone else in a romantic or platonic relationship.

How We Can Heal

Step 1: Stop the Perpetuity

Stop sign

Is who you were, who you want to become?

Do you want to perpetuate the same poor behaviour you might have learned when you were younger, possibly from parents or guardians?

Maybe you grew up with role models or guardians who held particular beliefs or ideas about life that you don’t want for yourself. And that doesn’t have to mean the beliefs or ideas were bad ones, just that you don’t want them.

Maybe you saw broken/bad relationships around you, so you picked up some habits of those who were in the bad relationships. Well I am telling you to recognize that, although you never wanted to be like “mom, dad, big sister, or person X,” being around them and having relationships with them probably caused you to pick up some of their behaviour whether you like it or not.

So it is important to recognize AND write down, which traits or behaviours you do NOT want for yourself when it comes to being in relationships.

Then everytime you act in a way that exemplifies those traits, WRITE THAT EXAMPLE DOWN.

Eventually you’ll create a report card for yourself; you’ll record concrete evidence and feedback so you can accelerate your learning.

Step 2: Get to know YOU…again and again and again

Me and words describing who I am. For example, I am honorable and capable.

Understand who the f*** you are.

What do you hold sacred based on your values? What are the beliefs that shape you? It is VERY IMPORTANT to note that these things will change throughout your life. And for that reason, you have to come to know what kind of person you are, at multiple points throughout your life.

Recognize that your adult self might be very different from your teenage or young adult self. If you reflect on who you are in each stage of your life, you will understand that what you wanted in a relationship as a 15 year old may no longer hold true.

To be clear here, I don’t mean that, at 15 you were into broad shoulders and a chiseled jaw, and now you’re into blonde hair and blue eyes. WHAT I MEAN IS, 15 year old you didn’t know what you know now. And when we gain knowledge, we adjust our beliefs, values, and wants accordingly.

Step 3: Accept that change is a must.

What is the next step? To be agile means you ca. adapt quickly and efficiently for the best results.

At the end of the day, people want to be in relationships with nice people. In fact, I don’t know anyone at all who is actually seeking out a miserable relationship.

Be someone that people want to be around.

If you recognized you need to change your behaviour or start hanging out with people who have values closer to yours, make those changes. And if you completed step 1, you should have a report card of your behaviour recorded to help you change.

Being a good person is hard, I get it. I like to think I put a lot of effort in to being kinder, more patient, and less confrontational everyday (YET I still have a LONG way to go). BUT my effort has attracted amazing people into my life whom I have formed relationships with.

At the end of the day, nobody wants a relationship with someone who is negative and inhibits their growth. So your big takeaway from this blog post is to NOT being that person.

Heal yourself, love yourself, and be the best version of you.

As always, Happy Monday ❤✌

[Like this post? Then don’t forget to follow my blog by typing in your email below. And consider sharing it with your friends and family on social media!]

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional advice.

Self-development

I discovered the meaning of life – it’s less complicated than you think

“What is the meaning of my life?”

… That may be the most-asked question of our generation. Maybe even more-asked than previous generations.

…What do you think?

Haven’t you noticed the influx of YouTube videos, Instagram influencers, and bloggers heavily discussing the meaning of life? Why do you think it has become SUCH a prominent topic?

What is the meaning of life? Man searching with a magnifying glass.

Well, that question has been brought up to me a few times now, so I figured I’d finally answer it.

So why do you want to find meaning?

Reason 1)

This generation is exposed to an incredibly vast amount of media… ALL. THE. TIME. (not to say parents aren’t the ones permitting this exposure to their kids under 18).

Anyways, this addiction to vanity which is encouraged through likes, comments, comparisons, and not to mention the general idea of the Social Media Façade, has created a generation of depressed, anxious, and unconfident people.

So for example, when young Sally feels fat, unpopular, and ugly because of her thirst for positive comments on her IG selfies, it is no wonder she wants to know the meaning of her being on planet Earth.

And since this vanity addiction has been noticed by many intelligent people of our time, the message of “find meaning in life” is being throttled toward us left, right, and centre.

Reason 2)

The time period we are living in is by far one of the best (if not the best) times to be alive.

Jump for joy because 2019 is an amazing time to be alive.

At least in Western culture, this generation does not know what it is like to live through war, suffrage, segregation and Jim Crow laws, nuclear threats, a Great Depression, or a dictatorship … so yes, it is a pretty damn good time to be alive.

And because we are so lucky (again, I am generalizing Western culture), we have no idea what horrible experiences of suffering are like. So the negative experiences of young people nowadays might be minor, but since we don’t have worse lived-experiences to compare to, minor problems become “like the worst ever” and we “just can’t even”.

