The start to any journey begins with a commitment. The start to a healing journey starts with setting an intention. This mini podcast is about setting that intention so that we don’t backslide into our unwanted habits.
This is the second episode in my mini-podcast series about healing depression. I want to say a big THANK YOU to my patrons on Patreon who support my creative healing work. You can meet a few of them on the Wall of Fame page.
You’ve heard it before. I’ll repeat it as often as needed.
WE CANNOT CHANGE THE ENTIRE WORLD, BUT WE CAN CHANGE OUR SELVES.
Your power is inside your core. It is rooted in your intelligent, your compassion, your health. Each time you make some bullshit excuse and say yes to convenience over sustainability, each time you allow the hate of people like Trump and his supporters, or the greedy policy of corporate backed democrats, or that rude, gossipy person in your life push you down and hurt you and you say “I give up”, you are NOT being part of the solution. You are not living from your truth.
When you confront these decisions and people and stay strong in your heart space, you win. We all win. I didn’t want to believe that inner peace was the answer. It sounded too new age, too out of touch. Inner peace doesn’t stop a violent partner or a racist police force. But years of learning about the whole world instead of just my bubble has taught me that our personal actions are extremely powerful.
I’m understanding this message more each day. We are the problem and the answer. Together we thrive, but only if our individual self is communicating from a place of compassion and intelligence.
The Dive Deeper Self Care Challenge has begun! This will be a time to dive into that all the stuff you’ve been avoiding, uncover the roots of your pain or why you’re stuck, and learn how to practice regular self-care for you and your situation. If I can bounce back from a 17 year depression, I believe in others abilities to heal their life. During the challenge, unwanted emotions will arise because that’s what happens when we don’t practice self care or heal our traumas. Trauma lingers withing us until we heal it.
I started this challenge for a few reasons. The first reason is through my own healing and recovery work I’ve learned the importance of regular self-care. Through recovery I have learned that when I didn’t practice often enough I began to feel the negative impact in my daily routine.
The second reason is that many of us hear this message that self-care is about feeling happy and doing anything to make that happen even if its not necessarily good for us, just so we can not feel pain. Things like spending money we don’t have in the instant gratification of retail therapy, or drinking and getting high with friends so we can forget our troubles, or gambling all our spending money on chance and expecting to WIN BIG someday. It could also be working 60 hours a week to earn more money and not focus on what makes us happy from the inside out. These become unhealthy when we don’t use moderation. But by forgetting or ignoring what causes us suffering we are intensifying our problems. This is not self care.
The third reason is to guide those who are desiring to transform their life. This is for you if you really, really, really want to be healthier and love yourself or because you’re sick and tired of being sick and tried. If that’s not enough reasons for you to practice self-care regularly, how about knowing that poor mental health can cause poor physical health and shorten your lifespan.
When I was deep in my depression I had anxiety almost daily. It stopped me from doing simple things and big things like going to work, applying for jobs or college, and seeing friends. A usual anxiety attack would have me silently crying in bathroom stalls or pulled over on the side of the road in traffic. I felt a lot of shame about my anxiety attacks and never told anybody the reason why I wasn’t able to spend time with them or follow through on my goals and dreams.
Once I started recovery work for depression I learned methods to control my anxiety. I am proud to say that I haven’t had an anxiety attack in years. So, if you often feel anxious I hope this video helps you. If you would like more support, check out my free online course D.I.Y. Therapy: Healing Journey to help ease depression. If you feel called, please share what methods have helped you calm your anxiety in the comments below.
On another note, I’m elated to announce that four new patrons have joined and we are inching closer to my first goal of $200 per month. Reaching that goal will allow me to both share my online course with more people who need it and pay contributors for the bi-monthly publication of Radical.
