Tag Archives: inspiration

When You Have Nothing to Say

I was never really that good at writing, but it was always something I found to be therapeutic. For me, and I’m sure a lot of you reading this as well, being vulnerable was never something I was really good at either. But whenever I would journal I was able to let down the mask of “I’m fine” and expose the “for the love of God please somebody help me” side that was shameful for me to verbally express.

Now it’s been a while since I’ve written anything, and it’s because I always feel as if I have nothing of importance to say. Even writing this, all I can think is, “Ok Jess, where the hell are you going here?” So without trying to do linguistic acrobatics and paint a nice pretty picture for you all, I’ll just get right down to it.

It’s not that we never have anything to say, I think it’s that small little voice of insecurity that makes us believe what we have to say isn’t worth saying. I’ve been listening to a ton of podcasts by one of my heroes, Glennon Doyle Melton, lately. She always talks about being vulnerable, authentic and being a truth teller. If you haven’t heard her speak before I really encourage you to go find her TEDx Talk she did. Writing for me was always my way of being vulnerable. If you’ve read this blog for some time now you know this is the place where I can lay it all out there and say “here is my pile of garbage I carried around for years, I hope you like it”.

So lately, being in one of the most vulnerable states I’ve been in in my entire life (I guess living in a foreign country does that to you), I’ve been really struggling to find anything to write here. But really what it is, it’s that stupid little voice in my head saying “what you have to say doesn’t matter or isn’t important”. Ok so here’s where I get all knowledgeable and preachy. You can stop reading now if you wish….

Still here? Ok brace yourselves……..

We were all born with a voice, an opinion, a personality, and insurmountable value. We all have things that stir us up, get us excited, anger us, make us question things, and so on. So going back to being vulnerable, when we feel these things and they don’t fit in with what is “normal” to those around us, what do we do? We shut up. We don’t say a word, and we walk around making ourselves believe that we don’t have anything to say. But we do have so much to say, it’s just one of two things. Either we’re too scared to be vulnerable out of fear of being judged, or it’s because we know what we have to say isn’t something others want to hear. It boils down to those two factors.

Some of the greatest movements started and changed the lives of so many because someone took that chance to be vulnerable. If MLK never spoke out against civil rights, who knows where our country would be today. Imagine what voting rights for woman would look like if people like Susan B. Anthony never spoke up. Mental health awareness movements would be nonexistent if people let vulnerability hold them back.

Ok so I feel like I’m running out of steam here for this so I’ll wrap this up and you may continue on with your days. I probably could have just used the next sentence as my entire post:

It’s not that we don’t have anything to say, we just have that small voice we listen to that is scared of being vulnerable and authentic.

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When You Want to Start Over

How many times have you wished there was a magical redo button for real life situations? Instead of something unexpected happening, or something you don’t want to have happened and declaring it a plot twist how do we not only accept the circumstance for what it is, but move on to create the life you know you deserve? I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and not to be motivational poster type here but it all begins when you choose to let go of the rope and free fall into the ocean. So I want to share some tips for how to reboot your life without having it be dramatic because I’ve learned dramatic moves don’t improve your life, they only temporarily mask the emotions that go along with change.

1. Don’t Be Afraid To Let Things Go. For any of us, change is hard and slightly terrifying. The things we want to let go of seem to turn into treasures we no longer wish to let go of. If you were to take the time to really examine the things or people you feel should be let go, allow those strong emotions settle before making a move. In the heat of the moment we can act opposite of what we know is beneficial to our health. If it’s a person you wish to cut ties with, wait until that hurt or whatever it is you’re feeling towards them settles and is no longer like a knife to the stomach. The process of letting go doesn’t have to be some big and dramatic spectacle or outburst. The stronger the emotions towards the other person, the stronger of a reaction you’ll receive from them and down the road you may not be able to resolve that relationship.

2. You Don’t Have To Move. So many times when people think about starting over in life it involves a move to a new city where nobody knows them. Trust me, I’ve wanted to do this so many times throughout my life. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: your shit goes with you wherever you are. It’s not like a bag you can “accidentally” leave in baggage claim once you’ve arrived at your new home. I wish it were true, but even if the new area seems to have lifted your negative feelings don’t you fret, they’ll show up soon like an old friend. Sure moving may actually help some people but let’s face it, not all of us have the financial means to pick up and go somewhere else and so that leaves us having to face our shit where we are. You can still reboot your life in the same town and place you are now.

