I love when I have moments of self-discovery. They don't happen often, but when they do they can be life changing and alter the way I perceive situations. I recently had an AHA moment around my anxiety and where it's been showing up in my life.
Anxiety is a feeling of fear for what's about to come.
I've been aware of my anxiety for the past 5 years. When I discovered I had anxiety, I was constantly thinking about death and losing a loved one. After countless therapy sessions, my anxious thoughts around death have almost completely dissolved. Honestly, I thought I was in the clear because I rarely think about death. I started to attend therapy less which has made me less attuned to myself and where my anxiety may be creeping in.
Anxiety can come out in ways you least expect it. Recently, I've noticed how anxious I get when I can't control what people think about me.
"Do I need to be liked? Absolutely not. I like to be liked. I enjoy being liked. I have to be liked. But it's not like this compulsive need to be liked, like my need to be praised." - Michael G. Scott
Why doesn't this person like me?
What can I do to make them like me more?
What if my friends other friends don't like me?
What if someone's friends that I dated months ago think poorly of me? (People I've never even met [insert eye roll])
What if my friends think I'm being a bad friend?
The above are just some examples of my internal dialogue when anxiety starts to set in. I analyze everything that I could be doing better to be better. Just like Michael Scott, I have to be liked! This may feel silly for most, but for me, it's my reality. I would LOVE to not care what people think about me, but I just don't function that way. At the end of the day, I want to control how others perceive me.
Honestly, this self-discovery feels silly and embarrassing to admit, but writing about it helps me work through it. I'm thankful that I recognize this quirky quality because I have to start somewhere.
Since this discovery, I've been trying to relinquish control. Rather than stressing about what others think of me, I'm trying to learn to let go. What will be, will be. Friendships, dating, work, money etc will flow as they are supposed to. I'm trying to work on staying present and grounded. I can't control what will happen within the next hour, 4 days, 3 weeks or 6 months. When anxiety hits, I recenter and root myself back to earth. For me, working out is my grounding technique. When I workout, I feel the most present and in touch with my body and mind.
All and all, it's a process. This has been a good reminder for me that anxiety doesn't just come and go. It's something I'll always live with, which I feel is a blessing because it helps me remain self-aware so I can keep growing and learning. At the end of the day, I've got a lot of years left and a lot of growing to do!
Last night, my roommate and I were talking about my accident and how I explain it to someone on a date and I started to get emotional. For the most part, I've found guys are awkward about it and avoid questions or the subject all together. Of course, there have been a few exceptions and I've had a handful of positive experiences. I suppose it's awkward date talk but it's tied to a lot of pieces of my life like why I went back to school so it's unavoidable.
The most awkward moment is when I show someone my neck scar. More often than not, I've been told it's not that bad or it could've been worse. I believe these comments are said with the intention to make me feel better, but in these moments I clam up, become uncomfortable and feel misunderstood. Something that has played an integral role in my life and has made me the person that I am today feels diminished.
It's true, I'm lucky. My scars on my neck and arm fade everyday. I'm an able-bodied human that can walk and my cognitive functions were not impaired. But that doesn't change the very shitty emotional roller coaster I experienced post accident for years. It doesn't get rid of the painful amount of anxiety I experienced around death and the thought of losing a loved one. Chalking it up to luck doesn't celebrate the growth I've experienced and the career change I've embarked on.
Maybe I'm totally in my head; I know people have their own shit and maybe this is just mine. I'll never be able to change how someone reacts or responds to my story but I want to work on not letting someone else's response diminish how I feel about my experience.
How do you share your story or something of value to you and react when people respond?
In my last blog I discussed how I am a people pleaser. I don’t know why or when this started but I have this want to be liked by everyone. Not to toot my own horn but I think I’m a nice person. I have a hard time understanding why someone wouldn’t like me. Hello ego! But really, I always try and find the good in people or understand why someone may be acting the way they are, trying to give others the benefit of the doubt. It’s easy for me to do this for others, but more often than not, it feels impossible to do this for myself.
Maybe it’s this idea of perfection or having a background in sports that led me to this “not good enough” mentality. For me, growing up playing sports made me highly competitive with myself. It’s something I still carry with me today just not as intensely. I catch myself in moments where I’m being hard on myself for things I’ve said or done. I hate the idea that someone could have a negative view or think poorly of me. I’ve recognized that the feeling intensifies when it concerns people I’m close with.
