lessons learned in life

Life is filled with obstacles, but my aspiration is that my child navigates it with courage, determination, and grace. Some life lessons she will have to learn herself, but my hope is that my words can guide her along her journey:

15 powerful LESSONS LEARNED IN LIFE everyone should know

(1) Don’t be afraid to use your voice

There will always be people who won’t agree with what you are saying, and that is okay. If you believe in something strongly, keep standing by your convictions. Don’t allow anyone to diminish your feelings or beliefs. Stay true to yourself and let you head and you heart be your north star. If you are willing to follow them, they will always lead you in the right direction.

(2) This world can be a cruel place, and people may judge or comment about how you look

It is okay to take pride in your appearance, but remember that your looks should not define you. Strive for kindness. Unlike beauty, kindness does not fade with age. There will be times that it is tempting to combat cruelty with cruelty. There is enough anger and hate in this world. Allow the light within you to lead you out of the darkness.

(3) Weight is simply a number on a scale

It is easy to fall down the rabbit’s hole if you focus on those numbers. Instead, strive to be healthy. Eat fruits and vegetables and exercise. It is okay to enjoy a snack or eat a bowl of pasta. Remember to do things in moderation. Take care of your body as opposed to trying to change your body. This is a very important life lesson.

(4) You can be anything you want to be

Really. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise. Reach for the stars, and do something that you feel passionate about. It is okay to have high ambitions. Don’t allow yourself to settle for anything less than what will make you happy. Always believe in yourself.

(5) It is okay to be emotional

That may make some people uncomfortable, and that’s on them. Some may tell you to “stay strong”. Expressing your emotions is what truly makes you strong. Trust your emotions. Don’t bury your feelings or let others tell you how to feel. It is normal and healthy to express your feelings. Care. Care deeply and feel deeply. If more people were like that, the world would be a much better place.

(6) There is no weakness in forgiveness

Like everything else, this needs to be applied in moderation. Forgive those who genuinely care and respect you. There will be people who will mistake your kindness for weakness. Those people will try to take advantage of you. Don’t have those types of people in your life. People will make mistakes, and you will make mistakes. That is par for the course. Forgive yourself and forgive others. Don’t allow the weight of mistakes to crush you.

(7) Have respect and compassion for others and for yourself

Accept and love all parts of yourself. Remember to always treat others the way you want to be treated. Set boundaries and hold yourself and others accountable for respecting those boundaries.

(8) It is okay to be different

Stay true to who and what you are. It is difficult to be different in this world because there is a lot of judgment and ignorance. That doesn’t mean you should allow those types of people to dictate how you live your life. There are enough sheep in this world. Be a leader, not a follower, and always march to the beat of your own drum.

respect yourself as well as others

(9) Your body, your choice. Period.

Don’t let anyone tell you what to do with your body. Hug those you want to hug (if they want to be hugged). Kiss those you want to kiss (if they want to be kissed too). If you don’t feel comfortable doing something, then don’t do it. Just as it is better in life to say “no” rather than go along with what others say or do, the same applies to your body. You get to decide when, where and how you use your body.

(10) There are others in this world who may be afraid or unable to stand up for themselves

Just as you should use your own voice to stand up for yourself, remember to speak up if someone else is getting mistreated. Remember that saying nothing speaks volumes.

(11) Love is a gift and a privilege

So is trust. Both should only be given to those who earn it and treasure it. Love wisely, but don’t be afraid of loving. Love is the only answer in a world of endless questions.

(12) Try your best at everything you do

If you are only willing to put in partial effort, it isn’t worth any effort at all. Don’t confuse effort with perfection. Nobody is capable of perfection. Your best will sometimes be better than others, and sometimes others will be better than yours. Do the best you can and accept that your best is all you can strive for. Whatever the outcome might be, be proud of yourself for trying. I will always be proud of you too.

learn from lessons life teaches you

(13) Life is comprised of a series of choices

Often the right choice is the harder choice. Choose right over easy every time. It is worth the extra effort to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and be proud of who you are.

(14) Inevitably life will knock you down

The truth is that life is a series of curveballs. No matter the circumstance, always get back up and keep on going. Learn from the lessons life teaches you. Perseverance and believing in yourself are essential ingredients to navigate through the murky waters of life. It may feel like the world is turning its back on you, but determination and hope will always help you find your way.

(15) Remember to not just live life, but to experience it

Remember to see the forest through the trees. Have fun. Spend time doing things that make you smile. Enjoy your own company, but also enjoy the company of others. Life is an adventure, and it is up to you how you live it.

