“The Art of Confident Living” (2009) | BES: Nov.2020; Jan & Feb. 2021


Chosen Book:

“The Art of Confident Living” (2009) by Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

((Nonfiction.))


TRIGGER WARNINGS:

Brief insensitivities towards mental health conditions (“no one worries 24/7”; “[describing] depression as how everyone gets sad sometimes”; “crazy” equaling bewildered etc.)


THEMES:

Self-improvement, self-help, psychology, behavior, thoughts, cognitions, challenges, emotions, patterns, truth, perception, ten practices, user-friendly, self-love, self-compassion, kindness, quotes, insight, hope, change, learning, help, aid, confidence, exercises, empowerment, optimism, choices.


SUMMARY:

This book is comprised, as generically as possible: a contents, introduction, 10 chapters on the 10 Practices towards leading a Confident-Led life, end of chapter exercises for the Reader, a conclusion, a resources list, a bibliography, and an index. The 10 Practices include: The Practice of Separation, The Practice of Perception, The Practice of Choice, The Practice of Optimism, The Practice of Empowerment, The Practice of Harmony, The Practice of the Unmade Mind, The Practice of the Vacuum, The Practice of Magnetism and The Practice of the Boomerang. Some of the exercises that I completed include (these will be outlined via text and photos in the relevant sections below. If you would like an exploratory Youtube video on the matter as well, let me know in a comment so I can publish one to my channel. This will take me a bit of time, if you are curious for me to make one. Since I’ve written this post over the course of a few days, I’ve gotten very deep in the muddiness of this review and I no longer feel as much of a necessity to film a video on the matter, however I can use this post as a backbone/guidance towards it if there’s enough interest in that. Thanks!!) p. 38 Presence of the Eight C’s in my life [curiosity, clarity, calm, confidence, compassion, courage, creativity, connectedness]; p. 58 My Parts Detector, Challenging the Parts; p. 78 Reclaiming the Power in My Life/Conscious Choices: the problem, I can accept, I can choose….; p. 98 Mapping the Parts of my interpersonal effectiveness avoidances in therapy; p. 172 – 173 The Goodbye Exercise; p. 84 Thought Challenges and Belief Scores; p. 111 Group Activities and Ideas for work; p. 134 The Letting Go Exercise; p. 174 Removing Roadblocks Art Map; p. 188 My Magnetogram; p. 208 The Boomerang Activity; p. 207 The Looking Glass.

BONUS content that helped me get to this point of both reading the book, finishing the book, writing this review and posting it online as well as making a lot of GAINS and fulfilling activities in my life that I’ve been using thoroughly and happily: My Fanfics Story stats (AO3; FFN); My Expectations, My Fears and My Thought Challenges for Writing and Uploading Fanfic Again (2 pages); What I need to get back into writing fanfic; Master List of Videos I have to edit; Skills and reminders within the video editing process; Processing when things go wrong in video editing; after uploading self-care plan (videos); repairing my relationships with MCU movies, movies and TV; repairing my relationships with books; thought challenges regarding movies and MCU movies; thought challenges regarding books; thought challenges regarding blogging (2 pages); (IN THE WORKS: thought challenges regarding avoiding chores) and finally, the backbone behind these new BES posts.

I feel like that was a lot of listing and jargon that may seem unmanageable or overwhelming for right this moment. So, let’s just take a deep breath and find comfort in the fractions within this review and what we’ll be seeing in the time ahead of us and the words upon the screen. Let’s return to that now….

I’d say, overall, this is a great book for beginning the process of self-exploration, self-love, self-care and self awareness. It’s also great for quantifying and qualifying information that’s locked behind your mind and the functions and processes occurring in your brain that you want to gain some insight into and uncover old habits or challenge yourself in ways that maybe you haven’t dared to before or haven’t considered needing to in the past but find yourself hesitant to not look towards altering now. It’s a book for self-improvement and a lot of growth, depending on how well the Reader is open to that notion and moving forwards with more confidence, as the title would suggest, and also just being welcoming to a fresh perspective. It’s user friendly and I’d say not doing the exercises and just reading page to page would definitely lessen the experience and the help and guidance that can come from it if the Reader properly tackles the information and makes it their own. There has to be a willingness there to see what is and how, with time and patience and compassion to yourself, that you can unlock some improvements and big gains that maybe otherwise wouldn’t have happened. Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through my experiences and my fulfillments by doing this and the process I took through reading this book, playing in the sand and writing this review. So, welcome aboard! And let the Lewis Capaldi background music (a playlist) guide you through with as much ease and brightness as it did for me writing this intimidating but worthwhile post. πŸ™‚ ❀ xxx Also, “What Other People Say” by Sam Fischer and Demi Lovato was a wonderful addition to the background noise.


BOOK LENGTH:

214 pages


MY RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

5/5 thought challenges lists


OUTSTANDING QUOTES ALONGSIDE MY COMMENTARY/SHARING EXERCISES:

So, this book talks a lot about “parts” and how as people we are NOT our thoughts. We are instead vessels that have thoughts and think and feel and behave in certain ways. These parts wish to be acknowledged and understood and are inevitably trying to help us rather than hurt us like why they were created in the first place in the past. They are looking out for us even if their expression of this isn’t always healthy or helpful right off the bat. It’s our job to acknowledge them, let them in and breathe and be nonjudgmental and then say that we’ve taken their input into consideration and move forwards with our own Confident Led selves. So, you’ll see that mentioned, these parts, in the future. The parts are originated from the Ego, just to clarify, as well.

There is a SUPER excellent and powerful guided meditation explanation on pages 36 – 37 of this book that I would highly, highly recommend perusing as it’s so wonderful. If I can work on finding a similar already established guided meditation online on Youtube or something similar, I will try and make a future post referring to them. For now, it’s SO good. It basically talks about imagining you’re giving a speech on a stage and in the audience is each of your parts and your Confident Self is in the lead. You take the time to get to know each part, how individual they are, their characteristics, their mannerisms, what they have to say. You give them your attention and you recognize that they are not you and you are not them. You welcome ALL parts and let them take their seats again after they speak to you. Notice if your Confident Self is in the lead on stage and where you are if you’re separate from them. Then thank each part for existing and sharing and bring your awareness back to the present moment. That’s a super abridged version that doesn’t do the original text justice, but hopefully you get my drift!!! (Robinson, 2009).

EXERCISE 1: Me and My Eight C’s p. 38 [[Dated: Jan 7th 2021]]

For this exercise, the prompt was to record and rate on a 1 – 10 low to high scale the presence of each of the 8 C’s in my life: curiosity, clarity, calm, confidence, compassion, courage, creativity and connectedness. I color coded them for easier understanding and visual acuity. As you can see, the areas I need more improvement on include curiosity, clarity, connectedness and calm. πŸ™‚

EXERCISE 2: My Parts Detector, p. 58 (multiple journaling pages for me): [[Dated: Jan. 15th 2021]]

DESCRIPTION OF DEPICTION::

PART A: My Parts Detector. 1. “I’m better than other people. I have more advantages.” — Judgment. Better than others like in recovery or superiority? I will need to better explore and allow a presence of this. This makes me self-conscious and is something hard to admit to while I was being open to the thoughts and what was coming to me at that given moment. Thought challenges to arrive in PART B.

2. “I’m better equipped to handle tough situations” — Judgment. Core belief. Integral ((I’m thinking of situations arising criticism, hate, bullying, etc. Online stuff primarily))

3. “Nobody cares about me” — Dismissing, emotional

4. “I’m all alone” — Emotional, despair, abandoned

5. “No one is there for me. When I need someone, no one notices and/or is there” — Emotion Mind, all or nothing, mixed signals

6. “I can’t relate to other people’s perspectives” — Noticing differences not similarities

7. “I push away from uncomfortable situations because I’m afraid to reignite old neural pathways and behavioral patterns” — Yuuuuuup.

