4 Ways You Can Be A Mental Health Adjective Ally

4 Ways You Can Be A Mental Health Adjective Ally

Read Time: 7 Minutes 30 seconds

Last Thursday, I got my hair done – the first time in two and a half years since it has been professionally colored.

My stylist was chattering away about how she had recently signed up for the online Masterclass series. For those who aren’t familiar with what this is, Masterclass is a paid subscription service which grants you access to educational videos on a variety of subject areas, taught by experts in their field.

Amidst telling me about the latest video she had watched, she suddenly blurts out “anything to do with books, i’m just dyslexic”.

Continue reading “4 Ways You Can Be A Mental Health Adjective Ally”

Mental Flip-Flop: My All or Nothing Tendencies

Mental Flip-Flop: My All or Nothing Tendencies

Reading Time: 8 Minutes

In previous posts I touched upon what I refer to as my All or Nothing patterns of thought and/or behavior. An alternative title I give to this pattern is flip-flopping – when something doesn’t seem to be working one way for me, or even if something is not going well, I have the tendency to then throw all of my weight behind whatever the opposite is of that. When using this term, I also include such instances in which I severely restrict or purposely block certain aspects of my life, simply because I think that by cutting them off, this will be a sure fire way to end up at the destination I visualize for myself in the future.

Continue reading “Mental Flip-Flop: My All or Nothing Tendencies”

Trauma Is Not One Size Fits All

Trauma is not one size fits all.


I never granted myself permission to feel valid within the trauma I experienced because it didn’t feel right to express or share I had experienced trauma when others have experienced more severe trauma. As I am realizing and learning, trauma is not one size fits all and just because it may be something I live with to a lesser degree than others, does not make it any less VALID.


Read My Troubles with Trauma now.

My Troubles with Trauma

My Troubles with Trauma

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Despite this post talking about trauma, it does not go into great, graphic detail – it is more a reflection upon the trauma which I have experienced.

In my previous post, I touched upon my concerns and issues related to abandonment – primarily how abandonment has manifested itself in my past romantic relationships and how moving forward, I will actively work towards communicating to my partner that this is something I struggle with and continue to work through. I suggest that my concerns with abandonment have primarily stemmed from my father, and his inconsistent presence throughout my childhood.

I actually recommend you go back and read my previous post first, before you read this post, as it provides greater insight and context into this situation.

Today’s post is an extension of the previous one – how despite clear abandonment issues, I struggle to accept and to grant myself the peace of mind that what I experienced was a form of trauma. I also struggle with feelings of validity in several different areas of my life – I struggle to feel valid in the very fact that my dad was absent. I struggle to feel valid in using the term absent to describe my father. I struggle to feel valid with how his absence and it’s aftermath still affects me today as an adult. I especially struggle with feeling valid as to whether I have permission to refer to the aftermath I am experiencing as trauma.

One of the biggest inner challenges or turmoils I have struggled with and dealt with concerning this situation, is if my experience with this could be classified as trauma – and if it is considered trauma, is that trauma actually valid? Writing this post, my head is telling me my experience is not worth sharing because it is not trauma – but how can it not be when what occurred in my childhood is now manifesting itself in adulthood? When what took place when I was younger, is now having residual effects on my relationships, creating a lack in my ability to feel safe and secure when I am with someone I care about?

The struggles concerning my situation when I was younger, play out in a narrative that goes something like this: Sure, my dad was absent, but he was around, sporadically throughout my childhood, whereas some people’s parents are absent, period. There’s no floating in and out of their children’s lives as mine did – they’re just not there. My mind tells me I could have had it worse, that my experience is somehow less valid or not valid at all because at least he was involved in my life, in some way, shape, form or capacity.

So … that’s got to be better than the alternative which is not at all – right?

Re-reading those lines, and another more rational, more kind and gentle part of my mind appears and says no, honey – it’s not better. Looking back now, I feel certain it would have been better if he was either always there, or he was never there. I feel stuck in this weird limbo where at least I had him for parts of my life, but am I truly allowed to refer to him as an absent parent if he was around for some of it? This is what I grapple with, too – not only the validity of his absence, but the validity in referring to him as absent.

I made this analogy in my previous post as well, but I compare it in my mind to a fishing rod in the water with bait attached. The bait is my dad and I am the fish. It’s like when he was around it was exciting, it was amplifying a pretend normalcy despite the fact I had not seen him in months, despite the fact it was anything but normal. I know most people at this point would say what even is normal these days? but you get my point here. It was for me, a little fish, being lured by bait.

Which is why I wonder if my life would have been better off, had I never seen or experienced the bait to begin with?

All that being said, if we look at the facts and how life panned out, how could I not refer to my father as absent? I didn’t see him for the last 6 years of his life. Even before that, visits and phone calls from him were like a Russian Roulette style of parenting – maybe the gun won’t go off and i’ll get to see him, maybe the gun will go off and I won’t see him for another 4 months.

After he died (and even in the last few years leading up to his death), I think I carried a lot of guilt about not making an effort to see him. I had his phone number – why didn’t I call him? Why didn’t I set up a get-together? He only lived 45 minutes away. I was fortunate to have my brother with me on the day we found out he died because that same guilt came back and washed over me tenfold.

My mom was always supportive of my brother and I not having any reason to feel guilty of this exact thing and would repeatedly remind us of this. He was the parent, we were the children – if he wanted to see us, he should make the effort. I think that in and of itself was trauma too – knowing your parent lives so close, but them never making the effort to see you. You begin to question your worth, and what you could have done differently.

At the same time, I don’t think I would have wanted to see him or have gotten together with him. I am currently working on another post addressing his alcoholism (which brought with it even more trauma), but within the last 6 years of his life, his state/condition/however you want to refer to it, got really sick, to the point I ended up changing my phone number as a result of it. Bear with me on that post, it is coming. I know I mentioned it in my last post, My Mother: 10 Lessons at 60, but it’s a doozy, and I need to make sure I write it and capture it right, considering it involves both my mother and father’s side of the family.

Reflecting on the whole situation, I recognize that trauma is not one size fits all. Trauma looks different for everybody. Some will experience trauma to a greater, more severe degree, than others. In the same breath, just because my trauma may not be perceived as severe as others, who have endured much worse, that does not make my trauma any less valid.

I now recognize that in an attempt to take up less space with the trauma I experienced, I did not allow myself the space to heal, which probably would have made me a lot healthier and a lot happier. I said previously as well, it was not until I went to therapy that I made the connection that trouble within my romantic relationships may have occurred due to past abandonment concerns, and therefore the trauma experienced from that, is what has manifested itself in my relationships. Bottom line, I am working on granting myself permission to recognize my own trauma, by being more openly communicative with myself about my needs, as well as communicating to my future partner(s) about those needs, too.

Thank you for reading as always. If you liked what you read, give my post a like, hit the Follow button on the top right-hand corner of this post, and turn on post-notifications, so you never miss an LE blog post! Don’t forget to join my monthly email list by signing up below, for updates, bonus content, and recommendations from yours truly!

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Confronting my Fear of Single at 30

Confronting my Fear of Single at 30

Estimated Read Time: 12 minutes

Watching my friends move on to new stages in life, I can’t help but wonder – what if I stay stuck?

