Monday, July 28, 2014

10 more things to remind yourself on a daily basis

My article 10 Things to Remind Yourself on a Daily Basis is one of the most popular articles I've ever written and probably brought many of you to this little blog of mine. That, and my Tiny Buddha articles. Especially this one. (Shameless plug central)

I think it's good to remind yourself of what really matters every day, especially the bad/stressful days when you feel a lot like this.

Although sequels are rarely better than the originals, I would nonetheless like to present you with 10 MORE things to remind yourself on a daily basis in case you're looking for an extra pick-me-up this week:

1. Make sure you're meeting your needs, however big or small. 

A reader recently wrote to me to tell me that she was feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility of meeting both her own needs and the needs of loved ones who were depending on her. I want to be clear about the fact that we all have responsibilities and should look after our loved ones (something I haven't adequately emphasized in the past). The trick is to find balance. Balance is everything. While I don't support throwing your responsibilities to the wayside and thinking in terms of me, me, me, it's still important to regularly check in with yourself to make sure your needs are being met. That might mean setting boundaries. That might mean taking a vacation. That might mean writing down your priorities in order of importance. Whatever it means for you, make sure your needs are being met, however big or small. All your needs are important.  

2. Try to be nice.

In case you haven't already noticed, people can be pretty rude to each other. In fact, my last two posts had passive aggressive undertones that I'm not very proud of. Why do we have to be so snarky and cruel towards each other, whether directly or indirectly? I've recently realized that "killing with kindness" is way more satisfying than fighting fire with even more fire. People can't hold kindness against you, so just be nice.    

3. You don't have to justify your feelings. 

For the twelve billionth time, you feel what you feel for a reason. We all experience situations differently, and everyone processes emotions in their own way. If you're upset about something that someone else thinks you don't have a right to be upset about, don't waste your time or breath trying to justify your feelings to that person. You feel what you feel, and you wouldn't be feeling it if you didn't have a reason. Period.

4. Success does not equal happiness. 

I read a really great post recently, and I'd like to pass it along: Being successful will not necessarily make you happy. If you're chasing achievement and equating your self-worth with how successful you are, you will likely feel more miserable and empty than happy. Trust me. I would know.

5. Know the difference between what's worth fighting for and what isn't. 

What are you currently fighting for in your life? Is it truly worth it? Is it worth it to fight for that relationship that makes you feel like a shell of a human? Nope. Is it worth it to fight for that dream that fills you with a sense of meaning? Yep. If you're working too hard for too much, something's gotta go.  

6. You can do whatever you want. 

You are in charge of the actions you take on a day-to-day basis. If you want to read a book, read a book. If you want to take a road trip, take a road trip. If you want to adopt a dog, adopt a dog. Where there's a will, there's a way.      

7. Breaks are not optional; they're essential.

It is important to take breaks when you need them. It has actually taken me a week to write this blog post for various reasons. Had I not taken a break, I probably would've hated it and not published it at all. Your mental, physical and emotional well-being comes first. Always.  

8. Nurture your internal environment.

We all have an internal environment, and it's important to tend to it in the same way you would tend to a garden. Make sure you spend plenty of time cultivating your creativity, being alone, and engaging in activities that nurture your mind, heart and soul.    

9. Put in what you want to get out.

In other words, give what you want to receive. (I'm working on this one.) If you want love, give it. If you want a friend, be one. If you want results, earn them.   

10. Love is needed most when it's hard to get and/or give. 

This is a big one, which is why I saved it for last. You need love the most when you feel you deserve it the least, and the people who are the hardest to love are the ones who need it the most.

Have a great week!

<3 Madison  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My aversion to blaming and shaming as a motivational technique

As someone who has suffered from soul-crushing feelings of depression and self-hatred, I can't tell you how fired up I get about people who blame, shame and ridicule others in an attempt to light an unstoppable fire under their arse.

These people have an extreme superiority complex and think they're the bee's knees because of what they've accomplished. They look down on people who have accomplished less. They practically laugh in the face of common, severe, and very human problems such as depression and lack of self-confidence. These are real problems that cannot be fixed with a super lengthy and excessive speech or article about how we're wasting our lives away and need to get off our asses and make something of ourselves.

I've never been a fan of blaming and shaming as a motivational technique. That might work for some people, but it doesn't work for me. You never know what someone else is going through. There are people in the world who have a hard enough time getting out of bed in the morning, much less accomplishing something big and note-worthy. There are people in the world who take the slightest form of criticism as a sweeping and harsh judgment of their character (because it's how they're wired). There are people in the world who are still struggling to find themselves and pave their paths, and when these pretentious assholes (excuse me) dump gallons of shame on them for not having their shit together yet, it's quite detrimental to the already excruciating process of growing up and figuring out who they are/what they want as a human being.

And who are these people to blame and shame anyway? What do they know? What gives them the right to sit behind their computer screens and preach to the choir about people who aren't working hard enough or being good enough? Don't they have anything better to do than make people feel worse about themselves when they already feel bad enough?

Clearly, this is a touchy and personal subject for me. I apologize if it sounds like I'm yelling at you or something. But if you're a blamer/shamer, I encourage you to stop and think about the message you're sending out. Does shaming other people make you feel big and important, or are you genuinely trying to help? (You're not, my friend.) Did blaming and shaming work wonders on you, and are you trying to work wonders on others? (You're not, my friend.) If you had no money, no status, no success, no external validation, and no material belongings to your name, who would you be? Would you still feel impassioned by telling your massive success story and berating people who don't have a similar one? I encourage you to consider all these questions if reading this post made you angry because you do everything I described in it.

