Tag Archives: Boundaries

Powerless

You can take care of yourself. You can check on your people. You cannot force anyone to get the help he or she might need.

When you suffer from a mental illness, it’s like a fog that cannot be lifted. You can’t see the way out. Or sometimes, you can see the way out but it’s too daunting to rise above. Nothing in the world can motivate you. While I’m not a trained mental health professional, I can attest firsthand that no one can pull me out of my current state. It’s entirely up to me.

I’ve learned over time through trial and error what to say to people, how to talk about what I’m experiencing and how to rise above my anxiety. It can happen in hours or can take weeks – every instance is different. While you can’t see it or perhaps even notice it, I know its always there. You don’t need to treat me differently, however I do appreciate a general awareness.

And this is the situation when you’re diagnosed and openly talking about it.

Imagine seeing someone you love so sick that they don’t know they need help. This is often the case with addicts. Because they are debilitated by the disease, they are unwilling to seek treatment. So what do you do?

For starters, we’re not mental health professionals so we can’t and shouldn’t walk around diagnosing people. Instead, we can:

  • Remove any judgement we have about the person or his/her situation. Because the truth is we don’t know what’s going on inside his/her mind, heart, soul, etc.
  • Be open and receptive if/when the person reaches out. Try to make the time to connect with them and take their concerns seriously. Listen, hold space and do not preach.
  • Pray and if that’s not your thing, send positive vibes out into the universe for that person. I firmly believe in the power of pray or good vibe sending. It can make a difference while bringing a sense of peace to a tumultuous situation.
  • Keep taking care of yourself. Yes, I’m saying it again because it’s that important. Running yourself ragged worrying about someone who isn’t ready to accept help isn’t going to help. It’s actually going to make the situation much worse. If you need to, talk to someone about what you’re experiencing as the loved one or caregiver of someone with a mental illness. Support groups are another resource that could offer perspective on a pretty shitty situation.

Honestly, it sucks being powerless and unable to help those you care most about. Talking about it and setting boundaries helps and yet, there will still be times when it sucks. I’m giving you full permission to hate on it, let it suck, whatever. But, you cannot stay in the suck. Remember you can only control your reaction to the situation. Choose that reaction wisely.

I hope this month’s posts gave you some insight into my views on mental health. It’s only by continuing the conversation that we can remove the stigma.

You Belong Here

Hello my friends! It’s been an inspiring, grueling, jam-packed two weeks. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around everything that’s happened, all of the amazing people I’ve met and the stories I’ve shared.

If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I spoke on a panel at the Superwomen Summit almost two weeks ago. I can’t begin to describe how phenomenal the entire weekend was. Take a look at the lineup and Google all of the speakers. Each brought her unique perspective while still being herself. That was the best part of the entire event: These women were attainable, real and struggled. As much as I love Oprah and Brene, they are such lofty goals. I spent the weekend hearing from mothers, daughters, sisters and friends who are still figuring it out but decided to go for it while they were going through the process. Inspirational, for sure and oh so fun!

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One of my favorite quotes from the Superwoman Summit courtesy of Anna Kunnecke

I am so proud of the panel discussion that I was a part of. I’ll save that for a separate post because that topic deserves my full attention. I can’t begin to capture all I learned at the Summit. The resounding message was one of belonging. There were talks about owning your power, being brave, prioritizing and self-care. Each one was special in its own right and all carried a thread of belonging. We, as women, find it hard to fit in. We’ve been told from men we’re too bossy, assertive, aggressive, bitchy and then there are other women who push us to find our voice, be bold, stand strong. You get the picture. At the Superwoman Summit, everyone was just right, not too much of anything. We, as a collective female community, need to support one another just as we are. Sure, we can support our goals, areas of growth, etc. AND none of that should change who we are at our core. We are perfectly and intentionally created, just as we are.