It’s a question I often ask myself. It’s a fear that pops into my head when I cheer on friends from the sidelines as they move on to new life stages (move in with partners, get engaged, get married, have a baby, buy a new home, have another baby). It’s a fear that creeps in when my romantic relationships end, when I find myself randomly thinking of when would be the best age to have children.

A point of concern which has manifested itself for me in my life, especially within the last few years, has been the fear of turning 30 , more specifically, the fear of being single and turning 30.

Credit – Giphy

I’ve started and stopped the creative process of writing about this fear numerous times on my site. Why? Because I feel someone who is 30 or over 30 will read this and say you’re being ridiculous despite it being a very real and very looming fear of mine. As it happens, I am currently living through that stage in life when people close to me are starting to take the next steps. I know this stage will pass eventually, but that is exactly the fear – everyone will advance during this stage and by the time I reach 30, I will have remained in the same place as when I was 25 in the realm of love and family life.

It’s gotten to the point that in my effort to finally write this post, going back and pulling what content i’d already created, I had 3 drafts saved – 3 times I started with a thought, then shelved it, out of concern that others would judge my fear, or that the fear would come off to others as something I don’t need to be concerned about, when it actually concerns me deeply. So today, I’m going to sit down, and I’m going to confront it – you’re welcome to join me for the ride.

Truthfully, part of the fear comes from having irrationally built it up in my head that 30 is this be all, end all age – a milestone by which time I should have my shit figured out. The logical part of my brain recognizes there are many people who are 30 and older, who are single, who are married, who have children, who do not, who are doing just fine. The logical part of my brain recognizes 3 to 5 years from now, I will look back at this time period when I stressed about my single self and wonder why I worried so much. The irrational, anxious part of my brain however, recognizes that as soon as I hit 30, time really starts ticking to begin breeding miniature versions of me.

Of course then the what-if’s role in – What if I don’t meet anyone? What would my life look like if I genuinely never met anybody? What if people keep telling me “you’ll meet the one” but one day I wake up and I’m 40, and I still haven’t met the one? What does the one even mean or look like these days?

What if I become the eccentric single friend who plays fairy godmother to all of her friend’s children because she doesn’t have any of her own – which actually doesn’t sound too bad – spoil the kids with gifts, play with them, then give them back at the end of the day – a grandma before my time, because that’s what a grandma does.

Credit – Giphy

Why does it bother me so much? Is it because of some unconscious calling to wifely duties which I should be fulfilling by now? Is it the unconscious calling of a barren womb while friends around me seem to be pushing out offspring at a yearly rate? Okay, I giggled a bit at how dramatic that sounded when I typed it – barren womb – but YOU GET MY POINT.

While there may be certain life shifts going on which unlock my unconscious needs, wants and desires, I would say that the biggest piece in this fear comes down to comparison. Comparison is truly the destroyer of happiness. How do I know? I have partaken in it many, many times – comparing what stage my friends are at in their lives, to what stage I am at in my life. If I was happy, if I was fearless, if I didn’t care where others were at in their lives compared to where I am at, do you think I would be writing this article? Digging deeper to the root of that comparison, lies my own insecurities. If I was truly secure in who I am and where I am at in my life, I wouldn’t feel a need to compare myself to others.

It should be noted now, that I am still a few years away from turning 30 – I am only 27. I should also note that I have consistently mentioned to myself and others that I don’t want to have children before I turn 30, but that doesn’t exclude relationships, engagement and marriage.

It’s especially been within the last year, that this fear has gripped me. In the last year, I’ve witnessed 3 engagements, a wedding, a friend’s pregnancy, and another friend giving birth. I already see this cycle repeating itself this year and in the coming year as well. Of course covid is having a profound affect on all of these aspects of life, but the point is that they are continuing to happen.

If this is sounding like one big woe is me, self-pity party, I apologize. In a way, I think I manifested a lot of this fear and brought a lot of this on myself. Let me explain.

From 2015 to April 2019, I was single, aside from a 1 month stint with a guy who dumped me by text because he wanted to go snowboarding and ended up giving me infectious mono. Yes, that is the legitimate reason he broke up with me, no I am not pulling your leg – happy to share that story some other time .

During this time, I flip-flopped a lot. What I mean by this is that I would tell myself I was okay with being single, I was confident in being single. Heck I even wore it as some wacky badge of honor for a while. However, at the end of the day , I would stress out (and eventually convinced myself) that I would never meet anyone. A lack of confidence in being alone, secretly equated to the fact that I didn’t want to be alone (which I can now recognize as an invalid and unhealthy reason to want to be in a relationship. You should be relatively wholesome and content with who you are – if someone finds their way into your life it’s only because they make a wonderful addition – not because you’re half a person looking for someone else to complete you – or in my case, you don’t want to be alone).

Credit – Giphy

In addition to this, I lived a bit of a hermit life. I’d get invited to go out, but wouldn’t accept the invitation. I’d use an excuse that I had to work the next day, that the people attending weren’t really people I cared to be around or hang out with, or that I preferred the comfort of my couch rather than go to a bar for a friend’s birthday.

In retrospect, it makes perfect sense – how could I have expected to meet anyone when I didn’t put myself out there, nor push myself outside of my comfort zone? During this time period, I was on dating apps like everyone else, but in addition to that, I wasn’t meeting people any other way. I wasn’t going out and living my best life and allowing life to just happen – instead I stayed home. It’s almost like I was expecting someone to just show up, knock on my door and say hi, i’m the love of your life without putting in the work or making the effort to get what I wanted out of it.

Adding to all of this, while on dating apps, I interacted with and went out with a number of guys who I either didn’t click with, created poor dating experiences for me, or were just straight up f**k boys. If you’re not familiar with what this is (aka, you’re over the age of 40) I’ve included the Urban Dictionary definition for you:

A f**kboy is a guy with the body of a man and the mind of a perverted teenager. He has no heart — just a penis that he uses to paint the town.

Paint that town, paint it.

My experience with dating men tanked so hard, that I actually swore off them. Altogether. Completely. Forever. I’d tell friends this was my plan and their eyes would bug out from their head like i’d grown a third arm. In my mind, the few bad seeds I had encountered, ruined the many for me. So why bother to keep trying? For how long could I continue to “put myself out there” (in a capacity which I thought was enough to qualify as putting myself out there) before it was time to hang up my proverbial hat and call it a day?

Another in retrospect learning lesson – I was allowing myself to interact with these sorts of low vibrational, pond scum-type men. This is not to say that all men who are on these apps are this way, nor all of the men I interacted with were like this – but upon reflecting on that time period (and up until very recently), I interacted with more shitty men than healthy men. This ultimately defined and shaped my belief that good men no longer existed, despite the fact I had been reinforcing this false belief by engaging with primarily crappy men.

It was during a session with a psychic in Fall 2019, when she told me she was actually glad I hadn’t met anybody during this time period. I too, was operating at such a low vibrational energy, that anybody I attracted, would not have been a healthy or happy match. This makes sense – if the energy and the vibrations which you put out into the universe and that you give to the world are low, what sort of energy do you think you will attract? Likeminded, Low energy! The more time I spent believing and focusing that I would not meet anyone, and the more I allowed myself to interact with and date low vibrational men (and therefore reinforcing my belief that all the good men had been taken or were non-existent), meant that I attracted more of the very things I did not want in my life. This in addition to actually living a very solitary lifestyle and not putting in the extra work involved, aside from just letting the universe do it’s thing.

