Thursday, March 16, 2017

The secret to being happy and confident

Recently, a woman I love dearly was telling me about an old friend from high school that was posting pictures of herself in a skin tight ski suit on Facebook. This woman I love was fuming as she pulled out her phone to show me the pictures and continued to talk about it for nearly 5 minutes.

I listened, looked at the pictures, and made a joke about how that woman did look good, and she might as well flaunt it. The joke did not go over well. Tough crowd.

After that, I said, “Just unfollow her,” and proceeded to tell her a similar story about a woman I’ve never met, but used to follow on social media.

This woman has a gorgeous house, a rockin bod, and a gaggle of small children who she courageously wrangles without breaking a sweat. She is also a successful blogger and is literally hanging out with all the Christian female bloggers I only dream of meeting one day. Also, she is really good at home renovations, like right up there with Joanna Gains. Finally, she and her husband seem to have marriage completely figured out.

She has more, does more, looks happier, and somehow manages to do all the things I can’t.

Basically, she is incredible, and she's not that much older than me.

I started following her because she was inspirational. Then, as time wore on, I started comparing myself to her, which left me feeling icky.

This was alarming to me, because even though I don’t have my life perfectly put together, I like myself. I think I have a great life. Yes, I still have things I want for myself, but I understand that having goals and dreams are an important part of my journey. Why was I letting this woman, through no fault of her own, steal my joy?

So, I simply unfollowed her.

I realized that no one was making me follow her. It was my choice.

I asked myself if my life would be better and more peaceful if I stopped obsessing over every picture she posted, and the answer was yes.

As soon as I stopped following, it was like a weight was lifted. I was free of the comparison. I was no longer subject to those images.

The measuring stick I was using to gauge my unworthiness disappeared.

Now, anytime I get the twinge ( you know the one- the little clench of your heart, that self-conscious grip that makes you a little sick to your stomach) I unsubscribe, unfollow, unfriend, and delete.

I use this technique on anything in my life that makes me feel bad about myself.

I don’t even limit myself to social media. I use the "How does this make me feel" test on jobs, new friends, and tv shows.

I started paying attention to how the outside influences in my life made me feel.

If the answer was that it (or they) made me feel less worthy than I felt before their influence, I cut it out of my life, no questions asked.

As I told this woman I love all of this, I could see the determination in her eye. She said, “You know what, you’re right,” as she pushed unfollow on Facebook.

When the deed was done, she looked lighter, more in control, more confident, and dare I say, even happier.

I’ve not thought of this moment until today, when a dear friend told me about how she feels bad after seeing how a sorority sister of hers has it all together.

It reminded me of this technique I use, which has become so natural to me, I forget other women don’t know about it.

It seems so simple. I could tell that this woman I love was wondering why she didn’t think of it.

The truth is, we don’t believe we can. We think we should support our sorority sisters and sisters in Christ. We think we can’t cut ties with an old high school friend, because then we would be disconnected. It simply hasn’t occurred to us to unfollow.

The things in your life that make you feel bad about yourself aren’t necessarily bad things. Just like the female blogger I unfollowed is incredible, so too, is your thing.

They may not be bad for other people, but to you, it’s poison.

Not that you need it, but today I’m giving you permission to purge the poison.

Unfollow, unfriend, unsubscribe.

Be ruthless about it. Don't double guess it.

Be free from anything that makes you feel less worthy than you are.

Eliminate the influence and therefore your self-loathing.

Take care of your mental well-being by making it easy to love yourself.

The phrase,comparison steals your joy, is true, but it also steals deeper, more important things, too. Like self-love, motivation, and precious self-confidence.

The next time you feel that twinge, followed by the nausea and the myriad of negative emotions, give yourself permission to purge the poison and fall into the peace of mind that follows.

You’re amazing. You’re worthy. You’re never too much. You’re always enough.

Don’t let anyone or anything tell you otherwise.

And if it tries, if the twinge comes back? Purge, my friend, purge.

Friday, February 24, 2017

What I learned in 2016- a story of perseverance

It's a little late in the year to start a resolution. It's also, perhaps, a little late in the year to reflect back on what I learned in 2016.

