‘HOW TO STOP FEELING LIKE SH*T’ REVIEW – WEEK 3

If you haven’t been following along, last month, I announced that I would be reviewing Andrea Owen’s latest book, How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits that Are Holding You Back from Happiness.

Along with her book, Andrea offered a 4-week long study group for people who are reading the book. This review isn’t just on the book, but my experience reading the follow and following along in the study group. To catch up, click the links below:

Week 1 Review

Week 2 Review

BABES. I COMPLETELY FELL OFF THE PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT TRAIN.

Funny enough, on Wednesday, Andrea posted in the study group “We have reached ‘The Dip!'” Haha which apparently is halfway through the class where people lose momentum, get sidetracked, get overwhelmed, and have a hard time hopping back on the horse. So personal victory – it’s not just me! Apparently, it’s totally normal to lose momentum and fall off the train. She asked us to add a GIF in the comments to show how we’re feeling. This was the gem I chose:

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Okay, maybe that was a little dramatic, but in this week, I started a new job (which I will talk about later), my boyfriend was visiting me from out of town, and I am trying to bust my butt at the gym in anticipation of two tropical vacations coming up. So with that being said, here’s what I was able to gather from the next 4 chapters.

Chapter 8 – Perfectionism

This is another chapter I wanted to avoid. I find myself doing that with the chapters I need to read the most. But this chapter hits a trigger for me because, throughout most of my life, one person in my life has always pointed out my “need to be perfect,” but in a very insulting way that makes me feel like I am being put down for my hard work. I don’t think I have ever worked towards being perfect, but subconsciously, I know there are things I have avoided doing in my life in fear of not being perfect. For example, I played volleyball on intermediate bar leagues for years in my early-mid 20’s. After the sudden passing of one of my teammates and best friends, I completely stopped playing. I went to grad school and had other obligations at the time so it wasn’t just his passing that turned me off to the sport. But now, I am in a new city and one of my friends always asks me to play volleyball with her. But I don’t because I am afraid I am no longer good enough. I didn’t realize that until reading this chapter, so thank you, Andrea, for pointing that out!

But what Andrea talks about in this chapter is that it’s not a bad thing to want to do things well. But what is not good is when you avoid them altogether because you’re afraid you won’t do it well enough. When I play volleyball with her, am I going to be as good as I used to be? Hell no. Will I be embarrassed? Yes. But instead of avoiding it, maybe I can ask her to practice on the beach with me before hitting the court. I can use this example to look at places in my life where I make mistakes and learn from them, rather than avoiding them and criticizing myself for not being perfect.

Chapter 9 – Being Strong: The Illusive Tough Exterior

“Stay strong!” MY GOODNESS, IF I HEAR THIS PHRASE ONE MORE TIME, I MIGHT SNAP. Yes, friends, family, boyfriend, LISTEN UP!

If you don’t know me well, then you don’t know I am in a long-distance relationship with my long-time boyfriend. We planned to move to our dream city together, but unfortunately, I got a job first and together we made the decision for me to come here first. It’s been HARD. Especially throughout the holidays. Almost every day someone says “Stay strong!” Although it’s meant to be a positive pep talk, really, someones I need to feel my feelings, breakdown, cry, and talk about how freaking hard it actually is. It’s like being “strong” has been coded as a badge of honor you can wear for not letting people know you cry and are human. Andrea points out, we often say “stay strong” as if the alternative, falling apart, is wrong. Is it? While being strong isn’t always a bad thing, why do we make it seem bad for us to cry when we are truly in pain? My favorite quote from this chapter is, “We like happiness and positivity. So, instead of risking discomfort and vulnerability, we ask people to stay strong.” 

What if it’s okay to fall apart sometimes and face our feelings?

I am just going to leave that right there. Clearly, this chapter triggered some strong feelings in me!

Chapter 10 – Let Me Do It: Start Letting Go of Control

Seriously, did she write the second half of this book for me? With being strong, comes being overly independent. When you are independent and do things yourself, you get used to having that control. This is common because as humans, we like certainty and it can be scary when you put faith in someone else and you are uncertain of what the outcome will be. Andrea discusses the fine line between being efficient and crossing the self-control line into “Crazytown.” This can show up in the order in which we like our house, trying to force others to stick to a schedule or itinerary, or maybe micromanaging your children (if you are a parent).

“People who struggle with control are living in fear.”