PART B: CHALLENGING THE PARTS:

  1. “I’m on a different plane and state of being, a different place in my recovery and journey. It’s not about who is first or behind rather supporting one another as we go along.”
  2. “I’m a better me than I once was. This strength has prepared me for the worst. It’s time now to put my skills to the test and I am ready.”
  3. “Sometimes I don’t get attention, praise or recognition that I am looking for from other people. I need to learn how to validate my own experiences and rely less on others. It is still okay for me to get outside support when I need it. I can also improve the way I’m asking for my needs to be met. People aren’t mind readers so I have to be upfront. I may not always get what I want and I won’t know or receive it if I never voice it. It’s a work in progress.”
  4. “Sometimes I feel alone in my experiences and in my struggles. I know that I am not. I know I need to reach out more than I do. People are within reach–I need to let out my call for them and only I can do that.”
  5. “I’ve struggled in the past with thinking that no one would notice if something bad happened to me. I know this isn’t true and is my brain playing tricks on me because my absence and presence of things matters, people count on me and people ask about me. I need help reminding myself of this and recognizing not everyone can be there every time however I can and will be there for me. I can choose to be my own hero or villain. That is my choice.”
  6. “Because I don’t hear back people with the same journey as mine I tend to dismiss other people’s perspectives. I tend to maximize the differences between us instead of looking, noticing and describing our similarities. I struggle with controlling that part of me that wishes to be fed attention and be the center of attention. This is something I have to work on by being more in the present moment. I may now always understand where someone is coming from. I can work on being more open, curious and fair and patient with myself and others.”
  7. “Flooding myself is as problematic as avoidance for me. I won’t always agree with someone and that is okay. I can take time to gather my thoughts and feelings and come at a situation in my own time. I am aware of the slippery slope however that doesn’t mean my awareness of it will definitely lead me down the wrong path. I can know that it exists, accept uncertainty and still move forwards. I don’t have to let the past be repeated.”

“You can always find the granule of good in the bad if you look for it: more beauty than flaws, more hope than despair, more blessings than disappointment… This idea of holding on to the belief that something good will come out of adversity…”

Robinson, 2009, p. 89

I personally just LOVED this quote and the situational lead up towards it and even the illustration of it after this part. Again, my favorite chapters were: Empowerment, Optimism and Choice. More on these to come. I additionally thought it was perfect for how I set myself about in my life, how I categorize random acts of kindness (and setting forth ideas on how to do groups like this at work when we get older kids) and helping and finding support in other characters that I’ll be using and welcoming into my fanfics and stories. πŸ€©πŸ€—πŸ₯°πŸ˜… xxx

EXERCISE 3: RECLAIMING THE POWER IN MY LIFE/”CONSCIOUS CHOICES” (p. 78):

Written 1.15.21

DESCRIPTION OF DEPICTION:

The Problem Column. > The I can accept Column. > The I can choose Column.

Example 1 (in book): My colleague is a negative person. > I cannot change her. > I can be a positive person regardless of how she thinks.

Example 2 (ME): My procrastination is getting in the way of achieving all that I can in a day to day basis. > I can accept that it’s a pattern of behavior I’ve become comfortable with. > I can choose to build up my resiliency, challenge myself against it and make more thoughtful choices instead of blindly reacting only.

Example 3 (ME): My desire for attention on Youtube* is leading me to emotional brick walls that cause a small spiral after uploading videos. > I can accept it’s my current relationship to Youtube and content creating. It may not always be this way if I work on it. I can accept that I won’t compromise my values and who I am for views and numbers online, which is helpful and healthy. > I can choose to challenge this with a routine for after I upload videos. I can look at other ways to network or get attention. I can notice when it’s happening more and choose to address it and not run from it. Try to understand it.

*This list spun off a few other lists like the video I filmed all about attention and validation seeking online (I haven’t edited or uploaded it yet but when I do I will LINK IT HERE) via lists like sites I get the least and most amount of attention, how easy it is to get noticed on those sites, how long I’ve been on those sites, what it’s like having attention and not having attention and what are possible solutions; the various thought challenges lists, the fanfic stats list and lists all about my videos which you can find further laid out on the table in the BONUS section of my summary (above) for this nonfiction book. (And again when those videos are edited and uploaded to my Youtube channel here) πŸ˜πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜ŽπŸ˜™

EXERCISE 4: MAPPING MY PARTS (p. 98):

Written here: 2.15.2021

DESCRIPTION OF DEPICTION:

Mapping the parts avoiding doing interpersonal effectiveness DBT skills for review in this week’s therapy session:

  • Perfectionism (a book and writing utensil)
  • Procrastination (moon and stop sign)
  • Anxiety (a sun/black and blue coloration feeling and or star shaped item)
  • High expectations (skyscrapers and some tumble weeds) Feelings include uncomfortableness and nervousness. Beliefs include: “I should know these skills by now”, “I should be able to review my old materials”, “This is going to take a while”, “There’s my own expectations that I should be further along and not need as much of a refresher as I do need now”
  • Forgetfulness (thought bubble)

In red marker I’ve stated that with “The Confident Self of Me is located between high expectations and perfectionism. I still feel uncomfortable after completing this exercise. And I am not super confident but if I adjust my high expectations this should help and I can regroup and break down these expectations to smaller and simpler pieces.”

EXERCISE 5: Technically NOT an actual exercise but I’m tired and I mentioned it in the summary portion of this review so I’ll just dedicate some time to this here which is a list of ideas I thought of that I could do activities and groups on at work with some of the topics covered in this book: πŸ™‚

Written on 2/16/21

DESCRIPTION OF DEPICTION:

Random acts of kindness (positive messages, examples, giving away art, coloring pages, ideas, why, coping strategies, self/others, compliment writing; empowerment; choices; survivor vs victim; growth (art therapy ideas); coping strategies (focus on one each week); affirmations (3 examples, scrapbooking/collages); transformation coloring or drawing activity (what’s one way you’ve transformed in the last day, month, year).

EXERCISE 6: THOUGHT CHALLENGES AND BELIEF SCORES (p. 84):

I apologize in advance, because this review is getting pretty muddy and broken up but I see that I missed an exercise from before, on p. 84 so I’m going to address it here and down below now. Sorry about that!! I didn’t exactly write them down in this review on paper or in order of appearance so things are just kinda jumbled up. But I’ll address them now and get on with things.

Written: 2/15/21

MY THOUGHT CHALLENGES:

  • Life is full of problems.
  • REFRAME: Life is an inherent balance between solutions and problems. It’s all a matter of perspective.
  • I usually assume people will take advantage of me.
  • REFRAME: I believe the best in people on the outset. If I am wronged, I take issue with that one person.
  • Things never turn out the way I want.
  • REFRAME: Things don’t always go according to plan and that’s okay.
  • Nothing I do is enough.
  • RF: I am enough as I am. I can always learn more and improve.
  • Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.
  • RF: Life is comprised of so many variables and possibilities that cannot be predicted in one sitting.
  • I’m a born loser.
  • RF: I am fabulous.
  • Trouble follows me wherever I go.
  • RF: If this were true, maybe I have to look at the common denominators (me).
  • I’m not a worthy person.
  • RF: I was born with worth. I live with worth. My life is worth living.
  • I can’t change the way things are.
  • RF: I can only change and control how I react to it.
  • I don’t have what it takes to meet most challenges I face.
  • RF: Simply not having learned yet doesn’t mean I never will. Give it time. πŸ’š

EXERCISE 7: THE LETTING GO EXERCISE (p. 134)

2.17.21
  1. I am forcing… (offensive reaction) – my issues on others (identity, coping, resources), – not being open to others struggles and not making them mine. > I can accept and surrender open-mindedness to this part of my life.
  2. I am resisting….. (defensive reaction) – letting go, – moving on, – exploring new areas or things I’ve never done before > I can accept and surrender sacrificing my level of comfort(ability) to this part of my life.
  3. I am clinging to… (avoidance reaction) – familiar habits, – familiar routines, – rigidity, – perfectionism, – not learning and implementing life skills (at home and at work), procrastination. > I can accept and surrender moving towards experiencing that which I avoid, one step at a time to this part of my life.

EXERCISE 8: THE GOODBYE EXERCISE (p. 172 – 173)

DESCRIPTION OF DEPICTION:

What was it like being in a relationship with (person, place, thing)?

πŸš‘ Avoidance: my relationship with avoidance has been long lasting and lifelong. I’ve not gotten done as much or as many as I could have without it or less of it. It was a lot of unhappiness and lack of fulfillment.

Name each negative experience you had and after each say “I say goodbye to that”.

πŸš’ Avoidance has robbed me of my time — and I say goodbye to that. Avoidance has robbed me of my ambition and excelling to my full potential — and I say goodbye to that.

Name the resentments you carry for all of this and after each say “I say goodbye to that.”

I resent avoidance for not allowing me to grow and excel sooner and I say goodbye to that. I resent avoidance for swallowing my world and collapsing my perspective and making my existence small– and I say goodbye to that.

Name each positive experience you had and after each say “I say goodbye to that”.

My avoidance has kept me safe from perceived threats and I say goodbye to that. My avoidance got me to where I am now and I say goodbye to that. My acceptance of realizing I no longer need to be protected by my avoidance has cleared ahead a path for me. I can begin to avoid avoiding. And I say goodbye to that avoidance.

Name the fondness you carry for all of this and after each say “I say goodbye to that.”