So you see, the combination of engaging with and dating crappy men, my pre-existing belief that I was never going to meet anyone, my lack of effort in putting myself out there and meeting new people, as well as a lack of confidence in being alone, led me to manifest this fear. Add in the wickedness of comparison stemming from my own insecurities, and you got yourself a real winner here.

Credit – Giphy

Now would be a good time to point out that my intent in all this is truly not to bash myself, but to reflect on my actions and my behaviors, to be a healthier human moving forward.

I’ve recognized even in my most recent relationship, which was probably one of the healthiest I have ever experienced, that I wanted to stay with my ex because I was afraid to be alone/didn’t want to be alone. It would mean repeating the exhausting cycle of dating, hopping onto a dating app, small talk with a stranger, let’s get drinks, we hit it off or never see each other again. I think in a way I have to be okay with the cycle, though – I have to work in tandem with the cycle, regardless of if it’s on an app or not. It’s better to be orbiting the planet, as opposed to floating untethered through space, right?

I’m learning to recognize that being 30 and single does not equate to “being stuck“, as I said above. How can one be stuck, really, when there are so many other areas of life that are continuing to grow and flourish? If I am moving in a direction and growing as a person in a way which makes me feel happy, healthy and productive, then how can I or anyone else, possibly deem myself as a person, stuck?

Not to mention, is this piece of my life so significant that it outweighs all the other aspects of my life and their importance? I’ve got big dreams besides getting married and having kids – I want to go to Africa for my 30th birthday, I want to write a book, I want to become a meditation teacher, I want to run a blog that is successful enough that I never have to work another horrid desk job ever again, I want to purchase a vacation home, I want to be well-read – aren’t those significant, too?

Credit – Giphy

Maybe marriage and kids will happen, maybe not. I’ve learned that regardless of the situation, I need to be putting myself out there, in a capacity which allows me to live my life to the fullest and makes me happy. Sure, i’ll probably still interact with crappy men on dating apps, it’s inevitable, they are out there. The difference this time around, though, is consciously choosing whether or not to continue to engage with them, and taking back my power. At the end of the day, to express 30 and single as a defining factor in who I am as a person, is actually kind of an insult to my character and an insult to my other equally important goals and dreams. I have so much more going for me and am able to offer so much in the absence of a partner, a marriage, a pregnancy. (I’ve talked about this before in my article The Timeline Complex).

I’m also working to adjust my habit of comparison to more healthier outlooks – love, admiration, respect, courage. My friends are having babies – isn’t the human body amazing? My friends are getting married – when else is there a truer display of love between two people? If I get to experience those things, I will have considered myself fortunate. But I consider myself fortunate without them, too.

I need to stop letting comparison block my vision of the things I am working to achieve in the now. Is saving for a trip to Africa on my 30th birthday a tangible goal? Yes. Do I know when or if someone will waltz into my life tomorrow or the day after that, or in 6 months from now, who could be my future husband and the father of my children? No – perhaps they might. But I’m not going to sit at home waiting for this person to knock on my door any longer. I’m hustling to be the best version of me, and if they want to hop aboard the Lindsay train because they like the destination, then sure be my guest. What I can control is my attitude, my security within myself and my outlook in the years to come.

Credit – Giphy

Thank you for reading as always. If you liked what you read, give my post a like, hit the Follow button on the top right-hand corner of this post, and turn on post-notifications, so you never miss an LE blog post! Don’t forget to join my monthly email list by signing up below, for updates, bonus content, and recommendations from yours truly!

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Talk Healthy To Me: My Experience and Solutions to Negative Self-Talk

Talk Healthy To Me: My Experience and Solutions to Negative Self-Talk

“She’d sit for hours doing her homework

Is the response you could expect to receive from my mother if you asked her who was the more diligent child: My younger brother or I. In elementary school, I would come home and spend most of my afternoons studying, completing homework, and working on school tasks. My brother on the other hand, barely opened his books, yet still managed to pass all his classes. No resentment there. In my mind I was just being a good student, wanting to turn in quality work.

Credit – Giphy

I maintained this work ethic well into high school and throughout university. A Top All Around Student Award in high school, valedictorian of my high school graduating class, a scholarship in college. Sometime during my younger years though, I developed a hardened sense of self-discipline. Where it came from, and why I developed it, I don’t really know, though I do have some theories. However, I can recall a pivotal moment when my hardened self-discipline crossed the line into self-punishment. I was 8.

Negative Self-Talk rears it’s ugly head

In Grade 3, during one of the standard parent-teacher conferences (parents meet with their kid’s teacher to discuss educational performance, classroom etiquette, their offspring being a little shit, you name it), my teacher pulled my mum aside to tell her he had heard me call myself stupid. I didn’t do well, or something did not go the way I had wanted it to, but I had been swift and harsh in punishing my little 8 year old self … and had been caught doing it.

Now, I would consider self-discipline to be a fairly admirable trait. But when it’s to the extent you have an 8 year old calling herself stupid because she didn’t do well, it goes from admirable to horrifying pretty friggin’ fast.

To this day, I don’t remember the incident, or calling myself stupid and I don’t believe my teacher would make up such a heinous tale (in my free time I like to tell lies to the parents of children I teach), but it seems I have blocked the event out of my memory. I do remember mum crying when she told me about the conversation once we were home. She took it hard and she took it personally, and interpreted it as though she had failed as a parent.

I notice it more now as an aware adult but she’s been self-critical of herself in the past too, so it’s possible I picked slivers of this trait up from her along the way, throughout my youthdom – not entirely sure that’s a word, but I just used it so hah – deal with it.

I can only speak from my lived experience and my upbringing but when you are 8 and you see your parents cry in front of you, it feels a bit like the sky is falling: You don’t know why it’s happening, you know it’s real bad, you know it shouldn’t be happening and it scares you.

Credit – Giphy

I can’t say my years in high school, through college and university weren’t completely free of my hardened self-discipline either. I always strive to do and be the best I can, but have noticed within my personality (and have had people tell me before) that I am extremely hard on myself.

This negative self-talk has also seeped into romantic relationships, having had a detrimental impact to my connection with past partners. Of course within this context, I believe the negative self-talk to also be a result of low self-esteem and insecurities, but it also includes being unnecessarily hard on myself over trivial matters.

Time I Had a Conversation with Myself

I find it interesting, really. I place pressure on myself to try to do my best and be my best, to be top-notch in my work and how I am as a person, then stress and beat myself up when I don’t hit the target. However, if there was someone in my life who expected perfection out of me, that’s not the type of person I would want to have as a presence in my life. Perfection is unattainable, stressful and unrealistic – if someone were to place those expectations on me, you can bet money on it that i’d metaphorically drop-kick them out of my life.

The same goes for the negative words I call myself on occasion. I can call myself, an “idiot”, “stupid”, “bitch” without batting an eye. But I don’t call my friends those names. So why should I be calling myself those names? At the end of the day, I am my own friend, too. Likewise, if someone were to call me those names, I’d think twice about wanting to spend time with them, and would probably slowly distance myself.

