Redefining Strength

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Words Matter

Words Matter

I am struggling to come up with a word that completes this sentence: It is in my nature to first blame and judge myself when I have been…  A word that describes an act that made me lose all sense of safety. A word that […]

To love again…

To love again…

A woman who opens her heart to love you, when it’s already broken, is braver than any person you’ll meet. – Steven Benson It takes more than just effort to pick yourself up from a fall. It is only natural to fear experiences that have […]

Anger

Anger

How does anger express itself?

When angry, I often say and do things I do not mean and later, live to regret it. Anger gives my brain a burst of energy, prompting my mind to come up with self-serving plans to protect and find comfort.

The story of anger has been one that I contemplated about sharing. My personal experiences and knowledge about anger has shown me that anger can be triggered by shame, sadness and discomfort. Dependent on my response to anger, the same triggers are also the consequences of anger. It becomes a never-ending cycle that I get stuck in.

Trigger (Primary feelings: shame, sadness or discomfort) > Anger (secondary emotion) > Anger Response > Consequence (shame, sadness or discomfort).

Does this sound familiar? Am I alone in this?

Well, maybe you can relate to some of my common (but not so helpful) thoughts and behaviours when angry:

  • Thought: “I am never letting this person hurt me like this again.”
    • Triggers the response of ignoring, avoiding or pushing them away
  • Thought: “I will find joy in doing things that give me comfort right away”
    • Triggers the response of eating buckets of ice cream, calling friends and venting/gossip, minimize the incident/the person/your feelings
  • Thought: “GET EVEN. I will hurt this person as much as they hurt me.”
    • Triggers the response of destroying things that are meaningful to them or name calling

Lesson learned: Regardless of the triggers that elicit anger, it never gave me the right to hurt others. I am regretful of the many things I have said and done to the people I have been angry at. There are way more productive ways to cope with this emotion. A way that serves you long term. A way that does not ruin relationships.

Change is not easy, but it is not impossible either. If you are experiencing anger, here are some words of advise from me to you. “Me” as in someone who has experienced it, studied it, reflected on it and still actively working on it.

  1. Know that you are NOT crazy! Your feelings are real and you are entitled to your emotions. How we want to express or respond to anger is a natural thing. However, just because you think of something, does not mean you will or have to execute the plan.
  2. SLOW down. STEP back. Take a BREAK.
  3. Ask yourself, what is anger protecting you from? Anger is often a secondary emotion to an emotion much more consistent and vulnerable. Learn to cope with the feelings that anger is protecting you from.
  4. We are NOT in control of how others feel, behave and think. Sometimes people are hurtful, whether they were intentional or not. People do disappoint. There are so many things that are beyond our control, it is not our role to take on others problems. I have learned that it times of disappointment, to lean on God. Example:
    To my fellow peers with road rage: when you see a terrible driver (mostly people like me), pray that they do not have to experience a serious car accident to learn to be a better driver. Pray that God may look after them and guide them to be better drivers. You honking at them, swearing and aggressing towards them will NOT make them better drivers. Unfortunately.
  5. Love yourself deeply, passionately and prioritize you first. It is important to learn to set boundaries that help you recharge and allows for self-priority. Surround yourself with people who understand and care…look around, there tends to be more people than you think. Don’t sit and wait around for someone else to heal your wounds. There is no one else that is going to love you better than you love yourself.

I am beyond blessed that there are people who love me and have seen pass my anger. However, the reality is that these people are few and far in between. If you are angry I encourage you to talk to someone about it – someone will understand because anger is not a rare crazy thing.

Good luck peeps.

 

 

Remember

Remember

We put in so much effort to remember happy occasions (e.g. birthdays, wedding anniversaries). We mark these dates in our calendars, save reminders on our phones, take pictures, post them on social media and even make the occasional “throw-back” reference. Despite these efforts, it’s inevitable that […]

My Dad

My Dad

Not everyone is blessed to have their father in their life. So to have a good one, is an even greater privilege. I grew up idolizing my dad. I thought he was handsome, strong, intelligent and friendly. Then, like many others I arrived at a […]

Feeling Beautiful

Feeling Beautiful

Feeling beautiful is personal and for some an ongoing journey. Feeling beautiful differs from looking beautiful because feeling beautiful needs only to be validated by one person.. YOURSELF.

Recently, I reflected on my own ideas of beauty and how it had contributed to deep seated feelings of not being enough. Have you ever looked at an older picture of yourself and thought:

“hey, I didn’t look so bad then..”

“oh to be 18 again…”

“oh darn those jeans would never fit me now”

And yes, there were many other old photos where I prefer not to ever have them appear again (thank goodness I did not grow up in the era of social media, because most of my growing up photos are tucked in old albums, in an old cabinet at home. Not to be found on the internet. Not to be liked/hated. Not filtered. Not to be commented.)