Post one Summit, I jetted to Atlanta for another, this one specific to work. It was the culmination of months of hard work, with new team members, lots of moving parts and my first show as a manager. It was the most challenging conference I’ve run to date. There were lots of moments where I felt like I didn’t belong, that my big, bold personality was too much. Why? Well, for starters, I wasn’t taking care of myself: Lack of sleep, not eating right and not exercising all contribute to my already stressed out state. Add in all sorts of feedback, both positive and constructive, it was like sensory overall. Plus, as the manager, I was the role model for the team. Just typing that was a lot. Upon returning home, I took care of myself, mind/body/soul. This included lots of sleeping, meal prepping and journaling.

Almost a week later and I’m about back to myself. As an empath, I catch and receive emotions in such a heightened way. I’ve learned a lot about what I need to do to show up the way I want onsite. Much of it includes self-care and setting boundaries. The biggest lesson is that a sense of belonging only comes from within. I know, I know Brene Brown already told us this. Yet, I had to learn it for myself. I belonged at BOTH of my Summits, I earned the right to be there, no matter how bold or extroverted or honest I am. I’ve finally gotten back to that mindset thanks to my support squad and lots of working through what’s true and what I’m telling myself.

It’s really hard to put those negative self-talk stories aside especially when you’re receiving feedback. I’m learning to be kind to myself and remember why the universe put me here in the first place.

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My co-worker/friend and I celebrating a successful Summit

Self Love

I meant to write this post in February, the month of love. But I got distracted. Moving on.

February is the month of love but I bet you instantly think of Valentine’s Day, couples and chocolate. But shouldn’t it start with self love? That’s what I dedicated my February (mostly) to and here’s what I learned.

Mornings at the gym set the tone for my entire day. I absolutely need sleep if I want to be nice (and probably productive too). I feel better if I eat right but that does include carbs.I get a headache if I don’t drink enough water. Destressing after work includes watching my shows including sobbing during This Is Us. I catch people’s energy. Silence scares me. So does formally joining a dating website. People’s lack of accountability drives me nuts.

My biggest realization on this self love journey? I’m a fixer, a helper, a person who is the first to offer to help. I don’t say this to be self-righteous. I share this with you as a reminder to myself and because I’m sure many of you feel the same way. I love helping people and it certainly feel good to do good. But at what point does that stop and you start becoming resentful?

Harvard Business Review’s “Big Idea” in January was called Beat Generosity Burnout. In the article, the authors share how selflessness at work (and I’d argue personally too) leads to exhaustion. It’s a fascinating read that completely resonated with me. At some point, when all you do is say yes, you reach a breaking point. You throw your hands up and say no mas!

As the article points out, there are several ways to prevent yourself from getting to this point. For me, it all comes down to boundaries. I tested my theory out this past month and for the most part, it worked. When I chose to do things based on how I was feel and my priorities, I’m happier. I got clear on my boundaries by writing down what is important to me. I also realized that each day is going to go exactly my way. It’s okay to put others first when you choose to do it versus being forced. When I did choose to help, it felt even better than before and I was more present while with the person or project.

Self care is fundamental yet we all try to be superheroes. Taking care of yourself – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – is the only way you’ll be able to help others. So it’s not selfish, it’s the first step in loving yourself fully.

 

 

 

Time to Transition

We’ve all felt them; that pang of guilt, fear, what have you as we shift from young adulthood to full-blown adulthood. While it may not happen all at once, the transition to fully responsible for yourself and your happiness is a rough journey for most. Growing pains seep into all areas of our life: our family, our interpersonal relationships and our professional life.

It seems that creating boundaries with family is typically harder when you’re closer with your family OR when they are more involved in your life. Some of this may be on them for wanting to know every detail or on us for sharing every detail. As I begin the process of moving out, these boundaries with my family are necessary for my survival. Their drama, insecurities and issues are not mine to take on. Everyone repeat after me: the problems of my parents, siblings and extended family are not mine to fix. I will always love my family, but a line has to be drawn somewhere.