Credit – Giphy

So if I can recognize that a person who expects perfection out of me and/or calls me cruel names, doesn’t have my best interests in mind, then how is it acceptable for me to be placing myself on a pedestal built out of unrealistic expectations and unhealthy self-talk? All in order for me to achieve the version of myself which I strive for, or for me to achieve the goals I set for myself? And when I miss the mark, it causes me stress and anxiety, rather than being able to let it go.

Obviously, I can’t distance myself from myself, as is the case if it were another person expecting and saying the above to me. However, the direction I now face, involves working with what I have and working through it, in order to achieve a more peaceful, positive relationship with myself.

Credit – Giphy

Solutions

1. Look at the Bigger Picture

When I find myself in a situation where I am feeling self-criticism coming on – perhaps I have made a mistake, I am not reaching my goals or my target or the expectations I have placed upon myself, I hone in on the bigger picture. For starters, literally reminding myself that nobody is perfect, including me. I also remind myself that everybody makes mistakes, that I will continue to make mistakes and they are just a part of life.

2. Speak Kindly to Yourself – Terms of Endearment

Next, I begin to speak kindly to myself. This starts by using terms of endearment when speaking to myself – girl, honey, dear, girlfriend, love, sweetheart. It takes a bit of getting used to, referring to yourself as “love”, but what this does is train my critical inner voice to speak more kindly to me. As I have discovered when applying this, my inner voice has a hard time being critical when I speak to myself in a kind and loving manner. Alternatively, I start my sentences with one of the terms of endearment outlined above, before my mind has the chance to go on a negative self-talk rampage. It also improves my relationship with myself. As I said above, I am my own friend, too, so speaking to myself as my friends and I speak to each other, helps strengthen my bond with myself.

3. Forgive Instead of Criticize

I used to beat myself up after I would beat myself up – meaning I would engage with negative self-talk, then get upset with myself for stooping to such a low level. Then I would berate myself again, hold onto it and think about it for longer than the action or thought deserved. Nowadays, rather than jump straight to self-criticism, I am actively training my mind to jump to forgiveness instead. In moments when my brain is quick to judge and to make me feel like crap, I bring myself back to a level of forgiveness. Forgiving myself for making a mistake, forgiving myself for getting stressed out, and forgiving myself in cases when I do use negative self-talk.

By forgiving myself, I am able to engage with all parts of the process, I become proactive in recognizing my detrimental behavior, but even further I allow myself the space and the permission to let the behavior go. I continue to speak kindly to myself, I use terms of endearment, I acknowledge the situation, and forgive:

“Girlfriend, I said some pretty horrible things about myself back there. I know I was in a place of stress, but I recognize that is not an excuse to speak to myself as I did. I acknowledge I made a mistake and mistakes happen to all of us – I forgive myself for using that language when referring to my character and myself as a person.” In this case I used the word “I” to refer to myself, but you can also replace it with “you”.

4. Be Present & Mindful
Credit – Giphy

While mistakes are bound to happen, when I am present and my attention is fully on the task at hand, less mistakes are made. When I used to talk negatively about myself, I’d often not even notice I was doing it. Now I’m working to be more in control of myself, and living more so in the present, enough to notice when my mind (or my mouth) starts spitting out ugly phrases directed back at me.

Not only am I present enough to recognize my own negative self-talk – i’m more attune to honing in on my when my loved ones and friends do it. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve picked up on how my mum has been self-critical of herself in the past. But, it’s honestly astonishing at how many people I care about in my life, belittle themselves, and don’t even know they’re doing it. I make a point now, when they critique something about themselves or call themselves names, to say “no you’re not” or “that’s not true”. Even a small act such as this, despite it being a negating one, might help them to recognize the completely negative, completely false things they are saying about themselves.

5. Recognize Fault as an Opportunity for Learning – not an as Opportunity to Bash Yourself

Part of honing in on the bigger picture also means recognizing that not everything that goes wrong is my fault. As I have discussed before (you can read about it here), feelings of irrational fault are something I deal with and continue to work through. There have been many instances where I have felt like something was my fault, where my mind has launched into a tirade of self-criticism. Often times, these situations were not directly my fault – it was simply how the situation played out, or it was something out of my control.

Recognizing when legitimate fault is warranted, eliminates not only unnecessary negative self-talk, but also consistent feelings of guilty, as well as irrational feelings of fault. I am trying to be more mindful that fault is actually an opportunity to learn for next time – whatever it was you were at fault for, has happened. You can’t change that it happened, but you can ultimately change how you react to it – will you take it in stride and recognize it as a point of learning? Or will you recognize it as a moment to beat yourself up for what went wrong? This is what I am actively working on.

Thank you for reading as always. I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience with Negative Self-Talk and the Solutions I use to combat it! If you liked what you read, give my post a like, hit the Follow button on the top right-hand corner of this post, and turn on post-notifications, so you never miss an LE blog post! Don’t forget to join my monthly email list by signing up below, for updates, bonus content, and recommendations from yours truly!

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My Name Is Lindsay and I Have Abandonment Issues

My Name Is Lindsay and I Have Abandonment Issues

I’ve been thinking a lot about my ex recently – and not in the way you might think.

Primarily, my thoughts have been about reflecting on particular moments, where I should have been more open and communicative with him and what I would say now if I had the chance. I always tout myself as someone who’s main solution of working through their problems and conflicts with others is by talking through them. I recognize that relationships take two to tango and not everything that created points of conflict between us was necessarily my fault (another blog topic we shall spare for another day – my Unhealthy All or Nothing Thinking Patterns).

What I should have been open about when communicating with him, however, was how unresolved trauma and abandonment issues from my childhood, may tend to manifest themselves in our relationship.

That being said, I can’t and won’t be too hard on myself. I have heard many times before that concerns which surface in adulthood are often a result of what took place in childhood, but it’s truly taken attending therapy for me to recognize this connection and see examples of it in my own life. It’s also taken therapy to make me realize the importance of communicating your mental health concerns and/or giving a head’s up to your current partner about your past trauma. Some people may read that and say Well of course Lindsay! Why would you not want to communicate that to your partner? I suppose in the simplest of ways I can outline it, I did not connect the dots that select arguments we had perhaps unconsciously stemmed, on a different plain, from my unresolved childhood concerns.

Photo by Evie S. on Unsplash

I should also note that we only dated for roughly 2 and half months and while we did share a lot of information with each other in that short time period (and even if I had in a hypothetical situation, say, “connected the dots”), I may have still held back from telling him because we were so new. Thinking back I feel too as though it would been a lot to handle, or too much for him to deal with – you want to keep things light and fun when you’re first with someone – would I make things too heavy if I had told him? I’m not agreeing with this necessarily – more so musing different outcomes in my mind. But even in the “honeymoon” phase of our relationship, concerns manifested themselves, so really, I should have been honest, regardless.

My own experience with unresolved childhood trauma, involves my father not being a consistent figure in my life. Yes – I have daddy issues. My parents separated when I was quite young. I was too young to remember it or to understand it, which for me, translated into it not having an affect on me in a profound way (which I am actually grateful for – some folks who’s parents split up when they are young, are greatly affected – this was not the case with me).