I’ve recently been putting certain elements into play to steer away from my people pleasing mentality and become more in-tune with myself. Being honest with myself about where I am emotionally has been empowering and it’s something that I can implement into relationships with others. For example, the other week I made plans with a friend to go out on a Friday night. Thursday night hit and I was exhausted; I had worked 4 early mornings in a row and knew that I needed a night to myself at home. The old Molly would’ve pushed through because I hate being a flake. Rather than pushing through, I decided to text my friend and be honest. Obviously she didn’t care and when I think about it, if a friend had done the same I would’ve never thought twice about it. But flaking or changing plans is something I rarely do because it feels uncomfortable. Friends with anxiety may understand but keeping things as planned is my way of having control which makes me feel less anxious. I'm slowly learning that this is not how I want to continue functioning but that's for another blog.
The story above is one small example of how I’ve been more honest with myself and others. Surprisingly, something that felt terrifying is actually giving me more comfort and less anxiety. Maybe because I’m being more honest with myself, it enables me to be more genuine. People pleasing doesn’t really bring out your natural self, at least not for me. I would tell myself and others that I had no dinner preference, didn’t care which show we went to see or which bar we went to in hopes of being easy, but in reality I always had an opinion and always will.
Understanding that this is how I operate is really just the start; I don't need to make drastic changes, just small actionable steps to get the ball rolling.
I'm going to get real, I've always been a girl in a relationship. Since high school, I've consistently been dating or seeing someone. I'm currently learning about human behavior so I'm very aware that there are underlying reasons for this. All part of the learning experience, eh? More recently, this is not the case; for the first time in my life I'm completely independent from romantic relationships. Something that I always thought would be scary AF but am realizing it's something I need right now. In this blog, I will talk about the amazing realizations I've had since being on my own.
A few weeks ago I went to Iceland for a week as a solo traveler. The week was life changing. For the first time in my life, I was able to experience true independence. Side note: if you've never been to Iceland, go! It's an amazing country with the most breathtaking scenery. Anyways, in addition to the amazing sites, I was able to make decisions based on my own wants and needs. I said yes to so many activities, I made friends, I stepped out of my comfort zone while also getting quality Molly time. I know that if I was seeing someone back home while on my trip, I wouldn't have allowed myself to experience what I did. No fault of anyone else's but my own.
My trip made me realize that I haven't been true to myself for years. Relationships and bonds take a lot of energy and because I'm a people pleaser I always put others feelings in front of my own, both partnerships and friendships. Since being back, I've realized I don't have the energy to continue the people pleasing game. Not to sound corny but this time is my time. While I finish grad school, I have this amazing opportunity to focus on myself, to explore NYC and other parts of the world on my terms. I can stay home and binge watch TV when I want or go out when I feel like it without having to juggle what someone else is expecting of me. I'm allowing myself to be more self serving which is something that is foreign to me.
Don't get me wrong, I still want to be a people pleaser, but if I'm not taking care of myself then I'm not truly going to be myself. What's the point of creating friendships and relationships if I'm not being myself and I'm constantly appeasing others? Sustainable, lasting relationships can't be created this way or at least it's not the way I want to have people in my life.
For all of my people pleasing friends or friends that are like me and constantly find themselves romantantcally tied to someone, I won't lie and tell you this has been the most comfortable time of my life. Some days are amazing and some days just suck. But rather than avoid my feelings, (which I'm a pro at), I welcome them, let them sit there in that moment and remind myself that the feeling is only temporary. I've been lucky enough to live with someone who I now consider one of my closest friends. We both give one another the freedom to feel their feelings while also providing support, love and a little bit of laughter to get each other out of a slump when needed. My cat Tubs also provides us a lot of laughter and cuddles so animals are always a good option too.
Being uncomfortable is all part of the learning experience. If we want to grow as individuals, we have to live in discomfort. It's in those moments that we grow and learn about ourselves. What has been the most uncomfortable 6 months of my life has also provided me the most clarity.
