The Inner Dialogue

Have you ever met your inner critic? You know, that version of you that tells you when you shouldn’t do something or tells you you aren’t good enough?

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of inner dialogue with myself. It’s not that this is something new but I’ve started recognizing it and being aware of it. Do you know how many jobs have never applied for because I’m telling myself that I’m not qualified enough? Do you know how many risks have not been taken because I talk myself out of them?

I deal with this when I travel as well. Initially, when a travel plan comes up, my immediate reaction is to stay home in my safe place. I don’t want to go somewhere new and have to figure things out and hope everything is okay. It takes work to quiet that negativity and really think about how much fun I’ll have traveling and all of the new experiences that will happen.

It’s scary to step outside our safe box. What if we get rejected? What if we fail? What if we just aren’t good enough?

The big question then becomes “Well, WHAT IF that actually happens?” Honestly, it will be okay. People have been surviving rejection and failure for centuries. In these cases, it might take work to get back on your feet and get ready for another attempt but it’s possible. The world hasn’t ended and we all get another chance. At least, we did try to do something new.

All of the dreams that I’ve had for years have finally made their way to the forefront. I’ve stopped repressing the things I want and have even managed to attempt at a few of things I used to dream about doing. This isn’t to say that I don’t experience anxiety and dread when I attempt these things. I do. But that inner critic can be quieted. I won’t let it get the best of me and block the things I really want out of life.

How’s your inner dialogue going today? Is it positive or it is trying to repress you?

 

The Internal Struggle of Loving Yourself

Have you ever struggled with yourself? Maybe constantly battling with feeling valid or just a whole lot less invisible?

This internal battle is no joke. Loving yourself isn’t easy.

It’s easy to be numb and go through your day every day and not realize that something isn’t feeling right. It’s not easy to realize that you are numb and how can you find a way to feel again? Even better, how can you feel good about yourself again?

I don’t like who I have become. I’m doing my best as a mother, wife, business owner, and dancer. But I’m not doing my best as me. That’s probably because I’m so focused on doing well on everything else, I haven’t found the time for me to know myself anymore.

Life changes so fast that if you don’t actively keep up with yourself, you are easy to lose. All of a sudden, I don’t know who I am anymore. I know my labels. But who am I? The person I can see at the moment, I don’t like very much.

I know that I have to look inwards and figure out what makes me happy internally. I have to figure out how to move myself past this phase. If I’m internally happy, I can be a better mother, wife, business owner, and dancer.

It’s work and it’s tiring on top of everything else. But honestly, I don’t want to be miserable. I want to love myself. Because it’ll make it that much easier to accept the love that everyone else wants to share with me.

The First Thing To Go Out The Door

Self-care.

As a mother, I think this is the first thing that we abandon when we have kids. Our priorities shift enough that the order of important is the following: kids #1-however many and our partner, work, home, extended family, the world, everything else, ourselves.

We forget we exist until we run ourselves down enough that there is only a shell of our former selves left. Then, all of a sudden, we are locked in a bathroom, crying our eyes out because this isn’t the life we imagined.

We have to take care of ourselves. If we don’t feel good about ourselves, then how can we be a good example for our kids?

I’m not only talking about the physical stuff like showering, grooming, exercising. We have to take care of ourselves mentally and emotionally. We have to take that time in the day where we can focus on ourselves.

Doing all of this other stuff is wearing. It’s tiring. It’s hard to refocus on yourself. When I finally get a few minutes of quiet, I just sit there and stare into the abyss. Okay, the abyss in reality is the tv. It’s like I forget how to function. I can’t even think of what I’d want to do for myself. If I do figure it out, I don’t have the energy.

It’s easy to get caught up in resentment and anger when you get used to putting yourself last. As a South Asian Indian mom, I’m programmed to put myself last. I’m supposed to put my kids and husband first. And every time I feel neglected, I end up feeling a mixture of sadness and anger.

The thing is that you have to find the solution. Your kids are never going to put you first and your partner can only help so much. You have to find the time and energy to do things for yourself. You have to be okay with putting yourself first sometimes. You have to find ways to take care of yourself.

If you have any self-care tips, I’d love to hear them. I am always looking for new ways to take care of myself.

The Battle With Depression

So this is something I’ve been dealing with most of my life. I don’t know if it’s a chemical thing or a personality thing or what. When I read Eat, Pray, Love, and Elizabeth Gilbert mentions that her therapist said that she would battling depression on and off for most of her life because she has a tendency towards it, I was like “Yes, that’s literally what I felt like I’ve been doing”.

The American Psychiatric Association provides the following definition for depression:

Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.

The funny thing for me is that there usually isn’t a huge cause for it. I’ll be wandering around just doing what I need to be doing and suddenly, I will realize that I’m just not feeling like myself anymore. It’s not like some big event always causes it (although that has happened as well). It almost feels like a bunch of little things that stack on top of each other and when I look up, I’m under the weight of all of that stack. I end up feeling like no one gets it. I end up resenting people for not understanding how I feel. I end up feeling like I’m a hole that I will never get out of.

