Tag: self help

Ad Blockers And Boundaries

In the last few years, I’ve learned about ad blockers for my internet browser. It’s not just been ad blockers, I’ve recently learned that you can add all sorts of add-ons to Chrome. Laugh if you want, it’s one of those things that’s keyed me in on the fact that I’m starting to move to the official “old lady” age of my internet experience.  

BetaFish Incorporated

So now that I have these wonderful little programs that counterbalance the ads, I keep getting these windows asking me to disable them to support the sites I visit. I understand (roughly) about ads and monetization. Money math is a tricky thing for me. While I do want to support the sites I visit the purpose of the ad blockers are to block the swarm of ads that are overtaking the spaces I’m trying to read on. Sometimes I don’t want to see commercials for shit, I just want to fucking read. I just want to get to the core of the issue without having all these things in the way. 

There are some sites that guilt trip the user about having ad blockers in place. There are some that don’t allow the user to read any further until the site is placed on an exemption list. While this is just a necessary evil of playing the ad blocker game, it got me thinking. How much of this interaction would benefit real life? What if, and stick with me here this might get loopy, you could treat your emotional self like an internet browser? What if you could put ad-ons in place that blocked “ads” or “pop-ups” of people or ideas that were negative for you? 

Normal people call these boundaries, but for those of us who either have emotional traumas, are Empaths, or are beset by damaged or toxic people we call those FANTASY THINGS THAT OMG I WISH EXISTED! 

Emotional boundaries can be thought of as the property line that separates your thoughts and feelings from those of another person. Think of it like this: 

You and I both have pasture land that’s side by side. On my side of the fence, I keep sheep. On your side of the fence, you keep lions. If the fence is strong and well taken care of, everything is fine. If the fence is weak and flimsy, if it battered by storms and not cared for, if it is often driven over by ATVs taking a short cut, it fails. And then the lions get out and devour the sheep. 

Boundaries work the same way. When they fail, the person they fail for suffers the same fate as those proverbial sheep. It’s not bloody or gruesome in the physical sense, but it’s still tragic. And even worse, it becomes a habit. It becomes a learned mannerism. The sheep learn that they are lion food and just wait for the end. 

I’ve done both. I’ve been the lion’s food and I’ve built walls out of Adamantium. Security feels much better than being fodder, but I promise you, it won’t make you popular. Those that depend on your allegiance and support will expect you to place them on a list when you roll our your rules of engagement. When you start exercising your “no more”s they will start expecting special passes. Their special treatment and VIP status to your new, often life-saving, rules will determine how much you are allowed from them. They’ll try to choke the stream of information, emotion, attention, and affection you get until they’re giving you what they think you’re worthy of. Be prepared, this revolution will rock your world and show you just who values you. 

That’s why when you live without boundaries in place, it’s like browsing the internet (are kids still calling it “the net” these days?) without ad-blockers. Constantly you’re faced with calls for your attention, demands for your time, and things that want to suck your stream of thought right from your body. Every task you try to set out on is met with something begging for just a moment of your time. And after being the person that always answers, you become the one that can be counted on. You become old reliable who would never shut down the neon ads. No matter the hour, or the weight of your baggage, you are the one that will be there to mend wounds, open doors, and hold gates while they keep crossing over.

That’s because when you don’t live with boundaries, people expect you to stay that way. 

So please, build your walls.

And re-enforce your fences.

And deadbolt all your gates.

Set your boundaries so hard and firm that no matter how much it causes rifts, and how hard it makes them revolt, you don’t waver. You deserve it. You are not just food for the lions. You are not just a target audience meant for the betterment of others. You are your own experience. 

You are yours. 

And for the love of the gods, install some damn ad blockers. 

7 Ways to Kick Anxiety’s Ass

*The following is not and should not be used in place of medical advice. If you need help, please see your doctor or a mental health professional.These are just personal habits I’ve had success with.*

Back in the early 00s, I was a wide-eyed, overworked, scared to death college freshman. In my very Mickey Mouse Intro to College class, we had this group activity. It was one of those icebreaker games that’s only freshmen and people at seminars do. The gist was, we had to pick an adjective that started with the same letter our name that described us. Alliteration being a memory helper and all, I suppose. I instantly knew mine. It was a name that I had been carrying with me since I was just a wee little girl.

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I’ve never known a time when I haven’t been anxious. As a kid, I cried. I cried a lot. I’m not sure if it was the early signs of anxiety, depression, or the effects of my mother, but childhood was full of teary eyes and snotty noses. I remember once during an elementary school orientation my mother telling the teacher that I was “tender-hearted”. It was a descriptor that stuck with me long past my public school days. All these decades later, that tender-heartedness has turned into full-fledged anxiety.