On the other hand, if you're nodding your head or saying, "AMEN SISTA," then you probably understand where I'm coming from and also feel fed up by the horribly demeaning "motivational techniques" we see popping up everywhere. So I encourage YOU to just ignore them. If you can tell that a video or article is going to ruin your day within the first ten seconds of watching/reading it, don't finish watching/reading it. Gravitate towards the resources that inspire and uplift you. If you want to rant about everything that doesn't, be my guest. (I obviously did!!!) But when you're done ranting, work on surrounding yourself with the things that DO light a fire under your arse and inspire you to be a better person.

We are all doing the best we can. I truly believe (and feel inspired by) that notion. Every person and every situation in life is different. Some people are going to be more successful than others, and that's okay. Good for you, and keep up the awesome work. Just don't go around rubbing it in everybody's face like you're the Queen of Sheba.  

We are all in the same boat. We are all human. We are all fighting the same battles. So let's stand beside each other instead of above each other, yes?

<3 Madison            

Friday, July 4, 2014

On feeling left out

Not to sound like a whiny victim (which means I'm about to sound like just that), but throughout my life, I've repeatedly struggled with getting and/or feeling left out, excluded, ostracized, overlooked, swept aside, ignored...You get the idea.

I don't generally see or hear very many people talking about the deep emotional scarring that comes with feeling like you don't belong anywhere. As a perpetual outcast, I feel the need to be a voice for all the other perpetual outcasts of the world...The outcasts who Google things like "I get left out of everything" at 2 in the morning while squinting at the results on their screen through red, puffy eyes...And then not finding anything better than a wikihow article that tells them to just get out and talk to people. (GEE, IF ONLY I HAD THOUGHT OF THAT.)

My ongoing experiences with exclusion go way back to elementary school. There was a girl in my class named LeeAnn (NAMEBOMB) and I really wanted to be her friend. That's it. I wanted to play kickball with her at recess and be invited to her secret club house meetings and talk about last night's math homework with her. I had a simple craving for her companionship, and I don't think I was weird or pushy about it at all. But alas, she confronted me one day and basically told me that she wanted to be my friend, but just didn't want me hanging around her all the time. Then she never spoke to me (or acted like a friend to me) again. BAM. RIGHT IN THE SELF-ESTEEM. And similar incidents have been taking place in my life ever since---being the third (or fourth or fifth or sixth) wheel while hanging out with a group of people, being the person who walks either in front of or behind two other people on the sidewalk, contributing something awesome or witty to a conversation only to get drowned out by someone cooler or ignored altogether, not getting invited to things...The list goes on and on and on.

The constant ostracization I've suffered has almost completely prevented me from trying to get close to people at all. If I get the slightest nugget of an inkling that someone doesn't want me in their life, I keep my distance. Or worse yet, I let resentment build up in my soul like a flesh-eating virus if I really wish they would like me and they don't seem to.

Being left out and forgotten hurts, even if you're not as ridiculously sensitive as me. No one wants to feel like the ugly duckling, waddling in the background and trying to keep up. It sucks. And it's okay for it to suck. I totally get it.

If you're currently suffering from a "nobody seems to like me" hangover, the following words of potential comfort are for you...From one fellow outcast to another:

~ Make room for the people in your life who DON'T treat you like you're nothing...even if you can only think of a couple. A couple of true friends are worth more than a million fake ones. Spend as much time with those people as you possibly can, and they will fill in the gaps that those other people will never be able to. Also, Internet friends totally count. But real life friends are better because they can hug you and hold your purse while you go into a bathroom stall that doesn't have a purse holder. (EVERY WOMEN'S BATHROOM STALL NEEDS A FREAKING PURSE HOLDER, AMIRIGHT?)

~ You have permission to bitch and moan a little, as long as you don't make bitching and moaning your trademark. I try really hard not to bitch because most people have better things to do than listen to someone bitch. But a true friend will let you bitch all you want and still validate your right to bitch about whatever you're bitching about. So the next time someone excludes you from something for the umpteenth time, feel free to bitch your little heart out. It's good for you.

~ It is okay to be angry, sad or lonely in the same way it would be okay to say "ouch" if someone punched you in the face. Being left out is like a metaphorical, emotional punch in the face anyway, so ignore all the bullshit articles and books that tell you to stay positive or choose joy when all you feel like doing is throwing darts at a picture of the person who repeatedly snubs your attempts at companionship. Do whatever YOU need to do to feel better. Go for a run until your lungs feel like they're about to explode. Write an angry letter and then delete it. Go out with a friend and vent about how horrible people can be to each other. Go to the beach by yourself and watch the waves. Eat a giant bowl of chocolate ice cream and watch re-runs of your favorite show. Grieving a friendship or relationship that never was and never will be is exactly the same as grieving a friendship or relationship that has died or faded. Feelings of rejection, anger, sadness and loneliness come along with both of those situations, do they not? So don't berate yourself for feeling whatever it is you feel. Your feelings are valid and acceptable.    

~ You can always talk to me if you're suffering through anything that has been discussed in this post. I will understand. I will let you bitch to me. I might even bitch to you and tell you about all the stuff that inspired this post---stuff that I refuse to passively aggressively blog about because I don't want to be THAT person. Believe it or not, there are people out there who will understand you and include you, and I try really hard to be one of those people. YOU MATTER TO ME.

<3 Madison

p.s. Happy birthday, America. xx