3. It Takes Time. If you really want to live a new and authentic life it won’t happen the next morning. This shit takes time, effort and a lot of discomfort. It’s all about baby steps, because as the saying goes: Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes time to adjust and make the changes you deem needed. You don’t go to a car dealership without test driving a car and make up your mind to buy it right? When changing your life to better yourself, it will take many a try to find what fits you. What works for others won’t necessarily work for your life and what you need to be happy and mentally healthy. There’s not one formula that is universal, like a lot of things it’s subjective and individualized to each person.

and lastly….

4. Not Everyone Will Understand. I think for most this is the hardest part. We have people in our lives who like us and who we fit in with because our schemas are similar. So when you try and start to change it, they won’t exactly be on board, or if they are they won’t really understand who you are becoming. It’s part of establishing boundaries and to some, making new boundaries with them can be viewed as deviant. After all, you’re deviating away from who you were in your social group to better yourself and really focus on who you are, what you really want out of life and what will give you that feeling of living an authentic and successful life. Maybe who you spend time with now have all of those things and you’ve been feeling like you’ve been living vicariously through your social circles. Don’t worry, it’s ok to spread your wings and fly in the direction you want to go. If your social group doesn’t understand it, they’ll let you know it I’m sure, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If they truly support you and care about you, the end of the conversation doesn’t have to be the end of the relationship. It can be hard and even scary to people when the people in their lives start questioning why they’re doing something different, but let it be affirmation that you’re headed in the right direction.

Ok so now that I’ve been all motivational speaker-ish, I hope this has helped even just a little bit. I may not know everything about this, but these are the little nuggets of wisdom I have and wanted to share.

Spark of Hope

“Every day is a new opportunity to change your life and be who you want to be.”

-Demi Lovato

Yesterday is gone, and we can’t walk around our whole lives looking for an opportunity to right any wrong we may have done yesterday. I try looking for new opportunities each day to grow from the person I was the previous day. The mind is a powerful thing, and if we choose to decide that we want to make a change it can be one of the most helpful things we can do for ourselves. One thing I dislike about making a New Years resolution is that many of us feel inclined to wait until the next year to begin our new journey. When the sun rises in the morning so does the chance for new opportunities for your life to start again.

 

Goal: let go of your mistakes, and look at each morning as a gift to restart your life. Today is the 1st day of the rest of your life, if you want it to be.

Spark of Hope (Feb 2nd)

canstockphoto-spark

“I am still learning”

-Michelangelo

All of life is a learning experience. There’s no age at which you have all of the knowledge you will ever have, even if you’re considered an expert in an area. The people we meet teach us the most valuable life lessons, and in a professional sense there’s always innovations that change our field. I’ve come to realize and get excited over the fact that every day I put my energy into something I have the chance to expand my knowledge in it; whether it’s school family, friends, music writing. It doesn’t matter what it is, but I keep myself open to learning.


Goal:
Try keeping an open mind this week when others share with you their knowledge. Stay humble and accept that others knowledge is neither greater than yours or lesser, but is a tool you can use to add to your toolbox of skills.

Spark of Hope (January 31st)

“Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you”

-Unknown

 

There’s a term I learned in my thanatology (study of death, dying & bereavement) class in undergraduate school called Social Exchange Theory, and in short it says we as humans act or help others in exchange for that person to return the favor. Makes sense right? I’ve found, however, that when I go out of my way to help someone or simply do something nice for someone who I know is not able to return the “favor”, I walk away with a greater sense of accomplishment or what have you. I love the “Pay it Forward” initiative you hear on the news or internet, but what if it wasn’t so stressful to continue that pattern? Instead of guilt, or a feeling of debt, why not do it because you want to?

 

Goal: seek out opportunities to help others who can’t return the favor. Donate clothes to the homeless, work at a soup kitchen, read to the elderly at a nursing home. Get outside of yourself for a moment and try giving back to the community without expecting a parade of praise or cheer.