I have fondness for avoidance protecting me and I say goodbye to that because I am strong enough now to protect myself. I have fondness for avoidance serving its purpose and now I say goodbye to that.

Name each dream you held for this relationship and after each say “I say goodbye to that.”

I dreamed of avoidance continuing into my future and I say goodbye to that. I dreamed of avoidance giving me more than it reasonably can today and so I say goodbye to that.

Finally say I am releasing myself from my past with you and I am getting ready to enter my future.

I am releasing myself from my past with avoidance and I am getting ready to enter my future.

And I say HELLO to:

I say hello to… better time management, I say hello to being more “on” and taking breaks to recharge, I say hello to less procrastination and more measured activities, I say hello to new beginnings, I say hello to ore motivation and perseverance, I say hello to new as much as I can and as patiently as possible.

EXERCISE 9: REMOVING ROADBLOCKS ART (p. 174)

DESCRIPTION OF DEPICTION:

BLOCK 1: Draw the Problem you’d like to change or move out of life. How does it feel inside you? Jot down any words, thoughts, emotions or beliefs with it.

For me: I focused on avoidance as the problem. I used signs like a STOP sign, a Turn Back sign and a Don’t Go sign. I also wrote down fear, lots of effort, anxiety, nervousness, inconvenient, needing to be “on”, procrastination, blockage, ineptitude, too much time, uncomfortable.

BLOCK 2: Draw the Resolution if it were to resolve and how you want it, how would you feel inside you, and jot down any words, thoughts, feelings or beliefs.

For me: I drew a shining sun with yellow and orange and wrote in the middle of it, POTENTIAL. I would have so much more potential and so much productivity, fulfillment, growth, facing challenges, living the reality of my dreams, love, light, hope, empowerment, improvement, happiness.

BLOCK 3: Draw the Block and what’s inside of you that blocks you from going to the Resolution. Words, beliefs, thoughts, and feels.

For me: I drew a barren, dead tree with FEAR written across it and some grass and growing flowers. I wrote that I have fear to bloom, fear to rise, fear to excel or fail, fear to burnout, fear to fear, fear to live, fear to drive (both driving a car and driving my life forwards), fear to let go, fear to realize.

BLOCK 4: Draw the Release. What needs to happen inside you to release the Block?

For me: I drew an egg breaking open (which “Soldiers” by Rachel Platten was a perfect song to be listening to as I was doing this page) with light and color streaming out of it. I wrote down that I need OPENNESS. Openness to try, just try. It may not always go well but be willing to try. Give it my all. Do something new and different. Be open to the risk because it could all go uphill and be so wonderful. Accept and cope with the risk and grow, grow, grow. Breaking open doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Similar lyric “We might [break] but we won’t [fall]” πŸ˜›πŸ˜¨

EXERCISE 10: MY MAGNETOGRAM (p. 188)

So this exercise served the purpose of identifying the types of relationships you have in your life with 8 main people. I wrote about my Mom and Dad, myself, my coworkers, my friends David, Madeline and Vanessa and online friendships overall as well. I wrote that most of my relationships encourage my confidence. I am hesitant in some relationships due to past trauma and codependency so I don’t always reach out when I need to. My ego parts need to be heard and seen by me over fears to revert back to old unhealthy behaviors, even if they haven’t happened in years. My ego parts on fear of old behaviors need to be recognized and allowed, fears of abandonment and previous/ongoing jellyfish clinging. My exploring these parts with compassion may be the perfect key.

EXERCISE 11: THE LOOKING GLASS (p. 207)

The exercise of the Looking Glass is to see how conditions or flaws we perceive in others is actually more so a reflection of our own flaws and mistakes. So for part A the instruction is to write 5 negative traits to someone you dislike. Notice how many apply to you and this may say more about you and your ego parts and areas needing work in your confidence than how much of it is about them.

I did not just one person but traits in a few people I dislike. Those traits were: too many jump cuts in Youtube videos, popularity, threatening by being themselves (usually in work relations), using filler words (uh, um), me feeling left behind. For what actually applied to me in this category: I don’t do enough jump cuts in my videos, I get lost in my judgment about me, my place and them, I have the fear someone will grow more than me, I say uh and um a lot and feeling I should be in a different place myself and the uncertainty that comes with that.

In part B it’s now to list positive traits in someone you admire. I wrote openness, fairness, confidence (speaking their mind in a polite and sustaining way), lifting up others and staying away from attacking or purposefully harming someone. To be honest, I have no idea what the second blurb is below this because I don’t think it’s about me, I think it’s about someone else that I admire so maybe I accidentally did this twice? Honestly, I have no idea and I’m burning out pretty quickly but as for that I just wrote that they were very open and honest, fair to individuality and experiences, radiates positive energy and is easy to trust and talk to, does so much to help peers and themselves and has good accountability and responsibility.

EXERCISE 12: THE BOOMERANG ACTIVITY (p. 208)

In terms of this actual, FINAL, exercise here is how it went…. I will introduce confident thoughts to ego parts that need my attention today. State them each.

Parts: Jealousy/envy over coworker’s presence and my fears of losing my job. Feeling left behind by my friend’s moving on and upwards in ways I haven’t yet.

Confidence: I can bring more awareness right now to my parts and thoughts. Awareness is the first step and then I can problem solve appropriately.

I will introduce confident feelings to ego parts that need them today.

I will be open to my parts and compassionate towards them. I will let them have space in me and not be overpowered by them. I will be kind and patient to them and myself. They are there to protect me.

I will speak confidently for ego parts that need to be spoken for today. State them, the person you need to speak them to and the confident words you’ll use.

I need to speak them to myself. I have many ideas and ambitions and noticing these more and being attuned to my body will help me achieve my goals. I will allow them acknowledgment and the freedom to let them go.

I will project confident thoughts, feelings and actions to someone today. State them:

I will finish these exercises and repeat them back in the BES process and a video (potentially) on Youtube in the days ahead.

Honestly, I was going to film a video for this blog post as well but having gone through all the information and sharing the photos and sharing text based descriptions of each image, I don’t feel AS much of a need to film a video on it as well. So for now, unless there’s more interest in it, I think for now I will NOT be filming a video for this review. But, you let me know if you’d like me to talk about it via one if anything here was confusing. Keep reading or take a small break because this post is BIG and I hope that you can enjoy it and learn something from my experiences or perspective as well as gleam some understanding about the book just from my POV. PS Subscribe to my Youtube channel here: RecoverytoWellness


THOUGHTS OR IDEAS I HAD WHILE READING:

  1. On page 2, the author discusses the concept of how our brains and inevitably our behaviors, thoughts and emotions are things we carry with us wherever we go and how it doesn’t necessarily matter where we live geographically because (even like with new year’s) we cannot run away from what insecurities or struggles lie deep in our minds, souls and hearts. This reminded me especially of when I struggled with my mental health in university and I was always against leaving UMass Boston and attending a different school because I realized that the problem wasn’t necessarily the environment but how I was interacting and viewing it. And I was stubborn, as well. And I was also codependent in a few ways which didn’t help. But it was true, I knew that my brain would always automatically find self-destructive pathways because that’s what it was used to and that’s what it did. With time, recovery and a lot of healthier coping strategies and a lot of hard work with DBT, I’ve graduated from uni and I don’t have my first thoughts about harm or death, rather they’re either seventh or eighth thoughts, and that’s from all the work I’ve done on myself over the years. So, that’s something wonderful and something I can celebrate!!! I had to change the relationship I was having with myself before I could change the way I was looking at the world around me, so to speak.
  2. By p. 26, where Robinson is exploring how the parts of us that are angry or selfish don’t eclipse us as people or eclipse our Confident Selves because we are not each of our parts or individual thoughts or experiences (our identities are much larger than that) I felt that I could relate in terms of my avoidance behaviors and procrastination and found this to be a very interesting concept to explore and manage as I read this book.
  3. Being kind and compassionate to our parts when they arrive and we notice them reminds me of a group/therapy activity I was given before where the goal is to imagine your hurt part and giving yourself a hug to that part and that part to you. πŸ™‚
  4. p. 33 had me pondering what my parts were saying to me and what it was that I was not hearing from them. Also, the author used a stage/CEO corporate metaphor that really works and was super helpful. He also mentions quotes from other authors and people’s experiences and writings so that was a cool inclusion at times. πŸ™‚
  5. p. 35 talks about a great meditation metaphor about letting the parts speak in the corporate office and asks the Reader to lend compassion and mindfulness and nonjudgmental stances towards each part and allowing them the space to exist and not have to either fix them or shut them down etc. It’s a curious look into why they are there and what they’re trying to accomplish and then moving forwards yourself with your Confident Self. ❀
  6. p. 42 discusses those feelings of inadequacy, never being enough and worthlessness for not striving to do better that can sometimes happen in people’s childhoods and how that pain can carry over into their long, enduring adult life. I thought this was particularly poignant to draw from with Loki in my fanfics and other characters I use here and there in my writing life. (But especially with Loki in D&D etc.)
  7. p. 44 Reminded me of the perceptual illusions I carry in my life mainly regarding work experiences (fear that people will find out how little life skills I have (cleaning, cooking, etc.)), and with social media (no one is watching my content, I’m not as good as X at this, Y doesn’t struggle with Z, etc.)). This helped me to start being more aware of my own parts while I was still early on in reading this book
  8. This is more of an observation than anything else but it took place on p. 53 where I could partially relate to the issue of connectivity with people and how certain people can behave in ways that remind you of other people who have hurt you before so like some transference type of stuff and it made me think I struggled with that especially in support group settings where I’m still working on whether or not it’s more helpful or damaging for me. I think I walk in with such a closed mind that even when I DO relate to someone, I’m so quick to judge it and push it away and point out all of our differences than being open to the experience. Also, I don’t like when people bring up my past which can happen in a way to show how much I’ve grown but I don’t interpret it like that. Instead it makes me long for different times, even if those times sucked. And it glorifies it too. And then it reignites old pathways that I make it a point to ignore or avoid today. πŸ’”πŸ–€πŸ–€
  9. I really liked the concept on page 54 where current everyday problems trigger off old hurts or parts and how working to notice these changes and not react to them today as you would have in the past was very telling for me. Like, it’s important to practice recognizing when the current situation isn’t exactly the problem but rather what it’s reminding you of or where it brings you back and how those parts are just trying to help to protect you from pain. This reminded me of things like my friends bringing up my past for support groups as well as my friend Griffin on Twitter and things to that effect. So, it had real world applications for me and I can continue to see where I would benefit a lot from working on interpersonal effectiveness/DBT skills again.
  10. p. 63: I can choose to look at circumstances that are proving to be difficult as efforts for which my self-efficiency will be preparing me for easier times ahead so in the context of engagement on Youtube, if I can be there for myself than over time others can be able to step up the helm and we can all be happy. Also, putting myself more out there by commenting and networking is super, super important and critical!! As long as I’m there for me, anyone else is bonus. (And still needed and wanted, don’t get me wrong!!) I must in some part be doing it for me so that’s what has to matter at the end of the day, did I make something I love and am proud of given my skills in the present moment? Then that can be enough. XXX
  11. End of p. 75 reminds me of the describe and observe DBT skills. πŸ˜πŸ˜…πŸ€—
  12. p. 85: So there’s a really awesome concept introduced in this chapter on the Practice of Optimism that the author calls the “zoom lens” which is about focusing in on pessimism of the things you lack, don’t have and how you’ll never have them. It’s a black and white thinking or all or nothing type of deal. By hyper-focusing on what you don’t have, you dismiss and lessen all the things you DO have. It’s a faulty comparison, seeing what everyone ELSE has and then not seeing clearly what you DO have yourself. I can really relate to this with work at Amaryllis. I always catch myself comparing how my co-workers down the hall are “having more fun”, “more needed/necessary” down there without me rather than me recognizing we are ALL doing our best work and we are all valuable members of the same team with a common goal. I have to tweak the way I’m looking at it and thinking about it, which, is of course, another work in progress for me as well. I can also see how one of my close friends does much the same too, and I’m going to make it a point to recommend them this book. πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™ PS The way to combat the zoom lens is to engage with the wide angle lens of your Confident Self.
:iloveyouplz:

13. p. 87 speaks about the concept of yes, knowing our limitations is important, and that also recognizing all of our “tallcomings” is just as important to get a clearer picture of who we are: to others and to ourselves. Finding ways to love ourselves and respect ourselves as much as we show and respect others is so crucial. I think I still seek a lot of praise, attention and validation from other people so I could really relate to this bit and I want to return and enhance my experiences of providing myself my own validation, care and praise and doing this in the fashion of: “by me, for me, from me.” πŸ’šπŸ’šπŸŒˆβ˜€ The way I’ll do this is by writing lists, cards and journal entries to myself along with scripts (for scripts: I really want to do a lot more writing exercises regarding roleplays for work issues I have as well as just practicing visualizations and fanfic based stuff).

14. “[this] shows us that we can transform our lives into meaningful life experiences, no matter how horrendous the circumstances” — Robinson, 2009, p. 108

For me, on 2/16/21 I wrote down on my page flag that I had an art idea for watercoloring/drawing of this concept regarding transformation and meaning-making and purpose. I’m thinking a butterfly with a rainbow/rainbows in the background of it. Something I can do in my sketchbook, or at worst a watercolor based paper that I got before from Target. πŸ˜πŸ™‚

15. p. 126 There’s talk about how avoidant and perfectionistic ego parts were getting in the way of someone’s experiences because they were inevitably trying to protect her from a fear of failure that she had carried with her from childhood and I thought it was SO relatable to me. Way back when, in college, I had fears of failure and fears of success and I think this might be an insight into how they are still acting in my life today in more shielded and masked ways. So yeah, I definitely struggle with those two issues of avoidance spawning from perfectionism and finding that key could prove super vital for me going forwards in time as well. This book gave me a LOT of insight into myself and that was partially because I took the initiative to look into these matters myself and that I didn’t just stay complacent and bored with where the matters circled old thoughts, patterns and my awareness levels or even levels of my subconscious. So, if that’s not clear, I don’t know what ever will be. It’s taken a LOT of work just to write this post but hopefully it was worth it all, all the hours and the listening to music and the flow and the information and the pictures and descriptions. It was a lot. But I got a lot out of it, too. If you can tackle this book yourself in some of the same ways I’m sure you’ll get a lot out of it yourself, too.

16. I really appreciated, in the Harmony chapter (p. 127), this idea that tackling something I haven’t worked on in even the smallest of ways or challenging myself in a small way each day was particularly impactful. It suggests things like even taking a different route home from work. For me, that’s going to prove to be cooking at work and at home with the proper amount of support and feedback and handling more meds/MAP based principles, too. It reminded me that not everyone has everything figured out and we can always find more ways to improve ourselves and it’s okay to ask for help and get support in these matters because we’re not alone!! ❣❣❣

17. I also liked the reframe on page 161 (The Practice of the Vacuum) that an example person forgave her husband and her best friend for having an affair and running off together leaving her behind as not an act of forgiveness for them but for her own peace of mind and her own self. It was a compassionate act for her to give herself, rather than to absolve them of what they did to her (they were no longer in the picture in her life but she was still holding onto resentments). So I think that was an important thing to note here as well.

18. “I release, one by one, all the upsetting thoughts and feelings that I have carried and that have weighed heavily on my mind and heart. I wish you no harm. I bury the hatchet once and for all and set myself free. As these burdens lift, I am open to receiving life’s blessings in this empty space”

Robinson, 2009, p. 170

What I really liked about this quote above is that it is a great exercise in accepting forgiveness’s and letting go once and for all in an effort not unlike radical acceptance in DBT. It’s just this really nice, kind and compassionate/caring act for one’s self and a nice reframe to otherwise difficult situations. Not returning to the hatchet in any way and finding more creative or artistic ways to identify and explore these parts is also critical and poignant.

19. Art Idea #1 from Feb. 18th 2021 on p. 187 regarding radiating positivity, a person in a triumphant position with light and sparkles surrounding them as a nice homage to my slogan “[survivors] radiating badassery”

20. The conclusion of this book ends with that 5 part poem about falling in a hole and I can’t recall if it was this poem or a similar one about falling in a hole and someone coming by to fall in too and help the narrator out, but it was super awesome to see it or similar things again and I really loved that it was included in this book!!! I can relate to being in Chapter 3 with the trich right now. It’s the “Autobiography” poem by Portia Nelson.


THINGS THAT I DISAGREED WITH OR DIDN’T SIT RIGHT WITH ME:

In terms of the trigger warning I placed for this book, there were a small handful of instances where more severe mental health conditions were painted as things that they’re not, in the sense that depression is something EVERYONE experiences which just isn’t true as a condition (if we’re talking sadness or low mood, then yes that’s different) but that’s not how it was worded initially. On top of that, things like “no one worries 100% of the time”, eh, maybe, but what about people with a severe anxiety disorder? Is that still the same then? I’m not sure. Additionally, there’s this “making friends” notion between the parts inside of the Reader on p. 27 which I think the INTENTION was to accept the difficulties of the parts (for instance, anger or it even mentions depression specifically) and allow them space for a while and then move on forwards with a more informed and cognitively aware Confident Self, however, it came across to me as more like “make friends” with the conditions which could be really dangerous because sometimes, in my experiences, when I made friends with OCD and depression, things like treatment, treatment teams, medications, behavioral changes etc. felt threatened and I felt like it had been Us Against the World and it’s not like those conditions really had my best interests at heart (read: harm and death). Like, they would have done everything and anything to make me go down with them so I just think this has to be worded more carefully. No one’s fault really. Just… it’s tricky.