 

 

There are many lessons I have learned in life. My hope is that these lessons will remind my child (and yours) that life has so much wisdom in it, if we are open to learning from our experiences.

feeling responsible for other people's actions

I must have done something to make that person act that way…  He broke up with me, so I must not be good enough… My daughter is acting out; therefore, I haven’t done my job well as a parent…When the people in our lives fail to behave or act as we see fit, instead of making it about them, we often point the finger at ourselves. Not only do we judge ourselves for our own struggles and behaviors, but we make the way others behave and feel a reflection of us. Why do we feel responsible for other people’s actions towards us?

I GREW UP FEELING RESPONSIBLE FOR OTHER PEOPLE’S ACTIONS

I remember first feeling I was responsible for other people’s actions when I was a child. My mother would do horrific things to me and tell me it was my fault.  She would tell me that if I did what she wanted me to do, then she wouldn’t have to do those things. It was at that point that it was engrained into me that I was to blame for how others acted.

When relationships with boyfriends ended, I would go over in my head every conversation, every interaction, everything I did. I felt that I must have done something to make that person not want to be with me.

It never occurred to me that it wasn’t anyone’s fault, and that sometimes people grow apart or Aren’t meant to be.

My longest relationship outside of my husband was for four years. We were about to get engaged, but the ongoing issue in our relationship was that some of his family members were cruel to me. I was more religious than him, and they didn’t like that. When he abruptly ended our relationship, I felt heartbroken. I never stopped to think that maybe the end of our relationship wasn’t because I was damaged or unlovable, but instead because he lacked the maturity to stand up for me.

When my husband started using pills, I again felt it was my fault. Every time he would lie and tell me he didn’t use, or tell me that it was my fault he was using (addicts are very good at blaming others for their habits), I would blame myself. His actions were because of me, his lies were because of me, his usage was because of me. If I had been a better wife, had been a better person, he wouldn’t be doing this.

false judgment based on things out of our control

I felt I failed as a mom when I couldn’t control my daughter’s hyperactivity. When she started struggling at school I immediately felt that I had somehow wronged her. My initial reaction was to feel responsible rather than look at the underlying cause of the behavior.

I spent most of my life feeling like a failure because not only was I the cause of every single person’s issues, I was also the cause of my own. I made myself responsible for everyone and everything. When I put the world’s problems on my shoulders, how could I not expect to feel like I kept playing the losing hand?

It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the way we are treated is a reflection of us. To some extent that is true- we do have a say in the behaviors we accept from others. We don’t have to be around people who mistreat us or do wrong by us. Boundaries are crucial in order to protect our needs and well-being. However, the words and actions that our friends, coworkers, husbands, wives, children, parents use are their choice, and their choice alone. The only person who we should be accountable for is ourselves.

BLAMING OURSELVES FOR THE STRUGGLES OF OUR CHILDREN

Some may argue that we are accountable for our children, and to a certain extent that is true. We are supposed to teach and guide our children. We are supposed to model and teach kindness, morals, values, compassion, empathy, healthy coping mechanisms, emotional regulation, and the importance of owning up to our mistakes. However, we cannot force our children to do anything. We provide them with the map, but whether they choose to follow that path is up to them. That doesn’t mean we cannot help them when they steer off course and encourage them to stay on the right path. However, at the end of the day, we can do everything right and still they might lose their way.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the path that we think is best for our children may not be the path they feel is best. We often envision what are children will be like and who they will become as adults.

We have good intentions, but we project those visions onto our children.

For example, if you are a doctor, and your father is a doctor, and his mother was a doctor, chances are you are going to assume your child will become a doctor. What happens if your child can’t stand the sight of blood? What if your child wants to be an artist instead? 

I mentioned above how I felt I failed as a mother when my daughter struggled in school. I was able to do well in school, so why was my daughter having issues focusing? Why wasn’t she able to do what the other kids did so naturally? I felt I was to blame. When we found out she had ADHD, it shattered expectations I had. I was a straight A student, and I imagined my daughter thriving academically too. I projected who I was onto her.

That is where the answer to my lifelong question of, “Why do we feel responsible for other people’s actions, and how do we stop doing that?” comes into play. We blame ourselves for others because we set up expectations for other people. However, we cannot control how others will act. When we accept people as they are without expectations, we are able to see their choices and decisions as their own.

TAKE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS AND HOLD OTHERS ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIRS

When I put aside my vision of how my daughter should be and saw her for herself, I was able to see that she is special and wonderful just the way she is. I was able to give her the support and tools she needed to thrive. My map for her changed because I hadn’t made that map for my daughter; I made it for myself.

The people in our lives are not us. Therefore, the way they act and speak will not be the same as what we would say and do. We need to see each person as they are, good and bad, and realize that their thoughts, behaviors, emotions, successes, and failures define THEM, not us. If a person does something to hurt us, that reflects them. If a person does something that is wonderful, that is about them too. For example, I can applaud my daughter for her efforts and support and help her with her challenges, but her mistakes and successes are her own. If we can let go of the expectations we have for the people we have in our life and accept them as they are, we will no longer judge ourselves.