Ever feel like you're just going through the motions? Maybe you feel like you're in a funk and don't know how to get out of it. Below, I'm going to talk about my recent funk and what I've been doing to get back on track.
Recently, I realized that I've been in this weird funk. Nothing has been bad, but things have just become very stagnant in my life. This made me reflect on different aspects of my life and where I need to improve.
For the most part, things have been going pretty well. But there is one thing that I've dropped the ball on; taking care of myself. I don't mean eating healthy or working out, those are things I've been consistently doing since I moved. I've been lacking in the mental health department. I haven't been properly taking care of myself mentally and emotionally.
I only just realized this the other week. So I asked myself, what's gone off? What have I been forgetting to do?
Below are the things I've dropped the ball on and have started to work on this past week.
I used to go to therapy every few weeks when I lived in San Francisco. When I moved to New York, I felt like my anxiety was in a much better place. This is true to an extent; my anxiety about death has really improved but there are other forms of anxiety that I've been pushing to the side.
Yesterday, I had my first therapy session since last April. Damn, it felt good. I won't be dropping the ball on that anymore.
Too much TV
I have a love hate relationship with TV. I don't even have cable, but I find myself coming home and watching Netflix, HBO and Hulu for hours. I think this is totally acceptable maybe a night or two a week but when you start to make that a consistent trend, you lose site of other things.
This past week, I've made a conscious effort to limit my TV time. I will either go with one hour long episode or make sure the TV is off by a certain time. Then I grab my kindle and sit and bed to read for an hour. Goodness gracious I missed reading!
Being more social
It's getting a bit chillier in NYC, but that doesn't mean you still can't go be social with friends one night a week. This is something I've been lacking since I moved to NY. A very social city with so many opportunities, but I found myself siting at home with a bottle of wine watching TV.
For the past few weeks I've been making more of an effort to be social with friends. Grabbing a drink or two and just unwinding, talking about silly things was definitely missed.
Take a look at your life and ask yourself, what's one thing I can do to better for my mental and emotional health?
If you've read my blog or have been following me on social media, I've touched on anxiety quite a bit. A few years ago I started to see a therapist because I was suffering from daily anxiety attacks. Death was on my mind more than food was, and food is always on my mind. After countless therapy sessions, now I am able to manage my anxiety, but that doesn't mean that anxiety doesn't hit me every now again. With these recent tragic events, (feels like it's never ending) my anxiety has picked back up. In the blog below I will talk about how I work to calm my nerves.
When bad things happen in the world, I become very emotionally invested. When there is a shooting or terrorist attack, my heart immediately thinks about all of the people who have lost their lives and their loved ones who are impacted. I start to imagine myself in these tragedies, thinking about losing my loved ones or getting hurt myself. I spend the next few days quiet and working to stay calm.
Even though I still have anxious thoughts, I can control them far better than I could pre-therapy. I couldn't imagine being back in that mental space. Every day, multiple times a day, I would think about myself or a loved one getting hurt or dying. Heavy stuff, yes, but used to live like this and it can be totally paralyzing. Now, my anxiety usually calls for a night or day at home, cuddled up with my animals watching a happy TV show like Friends, The Office or Parks and Rec.
If you struggle with anxiety, below are my top three tips to stay somewhat sane post-tragedy.
1. Pray or say a kind word about those who lost their lives and for their families.
This may sound like the political approach where politicians avoid talking about real issues and say, "We pray for the families impacted", but it's really not what I'm going for. This is more of an internal dialogue I have with myself. At the end of the day, I can't control what happens, but I can work to spread positive thoughts and vibes to others. It may feel like nothing, but I find it helps calm my anxiety.
2. Try to focus on the things you can control, not the things you can't control.
I had the hardest time with this tip because if you have anxiety, you want to control everything. When it comes to big picture things, I need to remind myself I can't control what happens but I can control my voice. If something comes up that you feel very strongly about, use your voice to make an impact. There are are plenty of organizations out there that you can get involved with that will enable you to make a change.
3. Find a calming anchor
I like to find anchors that calm my anxiety. Anchors are different for everyone; it could be a piece of jewelry, a quote, a TV show or even a song. My anchor is watching a comforting TV show such as Friends, The Office or Parks and Rec. These shows are shows I've been watching for years and instantly make me feel better.