To sum up his life pattern in one word, especially in my conscious memory of him, it would be transient. He frequently bounced around to different living situations, in different buildings in different cities. I don’t recall there being one particular place he stayed in very long, the longest I think would have been a townhouse he resided in for a few years. I can’t remember his exact reasoning he gave to me as a child, when I would ask him why he was moving again, but I would wager to guess now he’d either a.) Skipped out on paying rent one too many times b.) Crossed a line with someone or c.) A combination of the two. It should be noted as well, that my dad perceived himself to never be in the wrong and never be at fault (it was always someone else’s fault), which did not serve him well when dealing with other people, as well as creating and sorting out conflict.

In addition to an inconsistent living situation, his presence was inconsistent throughout my life, too.

When he was present, I remember he’d take my brother and I out for dinner a lot, I remember gifts on random occasions which he would present to us, and randomly show up at our sporting events and moments of importance in our lives. This would irk my mum to no end, as when he showed up, he liked to pretend he was a fully fledged, fully supportive parent – “Joe Dad” as my mother referred to him – a facade of always being there, always supportive, all the time, when this couldn’t be further from the truth.

On the flip side of this consistency and showering of affection, there was a gaping hole. Birthdays missed, not seeing him for weeks or months at a time, maybe a phone call – maybe not. My dad also walked through life with a poor grasp of money and what to do with it when he had it. So even if he showered us with meals out and presents, he couldn’t save money to save his life and spent it faster than he made it. I recall one particular situation when we were spending the day with him. He stopped for gas and he put $5.00 in his tank. What is an average amount of money to put in your gas tank – $30? $50? Even as a kid, I remember thinking that it was weird and not quite right.

The final blow to the gaping hole came in 2010. I was 18 and it was my aunt (his sister) and uncle’s wedding. I had driven my brother and I, and I remember as we were leaving, my dad walked us out. He was drunk (now a particular detail which I view as insightful foreshadowing of the years to come), got teary-eyed (from the alcohol), and in his best “attempt to sound normal but slurred nonetheless” voice, said he loved us, and watched us drive away. That would be the last time I would ever see him. He eventually moved 45 minutes away from my brother and I to be closer to his sisters and for the next 6 years, until his death in 2016, he would on/off call to chat, but never make plans to see my brother or I. From here, we dive into a whole other story which I will share eventually, but for the sake of staying on track with today’s topic, we shall save that for another day.

I compare it in my mind to a fishing rod in the water with bait attached. The bait is my dad and I am the fish, being lured by the bait. It’s like when he was around it was like bait – exciting, amplifying a pretend normalcy despite the fact I had not seen him in months, despite the fact it was anything but normal. I know most people at this point would say what even is normal? but you get my point here.

Photo by Ahmed Zayan on Unsplash

So now we return to my ex and how this may have played a role in certain points of conflict.

We’d met in December, and spent most of the month together, including pretty much every day of the Christmas break. I work for a university, and the school had let out for it’s customary 2 week holiday break, so he’d requested time off from his own work so he could spend it with me, his new gal pal.

When January rolled around and he had to go back to work (as did I), I remember that first week back being so hard. I went from seeing him every day and talking to him every day, to now not seeing him and now not hearing from him for hours at a time.

I remember not being in a great mental state on that particular Friday when that first week wrapped up – we’d met up after he got off work, having already canceled dinner reservations because he’d been asked to work late. I remember him pulling his car into a grocery store parking lot because he needed to pick up a few things and I started to cry because I hadn’t seen him and it had been really difficult. Even writing that and thinking back to it now makes me want to cry. I’d communicated to him it had been hard. He’d tried to make me laugh to cheer me up, then reasoned with me that he has jobs where he can’t be on his phone or talk to me as much, which I understood.

Upon telling my therapist of this situation, she said the common theme here is that I felt unsettled. Feeling unsettled because my father himself was unsettled – moving around, all the time, never staying in one place too long. Feeling unsettled with the inconsistency my father created and manifested by always being in and out of my life. Feeling unsettled when I go from seeing my partner every day to suddenly not seeing him at all. While I saw my ex more consistently than my father, it would be fair to suggest that the same panic, fear and sadness I experienced that week of my ex not being as present and as with me as he had been, were unconscious emotions related back to my experience with my dad.

Of course, my ex didn’t literally abandon me, but perhaps my inner little fish felt baited again in a similar fashion as it had all those years before.

While it could very well have been simply me having a hard time adjusting to a new normal (as my mother has pointed out, it can be hard to go from seeing someone all the time, every day, to not seeing someone nearly as much), it’s possible I unconsciously felt slightly abandoned. This is what I would communicate to my ex if I could. That while I am content with my own time and recognize people have their own lives outside of those connected to their partners, I perhaps need a higher level of communication than other people when in relationships to feel secure – at least in the beginning stages of a new relationship when you’re working out common ground and feeling not as secure as say a year, or 5 years down the road.

I don’t feel shame surrounding my abandonment issues. On the contrary, getting them out in the open and talking about them, allows me to work through them. Identifying particular mental states which may not serve my future relationships well, but that I can communicate to my partner in advance, can help to mitigate them in the long run. Not to mention, writing articles such as this one helps me to better recognize my wants and needs in a relationship – it allows my partner to be better equipped in making me feel more safe and secure when I am with them, which ultimately translates to me showing up as the best (AND HEALTHIEST) version of myself for my partner.

The Timeline Complex

The Timeline Complex

I should have written my book by now, I want to have kids no later than 35. I should have started a food blog years ago, it’s probably too late now. Have you ever found yourself thinking similar thoughts?

Somewhere along the way, humans began placing constraints upon ourselves and upon those around us, specifically to do with our time. These constraints may manifest themselves via such false narratives or beliefs as one is too young or one is too old to meet certain goals or dreams they may have for themselves, or one is past the age to do what they want. Many of these beliefs inevitably lead us to then actively gauge, weigh and measure how much time we have left to do what we want.

Credit – Giphy

Our unconscious mind has been especially sneaky in picking up on these beliefs – it feeds them back to us, and convinces us along the way, with influence added in from outside sources, that these false narratives and beliefs must be true. Before long these constraints define our value, our worth, our accomplishments and who we are as people.

It’s frightening how EASY it can be to find ourselves stuck in mental ruts that allow our minds to get swept up in false beliefs or false narratives that tell us we are too young, too old, too inexperienced, too short on time to do what we want with our lives.

If there is a psychological term for this, I am unaware of it, but for the sake of this post, I would like to refer to this phenomenon as The Timeline Complex. The idea that we use time constraints to measure our own accomplishments and the accomplishments of others, as well as using time constraints as a primary benchmark for the completion of our goals and dreams. Oftentimes, this benchmark is associated with or can evoke feelings of shame, failure, self-doubt, self-blame and/or sadness.
Credit – Giphy

I, of course, am not a professional psychologist and I may be more off my rocker here than on point with making up names for random experiences. What I do know is that this is something I have experienced and am working to confront. As I have stressed before in previous posts, I tend to confront my mental health ruts by making lengthy blog posts about them. I dissect how they affect me, then I begin to look for more positive, alternative viewpoints that make me stop and say “well.. hold the phone on that irrational thought/false belief/false narrative for just one second”.