I remember feeling that way when I was younger but I didn’t realize what it was. I’m really good at continuing to put one foot in front of the other so I would just keep doing whatever I was supposed to be doing (school, work, etc.). I think when I finally visited a therapist for when I had it really bad is when I learned to recognize it for what it was.

It comes and goes. I’m in the middle of trying to pull myself out of it right now. The best thing about recognizing it and beating it is that once you do it one time, you know you can do it again. It is tiring. It is overwhelming. But it is possible. I’ll continue to put one foot in front of the other and find love and happiness where I can. I’ll find help where I can because I know that it’s not possible to do this entirely by myself either.

The American Psychiatric Association also says that:

Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life. Depression can strike at any time, but on average, first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Women are more likely than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime.

So if that’s you, please know you aren’t alone. There are a lot of us out there and we work hard at finding contentment and happiness. It’s not an easy battle but it’s one that is worth it. So get help, talk about it, do whatever you need to do to fight it. Because I promise that not being depressed really does feel good.

Mom Funk

It’s really easy to lose yourself in general. I remember that I was constantly working on improving myself before I got married, before I had kids. Even though I am in a different stage in life now, that hasn’t changed.

Complacency is so easy to fall into no matter where you are in life. I’m pretty sure that I was somewhat complacent when I was in a comfortable job. And every so often, I feel that same feeling as a stay at home mom.

Seeing yourself clearly takes work. And it’s easy for that vision to get blurry when you are always looking at yourself through the lenses of your children.

Your priorities revolve around your kids. When you have some downtime (nap time is a welcomed break), if you’re like me, you are finally eating lunch in front of the tv. As soon as lunch is over though, it’s time to start on your task list. Laundry, dinner, or plenty of other things that are easier done without a child or two hanging onto your arms and legs. All of a sudden, the kids are up and you are back to being Mom.

I was reading an article today and the lady writing it was talking about “Mom Funk”. It struck that that was exactly where I kept falling into. I don’t know if I interpreted it correctly or how to exactly break out of it but the words resonated with how I’ve been feeling.

I have 2 great kids and a great husband and friends and family who are still consistently present in my life. I figure if I still can feel like I’m in a Mom Funk every so often, I can’t possibly be the only one.

So here’s my question to you: For those of you who have visited this land, how did you break out of it? How did you design your life so that you were able to find some personal fulfillment as well as the family fulfillment that you are receiving?

Relationships: Be Lame or Have Fun

Relationships are hard. Even the best relationships take some work. But, it’s possible to make a relationship easier if you just know how.

The hardest part about any relationship between 2 people is that you are going to have 2 sets of personalities and opinions. And if you’re lucky, those personalities and opinions really make the relationship a lot of fun and exciting.

But occasionally, there will be clashes. Here’s the bottom line: you can either let those differences hurt your relationship or you can help make it stronger.

When I was younger and in a relationship, I held onto things every time there was a fight. I would stew in my anger about things not going my way or if it seemed like my wants and needs were being ignored. I grew up with that image in my head that my significant other was supposed to create my every happiness (I’m sure every Bollywood movie I saw and every fairy tale I read helped grow this expectation). How surprised was I to realize that that expectation didn’t translate into real life.

Somewhere, between all of my relationships, I learned how to be responsible for my own happiness. I learned that if my significant other was happy, I was happy. I learned that sometimes, in a relationship, you’ve got to swallow your pride so that you and your significant other can move forward together.

Now, I’m in a relationship where we encourage each other to do things that make us happy and give each other the space to do so. When we fight, we take some time out and then address the issue and move on. We realize it doesn’t help either of us to be mad over something just to keep our pride and, in that, lose time enjoying each other.

My husband told me one thing while we were dating that has stuck with me throughout our relationship: “You can either be lame or you can have fun.”

I choose to have fun every time.

 

Just Give It A Chance

Have you ever felt insecure about trying something new? I remember when I was younger I’d even have the fear of talking to someone because of this irrational idea that they were judging me. Now, I have to meet new parents all the time if I want my kids to be involved in activities. It forces me to step outside my little safe box every single day of their lives.

It’s not just insecurity about talking to new people but also of doing new things. I remember when I started a new dance class at the age of 29. I was terrified. I had to talk myself into it and convince myself that it will be okay and that I just needed to try it. I had to push myself not to just stay home because it was the easier thing to do. I ended up loving the class and took it for 2 more years and am still friends with the teacher.

It’s easy to avoid doing things just because it’s the easy path to take. I know that there are a few other things I want to try but the fear of rejection makes it easy to push it off. But I won’t accomplish anything if I don’t at least give it a chance. It will take work and it will take some courage.

The insecurity is still there. I still have to convince myself to try things that may or may not be worth it. Sometimes, I don’t have a choice and have to force myself to speak to someone new or try something new. In the end, it’s a good thing. It pushes me out of my safe bubble and opens my life up to so many new people and experiences. I wouldn’t have become friends with half of the people I am now if I hadn’t given them a chance. I wouldn’t have accomplished all the things I have so far if I hadn’t just taken a step to try.

Yes, I still have to talk myself into doing certain things and convince myself that no one is judging me and that if it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world. But I’m more willing to not let me fears get the best of me.