I think it's important to test out new methods and find what works for you. We all have our own story and our own way of coping with things. Feel free to test some of these tips out and let me know how it went!
I've been fairly absent on social media lately and it's not unintentional. In this blog, I talk about how you can take a step back from the things that aren't bringing you joy so you can recharge.
Are you someone that gets in your own way? I am! I'm the girl that over analyzes everything, leading me to live in a constant state of stress. When I'm stressed, I'm not the best person to be around. I become moody, irritable, tired and I don't enjoy the simple things in life. With a lot on my plate this summer, it was a great time for me to take a step back and prioritize the important things so I could get back on track.
The biggest thing I decided to take a step from was social media. I was spending an unnecessary amount of time on Instagram and it was causing me to stress out. I realized that every picture I posted, I would analyze how many likes, comments or saves it got. Not only was I analyzing everything I put up on social media, I was also analyzing what everyone else was doing. I found myself playing the comparison game every time I opened the app and it wasn't good for my mental state. It was time to take a step back. Yes, I still went on Instagram this summer but my time was significantly cut down.
For me, this was a very liberating experience. Social media can have this weird way of controlling us. For me, it controlled my emotions and it also took over my time. I was wasting an unnecessary amount of time on Instagram every single day and I wasn't enjoying it. Now I feel like I've found a healthy balance and I look forward to opening the app for a few minutes each day to catch up.
I've applied this concept to many different aspects of my life and it seems to be working. Take career, friendships, relationships, technology, education, etc. and ask yourself, is this bringing me joy?
Let me know if you have any eye opening realizations; I'm sure I've got more to come in the future!
Do you ever get so caught up in your day that you forget to eat? Or maybe it’s the case of you want to eat, but you don’t have time to stop and get something that will nourish your body. That’s been my life since I moved to New York 4 months ago. I love the fast paced lifestyle but man it’s hard to nourish your body properly when you’re running around all the time! Enter mēle, an all-natural meal replacement shake.
I was at a wellness event a few months back when I was introduced to mēle shake. Intrigued by the cute packaging and free samples, I worked my way over to the table to learn more about the brand.
Mēle currently offers three different flavors; cocoa-nut, supergreen and rawberry. Personally, the cocoa-nut is my favorite but I wouldn’t turn down the supergreen or rawberry option; I’m just a sucker for cocoa based drinks. After trying all of the flavors, multiple times, I was relieved when I looked at the ingredients. Mēle shakes are made up of all-natural fruits, veggies, almonds, whey and milk (coconut or dairy); talk about a balanced meal! Excited about the brand, I was eager to incorporate mēle into my everyday life.
Lately, my days have involved a lot of physical movement. For a solid week I would come home feeling famished. I wasn’t eating enough and if I was eating, I wasn’t getting the balance that I needed. By my second week of constantly being on my feet, I started to take mēle shakes with me. Cocoa-nut being my obvious first choice, I used almond milk and water with the powder. I decided to use the whole bag because I would be gone for about 4 hours and I took an RX bar as an additional snack in case I got hungry. I was very pleased with the shake! It tasted great and also kept me from feeling famished. I felt those midday energy dips disappear and by the time I got home for dinner; it was time for me to eat but I wasn’t starving.
For someone who is as active as I am, mēle is a great addition to my daily routine to keep me fueled. I could feel the difference on days that I would drink a mēle shake to days that I went without. On days that I had a shake, I felt like I had a base underneath me; almost like a support system. On days that I went without, I felt groggy, foggy and hangry. Let me just tell you that when I’m hangry, you do not want to be within 5 feet of me; just ask my fiancé!
I recommend mēle shakes to anyone feeling like they are always on the go and can’t get a good meal in. Especially if you’re in the world of fitness and you need more food than the normal Joe, mēle is a great addition to your daily intake.
I recently came back from a Europe trip feeling exhausted physically and emotionally. I'm sure the travel contributed, but I know being constantly surrounded by others played a huge part in my exhaustion. I get very tired when I'm surrounded by others for too long; too many energies for me to take in. Below I explain my biggest learning lesson from my trip.
