Today as I was writing this blog post, it was one of those situations where nothing was really hitting me. I mean, I liked everything my co-author in the Women Who Inspire book, Jen Heilman, and I were talking about because it was about making a space that feeds your creative energy and I LOVE that topic. Jen happens to do that by combining her background in interior design and architecture with Feng Shui and her take on it is fascinating. However, as interested as I was in the conversation when I was listening back, I just wasn’t feeling it. So, I took a little Facebook break and noticed someone had commented on my post from yesterday regarding fear and PTSD. The question was whether you could ever really heal from PTSD and if the fear ever went away. I responded to the comment (you can read it here) and went back to listening to the podcast and that’s when Jen and I got into the part of the conversation where we were talking about comparing. And, it hit me! Comparing is literally the kiss of death when it comes to healing a mental injury.
When I was diagnosed with PTSD, the conversation went like this:
Dr: “You have Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.
Me: “No I don’t. I’m not a soldier.
I was literally already comparing my PTSD to that of a soldier. I didn’t think my experience warranted a diagnosis that big. This comparing lead to a denial that nearly killed me. The dumb thing was that I wasn’t denying it because I didn’t “want” it. (I mean, let’s be fricking honest, no one wants this diagnosis. No one wants to have flashbacks and panic attacks whenever there’s a loud noise and NO ONE wants people to die in their head every single time they close their eyes. So, the not wanting the diagnosis is a given.) It was the “my experience isn’t as big as a soldiers experience so therefore I couldn’t possibly have this condition” that made it impossible for me to begin the healing process.
Then, once I did end up in the psych ward because I didn’t sleep for 8 months and I literally lost my mind, it became comparing whose story is worse and then who is healing faster and then am I healing the right way. Comparing is like poison.
- Acceptance is the first step. I’ve written about this before, but it warrants more mentioning; when I finally accepted that flashbacks were a part of my daily life, they happened less often and weren’t as severe and now I can say I haven’t had one in over 7 years. I thought they were going to be a part of my daily life forever.
- Kindness is key. Be kind to yourself. Nothing you are going through today is something you’ve already been through in the same way. Even if it looks like the same situation on the outside, you’re not the same person you were even yesterday. You deal with things differently and we all hope that means we deal with things in a better way, but we’re all only human and we digress. It’s just a part of life. Don’t beat yourself up about being afraid of something you’ve already overcome. For example, I am afraid of spiders (I resisted the urge to write terrified because terrified is how I use to feel about them) and there are days and moments where they don’t even bother me and then there are moments where I feel true terror. It literally depends on my state of mind when they come into my space. If I’m already calm, they won’t have the same effect on me. If I’m already kind of tense or irritated, then I will most likely freak out and the neighbors may get concerned with the volume of my voice as I scream for Craig. So, comparing ourselves to ourselves is just as bad as comparing ourselves to other people.
- You need to figure out how to do things your way. And, you know what, this one might take some experimenting (and if you’re like me, by some you mean A LOT) and reminding and then figuring out what works and then tweaking and then reminding and then understanding that it might be different because you’re now different. For a long time, I would find something that worked and then for some reason, years later (after I had forgotten) I would be reminded of this thing that had worked so well in the past and then I would try it again and it wouldn’t have the same effect. I used to get really frustrated until I realized, it probably worked because I was in a totally different mental space AND I was a totally different person. It’s so important that we work to figure out how to live life in our own way. What makes you happy? How do you work? Then, obviously because we live in society with other people, figure out how your way can be tweaked to fit with your daily life.
I have this friend who is similar to me in that we work for ourselves in creative fields. I say this because in order to do that successfully, you really need to find a way to balance the creative side of yourself with the business side of yourself. I remember there was a time when he was just coming off of a project where he worked for someone else. So, they set the schedule and told him the work that needed to be done. Once he was done with that project and on his own, he needed to figure out how to create that kind of structure for himself on his own creative project. At one point, after weeks of trying to figure out a workflow that really worked for him, he realized that there were certain times of the day that he was really creative and certain times of the day when he could more easily put on his business hat. It took some experimenting, but he found a workflow that made him feel really good and now he’s a super successful creative entrepreneur. But, he wouldn’t be if he hadn’t done some experimenting because he would have totally burned out because of frustration.
So, these three lessons work with really severe situations (healing trauma) as well as relatively normal, day-to-day type situations. The key to creating the life you want to live is truly figuring out how to do things that you have to do in a way that makes you feel good.
I’m so very grateful for the reminder, both from Jen and from the comment on my Facebook page. We can easily get caught up in life and forget to check in with ourselves. Once we lose that connection, it’s important for us to recognize and readjust. I invite you to ask yourself as often as possible if the way you’re doing things is in a way that works best for you and makes you happy.
To learn more about Jen, please click below and listen in at the end of the month to our conversation, it really was jam-packed with great tidbits.
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Also, I’ve been asked a lot lately how I make my dreams into realities and I realized a lot of it has to do with understanding who I am and how I want to live my life or, the heart of my own personal brand. You can get to the heart of yours by taking my, GET TO THE HEART OF YOUR BRAND, course at Udemy