Being a SAHM

Going from a working individual to stay at home mom took some adjustment. It’s hard to go from feeling you are a productive member of the household to being home all the time. It does make you feel like you aren’t doing as much because you aren’t contributing financially.

It also is an adjustment on the mental and emotional side. You spend the whole day taking care of your kids and house. It does make it difficult to gauge whether you’ve done something useful during the day or you’ve done nothing. And not feeling productive can hurt your self-esteem. I used to work, go to school, be on a dance team, and have a social life all at the same time. Now, not so much. Your day definitely slows down when you aren’t leaving home so much.

Here is some advice a friend of mine gave me when I was talking to her about becoming a stay at home mom: you have to find ways to do things every day to feel productive.

I am starting to finally use this advice. I have started scheduling my day out with things I want to get done. I work better having a list of things to do so I can feel like I accomplished something. I decided that if I am going to be a stay at home mom, I’m going to do it well. Half-assing it and feeling sorry for myself does do anything for anyone.

It is still hard. Your children’s needs come first and that can derail your list of things to do. But, at least, it gives me some structure and makes me feel more useful than before.

 

Anxiety…My Hidden Companion

At 8:53 a.m. I was still curled up in a ball in bed.  It was Monday, and I had work, but I was thankful that my 10 am meeting had been canceled. The cancellation allowed me to stay curled up in bed a bit longer before I absolutely had to get out.  I had originally woken up at 4:08 am. “Breathe in. Breathe out,” I told myself as I tried to relax and let the anxiety pass. But it didn’t. It stayed with me.  It stayed with me all day.
I thought about every single thing I could be stressed about but there was nothing in particular that was actually stressing my out.  This prevented me from going through the exercises to try to at least manage my anxiety by telling myself that the reason I am anxious is well just not a good enough reason to be up at 4:08 a.m.  I turned to web browsing to tire myself out.  A little after 5:00 am, I was finally falling asleep.   When I woke back up again at6:54 a.m., I thought “6 more minutes…”  As I started to become more awake, I realized the anxiety was still there — without any reason.  I could feel my heart beating loudly in my chest.  I tried holding my breath.  I tried meditation.  I tried trying to slow down my breathing.  I tried to just feel my anxiety so I could accept it so it would decrease.  Nothing seemed to work today.

In the midst of client calls and work, I felt my heart beating and my chest constricting.  By 1:37 p.m., I wanted to cry.  I was tired of dealing with my anxiety.  Today was especially emotionally draining to “manage” my anxiety (because I am not supposed to “control” it) and still have to work.  I wanted to feel “normal.”  The idea that there are actually people out there who don’t have to deal with anxiety without any explanation was envy worthy.

But the anxiety wasn’t going anywhere.  Sometimes, I have an entire few hours without anxiety.  It’s rare for these hours to occur when I am alone.  Mostly they happen when I am able to just lose myself in the moment around some family or friends.  My unwanted and unwelcome companion just rides through life with me.  Some days it’s more overbearing than others like today.  I have learned to smile through it, but it’s there. Lurking – in the background.  Always.

I Was Invisible

I was invisible. I was invisible to the people I hung around. I was invisible at work. I was invisible to the dance groups I was in. Nothing I did was good enough. Nothing I did was special enough. Nothing I did was worth noticing.

I didn’t exist. I truly and honestly didn’t exist. I spent every single day, trying to find myself, to see myself. I couldn’t. I didn’t know how to become visible. I was doing everything right (at least I thought). I was in a relationship, I went out partying with people, I was in one of the more popular dance groups in the city, I was always on top of my stuff at work. I did whatever I could to make my life complete. I tried to feel fulfilled. But I couldn’t. It was never enough. Whatever I did wasn’t enough. I was still invisible.

Why couldn’t people see me? I look at my journals back then and see pages and pages filled up of misery and demands for attention. I see pages of self-loathing and pain. I sit and wonder if there ever was any happiness. Or was the happiness all just an act for the benefit of the world around me? How did I survive that way for almost an entire decade? How was did I allow myself to feel that bad?

And whose fault was it? Was it mine for expecting that people should see me? What is theirs for not opening their eyes enough to be able to see me? Was it my significant other’s job to see me or was it mine to make him see me? Was I not worth seeing? Should I have done something differently? Should I have looked at myself differently? Was it because I questioned if I deserved anything better? Was it because I blamed myself for being invisible, as if I didn’t matter?

I read and re-read these pages to make myself remember how far I have come. I do believe I am visible now but it took a lot for me to see myself at first. I had to see who I was instead of trying to see who I wanted to be. I was never going to be someone I wasn’t and maybe that’s why I never showed up on anyone’s radar. Once I accepted I was who I am, I started showing up slowly. Day by day, month by month, year by year, I saw myself more clearly.

And now, I can not only see myself but I know others see me. I know that I have some value. It took a long time to get here and sometimes, I do feel as if I disappear again. And then, the search begins again to find myself.

If you feel invisible, just remember that the first person who can find you is you. Once you are visible to yourself, you will become visible to other people. It will always be work to see yourself clearly. You will change. Your visibility will change. But once you do find yourself again, it will be easier not to feel so invisible.