I also recognize, that a health professional reading this may accuse me of spreading misinformation – slapping a name on something without doing any prior research into if a title for the experience actually exists – but that is genuinely not my intent. My intent is to place a name, a label, that works best for me, on this experience that has held me back and kept me afraid, worried and concerned. Giving it my own name allows for me to confront and identify the experience more efficiently, more carefully and more fully, in a way that works for me. Not to mention, if someone comes along and decides the name I have placed on this, works for them and their experience as well, then they can feel free to use it, too.

You may be familiar with the idea of a complex, the most familiar example to many of us is an Inferiority Complex. A complex itself is defined as:

A related group of emotionally significant ideas that are completely or partly repressed and that cause psychic conflict leading to abnormal mental states or behavior.

Breaking down this definition, we can start to see how it might apply to The Timeline Complex:

Emotionally significant ideas – Examples would include what we want to do with our lives, the significant goals and dreams we plan, create and manifest for ourselves.

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Completely or Partly Repressed – These ideas become repressed when we as people begin communicating beliefs and narratives to ourselves and to others that our capabilities and our limitations are defined by our age. We also communicate that we are defined by what stage we are at in our lives. Oftentimes, we view the stage we are at in our lives and what we have accomplished by a certain age as interchangeable – they in turn become a method to measure ourselves and others. We also use whether or not we have accomplished what we should have by a certain stage, as a method of measurement. This last component in particular, I will come back to shortly.

Psychic Conflict leading to abnormal mental states or behavior – The psychic conflict comes into play when we unconsciously deny ourselves what we want to do with our lives, we start to diminish the reality of working on or achieving our goals and our dreams because we define ourselves, our capabilities and our limitations by our age, as well as our accomplishments by said age. Which leads to:

Abnormal mental states or behaviors – in the form of such thoughts as I should have written my book by now, I want to have kids no later than 35. I should have started a food blog years ago, it’s probably too late now. Sometimes these thoughts are accompanied by shame or failure, as I previously mentioned, but also a potential feeling of urgency, as if time is running out.

Credit – Giphy

I touched previously upon what we should have accomplished by a certain age. What exactly determines the benchmark for accomplishment for various stages in our lives? The people we surround ourselves with for one – what your friends have accomplished by a certain age, as well as what your family has impressed upon you to some degree. Their values? Their hopes and dreams for your betterment?

Information we consume is another benchmark – social media and the news, as well as what society as a whole communicates to us – societal pressures, especially those pressures placed upon women (more on that later). We look for similarities and we look for differences, we look for the with’s and the without’s, we look for the have’s and have not’s and slowly we begin to form comparisons and create standards to live by based off of all these factors combined.

My Experience with The Timeline Complex

This is one narrative which I have allowed to somewhat run my life for the past few years. I’ve focused a lot of my energy on timelines which primarily exist within my unconscious mind, but admittedly that have also been conjured by outside influences. This includes placing steep self-imposed timelines upon myself. In addition to being concerned about a lack of time to do what I want, I have had a hard time really getting clear about what exactly it is I want to do, too. It turns out while focusing so much on not having enough time to do what I want or concerning myself with the future, that my time started to slip away without even realizing it.

Credit – Giphy

One example for me would be YouTube. I briefly started up a fun, informal, YouTube channel with a friend when I was 25. Even with a fun and easy-going project such as that, the narrative in my head was that I was too old to be doing it. People with mass followings who were in their early 30’s, whom I respected for continuing to follow their path despite the platform seemingly turning to a younger audience, had started in their late teens, early 20’s. Many had been chipping away at where they are now for years. I was starting at 25, would I be 40 by the time I was as successful as those YouTubers in their early 30’s?

Another example would be completing my Master’s degree – my goal was to finish it by the time I was 30. The kicker is I had (and have) no desire to re-enter a classroom anytime soon. I’d had a handful of friends do back to back Bachelor’s then Master’s degrees. I thought maybe I should too, get it knocked out of the way. My parents had also been supportive in suggesting the possibility of me going back to school but I didn’t know what I would focus my degree on and didn’t want to spend the time or the money to go back to school when my head and my heart weren’t really in it. I also had experienced the workforce, which meant earning a good salary – I wasn’t about to drop everything to prioritize school again and sacrifice my apartment or my career, just so I could satisfy my own goal for myself (partially as well for the benefit of others, too). I also recognized that if I did not meet my very specific, very soon timeline I was pressing upon myself, I would be disappointed and that would probably deter me from going back to school even more.

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A third and final example would be engagement, marriage, babies – that whole shebang. Admittedly, I am 27 and single. I want to get married, I want to have kids. That being said, I don’t want children before the age of 30 – I aspire and aim to experience further growth spurts within my career first and I’ve got some traveling I still want to do. Not to mention (while many people might argue there is no difference before and after), I want to enjoy married life first, prior to introducing kids into the picture.

But as close friends gradually get engaged, get married, start having children, I’ve experienced this weird internal itch that tells me I am somehow falling behind (hey – wait for me!). Is it because of some unconscious calling to wifely duties which I should be fulfilling by now? Is it the unconscious calling of a barren womb while friends around me seem to be pushing out offspring at a yearly rate? (okay, I giggled a bit at how dramatic that sounded when I typed it – barren womb – but YOU GET MY POINT). Every other aspect of my life seems to be flourishing, but this one piece of my life is … well … stunted. That’s a good word for it.

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People who ask my age, usually reply with oh you’re a youngin’ you’ve got all the time in the world (how many times have you heard that if you’re still in your 20’s?). While they aren’t saying it (and aren’t implying it), a little voice in my head likes to pop up at this point in the conversation and point out that yes, BUT you should probably have children by 35, otherwise your eggs will start to dry up and getting pregnant is no walk in the park when you’re starting to push 40. I envision that voice sounds like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. How typical, – an old, white man dictating my reproductive should’s and should not’s. Yeesh.

Credit – Giphy

And then in most cases, because I have a critical inner voice, it will usually pop a thought or two in my head to the effect of:

“What’s wrong with you? Why haven’t you met someone yet? There must be something wrong with you, all of your friends are in normal, healthy, happy relationships – it’s probably because you overthink your relationships to the point of self-sabotage that they all turn out to be a big, hot pile of steaming garbage anyways”.

Ahh my Inner Voice – she’s such a sweetheart, ain’t she?

Bottom line it can be a battle to attempt to swim upstream against the current of your life and the time you are given. Especially in my late twenties, an underlying push and pull messaging has weezled it’s way into my cranium – a message of sure, you’ve got time, but not too much time. I think for women especially, there’s more of a ticking clock, perhaps because the Motherhood 4500 starts driving by the front of your house, revving up it’s ovary engines.

Ovary Engines? Did I really just use that term?

Credit – Giphy

But let me tell you something – being single at 27 is actually normal (AND OKAY).

Having goals and dreams is normal.

Recognizing goals and dreams take time to develop and come to fruition is normal.

Constraining yourself to the idea that if you do not complete a task or meet an accomplishment by a certain age or stage in your life, then you might as well give up on it, OR that your worth or your value is somehow lessened, is abnormal.

Dictating that someone’s worth or value is less than yours because they haven’t completed or checked off what they should have done or completed by now, according to societal standards (or your standards) is abnormal.

That’s right – i’m calling you and your standards out. Stop it.