MY EXPERIENCE: WHAT KEPT ME READING; THE BOOK’S IMPACT ON ME….

Even when I started reading this book, it was hard hitting with spitting facts and making me existentially aware of myself, my surroundings and what I’d be expecting to get out of this read (which I could never have properly expected, I realize now). It was emotional but necessary. And it made me realize I was in it for the long haul–through the ups and the downs and the procrastinating, avoiding and eventual returning to it to finish it off. Man, it was a journey. It was an experience.

There was an awareness by the author in the very beginning of the book where he realized that what the Reader would take away from his book could have so many endless possibilities and existences because we’re working from our own unique Perspective and what we already think, believe and interact/act/react with the world around us. So, I found that to be pretty refreshing and an interesting point of view to state from the get-go.

I did appreciate the push towards proactive/active practitioner in this book versus being a passive life experiencer. Meaning, taking charge of your experiences in life and choosing to plow forwards by identifying the limiting thoughts, beliefs, emotions and behaviors that are holding you back in life and preventing you from living the way you want to live (Confident-Led). That, I found, was refreshing. My favorite all time chapter was the one on Empowerment (with Optimism as a close second!!). I LOVED and LIVED for that chapter, (Empowerment) ahaha. More on that soon.

So, there was also a really meaningful and profound moment that I had on p. 82 (and it’s now a new day that I’m writing so I’ve been flickering between which section to place this thought but….) it talks about this concept that sometimes we, as people, get caught up in looking ahead to future experiences that we forget or dismiss what it is happening RIGHT NOW. So, in this example the author talks about a colleague he had that loved long, summer days and on the longest day of summer, he asked her how she must be so happy and she said that she was so sad thinking of the fact that all the days ahead were going to be so short (Robinson, 2009). That was SUPER relatable for me because I’ve been doing a LOT of that lately in my life. I keep putting down milestones in the days ahead of me: so like, yesterday (Friday) I had a doctor’s appointment and it’s what I wanted to get done and rush through it each day before then I looked towards that appointment and then when it was there I was busy thinking about how I was feeling physically, mentally and looking towards the next thing I had upcoming. So like, even with work tomorrow (Sunday), I’m thinking of wanting to rush to get through that experience so that the next thing I have to do on Monday, hopefully, will be going up to the library to return this book and another one ((it’s now Monday so I’ll actually be doing this on Wednesday instead)) and then once that experience is there and happening, I’ll be too busy focusing on the next thing. I’m just NOT being mindful and patient with the experiences in my life and I’d really, really like to work on that and just get back to the present moment. So, there’s that. I think I got really good at distracting myself which can be great but also a slippery slope into avoidance and over-distraction, if that makes sense.

Like, I can learn how to enjoy this moment or take just a second to ground myself and be okay with what is happening or at least accepting of it. Something that I did when I filmed a video about my book thought challenges list was encountering the absurdity and unfathomable notion that I’d read a book just to read it (not to review it here) or stop reading a book if I don’t like it (not finishing it) and I was SO animated about that process that I was actually able to let go a little bit and start reading a book I’ve had for YEARS on mindfulness and challenge myself in that way to just be in the moment, listen to ambient noise and read through it little by little. It was REALLY great and I gave myself time for just me for like 15 mins and it was SO refreshing and I’ve been able to consult it a couple times since so yeah, it was a really great milestone and achievement. So basically I have to work on enjoyment of the moment and being in it as much as possible. A stroke of progress for sure.

Another thing that really struck me was from the chapter on Empowerment on page 108 where Robinson, 2009 talks about how everyone in life is faced with challenges, some small ones and some seismic ones and how we choose to respond to them was up to us and it was very much possible to turn obstacles into opportunities and it reminded me a lot of my fiction novel and the other ideas, dreams and aspirations I have in my life so that was really wonderful and cool and something I wanted to share with you guys. ❀❀❀

Personally, I found a lot of inspiration and guidance in the Empowerment chapter, where Robinson details how it’s the work of a survivor that transforms their suffering and hardships into meaningful experiences via shifting their views of life’s challenges into lessons from which they can grow and learn about their Confident Selves (Robinson, 2009, p. 109). This in particular also reminded me of my fanfics and that was really refreshing at the time. :] As another example from this chapter:

“When life’s adversities come your way–as they surely will from time to time–perhaps you can be reminded to look for meaning, strength and growth in how you face and cope with hardships. Cosmic slaps are not choices; how you handle them is a choice. You can take the ‘cosmic taps’–those everyday challenges that are much smaller in scale than devastation–and rework them to your advantage. Finding the gains in your losses will help you lead your life with confidence”

— Robinson, 2009, p. 111

The above quote gave me another wonderful round of ideas for groups at work and I just love the way it was written and how that perspective of optimism and seeing the greatness in all the shittiness of life was just so relatable and inspiring. It also highlights the choices the Reader can regard and recall for themselves and I think that is so, so powerful.

There is also a cool visualization exercise for meditation and imagining positive experiences coming out of p. 155 that is noteworthy to mention. It’s a meditation to envision some good fortune happening and noticing any parts that come up and then moving forward as though all the endless possibilities did physically occur and repeating to yourself that I am experiencing X thing etc. Just thought I’d mention it. β˜€β˜€

Something I really want to end with as a highlight from this book is this extraordinary instance that I’ve had to manhandle into my life recently as well….

“[Claire’s envy] was eclipsing her Confident Self because the good fortunes of others were reminders of Claire’s own inner unhappiness and lack of confidence. Until she could celebrate the good fortunes of others, Claire was blind to her own gifts…Envying what others have can keep you from seeing your own blessings and prevent you from realizing that you have other gifts that they don’t”

Robinson, 2009, p. 196

The reason I want to highlight this is because it’s relevant to some experience I’ve currently have with work relationships at Amaryllis and with a friend of mine moving out on their own. I can get threatened by other people improving and doing really well at work and it’s something I have to keep an eye out for more. With my friend, I was super jealous at first that they were moving out because I thought I should be the one doing that and I’m not even at that stage yet. However, I’ve challenged this like it describes here that participating in other people’s joys helps you to feel and experience those joys as well, and like the above quote, I do have other achievements I’ve made since being friends with this person that maybe they haven’t managed just yet on their own (and that that’s okay and we can each celebrate our differences and where we’re going in life!). There’s also this secondary quote in the next paragraph that says “Confidence comes from being grateful for what you have–not from wanting what others have”. So, yeah, this really stuck out for me and I wound up deciding I could give my friend some house warming gifts so I’ve compiled together objects regarding that all from TJ Maxx and it was very exciting and I can’t wait to give it to them and share that with them. Things are definitely a work in progress; and I’m proud of me!!! πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ€©

Something else I’d like to put together more is writing out roleplay scenes for work and creating writing exercises and listening to meditations and doing those visualization exercises so that is something else I am carrying with me from having read this book and done so much dabbling in it and everything. (And I’m challenging my all or nothing tonight by setting aside the Editing Process of this post for the next day (sorta) to give myself a break and maintain my own sanity ahaha).


TRACKING DATES I READ THE BOOK:

11.16.2020; 1.7.2021; 1.13; 1.15; 2.15; 2.16; 2.17; 2.18.21

TRACKING DATES I WROTE THIS POST:

2.18.2021, 2.19, 2.20, (took a break completely on 2/21), returned 2/22 to edit and post. :))

GOSH, THAT WAS SOOOOOO MUCH.

Thank you ENDLESSLY for anyone who made it THIS far into the post. You’re so AWESOME and you deserve all the good things in the world. I am definitely gong to leave the editing process up to myself for Sunday evening Monday evening because I gave myself an even larger break from Sunday rather than trying to squish it all in on Saturday because honestly I’m tired of looking at this screen and fumbling with my spellings repeatedly. I need a break ahaha. Just some time to myself, which I’ll be taking very shortly. Maybe I can try and download two or three new songs because I’m gonna NEED them tomorrow.