Here is the ultimate truth. IT WAS NEVER ABOUT US.

Just as someone else isn’t to blame for our choices, we don’t get to make ourselves responsible for other people. Codependency isn’t just about relying on someone to make us feel better about ourselves. It is also knowing that each person has the freedom to make their own choices, and it is up to us to decide if we can accept those choices. It is not up to us to change people.

Therefore, I strive to be the best daughter, sister, mother, wife, and friend I can be. I will focus on my actions and behavior instead of others. People are responsible for their choices in life, and I am responsible for mine. I will accept each person as they are, not who I want them to be. If I cannot accept the way someone treats me, then I will not have that person in my life. I try to let go of any expectations of how marriage, friendship, parenthood, and any other relationships should be, and see each relationship as it is.

No good can come from blame and judgment. It does not change the current situation, but only causes feelings of shame and guilt. I cannot promise I will never judge myself again. Old habits are hard to break. What I can promise is that I now know that in acceptance of others and myself I can let go of judging myself. I see others as they are and I see myself as I am. None of us are perfect, but I am proud of who I am becoming, and I am proud of the people in my life- just as they are.

 

toxic positivity is harmful

Gratitude jars. Gratitude journals. Stay positive. Stay strong. It could be worse. Focus on the good in your life. Positive vibes only. Choose  happiness …. These are all things that we do and say to be mindful of the importance of positivity. We remind ourselves and others to see the glass as half full rather than half empty. Positivity is a good thing, but is there such a thing as too much positivity? That is where toxic positivity comes in, and it is harmful to your mental and emotional health.

What is Toxic Positivity?

Toxic positivity is the belief that the way to cope with any situation is by putting a positive spin on it. Everyone has their own feelings, and one person’s circumstances may seem minimal to another. However, positivity should not be forced upon someone due to different perspectives. Toxic positivity is harmful because it prevents a person from focusing on their painful or negative feelings and/or experiences. If thoughts and/or comments minimize, deny, or invalidate one’s feelings of emotional pain and duress, it is toxic positivity (www.medicalnewstoday.com, 2019 ).

What are signs that you are suffering from toxic positivity?

  1. Burying your actual feelings
  2. Believing that those who act positive all the time are stronger
  3. Dismissing emotions or things that are bothersome
  4. Feelings of guilt for your emotions
  5. Minimizing feelings/emotions
  6. Urging others/yourself to be happy no matter what
  7. Giving unsolicited advice and trying to change a person’s perspective about their feelings/emotions
  8. Criticizing others/yourself for feeling emotions that aren’t positive (www.thepsychologygroup.com, 2020)

Why is Toxic Positivity Harmful to Your Mental and Emotional Health? 

(1) Causes Feelings of shame

If we are told that we should always have a positive outlook, that sets us up to believe that our feelings are bad unless we feel positive. This promotes feelings of shame and guilt. We will feel shame for how we are feeling because of being judged by others.

(2) Makes unpleasant and difficult emotions bigger and more difficult to handle

When we deny, suppress emotions, and/or keep feelings to ourselves, this only puts a temporary band aid on our pain. Although we may put on a façade of being fine, that doesn’t mean that we are okay on the inside. We all need a healthy outlet to express ourselves and address our feelings. If feelings are suppressed, they will eventually come out in one form or another. Those feelings may become intensified because of the time that was spent avoiding it. One also may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms.

(3) Lack of connection 

If we feel judged or feel shame for our feelings due to toxic positivity, we may choose to hide those parts of ourselves. This results in  superficial relationships  where we only show certain sides of ourselves. As a result, relationships are disingenuous and lack honesty and intimacy.

(4) Lack of communication

Communication may be limited due to a lack of support and validation for feelings other than pleasant ones. Discussion would be selective instead of a true connection where you can be yourself with others. Additionally, problems and concerns cannot be solved if they are not acknowledged and addressed.

(5) Underestimate abuse

If we don’t allow ourselves to acknowledge our hardships, we are more likely to stay in abusive relationships and toxic situations.

(6) Low self-esteem

Toxic positivity causes us to feel badly about our feelings and emotional responses, which in turn makes us feel insecure and lack confidence.

(7) Less likely to seek professional help

If we are burying our feelings, we will not get the help we need to work through them.

(8) Psychological difficulties

A lack of processing our feelings can cause prolonged grief, increased stress, increased substance abuse, and PTSD (healthline.com, 2020). A study found that people who avoid acknowledging emotions damage their psychological health (washingtonpost.com, 2019)

tips and strategies

toxic positivity tips and strategies

(1) Accept difficult emotions

As I discussed in my it’s okay to not be okay post, it is necessary to recognize that negative and/or unpleasant emotions are normal. We are not going to be okay all the time, and that is part of life. Show acceptance for how you are feeling by acknowledging your emotions. Instead of trying to force them away, allow yourself to feel however you feel. Writing down your feelings is a good way to process them and helps us to better manage them.