So with all this lack of actual danger, but all this presence of actual heartache, I think this generation has lost value for the good things in life. We just don’t realize how good we actually have it. Marriage, sex, religion, and science are major parts of existence that I’ve seen taken for granted in media and public spaces time and time again. And without life values, young people don’t know what to live for anymore. So if we feel we have little to value, how can we feel fulfilled?

Reason 3)

We’ve lost a sense of community – a sense of something that unites us.

Community holding hands

Do you attend a Church or are you part of a social group?

Do you feel oneness with your fellow Canadians, Americans, etc.?

Do you stand for anything?

I find people are becoming more agnostic when it comes to choosing values and opinions in life.

So when you have no in-group, no uniting ideas, and no sense of shared culture, then you feel like an outsider. And even worse, you feel like an outsider on the inside.

And when you’re lonely and without anyone to go to, it is no surprise that you feel your life is meaningless.

Choose what you stand for, research it, stick with it, but be willing to accept other points of view. Find a group that believes in the same thing you do and you’ll begin to feel belonging.

Now here’s the interesting part:

Humanity has always will continue to always search for meaning. It might just seem more prominent nowadays because of social media.

About 2 months ago, I read the most amazing book called Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. Frankl used his experience in Auschwitz and other concentration camps to discover the meaning of life. He discovered that meaning is the tension between who you are now and what you can become.

Man's search for meaning, book written by Viktor E. Frankl. As a habit coach, I use the teachings of this book to help my clients improve their life.

Remember that your meaning to live comes from your capabilities and potentialities. So if you’re feeling lost, think about what you represent and what you can be if you work hard. And as always, have a Happy Monday ❤✌.

[Like this post? Then don’t forget to follow my blog by typing in your email below. And consider sharing it with your friends and family on social media!]

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional, medical, or legal advice.*

New Beginnings, Selfcare Tips

3 MORE Steps for Getting Rid of Shame (Part 2 of 2)

“I need counseling”

“I’m having suicidal thoughts”

“I tried to kill myself”

Are any of those words familiar to you?

Does the thought of saying “yes, they are familiar” make your stomach tie-up in a knot?

That feeling of discomfort is called shame. And shame is the feeling of guilt or embarrassment after doing something dishonourable.

…Interesting definition, eh? Now here’s where my important question comes in:

What is there is to be ashamed of?

If you read my post last week, then you already know the first 4 steps to ridding yourself of shame. And you know I mentioned that shame can arise from (1) your actions that namely effected others and (2) your actions that namely effected you.

Since we’re talking about the second reason today, I thought I’d discuss the 3 steps you can take if you feel ashamed of having poor mental health.

#1 Question the Logic

Recall the definition of shame – it is the feeling you get after doing something dishonourable. Hmmm… something doesn’t sit right with me here. Why should anyone feel they have done something dishonourable simply by suffering with poor mental health?

Think about having a broken arm or a scrape on your knee… my guess is you wouldn’t be ashamed of those physical injuries. But maybe you made a stupid decision that led you to injure yourself (ex. You ran on a wet floor or jumped off a tall fence). So it is the action that you should be questioning rather than the result of that action.

In retrospect, I made a lot of stupid decisions when I was festering in my downward mental health spiral. But at the time of those decisions, I genuinely thought I was doing the right thing for myself. So on one hand, you could say that not making the effort to improve your mental health is a sign of disrespect toward yourself (also keeping in mind that EVERYTHING you do has some sort of effect on other people). HOWEVER, if you don’t know how to go about improving your mental health before you start spiralling downward, stupid decisions become easy solutions to your problems.

Remember that perspective is everything. So if you are spiralling downward, you might think your decisions are awesome but you have to try to take the perspective of a mentally healthy person. Should a mentally healthy person have thoughts like this? Is it okay for me to self-harm? Those are the types of questions you should ask yourself and the answer of a healthy person would be NO.

That leads me to the next step…

#2 Confront Your Discomfort

When you start that downward spiral and think decisions like calling in sick for work when you feel fine and starving yourself because you think you’re too fat, are good decisions, it is time to confront your discomfort.

If you feel like shit…or maybe even worse than that… you have to admit that feeling to yourself. And more importantly, once you admit that feeling to yourself, you need to admit that your feelings are not good ones.

And with those admissions, you will and should respond by wondering how you can feel better.

For example, “I feel upset and sad all the time. Those are not good feelings. I should ask a professional for advice so I can feel good again.” Your response can be as simple as that.