Welp, that’s all I got. Thank you so much and I hope that this post was interesting for you and at the end of the day…. FAREWELL. I will see you guys VERY soon. I’ll be doing a few other reviews and then most likely scheduling some posts. πŸ˜œπŸ’™πŸ’™

PS Books referred to in this main text that I do want to check out some time…

  • Pema Chodron, 1997 “When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
  • Viktor Frankl, 2006, “Man’s Search for Meaning”
  • Shakti Gawain, 2002, “Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Life”
  • Eckhart Tolle, 2004, “The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment”
  • Eckhart Tolle, 2005, “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose”

Farewell To the Old Me; Finding My Way Through, Free.



Post Written: October 26.2020

Sometimes when we reach new places we’ve never been to before, we are able to notice how we would have reacted in the past had it happened to us then. Sometimes we’re able to see that how we’re reacting now is different to then. Sometimes we’re able to understand we want to go backwards, to regress, rather than progress further forwards.

Sometimes the battle we are fighting is within our own worlds. Our perceptions, our interpretations, our urges.

Sometimes I get stuck like that, too. Sometimes I see things happening that aren’t the greatest but that my brain interprets as being desirable. Sometimes my Ill Mind wants things for me that I would never want for me again.

It’s all a part of life and the cost of living in this life. Sometimes we want things that aren’t good for us–unhealthy ways of getting attention, junk food, drug substances, disordered behaviors, and more. Sometimes even when we can rationalize how much they aren’t good for us, we still find ourselves wanting it regardless.

That’s surely happened to me before and I’m almost certain it’s happened to you too.

So for now, in this space, I’d like to talk about my own experiences with that lately in as open and candid as a place of any. This is my safe space. It’s also a very public place–and it’s also where I feel most comfortable. I’d like to discuss some struggles I’ve been facing lately and how I’ve handled them well along with the times where I’ve deeply struggled.

Because I believe the story matters. I believe that my voice is worth sharing and I believe that living in my truth holds more power over my experiences and the narrative I wish to convey to the world, to my friends, to my family and to my peeps that is necessary and dare I say, vital, in situations such as these, in perspectives such as mine, even when there’s an intense and detrimental pandemic occurring in the world and a political system within America that’s horrid and unimaginable and makes it feel like we’ve been living in a reality TV show for the last four years. Regardless of ALL of this, my situation still exists and I am still valid in my feelings. The World of 2020 has been falling apart and it’s been very close to The End of Days and right now is as important and crucial as a time to discuss the topics of mental health, mental health conditions and recovery processes. So, here’s a part of my story and what I’ve been dealing with lately and at the end, I hope you’ll have taken something away from my rambles. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll reflect on some of your own struggles. And maybe you’ll leave this post with a newfound sense of how you can pave over your problems going forwards. And if the cards lie just right, maybe you’ll even add a word or two of your own thoughts down below. Whatever you’re comfortable sharing, of course. So… let’s begin…

Β 

“We must bring our own light to the darkness…”

(Nobody is going to do it for us.) — Charles Bukowski

I got caught up in trying to find a quote for the above section but what I’d like to talk about here involves the concept narrated above:

How do we become our own light within the shadows of darkness that surrounds each of us at night? How do we choose to be brighter and better than our previous selves the day before? How do we choose to not compare against each other and instead focus on shining our brightest, appreciating our differences and head into the battle ahead with as clear a mind as possible, knowing we’re worth it and we’re able to overcome this fight? How do we get to rely on ourselves instead of looking for attention and validation from others?

Β 

These are a lot of questions and I think the important thing to be reminded about life is that…. we don’t have all the answers. Look towards science and modern medicine, we’ve barely scratched the surface of the brain and what it does and how it does what it does. We barely know about the universe that surrounds our tiny little planet, the solar system that exists, how the world began to begin with and if there are or aren’t any other creatures out there for us to interact with (which would be pretty scary!). Hell, we don’t know how to even live amongst ourselves peacefully.

So, it’s okay to not know. Life is a giant puzzle and its purpose lies in being uncomfortable and living DESPITE–no, WITH–that which is uncomfortable. A lot of stuff that life throws at us, wasn’t something that we asked for. We usually don’t get a say in what thing it is we struggle with.

Yet how we react to things life throws our way… that, that is within our control.

We can’t control much but ourselves. We learn, particularly those facing illnesses either mental or physical, that self-care isn’t selfish. Self-care is crucial and critical for existing in life. Having balanced meals, getting enough sleep, taking care of physical (and mental) illnesses, spending socialization time with other individuals (and pets!) as well as having a few other things like hobbies, roles in society, a career, an education, and more. We live, we grow, we age, we die.

We procreate, we find love, we make friends, we make enemies. People like us. People don’t. Some people can’t stand us. Most people project their issues onto other people. We fight, we argue, we struggle, we survive. We are warriors. Some in quite a literal fashion.

We are human.

And being human isn’t something to be ashamed of.

We all have emotions–mostly. We all have preferences and habits and crave interaction with one another. We all need attention. We all need love and care and nice things. We all depend on one another, we are inter-connected. We are human. We will face adversity, sometimes a lot, sometimes not as much, but we will all lose something some day and we will all perish just the same.

But what does this have to do with anything?

You’re right, I got a little sidetracked (such is my attention span for today). What I mean to say, what the point of me saying all these things to begin with, is that life is an uncomfortable phase. Life throws things our way that we weren’t expecting or anticipating or were prepared to deal with.

And still, if we want to get the most out of life, we have to find a way to alight our own flame. While it is absolutely imperative to ask for help when you need it, you also need to learn how to be there for yourself.

You’re the only you there’s ever going to be.

You’re the only you always with you.

No one can live your life for you. They can try, they can help, they can enable you but your life is ultimately your choice. Whether you choose to go down into the dark chasms or instead hike up the next hill and the next and the one after that–that’s your choice. That’s within your control. You didn’t choose to have to go up or down, but the up or down IS your choice. You didn’t prepare the map but what you do with it is your own.

Emotion regulation, your ability to soothe yourself, handle yourself, handle your problems and knowing when and where to get help when you need it, those are all critical and necessary tools for surviving. A friend and a loved one can point you in the right direction. They can be there to hold signs and vigils in your honor. Whether you choose to follow or flee is up to you. No one else can make that decision for you.

We all need to learn how to be there for ourselves. ‘Cause we can be there for others but others won’t always be there for us.

But we are.

We are always with ourselves. It’s the one vessel that will withstand all the hell and all the light. It’s important, as humans that evolve and change and grow, to find healthy avenues and know the differences between unhealthy avenues. It’s important, as healthy humans to control and withstand ourselves. When we feel things, we need to have plans on how to handle them. When we are stuck in the darkness, instead of looking for everyone else’s lights, we need to learn how to ignite our own.

Because this light, this life within us now, is the only light and life we’re given. And it will burn out. One day. Somehow. It will. And what we got to do with it, that’s the only thing truly up to us.

Β 

“I am enough.”

Let me move away from the “you”‘s and the “we’s” because I’ve done a lot of that so far. Let me start with where I am at. And that’s in this moment.

I am enough.

It’s such a complex yet simple notion.

I am enough.

I am enough to handle my own circumstances, my own life. Just like with the light, my own light is enough to wash over the road ahead of me. I don’t rely on other people’s lights to guide me home because I know, deep down, that all I need is my own.

Yeah, that’s a pretty lonely road if I only look at it from that angle, but who makes the rules in my reality?

Me!

So if I don’t like what I see, then I can change it. Why not, right?

The big thing I want to talk about here is being able to validate myself. Because a lot of the time I get this idea in my head that I need other people’s validation or praise or attention rather than my own. And yes, that’s nice and it’s needed sometimes too. But I need to learn, in this next new phase of my life, how to be there FOR me, BY me. If I’m going to be the only one in it from start to finish, I better start liking myself, ahaha. Excluding when I need outsider’s influences–like their input, their support, their conversation–I can learn how to validate myself by validating others.

If my friend were struggling with my struggles, what would I say to them? How would I put myself in their shoes? What would I say? Act? Show? Now what if it were me, what would I say, act or show to myself? Maybe once I start to see the rules I make for myself, the cognitive distortions I fall into, the old traps and cycles that my brain easily confines for me, maybe after all of that, I’ll find a way to be there for me–I’ll find a way to be ENOUGH for ME.

That brings me back around to the main topic of this post. I know, I know, it’s been scattered through this and I thank you immensely for continuing to read if you HAVE read this far. I’m sure the Editing Version of Me will have some fun with this post ahaha. But I want to talk about that validation piece again–I want to paint a picture to what started this moment for me in general and that involves the dreaded word:

ATTENTION.

Remember at the start I was talking about the fork in the road between regression and progression? Yes, well, attention has a big play to do with my experiences thus far.

When I was at my worst, I often sought attention online (as well as in person, I think is fair to say). But it was unhealthy, every time I did it, it was unhealthy. Because:

the Internet is not an appropriate crisis space.