Anxiety is still a big part of my life. It’s a monster I battle each day. Below are 7 things I do to try to take its power away.


Breathe

It sounds simple enough, right? Well, it’s not. Breathing is one of the hardest things to do in the midst of an anxiety attack. Shallow breaths come easy and fast and can cement you in the fight or flight mode. I tend to hold my breath when I’m struggling. I don’t even have to explain why this a foolish thing to do. One thing I’ve found that really, really helps is the 4-7-8 breathing technique. It’s a great way to reset your brain and center yourself. And it’s pretty easy.

  1. Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds.
  2. Hold that breath for 7 seconds.
  3. Exhale for 8 seconds.
  4. Repeat as necessary

It’s really a fantastic exercise to regulate your breathing and bring your mind back from the brink. If the 4-7-8 technique isn’t your style, taking deep slow breaths will also help. The fast shallow breaths that are common during an anxiety episode do more harm than good. Breath deep, from the bottom of your diaphragm. Those long deep breaths are the good ones that will help you center yourself and calm down.


Ask For Help

The only thing harder than remembering to breathe correctly often is to ask for help. It’s painful and frightening to open yourself to others. But we are not islands. We need each other. Find yourself a tag team partner. Someone who will support you and work with you as you navigate the bullshit that is anxiety. 

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Whether it’s holding your hand, making you lunch, or just reading the words you need to type, having a circle of people you can turn to is so very important. Ask them for help. Let them help you share the load.

 


Go Outside

Sometimes what you need during an attack is not just a change of space but a change of mind. Going outside can do both. It doesn’t matter if you live in a city or are in the middle of the country, going outdoors is a great way to help bring yourself back. Sunlight, fresh air, and the sounds of nature foster a sense of serenity. Being able to have space and absorb them is a great way to become unflustered.


Create Something

 

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Some of the best art comes from the darkest places. If you are able to harness some of the power of anxiety and use it for good you might be amazed at what you’ll create. It doesn’t have to be great, just make something!  Write some words, doodle some drawings, take some pictures, bake a cake, build a birdhouse! Just put yourself in motion and use your powers for good, not the self-harming evil they can be used for.


Drink Water

The first thing I ask whenever one of my kiddos comes to me with a complaint is “Do you need some water?” Staying hydrated is important. It’s also something that gets overlooked quite often.  As someone who drinks more coffee than I should, sometimes just taking a moment to drink a glass of cold water changes my mindset. Water, dirt, fire, and salt. They are all three things that connect us to the planet. They are all things we need. In the middle of our chaos, I firmly believe these things can ground us.


Find a Positive Distraction

We live in a time where podcast, audio books, and most tv shows we love are streaming on demand. We don’t have to wait to for a certain time on a certain day to lose ourselves in a mindless distraction. It’s available anytime we need it. And when you’re fighting anxiety, you need it whenever the episode happens. Finding something positive that you can quiet your mind and enjoy in the middle of a rough time is wonderful to keep you grounded. Some of my favorite things to listen to are podcast. One of my very favorite podcast is Levar Burton Readse19bd1d38fca74faca9d281a1bf9d29e9da713a57c9e60345030bab6b3a852b51bc68db007ff7d3abf61cf1f941cd4e47d48020374917551204f040abc975062 Its Levar Burton and his wonderful voice reading amazing stories. It’s incredibly calming and interesting. Being able to focus a speeding mind on something as enjoyable as Levar’s voice is great calming technique.


Stay Present

Even harder than remembering to breathe and asking for help is remembering to stay in the moment. When your head is playing the highlight reel of every horrible thing you’ve ever done, its hard to remember to be in the here and now. The following is a grounding exercise I use daily to help me focus on what is and what is not:

5: Acknowledge FIVE things you see.

4: Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch.

3: Acknowledge THREE things you hear.

2: Acknowledge TWO things you can smell.

1: Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste.

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No matter what methods we use, we must realize that we are stronger than anxiety. While this is a monster that lives in our world, we do not have to make our world about it. It is my hope that some of the tips effect you in a positive way. As with anything, find what works for you and do that.