Boom. People who try to control and trying to avoid pain and uncertainty in their own lives. The best part about this chapter is Andrea tells you how to fix it. I am going to leave that answer up to you to order the book and discover. This chapter was pretty much skipped over in the study group, but of the 4 chapters this week, I think the other 3 struck bigger cords with most people (myself included).

Chapter 11 – The Sky Is Falling: Bracing Yourself for Catastrophe.

This is something I know many of my friends do and I have done myself. One of my best friends and I actually talk about this often and until reading this book, I didn’t know there was a word for it!

Catastrophizing.

When everything in your life, relationship, job, family, pregnancy, etc. is going perfect and you think “this can’t possibly last.” All good things come to an end, right? We start to brace ourselves for the end of an era and wonder when it’s going to hit us. Apparently, people are uncomfortable feeling joy. Did you know that? I didn’t. I thought there were all kinds of people skipping through fields in joy. But I guess it makes sense that when we’re used to feeling disappointed, it’s strange to feel joy. Feeling joy can make us feel unsafe and vulnerable. Like we can’t get our guard down, otherwise, the upcoming pain will be unbearable. Andrea explains that when we let go of catastrophizing, we let us of our safety net.

This was a huge topic of discussion in the study group. In Andrea’s live video on Thursday, someone asked the question “How do I experience pure joy?” Someones we need to pause in the moment and think THIS IS SO FUN! How many of us do that? We often look back on days and think “wow, that was a fun night.” But it’s important to practice living in the moment to feel joy. In the study group, there was a much longer conversation on this topic and that’s what makes the study group so valuable.

I am quickly nearing the end of the book and my last review will be next week. If there is something I haven’t covered that you’d like to know, drop a note in the comments. Until next week!

 

XO – J

 

10 Ways to Practice Self-Love

I honestly used to cringe at the phrase “self-Love.” Probably because I didn’t love myself at all. My immediate reaction would be to think of all the things I hated about myself and I would use those reasons as excuses not to love myself. Reasons like: I hate my thighs. I hate being broke. I hate feeling like I screwed up my college degree and overall career path. I hate not having a passion. I hate being single. I hate some of the people I surrounded myself with. I hate, I hate, I hate! I wouldn’t even entertain loving myself while all of those things were wrong.

But were they really WRONG? Of course not! They were just things I attached to the word “wrong” and in turn, sabotaged any chance of them being okay.

Once I learned to accept that all the things I “hate” aren’t actually the end of the world, I learned to look at how I can use my areas of improvement to practice acts self-Love. I sure as hell wasn’t born with self-love in my blood. I have to work towards it every single day.

Here are 10 ways I personally practice self-love.

1. I enjoy eating vegan and vegetarian. Many people make comments or laugh at me for it. I actually used to eat meat to make other people happy! But eating meat did not make my body or my mind feel good. I feel more nourishment from plant-based foods.

2. I practice yoga. Not regularly, but when I feel like it. I’m a certified group fitness instructor so I do teach a class once/week. Other than that, I practice yoga whenever I feel like it. Maybe once/day and maybe once/month. But I don’t beat myself up when I see people in class who show up weekly and I show up sporadically. I do what works for me. Find something you like, and do it. It doesn’t have to be yoga. It just has to be something.

3. I keep a gratitude journal. My boyfriend will laugh at me when I travel and ask “So how many journals are you bringing?” He jokes, but for me, writing down 3 things I’m grateful for each day helps me keep a positive mindset.

4. I choose my tribe.  It wasn’t until my late 20’s when I realized that it is OK to let go of friends that no longer serve a positive influence in my life and make new friends to carry the same joys and value as me. I have my soul sisters let them know that I value their friendship!

5. I say no. Have anyone ever asked you for a favor and even though you’re screaming “NO!” inside, you still agree to do it? That doesn’t make you feel very good does it? And then you might even start to resent that person as you’re carrying out that favor? Me too! But I am working on it and I am practicing saying “no” to things that truly do not make me feel good inside.

6. I stay organized. Personally, I am more relaxed when I have things organized. This may be through planners, storage bins, or to-do lists. Being organized helps me feel calm and puts my mind at peace. I make organization a priority, knowing it’s a value I need to uphold to feel happier.

7. I buy myself flowers. I like to keep fresh flowers in the house as often as possible. Even if no one else will see them, they are there for me to enjoy and they make me feel happy. My local grocery store has some beautiful $4 bouquets that make both my wallet and my soul happy!