Credit – Giphy

Truth be told, I have found ways to take solace amidst my own Timeline Complex.

If YouTube had worked out and turned from a fun project into an actual thing, it might have meant not creating this blog. Not surprising, I actually find writing and curating content for this blog a lot more meaningful, a lot more cathartic and a lot more fun than YouTube. I hop on here and ideas flow and my ability to express my thoughts, emotions and feelings is much clearer than I think any amount of time spent in front of my iPhone camera filming (even for recordings on my Instagram account) would give me.

I realized my desire to complete a Master’s degree was for the wrong reasons – because my friends were doing it, because it meant a bigger pay cheque to accompany the new designation which would now appear at the end of my name next to my BA, all especially while not knowing what I was going to study and my head and my heart not being in it. So I let go of it.

Letting go of the time constraint altogether of obtaining a Master’s degree by the time I was 30, lessened a lot of the pressure I had placed upon myself. Maybe i’ll do it when I’m 35, maybe i’ll do it when i’m 45, I honestly don’t know, it’s not a priority for me at the moment. The point is I no longer feel pressure to produce the work and get the degree by the time i’m 30 and that’s what works best for me.

Credit – Giphy

On a similar note, not doing a Master’s degree right after my Bachelor’s allowed me to accept job opportunities which set me on the right track for my career, while a lot of my friends were working menial tasks such as teaching assistants or dorm supervisors because they couldn’t keep full time employment while doing an MA. Of course, that’s what worked for them at the time, and I respect the work and the commitment they put towards their degrees, but I value those few extra years where I got a jump start in making strides towards my career path.

Being single for a good chunk of my twenties, has led me to the fulfilling and unique experience of solo travel through Europe – three times! I didn’t wait for a partner or a boyfriend to come along to do it, I didn’t ask a friend, I just did it. If i’d been in a relationship over these time periods, who knows if I would have gone, or what that would have looked like – less freedom, more compromise on my ideal trip?

Being single at 27, has also allowed me to shape and better define as I have aged what I want and what I do not want in a relationship. It has granted me the ability to recognize that while I am much more mature now than when I was 21 and in a relationship, I still have significant strides to make in my emotional maturity and my mental health in relation to entering and maintaining healthy relationships. AND THAT IS OKAY.

Credit – Giphy

Being single at 27, also means not stressing about what the future may look like. It can be hard some days – being single as 30 approaches while watching friends move on to new stages in their lives and wanting that for myself too. I know what I want but if what I want does not take place, then i’ll be okay with that – it comes back to not stressing about things out of my control. I could be destined to be the cool fairy godmother for all my friend’s children, who sprinkles them with gifts, plays with them, then gives them back to their parents at the end of the day. That would be second string to being someone’s wifey and a momma myself, but while i’m all for attracting what you want in life and being optimistic, i’m also a realist and I think that can be healthy, too.

Credit – Giphy
When looking at the bigger picture of my life, I recognize that yeah, there’s stuff I haven’t done in my timeline which others seem to be doing. But by not doing them, and following the same pattern as others, I’ve done what has worked for me, I’ve removed stress from certain elements within my life and in turn, created opportunities which might not have otherwise existed.
And just because I haven’t done them right this minute, before I turn 30, let’s panic, asdfghytr – it doesn’t mean I won’t do them at some point in my life. At the end of the day the only timeline that matters is the one I choose to follow.

Have you experienced a similar Timeline Complex in your life? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Feel Like Everything is Your Fault? 5 Tips To Break The Cycle

Feel Like Everything is Your Fault? 5 Tips To Break The Cycle

Welcome to the 2nd part of this two part blog series, in which we focus on feelings of fault – more specifically, feeling like everything is your fault. It can big fault or little fault, it can be fault that is not actually yours to bear, but you feel it, you internalize it, you feel guilty nonetheless.

Blech, who needs that?

Part 1 – I Believe Everything is My Fault: Here’s 3 Reasons Why – came out last week. The purpose of it was to give you some context about my personal experience with fault and involved me doing a deep-dive into why I believe this and project this belief onto myself. My reasons why may have resonated with your reasons why, and if they do – amazing. This week’s post is where I give you solutions to halt the belief that everything is your fault, as well as counter feelings of excessive fault and guilt. These are solutions which I continue to use and put into practice, when I find unnecessary fault arising within me.

Solution 1. Recognize that you are not your thoughts

Alternative Title: Confront your reality

One of my biggest concerns when it comes to excessive feelings of fault/guilt, as well as overthinking, is that once I experience feelings of fault, they make a nice little home for themselves in my mind and stay put. Once they’ve taken up residence, I have a really hard time:

  • a.) Letting the thought go (and when I try to let it go, it usually stays put even more);
  • b.) Not viewing the thought as true (I think them, therefore they must be valid/my reality/accurate), but most importantly within the context of Solution 1;
  • c.) Not viewing the thought as an extension of me (I think them, therefore they are a part of me/they are me).

Sure, you think these thoughts, there’s no denying they came from your noggin’ (unless this is some alternate reality with a government who’s implanted micro-chips into the brains of it’s citizens which enforces mind control dear god I am spiraling down some deep dark rabbit hole of conspiracy theories asdfmlgh send help).

Sure, they pertain to your lived experiences… but they can also attack your lived experiences, they can become negative and self-harming, they can lead you to act out on impulses and feelings which may not be in your best interest. They can influence you to believe something which is not true (a la Lindsay is a garbage human being who can’t get anything right and everything is her fault). They can cramp your style and make you feel like shit about yourself.

But just because your mind sways you to believe such things…. Are they your reality? Are they truly you? I would wager the answer to those questions is no. Asking yourself such questions can really help you to recognize that you are not your thoughts and assist in unwinding your brain from whichever twisted path it’s found itself on.

Does it feel like you are truly at fault for everything? Yes.

In reality, are you truly at fault for everything? No.

Does it feel like you are a horrible human being who’s screwing up constantly? Yes. In reality, are you actually a human being like everybody else on this planet, who occasionally is at fault and makes mistakes but are able to learn from them and become a better human as a result? Yes.

Key Take Away:

The reality of you, the “lived you”, is so much more heartfelt, kick-ass, hardworking, authentic and gentle than your mind’s perception of you. Frankly, it’s about time you sent your mind for a time-out in the quiet corner because it hasn’t been doing you any favors.
If you are having trouble inwards, seek council outwards through family and friends when you are waging war against your inner thoughts. Your loved ones might be shocked you think such things of yourself at first, but my guess is they will proceed to calm you down and give you a boost like those stars you can run into for invincibility in Mario Kart.
Credit – Giphy

Solution 2. Practice Mindful Visualization Techniques

Alternative Title: Watch Your Thoughts Fall Off a Cliff

One evening, I found my mind veering into it’s all your fault territory – primarily over concerns about an upcoming interview and it going badly (more so a fear of failure and a lack of belief in myself), as well as feeling guilty for taking a mental health/sick day. Despite waking up feeling physically and mentally crappy, my mind turned on me and said “you are letting your office/colleagues down, you should feel bad about it“. I’d also had a great track record of no sick days the entirety of my employment, and had up until that point wore that as some sort of badge of honor. So I also felt guilty over breaking that streak in some weird, twisted way.