The Queen and Her Crown

My husband had been vomiting for six hours. I had been on hold with the medical helpline for twenty minutes. In the living room, the two youngest kids were going to war with each other and the older one was trying to mediate. The dog was barking at the cat who was drinking from the dog’s water bowl. All of this played over a soundtrack provided by the whichever annoying Youtube Play-Along video the kids had previously been watching. The automated message telling me someone would join my call in just a moment repeated over and over in my ear. And for some reason, there was suddenly not enough air in the room.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no pause button on life. If there were, this would have been when I hit it, went outside, and screamed all of my worries and frustrations right into the face of the sun. Since that didn’t happen, I did the only thing I could. I took in a breath, put on the crown and started handling the shit in front of me like a Queen.

crown

Obviously, this was no a real crown. I’ve got some beanies and maybe even a baseball cap or two, but I do not own a crown.

Or a Queenly dress.

Or fancy shoes.

Or anything else you’d imagine a Queen has.

That’s because for me, being a Queen has fuck-all to do with outward appearances.

Being a Queen means taking a stand against the forces of self-doubt. It’s about bringing sovereignty to a world of chaos. More so, being a Queen is about justly, fairly, and fiercely reigning over your world. Most importantly, being a Queen also means not giving into and becoming incapacitated by fear.

I’m afraid a lot. In fact, I think it’s my factory preset is to be anxious. I have always been a Chicken Little type of person.  In the last few years, I’ve realized that letting this fear and its anxiety rule my life is unfair. It’s stolen moments and relationships. Its made me dependent on the wrong people. I have put myself in the hands of people who have not had my best interest in mind because I was afraid. When I look back at my life, there are so many times when instead of inspiring me, fear clipped my wings and locked the cage door.

As the primary caregiver for three young children and a husband with multiple health problems, I can no longer allow this fear to exist. By acknowledging my Queenhood, I rebuke the helplessness that fear brings. It gives me the confidence I need to accomplish the things I think I can not. I have people counting on me. And I can not let them down.

So when things get tough, when I feel overwhelmed, and when I’m certain the sky is falling, all I have to do is reach for the crown. My self-professed royalty lifts me up and turns me into the type of woman who bows the head and bends the knee to no one. Especially fear.

2018, so far, has shown me that my family needs a Queen who is not afraid to stand, back straight and chin high, in front of the adversaries in life and tell them to sit the hell down. Heavy may be the head that wears the crown, but someone needs to slay these dragons.

So since it doesn’t seem that this year is going to get easier

Note to Self:

Queen up, Buttercup. It’s time to reign.

 

P.S. The Husband ended up being taken to the hospital for a four-day stay. As a Type 1 diabetic, complications can strike at any moment, especially when battling other illnesses. We are still all recovering from this hectic and frightening start to the new year. The week of this posting, he will be returning to work. We’re hoping the bad times are behind us. Even if they aren’t, I’ve got my crown on.

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Selfishness VS Self Care

She was crying.

She was yelling.

She was stomping her feet.

Her hands were fists, shaking with rage.

She was a middle-aged woman. And her day was ruined.

But the thing is, it wasn’t just her day. It was a family day. And not just any random Sunday dinner type family day, but a day that was primarily planned for the children. Those children stood, silently defeated, behind the legs of their mother. Even an outsider could see that this event would be charred into not only their memory, but their future behavioral patterns. It was a lesson on how its perfectly okay to throw a fit when you are not happy. They will carry this event , and all the others like it from her, into every relationship they form as they age.

When having multiple events like the one above in your personal experience tank, it’s hard to distinguish between the ideas of selfishness and self-care. The word selfish ,according to Merriam Webster, is when one is “concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself, seeking or concentration on one’s own advantage,pleasure,or well being without regard for others.”

For people who grow up around abusive individuals , self-care often has the same definition. There becomes this idea that time spent taking care of one’s own self is time that could be better allocated to the care of someone else. This idea is planted in the person’s mind until sacrificial acts blossom into their modus operandi. Enjoyment is permanently set aside in hope of pleasing others. And this spreads to every single relationship. Significant others, children, friends, strangers, EVERYONE gets a slice first, until there’s nothing left  but crumbs.

We’ll never get full on crumbs. And we’ll run on those crumbs until there’s nothing left to sustain us. Then the whole ship goes down. This is why self care is important. If we are the foundation upon which we build others, we have to take care of that foundation. If we crumble, they all do. In order to take care of others, we must take care of ourselves. To do this, we must change our understanding of what being selfish is.

Taking care of yourself is not selfish.

Working to feel better, physically and mentally, is not selfish.

Enjoying your favorite foods/movies/music is not selfish.

Napping is not selfish.

Doing your make-up,nails, hair, etc is not selfish.

Wanting alone time is not selfish.

Relaxing is not selfish.

Pampering yourself the same way you pamper others is not selfish.

A castle is only as good as its foundation. Remember to treat yourself with care.

Love others but also, love yourself.

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