8. I go places alone. Going places alone isn’t always the most fun. But, I would rather go to the beach or my favorite coffee shop alone, rather than have no one to go with and not go at all. Sometimes being in my favorite places, by myself, helps me reflect on the things that make me happy and reconnect with who I am. I am a person who likes the beach and over-priced coffee.

9. I reflect on my faith. I grew up Catholic. However, going to church was never something I wanted to do. It was a chore and I felt guilty for not going each week. Going in fear of guilt did not make me feel good. So instead, I have accepted that while practicing my faith may not look the way some think it “should,” I understand what my beliefs are and reflect on them in other ways and other spaces that work best for me.

10. I invest in myself through experiences and not things. I have never taken a true vacation in my life. I have never planned to go to a destination solely to just lay on the beach and drink mojitos. I want to, but I never found that to be a good use of my income. Until recently. While I haven’t planned a vacation, I have plans to plan a vacation! Also, I am attending a 4-day yoga retreat on the beach (as I speak)! I always thought things like this were a waste of money because I didn’t have anything to “show” for it… except my own happiness! Duh! Someone once told me, “The happiest people spend their money on experiences, not things.” I am finding that to be very true!

Some of these might work for you and some of these might make you scoff. Girllll, do what works for you!! Your self-love won’t look like mine! Your self-love practice with only truly work for your self. Comment below or send me a private email and let me know how you practice self love!

XO – J

I’m a Recovering People Pleaser – Is That Okay?

Increasingly I have noticed more memes, blog posts, articles, books, and pod casts surrounding the topic of “people pleasing.” People pleasing is a behavior pattern in which someone spends a great deal of their time helping others. They are usually the people you can always count on, they are always reliable, they are never late, and you know if you ask them to do something, they will not say no (unless there is a very good reason). They are true friends, excellent parents, caring coworkers, and completely taken advantage of. People pleasers go out of their way to help others and it’s not always appreciated.

We are often raised to serve others. We are taught this in school, at church, and through volunteer work. We are encouraged to give our time, energy, money, and sanity to everyone else all of the time. While you SHOULD help others in need, support your family, and be there for your kids, you should also help yourself. People pleasers forget that step and sacrifice their own happiness and wellbeing to tend to others around them. I could write an entire post on why humans people please and maybe I will another time. But today, I want to tell you about my own experience with people pleasing and hope that it can shed some light on others who may needs it.

It wasn’t until about 2015 when I realized, I was a people pleaser. I went through the most challenging year of my life in 2014 and I found a great group of women who I learned on for support to help get my big girl panties back on and move on with life. In this new group of friend, maybe people recommended self-help books. At first, I was completely turned off, until I realized these books came in fun colors and were writing by women just like me, who dropped f-bombs just like me and were there to talk to me as if I was a friend and not some damsel in distress. I would be happy to recommend some of my favorites to you. Please send me a private message or comment!

These women called me out on my sh*t and demanded that I stop being a people pleaser! But how could I stop?!? THEY NEEDED ME! ALL OF THEM! NO ONE COULD GET STUFF DONE WITHOUT ME! OR THEY’LL HATE ME IF I DON’T HELP!

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Seriously?? If someone asked for my help and I had a damn good reason for telling them I couldn’t help (like working full-time plus trying to finish my master’s degree), would they really HATE me for saying no? Probably not and if they did, then that’s their problem. In 2017, I nearly killed myself trying to be there for everyone in my life, while also finishing my master’s degree and moving 850 miles away for a job. I was busy AF (did I use that right?) and I will still convinced that everyone else’s sh*t was more important than mine. I stretched myself into panic attacks and most of the time, it actually caused MORE tension with the people I was “helping” than if I just explained to them in the first place that I couldn’t take on any more at the time.

So in July 2017, I decided to PLEASE MYSELF. I took a job that I wanted, I moved to the city I wanted to live in, I bought the house I wanted, and I didn’t care what anyone else had to say about it. For the first time in my life, I had to please MYSELF. However, even from 850 miles away, I still send my family/friends things, spend hours on the phone when people need me to listen, and feel GUILTY for not being there to help with my nephews and spend quality time with the people I love.

So now, I am a recovering people pleaser. I KNOW I can’t please everyone and there is no use trying. But, I am still struggling with the “But what if they hate me?!”  stuff. While I love you all and will always WANT to be there to help when I can, please understand if I actually say something like “I would love to help, but I really can’t at this time.” Trust me, it’ll be better for everyone in the long run!

XO J