I admit to failing in my self-love practice. I’ve been focusing on what I don’t have and what is unwanted in my life instead of focusing on what is present. A good friend called me out on what I was saying and doing. She has also been through recovery, and said that for her practicing being present on a daily basis is necessary. She is spot on. I’m always asking people if they are practicing self-care regularly. But am I? Yes and no. I practice mindfulness and positive affirmations daily, and remember to eat healthy and move my body. That’s not enough though. I need to think in the present each day. Solely from her reminder about being in the present, my mood changed. On my walk home I focused on what I have and felt the heaviness that was pushing me down lighten quite a bit.
I journal throughout the week too and that is often when I have a breakthrough thought. These aren’t always huge “Ah-Ha!” moments, but they are breakthroughs when I feel muddled. When I journal, I write everything that comes to mind and eventually it all connects together. I highly recommend journaling.
So the next time you feel stuck, do something; journal, talk with a friend, read a favorite book, break out your self-care tools and find something that helps.
If you want to dive deeper into self-care or are searching for new tools and resources, check out my free D.I.Y. Therapy E-Course. You can go at it on your own, or sign up for free and have weekly lessons emailed to you.
My self love practice includes learning about the parts of my heart I don’t understand. It’s not an enjoyable process, but I know from experience that it creates more peace in my life.
Is your self-love practice more than manicures and meditation? Are you stretching yourself?
I know how difficult it is when you don’t have a support group close by. Mine is quite scattered. I feel lonely very often, but I know that I am worth the moon and the stars. We, the lonely people need and deserve to love ourselves completely, totally, fully as much as anyone does. Keep trying and I will hold your heart in my heart.
Our world is at a tipping point of changing our global story. We are recognizing the narratives that surround us. We are becoming aware that narratives influence how we perceive not only ourselves, but other groups of people. Narratives can be positive or damaging. The story of “us” springs from many sources, history, religion, culture, education, family and community. The narrative of those who are Black/African-American is being challenged through movements like #BlackLivesMatter. The narratives of those who are LGBTQ is being challenged through political campaigns like marriage equality. The narratives of women and victims of sexual assault are being challenged through movements like #MeToo. These movements are shifting narratives from negative to positive and bringing visibility to those who are oppressed. Our global society needs to become aware of these narratives for a truly equal and healthy society.
We also need to change the narratives in our own lives. If our narrative is centered around self-hate, fear or doubt, then our stories will be filled with negativity. So, how do we change our narrative? The first step is simple. We pay attention to our actions, words and thoughts. The second step is where the real work begins. We have to dive deep into our narrative to realign what we do say and think. We have to read between the lines, search our personal history and recognize our privilege. We each have different narratives including personal and cultural. I encourage you to open you eyes a little wider and discover if your narrative is enriching or diminishing your life.
On my journey of healing from depression and trauma, I had to open up to my narrative. In recovery I learned to take control and change my narrative from being a victim to becoming my own hero. It is a challenge that I consciously choose to accept. Each time I have changed my narrative; from self-hate to self-love, from ugly to beautiful, from poor to rich; my life has improved. This is not easy. It’s been scary. I’ve had to go into my shadowy spots and relive trauma that was painful. Recovery is a process that can take months or years depending on how deep you are into addiction, trauma, or illness. The most obvious reward is a renewed sense of living.
The more obscure reward is connecting to people I never would have met and cultivating a deeper relationship with family and friends. By understanding my own narrative, I am more compassionate and empathetic to the narratives of others. The experience has been beautiful and sorrowful. In the past, learning about inequality turned me toward apathy. However, because of my recovery I can finally rise up and do something. The saying that you can’t help others until you help yourself, is truer than true. Each day I am writing my own future and holding space for others to write theirs.
I was inspired to write this post after learning about the Reclaiming Native Truth project from the First Nations Development Institute. As a grassroots activist in San Diego, CA, I meet a variety of people, but rarely meet Native Americans. Their struggle has always been present in my life because I have relatives and a few friends who are indigenous to this land. I am aware of the lack of visibility in our modern narrative, how they are portrayed in the media, and the struggles they face. This bothers me. I hope that through actions like this, others will be inspired to learn about what it means to be a modern Native American citizen. Together we can change the narrative.