Rather than lie awake, staring at the ceiling, dwelling on the supposed horrible human I was, I decided to mentally visualize my negative thoughts coming and going.

Credit – Giphy

Mindfulness can be a fantastic tool to practice remaining in the present moment throughout the comings and goings of our often busy lives. We can use it to build up the mental strength to recognize negative thoughts or thoughts which do not serve us well that are present in our mind, to acknowledge and accept these thoughts, but not give them the attention they crave or seek. However, when we add in a visual element mentally, it can especially help to elevate the practice of mindfulness in that we can picture the thoughts as exiting or being dispelled from the mind.

A common example is imagining your thoughts are clouds in the sky drifting by. You see them, you acknowledge them, but no need to fixate or focus on them, they’ll just float by. The physical action of a cloud floating by and out of our view, can assist in ridding ourselves of negative thoughts. Another example could be visualizing your thoughts falling off of a cliff. If you’ve ever watched the Roadrunner cartoons, envision your thoughts as a cartoon Wil.E. Coyote hovering over then falling off a cliff, where he usually finds himself amidst his pursuit of the Roadrunner.

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In my instance, I visualized myself standing on a subway platform. My thoughts are the subway cars that have pulled into the station. I can choose to get on the subway and ride along with those thoughts and be carried away. Or, I can stay on the platform, watch the doors close and the subway cars pull away down the track and disappear into the tunnel.

Key Take Away

When we add in visualization techniques, we allow ourselves further room in our minds to visualize unwanted or unhelpful thoughts and feelings, coming and going. Visualizing can also provide a physical end result in our mind’s eye, which allows us to dispel the negative thought even further.

Solution 3. Work to Care Less and Recognize What You Can Control

Alternative Title: Becoming a Human Who Feels Less Fault May Involve You Giving Less of a Shit.

Credit – Giphy

I’ve said it before that if there’s a reason I fixate on things, it’s because I care. This is true – I care and take pride in my work, and I care about my relationships with family, friends and romantic partners…. but sometimes too much. And caring too much has had a fun little side-effect of making me feel guilty and at fault about things I don’t need to.

So i’m working to take things a little less personally and give slightly less of a shit.

Take a look at this notmadeupin30minutesusingMicrosoftWord entirely real, data-driven bar chart of how my levels of caring are improving – isn’t it an amazing scientific feat??

Recognizing what you can and can not control will also help you to care less too. Can you control how much you contribute to a project at work? Can you control that your kids’ lunches are made, that they make it to school on time? Can you control how to respond before reacting in heated situations with your partner, with friends, with strangers through mental progress?

Can you control people’s opinions about you? Can you control the outcome of a project? Can you control if your partner’s feelings towards you will always stay the same?

These are all just examples, but the point I want to hit home with you here, is that if you can not control an aspect of your life (for example, people’s opinions, or the outcome of a situation), why would you (also, why should you) continue to concern yourself with it, or care about it? I know first-hand that it can be really hard to not concern yourself with what people think about you, but by concerning yourself with an outcome or an aspect of your life which you have no control over, this will only bring you more stress, anxiety and worry. The outcome will be whatever the outcome will be – all you can do is try to be a good human and try to do your best throughout the process leading up to the outcome.

Credit – Giphy

Of course I get it – there are many facets in your life that you cherish and you care about and by extension have or don’t have control over, but there’s a fine line between caring and caring too much. If caring too much is making you feel at fault or guilty for things that you have no reason to feel at fault or guilty for, then release thy grip on giving thy shit.

Key Take Away:

In the most respectful way I can say this – Care less and Chill out – about work, about your critical inner voice who holds you back from doing what you want to do, about people’s opinions of your very valid, very sacred hopes, dreams, decisions, opinions, choices, and especially about if you mess up (because it will continue to happen – welcome to the realm of being a flawed human, here’s your membership card).

Solution 4. Give Your Fault a Deadline, then Let It Go

Alternative Title: Leave Your Fault in the Dust

Credit – Giphy

Recognizing and owning up to when you are actually at fault within a situation can be humbling, but to be able to forgive yourself for being at fault, to make peace with it and to be able to move forward, is where true empowerment lies.

Let’s say you’ve found yourself in a situation in which you are legitimately at fault – i’m not talking made up fault in your head, or something out of your control which went poorly, which you then internalize as your fault – i’m talking, you f****d up. Thereafter, you’ve addressed the person and/or the situation directly, you’ve taken the steps to right the wrongs, you’ve asked the other person how you can make amends, you’ve expressed remorse and you’ve apologized. As far as i’m concerned, all of the core components of a respectful make up process have been completed.

If you still feel at fault after the situation has been resolved, I suggest giving your feelings of fault a deadline. You can’t allow yourself to continue to live in the past if the situation has been addressed and resolved. However, this is not always an easy thing to do when you are someone who tends to feel a lot of fault, or even someone who overthinks. The deadline can be however far in the future you want – it’s ultimately up to you however long you need. So long as you take the time before your self-imposed deadline to recognize your feelings associated with the fault and to make peace with those feelings. Once the deadline has come and gone, the fault stays behind with that deadline, and you move forward, with a peaceful and clear mind and conscience.

Credit – Giphy

Key Take Away:

Recognize when you are legitimately at fault, feel remorseful/bad/sorry/sad whatever other emotion you need to express and/or experience to work through the process, make amends as best you can, give yourself a deadline if needed, then move on for your sake.

Solution 5. Be Mindfully Present in Conversations

Alternative Title: Avoid ‘Boy Who Cried’ Wolf Behavior

Apologies are often (or, are) a by-product of feelings of fault.

I messed up + I am at fault = I should apologize

But as I touched upon last week, sometimes feeling of fault come about when we have no reason to feel at fault – when we haven’t messed up or done anything to warrant those feelings. Then the equation may look more like this:

I messed up + I am at fault = I should apologize

I am one of those individuals who apologizes excessively, or who apologizes for things which don’t warrant an apology.

I realized that as I became more excessive in apologizing, the less legitimate the act of apologizing and the apology itself became – it became less valuable. It’s a boy who cried wolf lesson in apologetic behavior – the more I apologized and tossed my “sorry” around, the less the apology carried true weight, and the less meaningful it felt when I apologized for something which I was legitimately at fault for.

Credit – Giphy

At the beginning of 2020, I made it one of my goals to say sorry less, to gradually reduce the times I find myself apologizing for things which do not need an apology; a goal i’m glad to report I have stuck with. I became more mindful of what I was about to say before I said it, I changed my responses so sorry wasn’t my default. As I became more mindful of when I said sorry, I also found myself being more present in conversations with others. Because I no longer allowed myself to run on apology auto-pilot, I had to ensure I was attentive to what others were asking of me or were saying. Only then was I able to focus on if my apology in the moment was really warranted (no Joyce I haven’t seen the copy room stapler, I ain’t apologizing because I haven’t seen it.).

Key Takeaway:

Be mindfully present in conversations – don’t zone out. Recognize there is power within an apology, but there is also power in playing a conscious role in knowing when to say it.

I hope you will find these solutions helpful – even just the act of writing them out for you has helped me so much and I thank you for reading. If you have solutions which you use in your own time to counter feelings of fault or guilt, feel free to share them in the comments below!