Sparks of Hope (January 30th)

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

– Steven Furtick

 

I often find it difficult to not compare myself to others. It’s when we engage in this unconscious activity that we end up damaging our own self-identity or self-esteem in ways we never intended. Nobody has their life completely together and we don’t know what that person who we are comparing ourselves to has had to walk through to get to this present moment. On the surface they may appear to have the life or the body we want, but it’s the things lying underneath the surface that matter more. For myself, I am my own worst critic and I can look at others around me and wish to have their life because it looks so much more glamorous than mine. But that mindset is not only a delusion, but a dangerous one that can land you on a slippery slope.

 

Goal: Today instead of looking at others and being envious of what they have, think of your own journey. Write down 5 things you’re thankful for having or experiencing at this moment in your life. It’s when you learn to accept & appreciate what you have, that you can learn how to embrace the path your on and not want to be where others seem to be.

National Suicide Prevention Week

2014nspwgraphicinstaSo this post is going to be a little different than the majority of how I do posts on here.

As the title suggests, this week is suicide prevention week. I feel like the topic of suicide is still highly under the radar on the social issues topic lists. The truth is that suicide (whether successful, attempted or seriously contemplated) effects more people than anyone would probably guess it to.

Because reports are lagging in time, the last estimated suicide data is from 2011 (which is insane if you think about it). Research shows that as of 2011 there was a reported 39,518 suicides.

The AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention) had this to say:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collects data about mortality in the U.S., including deaths by suicide. In 2011 (the most recent year for which data are available), 39,518 suicides were reported, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans (Figure 1). In that year, someone in the country died by suicide every 13.3 minutes (http://www.afsp.org/understanding-suicide/facts-and-figures).

With statistics like those, is it any wonder weeks like this exist? It’s weeks like this where attention to issues such as this is brought out in social media. So instead of reading posts about Jimmy dumping Sue and how she will be “#foreveralone” because no one will ever fill that hole in her 16 year old heart; how Ramona hates her parents because she received a samsung galaxy tablet instead of the iPad; how Anastasia is having “the worst week ever” or is “sick yet again.. ugh!”, the opportunity to post something meaningful that could help someone out there gets to happen.

I guess the whole point of this post is to give information and a message. I already gave brief information so here’s the message to those reading this who are struggling with suicidal thoughts, not just this week but every day you are alive.

I know a level of your pain that consumes your every day life. I know what it’s like to not want to get out of bed in the morning. I know the demon voices inside your head screaming their taunts, showing you the evil of the world instead of the good. I know that even these words seem so pointless to you who are trapped in that ever consuming darkness called depression/ hopelessness. I know that I’m just a stranger behind a key board typing out words to a world that I will never meet the majority of; but I care about lives. 

I care about those who feel like the only way out is to leave. I care about those who see friends or family who try and help, as enemies. 

If you’re reading this and feeling any of these things, know this: 

It gets better. It takes time. It takes faith that the sun will rise sooner than we believe it will. The voice taunting you with these thoughts are lying. People love you, you just need to let them. What you want to end your life over is not your fault. They say time heals all wounds, and I’ve been finding it to be true in the long run; and believe it or not but you have so much more to offer in your life than you can see right now, you just have to fight. 

That’s Life: Labels

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
William Shakespeare

We as humans seem to need everything we know compartmentalized into tiny little boxes in which we can keep everything in their right places. On the daily we use labels, but when it comes to labeling others or ourselves even we dive into dangerous territory.

Labels come along with an annotation that people too belong in specific categories. We see it come into play, especially in places like high school and even college. I believe it’s part of our learning process as our frontal lobe continues to mature and develop until we hit the sweet old age of 25 (did my psych nerd show there?). Placing labels on people is problematic, especially when that label of an acquaintance differs from the label placed on you.

We becomes cliques, which unfortunately in most high schools (and depending on the maturity of co-workers) our work environment can turn from something meant to bring people together or at least to meet new people, into an isolating and even toxic place.

Nerd (I’m self-classified and proud!)/Geek
Loner
Weirdo
Redneck/Hick
Jock
Outcast
Goth/Punk/Emo… etc.
Prep/Beauty Queen/High Maintenance

There’s so many more labels I’m sure are out there but my mind is coming up short (thanks college!). Then there’s the labels we put on ourselves, which can come as a result as the societal labels placed on us.