As I embark on an adventure in Costa Rica, I have started journaling what I need for the next six weeks. Whether you are going on an adventure or just need more support in your daily life, I encourage you to start journaling. Write and manifest the support you need for your emotional and physical health.
What do I need to feel loved?
Am I receiving sufficient support from myself?
Which of my needs require support from others?
Who can I call for support when I feel sad or apathetic?
Which people in my network are able to support specific goals?
How can I reach out to my support system? Via phone, text, email or in person?
How much alone time do I need and how much socializing do I need?
Which self-care tools do I enjoy the most?
Do I need to set stronger boundaries? If so, where?
These are just a handful of questions that can help you focus on what you need. You don’t have to answer all at once, but the deeper you dive into your self-care/recovery work the more you benefit. This is a journal prompt you can do more than once. Bookmark this page in your journal to remind you that is okay, in fact it is necessary to feel supported and to ask for support when you need it.
Peace and hugs, Leah
If you like this journal prompt, you can read more on my Patreon page. You can have access to even more once you become a patron. Be sure to check out the rewards you can receive when you pledge $3 or more each month.
Food is so ingrained in our daily lives that it’s easy to eat without being mindful of what exactly we are putting in our bodies. This week I encourage you to pay close attention to your diet.
My diet used to revolve around three goals; eat to be full, buy the cheapest food, and buy tasty/comfort food. When I chose to spend a month not eating meat, I noticed changes in my body. For me, eating vegetarian felt better. I had more energy and didn’t feel indigestion as often. I chose to stick with a vegetarian diet. As my knowledge about food progressed, I begun to pay more attention and eventually cut out dairy because it doesn’t agree with me.
Now I choose to be more picky when it comes to what I consume. My diet revolves around three new goals; eat nutritious food, buy organic as often as possible, and be conscious of the waste created by my food choices.
Here are some notes and questions to cultivate a mindful food practice:
When eating, slow down and savor the taste and texture of your food.
Notice whether you have a preference for salty or sweet foods.
Notice how different foods make you feel.
Why are you eating? Is it because you are hungry, anxious, or bored?
Do you eat on a schedule or do you often skip meals?
Do you snack without thinking or plan your snacks ahead?
Are you eating for nutrition or comfort?
If you want to dive deeper into what you consume, journal about your food for a week or a month. Record what, when, how and why you eat, and how your diet makes you feel.
Peace and hugs, Leah
If you like this mindfulness practice, you can read more on my Patreon page. You can have access to even more content once you become a patron. Be sure to check out the rewards you can receive when you pledge $3 or more each month.
Please listen to these words. Don’t just hear them, listen.
You are whole. Deep inside you have all the knowledge you need to live healthy and loving.
I can see that truth resonating out of you. I can also see that you have forgotten. It’s okay. You are okay. I forgot too. For so long I thought I was bad, that I made bad choices, that I was unhealthy, unwhole. I thought ‘if only’ and ‘shouldn’t have’, ‘should have’ and ‘why didn’t I choose better?’. We are not bad for thinking that, but we don’t have to think that. We are okay. We are not bad, we are not wrong. We are good and we are deserving.
You are whole, but maybe part of your mind is telling you lies. Maybe your mental immune system is under attack. Maybe you are seeing things that aren’t there. Maybe you are believing things that aren’t true. I don’t know what you are going through. I can only guess and imagine your pain. Yet I know pain and depression, and what it’s like to have my mental immune system under attack. I lived in fear, depression, doubt and lies for most of my life. One day I chose to heal. I chose to be open to other ways of living. From what I can feel and see of you, it seems like you might be ready to open up to something new, something beautiful and healing too.
I will hold your hand and walk with you. I will hold your heart and love you unconditionally. Without judgement I will hold space for you to choose what you need. You are whole and deep inside you know what you need. Deep inside you know how to love yourself.