20 somethingLooking at interpersonal relationships is probably where the sharpest growing pains are felt for the majority of transitioning adults. You have your group of friends from all parts of your life: childhood, high school, college and beyond. You believe this group of friends will be with you forever. But then life happens and people mature and experience life phases at different speeds. Some friends are married right after college while others go off to graduate school. Just because everyone is at a different phase doesn’t mean friendships have to end. It means everyone needs to keep in perspective that we are experiencing things differently. It is not always easy but is absolutely worth it. Significant others are a whole other ballgame. Bottom line is you need to find someone who will grow with you, who loves you for all you are today and everything you will become tomorrow.

In the workplace, growing pains are felt in a completely different way. For me, almost all of my colleagues are older than me so they’ve experienced this transition already. Some are sympathetic and remember what it felt like to find their first apartment. Others can’t be bothered. In this time of change, it’s important to remain confident (not cocky) at work. You may not have it all figured out (no one does), but you must be willing to learn. Age is just a number; don’t let it or others intimidate you.

Everyone goes through the transition from recent college graduate to adult at different times and at different speeds. The fact remains that this is the time to be selfish, live your life for you and no one else. Find what makes you happy and do it as often as possible. Book that trip, run that 5K, but whatever it is, do it for you and no one else. As always, a Beyonce song is all too appropriate for this phase of our lives. While “Grown Woman” gives off a cocky vibe, the meaning behind the song is a good reminder for all of us struggling with this transition. We are adults and can do whatever we want. Have a listen below and share your thoughts with me!

Motivation Mondays: The Stress Factor

Last week, the world lost a Hollywood icon: James Gandolfini. He passed away suddenly from a heart attack while vacationing in Italy with her son and sister. He was only 51 years old.

Gandolfini was most infamously known as Tony Soprano, the lead mobster from New Jersey, on the hit HBO series The Sopranos. He had other movie roles, most recently the C.I.A. director in Zero Dark Thirty as well as a role on Broadway. He was known as a gentle giant who loved his family, friends and being Italian. As an avid Sopranos fan, I was saddened by his death but it also served as a wake-up call.

gandolfiniGandolfini was a younger man, who wasn’t sick and had plenty of living left to do. Yet, in an instance, he was taken away from his family and friends. Anyone who knew Tony Soprano knew he was a big guy.  As an Italian, he loved his pasta and wine too. His presumed weight problem coupled with the stress of being a Hollywood star unfortunately were a lethal combination. I’ve seen this pairing too often in my own life. My grandfather passed away from a massive heart attack at the age of 47. This past December, my 42 year-old cousin died the same way. All were taken too soon.

Weight is a constant battle for me as well as most of my family members. Actually, weight in general is probably something most of the world struggles with. No one should obsess but everyone should be conscious of their weight, cholesterol and blood pressure. Working out regularly and eating healthy helps you maintain a healthy weight. But what about the stress factor?

Stress is almost just as bad as eating poorly and being a couch potato. But, in my opinion, it is not as easy to manage as counting calories or hitting the gym. Stress puts undo pressure on all parts of your body: your muscles tense up, your heart rate increases and digestive problems develop. The longer you let stress affect you, the more prevalent these issues become.

So, here’s the deal: we all need to commit to managing our stress better. A couple of ways to handlestress stress better include:

  • Pinpoint exactly what stresses you out and choose a couple of ways to deal with the problem. Even write them out to glance at when the problem occurs.
  • Close your eyes and take some deeps breathes.
  • Leave your desk and go for a walk.
  • Set boundaries and stick to them.
  • Surround yourself with positive people.
  • LAUGH more 🙂

The death of James Gandolfini should be a reminder to all of us that stress negatively impacts our health regardless of how old we are. Making the changes will be hard but will be totally worth it. Check out the clip below of the gentle giant, Gandolfini on Sesame Street.

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