So despite me having moments of  “wish I was as young or as thin as I was back then“, I remember being there and wishing I was everything but myself.

There are too many messages in this world that dampen our confidence. We are all guilty of thinking or saying hurtful and judgmental things of people, and I am no saint either. Sadly, this only reflects on our own insecurities and on how we see ourselves. It is our human tendency to compare, to seek more and to be better. The irony of this is that although it serves to help us improve, it also easily becomes a barrier to two important elements of living happy: gratefulness and contentment.

In my personal journey of feeling beautiful, I have fought to understand the messages I received about what I am. This is what I have learned:

1. My body serves me.  

I am a woman, I may lack curves in certain areas and to some I may have too much in other areas. But my body works for me. I feel strong in it. It allows me to do many fun physical activities and it also keeps me warm during cold winter days.

My body has changed so much over the years and it will continue to change. I will fuel my body with good food and I will continue to respect it when it needs a break. My body is beautiful because of everything that it’s been through with me. It’s been through trauma, it’s been through injuries and damage, it’s been neglected and it’s been through lots of stress. My body is one tough cookie and I am grateful for it!

2. Love is not about appearance.

He told that he was no longer physically attracted to me. He said he was looking to be with someone with his “ideal” body type. That was the last time I allowed myself to ever talk to him again.

People do not love you for how you look. If they do, then I’m sorry because it is NOT love. We do not value people base on what they wear, who they know or how physically strong or fit they are – or at least I hope for you, this is not the case. We love people for who they are are and what they mean to us. Luckily for me, God reminded me of the many people who have continuously loved me, through “thick and thin” (literally) and I have received the utmost support from them this year.

The amazing thing about love is that everything about that person becomes beautiful. People who love you will make you feel beautiful. When you begin to love you, feeling beautiful will naturally happen too!

3. I rock my look

Many years ago, I read this and it really stuck with me:

Sexy, to me, is the way you carry what you have. I have a big nose, but I rock it.” – Justin Timberlake.

Feeling beautiful looks beautiful. I use to wear pink pants to university with a purple jacket I bought from the kids section. It’s funny now, but I totally thought I rocked it and it felt great. Ironically, it was at the times when I might have “looked” the part that I was actually feeling the most insecure and not so great.

No one on this earth is perfect. Everyone is flawed in their own way. It takes courage to wear our flaws loud and proud, like it doesn’t matter. The truth is, it really does not matter. What you see as flaws, someone out there sees as beautiful. So let that start with you, because we should never rely on anyone else to love us more than we do.

 

Letting go…

Letting go…

“It takes a lot more courage to let something go than it does to hang on to it, trying to make it better. Letting go doesn’t mean ignoring a situation. Letting go means accepting what is, exactly as it is, without fear, resistance, or a […]

The Joys of an Aging Woman

The Joys of an Aging Woman

You know you’re old when you dread adding another year to your age. When I was younger, growing up felt much more exciting. I can always recall celebrating the moments when I was finally tall enough to ride a roller-coaster, and old enough to drive […]

Redefining Strength

Redefining Strength

When I was younger, social media platforms easily became a public journal of my life. I thought living my life as an ‘open book’ showed others that I had nothing to hide. It was an action I took to tell my young-teenage-self that I was not ashamed of my thoughts, my feelings and actions. Naive to some extent, yet, some time in the past decade I have stopped sharing and I have become extremely critical of myself and also those around me. I was excited about the idea of writing again in order to share my recovery journey (and constant struggle) with my most recent loss. However, it has taken me forever to finally post. I was stuck on revising my writings, rethinking topics and second guessing whether the amount of information I was disclosing was too much.

“How did I become so critical of myself?”

“When did I develop this need to be seen as intelligent and strong?”

“Why did it bother me so much when/if others judged me?” 

I forgot about the difficulty and stress that comes from being transparent with others about my thoughts, feelings and actions. In the past decade, I have only shared it with a selective few. One of these individuals was a boy I’ve come to love for 10 years and he was often critical of how I presented myself to others. So now that I am finally set free from his views, I come face to face with my first challenge. Sharing with you my heart and my experiences with brokenness is the beginning of my journey to becoming ‘the strong woman’.

I hope my journey will help you redefine your views on strength as well and perhaps when you hit your ‘rock bottom’ you will come to realize that we are all more similar than we are different.

In true therapist fashion, I would like to breakdown my current understanding of a “strong” person into two parts:

  1. Someone who is taking the steps and action with the intention of bettering themselves (emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually).
  2. These steps and actions must respect what our body, mind and heart needs in order to move forward.