Yet, I'm doing both.

I've started three new 30 day challenges- one for writing, one for yoga, and one for Bible study. The story goes that you need only 21 days to develop new habits. I don't think this is quite true, as I've read research that points to a much longer timeline, but I need a starting point. I need an official challenge. I need to start with 30 days, and then do another 30 days, and then another.

It's all in an effort to teach myself perseverance.

Perseverance has been my word of the year since February of 2015, which is exactly 2 years ago. I chose this word because I realized I had trouble sticking to learning anything long term. I gave up quickly when something got hard or inconvenient.

I also realized, by watching my husband work extremely hard day after day, that perseverance is the only way to accomplish big things. He's the hardest working, most accomplished man I know, and he does it through sheer grit and determination.

Perseverance is significant for me, not just because I’ve seen it serve my husband well, but also because I want to be someone that doesn’t give up easily. I want to be courageous and strong, able to accomplish big goals that have to be chipped away over time.

Perseverance is also vitally important to me because I believe God has called me to do great things, and these missions he has laid on my heart can only be accomplished with perseverance.

At first, this scared me, like Moses in Exodus 4:10, “Moses said to the LORD, ‘Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.’” I thought, “No way. You’ve got the wrong Christian here, God. Find someone more equipped.”

I knew these dreams would take a lot of work over a long time, and I knew well that I was not cut out for it, yet, I wanted to be. I desired to follow God’s plan for my life.

So, throughout the year of 2015, I started working on perseverance. I would get going on a new project or start developing a new habit, and then I’d get distracted and quit. Then, I’d get inspired again, start over, and history would repeat. I was so frustrated.

My first instinct is to research when something is not working. I read about how others do it and try to implement the techniques into my own life.

I started researching motivation, goals, perseverance, and consistency. I took notes and tried new techniques. Some worked well, and others were a disaster.

So, as 2015 passed into 2016, I decided I wasn't quite done focusing on perseverance. I had just started fully understanding what it takes to set goals and persevere.

Throughout last year, 2016, I made real progress. I finished a couch to 5k, blogged more consistently, and learned how to make some delicious recipes.

Yet, I was still inconsistent and had trouble sticking to projects. Motivation is a huge barrier for me.

Therefore, perseverance is also my word for 2017.

So far this year it's permeating its way into all aspects of my life, from growing my hair out (quite possibly the most trying of all perseverance exercises) to developing a writing practice.

I am persevering through my writing, my exercise regime, in the kitchen where I’m learning new recipes and skills, and to accomplish projects on my house and blog.

I’ve finally found my stride with perseverance.

It’s becoming something I rely on, enjoy, and find great meaning in. I have learned that motivation is not something that matters when you have a goal.

I don’t need to feel inspired or motivated to write, cook, exercise, or blog. I simply have to do it. I have show up, grind through it, and make progress.

Some days, the progress is tremendous. Other days I am only able to take one small step.

I’ve learned that some days, showing up and working on my goal is just as important as making progress. Developing habits, creating practices, and establishing systems to work within, are all important parts of learning perseverance.

I’m not done working on perseverance, and I might not be for a long time. That’s the point though, isn’t it? To persevere, even through the storms, the draught, and the sunny days too. To find myself in the battle, and to know that the struggle and the striving for something great is what makes me worthy of the greatness I can achieve at the end.

Daily, I have to choose to not give up. I have to continually hone my perseverance. I have to show up, every day, and give it heck, even when I don’t feel like it.

By the grace of God, I hope to achieve all he has laid out for me to do, with the strength he provides and the opportunities he affords and the struggles he allows. He doesn’t say it will be easy. In fact, no one that has been a follower of Christ has had it easy, but he does say he’ll be by our sides through it all.

God is worthy of our efforts, his plans are holy and therefore, our perseverance can be too. Praise God for big dreams and the perseverance we have to learn to accomplish them!

Perseverance means a lot to me and has helped me become a better version of myself for the glory of God. What areas of your life do you need a boost of perseverance? Do you have a word of the year, and what does it mean to you?