Not good enough
Worthless
Failure
Average
Outcast
Alone

Again, that list could go on and on as well.

My point being that if we’re not careful, the labels we place on either ourselves or peers as naive kids or adolescents can have lasting effects on the psychological processes we could possibly face as adults. I mean, you see it all the time in regards to bullying (something I touched upon in a previous entry.. you can read it here: https://jessicasteinbach.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/maybe-its-just-me-sticks-stones/ 

I don’t mean to be all soap box preacher for this post, yet I know how labels can suck the life out of someone. They’re believable and unfortunately the most believable ones in our minds tend to be the negative ones.

But what about the positive ones? I wish I could take my own advise here when I say that it’s about time (no matter your age) to start putting more faith in the positive labels instead of focusing on the negative ones. It sounds cheesy but I have cards on my bedroom mirror with some inspirational labels. Some may call them affirmation cards, others may not. No matter the preferred name, I have found that when I take the time to really stop and let the words soak in, I feel a little less crumby about myself in times where I may be struggling emotionally.

Try it out if you want, and I hope you remember the importance of positive labels, as well as the effects negative ones have.

Maybe It’s Just Me: Regrets

Psychologist Erik Erikson is famous for his model of stages of psycho-social development; he believed that everyone goes through 8 stages of development: Trust v. Mistrust, Autonomy v Shame & Doubt, Initiative v Guilt, Industry v Inferiority, Identity v Role Confusion, Intimacy v Isolation, Generativity v Stagnation and finally Integrity v Despair.

I fear getting to the 8th stage at the end of my life and realizing I have more regrets (despair) than I do feelings of accomplishment (integrity).

We all have regrets in life. Maybe we regret not applying to that college, letting someone we love get away, not listening to our heart enough, not spending enough time with our family while we still have the chance to. Whatever it is we regret, we somehow find ourselves so inside our own heads reliving the moment(s) we wish we could take back or do differently.

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering how my life would be different if I only did X over or differently. It’s hard to accept sometimes that our past is set in stone, that there’s no taking it back. These are the things I fear I will look back on at the end of my life and have those moments overpower all the positive things I’ve done with my life. It seems as if focusing on the past failures and mistakes gives us more of an identity and defines our self-worth than all the accomplishments and success we have over the course of time.

Currently, I’m learning to embrace the small things and that everything happens for a reason. Sure, we’ll have regrets throughout life, but what I’m trying to say is that they shouldn’t define the over all quality of our life. Easier said than done right?

Do what you want to do, do what makes you happy, cherish the people in your life, don’t shy away from chasing a dream, care less about making mistakes and live your life to the fullest potential.

 

 

 

 

That’s Life: Fear

I feel like the majority of time the biggest thing that gets in our way of doing something we want is ourselves. Everything in us knows we are capable of doing what it is we desire or need to do, yet that small voice inside our heads that turns from a whisper into a scream tells us that if we do this we will: fail, look stupid, not do good enough, mess something up, etc.

I believe fear is a natural response to have as a human being. It’s unfortunate however, because this response (whether justified or irrational) can hold us back from so much in this life.

It’s easier to be afraid of something, but what we need is a little courage and faith. Faith that even if we do this, it won’t turn out as bad as we believe it could and that if it does end failing it doesn’t make us a failure and that a negative result does not reflect who we are. I know for myself 9 times out of 10 I catastrophize the end result without really knowing that it will even happen. You see, we can’t predict the future and if we are filled with a fear of the unknown we may never get to realize we have more potential and talent than we once thought.

I remember the very first time I played guitar in front of a crowd. The whole drive there I was literally trembling with fear. I wanted to turn around the instant my car drove into the parking lot, but I didn’t. I was terrified and you could literally watch my knees trembling as I stood on stage plugging in to my amplifier and getting set up. I wasn’t trusting in my talent in this moment; the fear of making a mistake and being laughed at by people was greater than my confidence in my talent of playing electric guitar.

Looking back now,I am so glad I showed up that morning, that I at least attempted it. That one morning turned into me playing for the next 6 years. If I turned the car around that morning I believe I would have missed out on pursuing my passion of music.

Fear of the unknown can be crippling, but as I said before, until we run after what we’re afraid of we can’t possibly know that the thought our fear give us are even true.

One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.
Henry Ford