Confront your discomfort instead of burying it deep inside yourself. As Dr. Brené Brown says, “When we bury the story, we forever stay the subject of the story. If we own the story we get to narrate the ending.”

#3 Be Proactive

Although confronting your discomfort is a must, it is even better to be proactive and manage or minimize the discomfort that could arise in the future.

Follow the personal development loop by balancing your self-care, self-development, and self-discipline so you can avoid a downward mental health spiral.

Study-up on tools that you can implement when you feel stressed, over-whelmed, and over-worked.

Just like you are not born with the knowledge of cooking, or plumbing, or writing, etc., you are not born with the knowledge of personal development. You have to learn how to do things through reading and asking questions. So going to see a psychologist shouldn’t be any more “shameful” than picking up a self-help book.

Work to fill your mental health toolbox so you can be prepared to battle your mental health struggles.

Be proactive, be ready, be resilient. And as always, have a very Happy Monday ❤

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*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional, medical, or legal advice.

Self-development, Selfcare Tips

4 Steps to Ending Your Shame (Part 1 of 2)

You’re ashamed…

Of your past, your actions, and your decisions.

You feel guilty or embarrassed about something you have done or a quality in your character.

But why do you feel this way?

I find the topic of shame to be quite an interesting one because I believe it is far more nuanced than you might think. It is especially nuanced because it can arise for 2 different reasons: (1) as a result of your actions that namely effected other(s), and; (2) as a result of your actions that namely effected you.

To break things down simply, today’s blog post will be about the former reason (make sure you tune-in next week where I discuss reason 2)

So Why Shame?

If you do something dishonourable toward another person, I think it is incredibly important for you to feel remorseful; an essential mark of self-awareness is to recognize actions that are unethical, immoral, and that have negative consequences.

BUT, I do not think you should live with shame forever, nor should you be shamed forever by other people.

So what are the steps to ridding yourself of shame?

Shame kills your mental health. Keep smiling and ask forgiveness.

1) Ask for forgiveness.

Admitting that you did something wrong is incredibly difficult, especially when you admit it to the person(s) you hurt.

But admission coupled with remorse and a sincere apology is necessary for taking responsibility of your actions.

You cannot hide from the fact you did something hurtful and you cannot expect others to forget what you did by “never bringing it up.”

Humans have the capacity to forgive. And if you are scared that the person you hurt won’t forgive you…well yes, that is a possibility. And although I personally believe people should ALWAYS find forgiveness, I can’t make anyone forgive if they don’t want to.

So if someone chooses to not forgive you, then take it as a learning experience — your words and actions can have long-term consequences that you never expected in the first place.

BUT if they do forgive you, then consider yourself 1 step closer to ridding yourself of shame.

2) Do NOT feel the following 2 things in response to your shame:

• You shouldn’t feel proud. Yes ok, you learned and important lesson. But talking about your learning experience like it was something you read out of a prestigious academic article is disrespectful to those who you affected. The fact is, you learned something the hard way, and although you learned, the difficult experience you learned from was probably not ideal for anyone involved.

• You shouldn’t feel indifferent. As I said earlier, we must recognize the consequences of our actions. So if you want to be considered a decent person, you cannot just “not care” about the hurt you might’ve caused/created in the past.

3) Feel Empathy

When you acknowledge your actions and regard them as forever shameful, you might just be correct. To clarify my point, your actions were bad and if repeated in the same context, they would render the same bad consequences. But where you are INCORRECT is if you transfer the shame surrounding your actions onto your being. So to clarify again, you did something bad but you are not a bad person.

You must have empathy for those who were effected by your actions so that you can understand their perspective and contrast it your personal perspective. And through that contrast, come to understand why the choice you made at the time was wrong.

4) Cut-out the people who continue to shame you after you’ve completed steps 1-3.

You don’t need to convince anyone you’re a changed person, and at the same time no one should convince you otherwise.

Plus being around people who inhibit your growth will only be of detriment to YOU.

So in conclusion …

Swallowing your ego and taking responsibility for your actions does not mean accepting shame into your life – it means becoming a better person.

Shame kills your mental health

The moment you understand your actions were wrong is the exact moment you grow as a person.

And hey!!👋 Make sure you subscribe to my blog by typing in your email below so you’ll be notified of next week’s post where I discuss shame as a result of your actions that negatively you.

As always, Happy Monday ❤✌

[Like this post? Then don’t forget to follow my blog by typing in your email below. And consider sharing it with your friends and family on social media!]

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional, medical, or legal advice.