This, of course, is excluding the actual places online that ARE designed as crisis spaces. But the reason I say this is twofold:

  1. It truly isn’t a good idea to place intimate, vulnerable thoughts into a space where it can be taken advantage of, manipulated, tossed into a void or come back to bite you later (the Internet is forever of course, and yes, I see the immense irony or hypocrisy for this notion to exist within this own post, however, I’ve accepted my position far in the past for this type of situation.)
  2. Not everyone is going to know what to do, what to say or how to properly and healthily identify what to do in that given situation. Not everyone is going to respond well, not everyone is going to respond at all, not everyone will be kind, some people may instigate further, some people will just have different opinions, some people will speak their mind or some people won’t have anything to say, to add, to note, to express.

And that, when used in crisis, the Internet that is, can be deadly. It’s certainly dangerous.

And it’s not ultimately, entirely, other people’s responsibilities. It’s asking too much from the Internet, in many ways. Yes, the Internet is changing somewhat and there are definitely amazing, great and compassionate individuals and places on the Internet, however it is also dangerous, unsafe and crippling in other places (or within other people).

So wanting more views, wanting more comments, wanting more of that attention, more of that vocalization, more of that validation, more of that pick me up, more and more and more–it’s all a culmination to a potentially very bad outcome.

This is where balance comes into play. This is where being enough for myself comes into play. This is where I recognize I need to take an Internet break. Because as always:

“No thing and no one is worth being suicidal over.”

— Me, from an article speaking on my codependency to luna, ~fall 2018.

And that’s where regression can happen. Or, recovery progression.

So what happened was I saw or found out about someone online who confessed they were in a difficult spot and wanted a certain type of reaction out of the Internet. In response, their story, their life, kinda blew up in a very positive fashion.

And it made me SO envious. Like I was legit pissed off.

Because that hasn’t been my type of experiences.

But WHY do I want it to be? And hasn’t it? In some ways, by some friends, hasn’t it been?

So I wondered for a moment or two in that sea of anger and envy, I wondered why they had such pleasant experiences when in the past when I’ve done the same, I’ve gotten a small handful of responses or (more often) an echo of long, long silence.

And this ultimately means to me that I’ve been searching for attention and praise where it’s not the healthiest place for it. So I learn that I need to validate myself more. I need to check in with myself more than I am. I need to recognize what is cognitive distortions and when it is that I’m not practicing as much gratitude as I could be and then re-evaluate the way I’m interacting with the world around me–online and off.

Because validation is very easy to become unhealthy with. And I really don’t necessarily need it from other people or at least not in the same way that I once sought for it.

This means, to me, that I need to find ways to boost my projects, my life and my endeavors in a healthy manner that doesn’t rely on how many views it gets or how many people interact with it or even just analyzing what it is I’m hoping to get out of things that I put out on blast. And then maybe, maybe one day I’ll get picked up and maybe I’ll have a few other people to interact with more than I do now, but gratitude will be a good thing for me to practice more too as well as checking the facts and providing my own light for no one else but myself (and then by extension in living my truth and my authentic life, it will burn brightly for other people, too).

Because I have to ask myself: do I want attention for the hell I’ve been through or the growth I’ve made because of it? Do I want attention for who I am rather than what I’ve been through? And which direction is most sustainable?

I know I have a lot left to learn and to experience. I know I have a voice worth sharing and a story left to be told. I know there is so much more I want to do with my life and it doesn’t all have to be about mental health. I know that my identity extends beyond this plane of field and that I can work on getting there each and every day, every moment, and that sometimes I will succeed and sometimes I will fail and it’s in making mistakes that I will learn and grow. It’s within the darkness that I will find my light. It is within the night that I will find my day. The world is a presence of constant dualities and constant instances to try and do better, be better and improve.

I know I’m so much more mature than I was just a few years ago and I know that my happiness and my love for life and light these days is so immeasurably wonderful and not ever something I’d want to trade for a little bit of attention that’s not going to affect my life more than anything else. I, of course, like praise just as the next person, but it’s not my lifeline or my blood or my air. It’s … a bonus.

I have to understand why I create and for what purpose I am sharing it. With time, everything else will follow.

But for now, it’s time to Edit. It’s been a good hour and a half of full-on writing and I’d like to take a break and do something else for a bit. So, thank you for reading and for sticking with me. I really, really appreciate that.

It’s somewhere in the process of breathing and living for myself that I find the most freedom. The ability to be as gracious and thankful as I am able to be now isn’t something I could have ever positively imagined for myself two to three years ago. My stability is amazing and my ability to self-regulate has improved immensely. There are things in my life that I’ve excelled at recently that I’ll lightly touch on here: things like doing ERPs from support groups on OCD; getting certifications for work that seemed daunting and unavoidable (MAP); working more at my job Amaryllis; facing safety issues from youth and exceeding at not getting triggered (and yeah, so I got triggered from a support group but I’m gonna handle it and I’m gonna be okay again, I just need a little bit more time) and other moments that would have crippled me years before are now mere blips in the timeline.

I know that I can use this triggered moment to take a deep breath, then two, then five. I can mindfully listen to music that’s playing on my iPod and work on grounding myself. I can eat some cold ice cream with some yummy pound cake and treat myself WELL and doing the opposite of what’s in my brain because fuck OCD!! So yes, I can manage this, I can use this moment to self-regulate and deal with it with maybe a couple rant-y tweets online ahaha. I’ll even watch some “Kitchen Nightmares” episodes, that would be nice (I’ve been off Youtube ALL day!!!). So yes, I have plans: they include tweeting some more, coughing a bit (I’m getting over a cold), maybe re-reading some fanfic, tracking what I need to track, reading a book, playing Animal Crossing on my Switch, etc. I’ve got this. And I know now that I can believe in that answer, even with all the emotions that FEEL, only feel, otherwise. I am my own hero. I am my own savior. ❀

Thank you so much for reading. If you have the time, you can leave me your thoughts down below. Or don’t, because after all, at the start of the day and at the end of the night, as always, I am (and you are) enough.

❀ ❀ ❀


Background Music to this post: Shuffled playlist; “People Like Us” by Kelly Clarkson and “I am Enough” by Cimorelli; “Wolves” by Emma Blackery.

Time length: 6p – 7:15p EST; 8:45p – 9:30p

Goodbye, Athena: My Grieving Process.

this isn’t easy, I don’t know how and what to feel. Keeping busy: it does the job but it doesn’t heal.

It’s getting harder to feel. And they all say: “You need to take care of yourself, my darling.” but they don’t know how it feels to be broken. I can’t help it, I feel numb. I’ll wait for the waves to leave and come. I think I’m breaking… I’m a mess in the making.

I’m getting tired of the same old feeling in my chest. I’m not a liar, but I’ve got secrets I can’t confess.

Don’t say you love me: ’cause I don’t understand those words.

And they all say: “You need to take care of your health, my darling.”

I’m holding on a tightrope and know I’m not coming home. Hurting, searching–you know I’m not coming home.”

lyrics from Marina Lin’s “this is what self-destruction feels like”


Dear Athena,

….but also dear any other eating disorder or mental health condition survivor Reader out there:

Hi. You don’t know me. You maybe never would. We interacted a couple of times online but I was a fan for a while. I started following your story and your YouNow’s and your Youtube videos back in 2017 when there was one of the first large pickups of your story and the speculation that you were living with an eating disorder. I even made a blog post here about you and what you might have been going through.

Over time I watched more and more of your videos. Just as every other person in the world was, I was slowly watching you kill yourself. Anorexia, eating disorders in general, are those slow, gradual killers–sometimes. I saw you waste away video by video. I cared about you deeply. …I still do.

And then there was that all time low in the beginning of 2019, where Jaclyn Glenn and her friends forced you into treatment for your disorder(s) because you were, you are, a danger to yourself. Your own hand, or maybe even multiple hands behind all the screens, smoke and mirrors, are your ultimate demise.

So you went away for a while. A month in treatment and 4-5 months off the Internet.

You returned with an improvement in your physical health in about May or so 2019, helped along by Shane Dawson’s documentary on you and your story. You didn’t get into specifics, you did admit to an eating disorder, but you didn’t want to label it yet. You said you were better. You said things were getting to be okay.

And we believed you. We always saw the best in you, we saw you for your amazing kindness, compassion, positivity and endless amounts of potential.

It seemed to help for a while. It seemed like things were looking up for you, finally.

And then, then time passed. And you started to have similar behaviors visible to the human eye: placing your fingers around your wrists in a body-checking maneuver, standing up for long periods of time, watching yourself in the image of your camera rather than in the lens, wearing more revealing clothing, streaming on Twitch for 6-8 hours at a time with no breaks, no bathroom runs, no eating and no drinking.