My trip to Europe was great; I was able to spend time with my loved ones. The biggest downfall was that I didn't have alone time the whole trip. For me, alone time is KEY. I love seeing people and hanging out, but I'm the type of introvert that gets tired from being around others. During the trip, I was constantly going and was always in the company of others. Towards the end of the trip, I could feel my attention span dropping during conversations and my mind starting to wander. Not only did this negatively affect me, but it also affected the people that were with me. I'm sure I came off as uninterested and bored, even though that wasn't the case.
Once returning home from my trip, I was beat. Obviously jet lag and travel contributed, but I believe that spending too much time around others was the biggest reason for my exhaustion. I just wanted a moment alone, free from having a conversation. To recoup, I spent the first few days spending time at home alone.
If you're like me, this type of experience isn't fun. It also is something that is bound to happen, especially when traveling with others. How can we avoid having this exhaustion in the future?
If I could turn back time (any Cher fans here?), I would've made a more conscious effort to block out moments alone. This is easier said than done, but at one point I took a nap while everyone else hung out. That nap gave me life! I spent the rest of the night chatting and having a good time while we had a BBQ. I'm sure I was more enjoyable to be around and I genuinely had a great time.
Going forward I know that I need to put my mental wellness first, even if it means skipping time with others.
This past month, the topic empathy has come up quite a bit. I've had conversations with friends about how they either feel that they aren't being empathetic enough, or they feel that they aren't receiving empathy. As someone that works with clients one-on-one, empathy is a huge part of my practice. It's not always easy and I am nowhere near perfect, but I thought it would be a great blog as we all can relate to this topic in some way or another.
Empathy by definition is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other person's frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another's position. Some people have a harder time feeling empathy. This is something that is out of my scope of practice, but if you're interested in learning more I highly suggest checking out Brené Brown; she has some great podcasts around the topic of empathy.
Empathy is something I've become more aware of since my car accident 6 years ago. (You can check out my About Me page for the full story) It was an intense life experience and there have been countless times where I've felt misunderstood or that people in my life haven't shown empathy in the way I was hoping for. Want to know a secret? I've done the same thing! I've had friends who are experiencing something difficult, something I've never experienced, and I've kicked myself in the butt for not showing empathy in the way I'd hoped. Does that mean that we are bad people? Hell no. Being empathetic when loved ones are going through a difficult time, especially when we cannot relate or haven't experienced it, can be really freaking hard.
How do we connect? What can we say to help ease the situation? Below are my top 3 tips on how to practice more empathy:
1. Open up a safe space
The next time you're talking to a loved one that is having a hard time, open up a safe space for them to be how they need to in that moment. If they start the conversation, just quietly listen to what they're saying. If you're able, try to put yourself in their shoes mentally. Try and understand where they are coming from and the feelings they are experiencing. Simply just listen. Remind them that they are in safe place to say what they feel with no judgement.
2. Ask before you give advice
You will find yourself in moments where people are seeking advice, but in my opinion, it's always smart to ask before giving it. I've been in the situation where I've offered a friend unsolicited advice and she told me she knew the solutions and that she needed to hash it out with someone. This is totally valid and I've been on the other end of this situation as well. Now, if someone is venting or talking to me about a hardship, if I have advice to give, I ask before offering it. Simply just saying, "can I offer some advice" or "do you want another persons point of view" are easy ways to ask. Some people may say yes and some may say no. Either response is valid and it's important to respect their decision.
3. If you don't know what to say, tell them
If you don't know how to respond to someone, it's common to get flustered. Some common responses are: not saying anything at all, offering unsolicited advice or even shutting down. When you don't know what to say, I find the easiest thing to do is just to be honest. Next time you don't know how to respond, try: "I'm so sorry to hear that, I wish I knew what to say to make you feel better". In my opinion that's a great response. You can even ask "is there anything I can do to help"? Both of these responses show that you have good intentions and you want to help. More often then not, the person will respect and appreciate your honesty.
These tips are things I've uncovered since working with clients and also just reflecting on past experiences with my family and friends. At the end of the day, people just really want to be heard. Be loving and open up a safe space so they don't feel alone. Remember nobody is perfect, but if you go in with good intentions, that will shine through.
Just a girl writing down her thoughts on life post-trauma, body acceptance and wellness.