And as it went on like this most people were still saying praise and supportive (enabling) comments. On videos, in streams, everywhere. Except the place you sometimes lurk on, sometimes read about yourself on and definitely a place of honesty and reality that I’ve found myself on many, many times now: Reddit.

People there were more honest, more bold, more informative, more witnessing and putting out their thoughts, their feelings and their fears about the winding road you, Athena, were traveling down towards.

And as the days rolled on, the less and less life shone in your smiles, in your green eyes, in the way you carried yourself. The less Recovery Athena existed the more the hope faded from us passerby’s witnessing you slowly fade away.

And I’m so…annoyed. I wanted you to do better. I wanted you to be more. I wanted you to live.

but you didn’t.

And I have to accept the hard reality that if you stay in the environment that made you sick, if you continue with these eating disorder behaviors, if you continue to restrict or purge or all of the above, if you continue like this, Athena:

you are going to die.

you ARE already dying.

Your skin is so pale but not just from lack of light but because it’s tinged with grey. Your hands and your legs are red, sometimes at the knuckles, sometimes just the back of your hands. You’ve had rings of red around your mouth. Your chest has been red before, too. You stutter more, and maybe that’s nerves, maybe that’s from the weight of the world that you’re holding trying to present yourself as “so much better now” and “fully recovered” and “I really am okay and everything; that was a long time ago and stuff”. But you’re not. You’re not, Athena. You are struggling. You are dying. And you’re doing it in front of the entire planet. You’re doing it for reasons we’ll probably never know, not, not unless some health scare happens and you’re able to get out of your household and away from the people who are so likely hurting you–because it’s NOT normal for a mother or a father or a family to watch you waste away hour by hour and not do a THING to stop it. That’s not love. At worst it’s abuse, at least it’s neglect.

And if anything does happen to you, if you lose your fight in this that I so very much wish would never have to happen, then I hope proper justice is brought to your case. I hope that the millions of people you’ve influenced will see that you were NOT immune to the disastrous and tragic consequences of an eating disorder so severe, so crippling, that you were lying about your recovery and your journey and wanting to be better, that you were struggling and in pain and unhealthy and DYING–I hope they see that this is a real and serious disorder and issue, and I hope that if nothing else, it destroys the illusion you’ve been painting for years that “everything is fine” and you’re “really okay and everything” and that eating disorders, mental health conditions, kill. And they will kill. Anorexia is the number one leading condition that kills its participants. And you will be one too if you don’t change your behaviors, your thoughts, your emotions, your actions.

And maybe as unfortunate and not worthy of a trade it is, maybe the laws and legislation in the United States will decide another life lost–one so public, so out there in the world, so resonating and so deliberate–was enough to finally change how eating disorders are treated; how wellness checks are necessary, how to not have the law and the people in power see someone so ill and believe whatever bullshit falls from themselves because of the fact that eating disorders just aren’t seen as the real and dangerous disorders they are–they’re not seen as IMMINENT danger to the self or others and so they’re allowed, time and time again, to slip through the cracks and failed over and over again by a system that refuses to change its citizens and make their lives whole again. Something has to change in these cases, these lives, something has to be DONE on the matter, like in other countries, in other places, in other situations. There HAS to be something. There has to be.

I don’t know how many people we have to lose in life before the world takes it seriously. Before the state does. The family. The country. The psychiatric system. The educational system. The healthcare system.

I hope that when you go on to the next life, Athena, that you will find peace. And that we’ll remember you. God, I’m crying. I hope that people will remember you for how kind you were. How much life you had in you. How compassionate you were. I hope they remember you for everything that you could have been. That you had so much potential to make a positive impact in the world, and in some ways you did, and in many others you didn’t. People see you as an inspiration–whether that’s from when you started a recovery process (for healthy reasons) or because of how frail and damaged your body allowed you to become (unhealthy). You impacted so many people, whether you realize it or not. And you had a responsibility to teach others, a platform you could have used to teach others, about the dangers of these disorders, about the REALITY of these disorders, but most of all you had a responsibility for YOURSELF.

To get better. To become well. To be happy. To be YOU.

You had this responsibility and it never clicked in your head. You kept up all the old body-checks you’d done in videos and photos, you kept up controversial videos, you apologized for everything that didn’t matter and nothing at all for everything that did, you let yourself go when the world just wanted to hold you close. You denied your influence on others and turned a blind eye to predators and lurkers who meant you harm and who meant others harm.

But at the end of the day, you never took on that accountability. At the end of the day, you went on, down the shadowy path. You didn’t want help. You got comfortable in your disorder and you didn’t want to change. We can’t save everyone. And sometimes, sometimes people don’t want to be saved. And you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves.

So all of this is to say, all of these tears and words and ideas, all of it is to say that I have to say goodbye now.

I know how this story ends. That if you don’t get help, that if you don’t enter into recovery, that you die. And I… I can’t be waiting for that to happen anymore. I have to walk away. I have to get out all my thoughts and just never look back. And it won’t mean that I’ll never think of you again. Far from it, hun. But I can’t do this. I can’t consume your content when it fills the void of my hunger pains. I can’t keep seeing you shrink and shrink away and for my mind to play its own tricks on me. I can’t go on Reddit for hours to see how you’ve gotten worse, to see the comparisons, to read the truths there, to see what new way you’re using to distract yourself (usually makeup) from the reality of your situation, the way the mods in your streams try to protect you in the name of “care” but is really just veiled attempts at getting your attention and winning over your praise in the same breath that you struggle to take. I can’t do it anymore.

I’m walking away. So even when it kills me inside that I won’t know what you’re doing, HOW you’re really doing (did anyone ever anyways?), if you’re getting better, if you’re getting worse, that I won’t see you until I hear the news of your death and wonder why and how and everything… I still will stay away. Because I have to. I have to protect myself because I can’t protect you, only you can.

I won’t be checking in on you anymore. I’m not going to click on any Youtube videos about you (maybe save for Jaclynn here and there), certainly not any you make and minimize any about you, I’m not going to go to Reddit until I hear that awful, awful news one day, I’m not going to look at comments or tweets from you (I’ve muted, blocked and everything). And I’m not going to write another blog post, not, not until we hear the news. Because I’ll probably have to process then and this has helped already to process it.

If I want to read about anorexia and the dangers of it, I’ll do so by finding some blogs, some other advocates, hell even Jessie Paege or books on the matter. I’ll finish my own story about it (by that I mean a fictional fanfic) and I’ll move forwards.

With or without you, Athena, I will move forwards. Because that’s all we can ever really do.

So, I’m gonna wipe away my tears and set this into motion.

You’ll never see this, Athena but I really do wish you the best. I wish you could be whole again. I wish your life mattered as much to you as it does to so, so, so many people out there. I’m not sure if it would be a curse or a blessing for you to one day realize how severe your condition is and the legacy that you’ve tarnished and left behind because of some bullshit in your brain that you weren’t able to overcome for some reason that we’ll never ever truly know.

I wish you were stronger. I wish you had more time. I wish we could have seen you grow and evolve and become more than everything else. I wish you didn’t have to suffer. I don’t know why some people do more than others, but I’ll have to believe in the Universe and know that it works in mysterious and often unfair ways.

Most of all, I’m going to remember you like this:

Athena.

I’ll remember you smiling. I’ll remember your killer makeup looks. I’ll remember those green eyes and long hair. That hopefulness and life there within you. The idea, the promise, that things were really getting better. I’ll remember you like this. Because I can’t remember you like how you are now. I’m so sorry, Athena. I wish this wasn’t how you left.

Goodbye.


This post got a lot more emotional than I could have ever imagined. If you are struggling with an eating disorder or some other mental heath condition: know that you are NEVER alone, that you CAN get through this, that there is HOPE and HELP available and that you’re so strong, you’re so amazing and you DESERVE to be here and take up space. I wish you all the best. xxx


There’s strength and a certain amount of courage to write so publicly about your life, to share the journey is a blessing and a beacon for others who may be struggling, because it says, β€˜hey, I’ve been where you are and you can get to this stable place, too.’ And that, above all, is what really matters.” — “My Hopes for My Legacy” by Me back in 2018 (article)


Resources: 
NEDA , National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA) , Healthy Place .
thank you for reading and if you have any thoughts on this matter or about Athena or want to encourage her or share your story, please feel free to do so down below. if not, that's okay too. i believe in you and i always will. i want the best for her, i do, it's just hard. it's just hard. thank you for stopping by. sending you light, love and hugs. xxx <3 <3 <3

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