(2) Validate and reinforce other’s feelings

Encourage others to speak about their feelings, and do not avoid conversations that make you feel uncomfortable. Do not try to fix someone else’s problems or feelings or offer unsolicited advice. Instead, show support and empathy. Reinforce that you understand how they are feeling and ask how you can help them. Sometimes having someone validate your feelings is all a person needs. Remember, you don’t need to feel the same way that they do in order to show support and empathy. Validation is about acknowledging how they feel without judgment.

(3) Give yourself compassion

When you are experiencing difficult emotions, give yourself the support and compassion that you should show others. Judging yourself will only cause you to run away from your feelings.

(4) Take the time to care for your well-being

Having a self-care routine allows you to take time for yourself and prioritizes your mental health. This ensures that you are in tune with your feelings instead of ignoring or minimizing them. Self-care is not a cure for negative feelings, but it helps you to be aware of your emotional and mental needs.

(5) You can feel opposing feelings

As someone who has chronic anxiety, I know firsthand that I feel anxious while also feeling grateful. One does not supersede or replace the other. We all have a range of emotions and feelings, and we can feel more than one at the same time. Recognizing that it is okay to feel opposing feelings allows us to better manage our emotions. It is important to accept how we are feeling while seeking healthy coping mechanisms to process those feelings/circumstances. Some emotions will linger more than others, and that is okay. Healthy positivity means feeling authentic emotions, whatever they may be.

(6) Set realistic goals

Instead of suppressing emotions, set reasonable goals that focus on behavior rather than emotion. For example, if you like Pilates, set a goal to do Pilates a certain number of times that week. We cannot and should not try to control how we feel, but we can choose activities that promote mental wellness and feelings of accomplishment.

(7) Set boundaries

What makes positivity toxic is when it is forced upon you so that authentic emotions are being discouraged. If you speak to someone who is promoting toxic positivity, either disengage or let the person know that you don’t agree with that message. We cannot control what others do, but we do get to choose our company.

(8) Be selective with social media

Social media is great for many reasons, but it often showcases only the happy and positive aspects of our lives. Comparing ourselves to others can make us feel shame, and it also promotes an outlook of only positivity. Recognize what is harmful for you and stay away from pages or websites that encourage toxic positivity.

(9) Seek support

Instead of keeping your feelings to yourself, find family, friends and/or a professional that is supportive. Talk to them about how you are feeling and when you are struggling. Surrounding yourself by people that encourage your feelings, good or bad, will help combat toxic positivity.

(10) Avoid labels

Instead of labeling emotions as good or bad, try to see them as messages. They are there to show you what you need and how to make sense of experiences. I remind myself often that my feelings of anxiety are not good or bad. Remember that however you are feeling, those feelings do not define you (healthline.com, 2020).

 

 

final thought

The pandemic has brought about a world of uncertainty and fear. We have all had our lives disrupted, and many of us have lost loved ones or are facing economic hardships. It is okay to try to see the positive side of things, but those feelings cannot be forced. Toxic positivity is harmful for your mental and emotional health, and we need to put an end to it. Allow yourself to grieve and feel your emotions, whatever they are. Be a safe person for your friends, family, and loved ones.  We cannot make difficult situations better, but we can support one another.  That makes all the difference.

 

how it feels to have adhd

My 8 year-old daughter watches me write often. She requested to write a post about how it feels to have ADHD. The following is written in her own words (with some spelling and grammatical assistance) on behalf of parents and children who live with ADHD. She also provided some strategies she uses to help her.

HOW ADHD MAKES ME FEEL

Hi. My name is Brielle. l am eight years old, and l am about to tell you how it feels to have ADHD.

I started to realize I had some difficulty in school when I was in Kindergarten.  l had a really hard time understanding number bonds and how they worked. I was confused and couldn’t do schoolwork on my own. The other kids during learning center would sit at the desks and do their work, but I couldn’t do it.  I had a hard time understanding new things because of trouble paying attention. I would think about other things. The teachers thought I didn’t know anything. I would go home, and my mommy would explain things to me a few times before I understood it. I was able to learn number bonds because my mommy taught it to me. She was able to teach it to me in a way that made sense to me. 

My mommy now homeschools me. When my mom is teaching me l still have trouble focusing. l am still thinking about many things all at once. A lot of times I rush through my school work and I don’t want to double check to make sure I did it correctly.  I just want to finish everything quickly.

Having ADHD makes me feel like there is constant noise going on in my head.

The next day l don’t remember the things l just learned the day before.  My mommy has to review what I already learned.  ln kindergarten everyone else would do their work when the teachers told us to do our workbooks. l had no idea what to do. l felt confused all the time. l like my mom as a teacher because she explains things to me well and helps me to understand.

I AM HYPER ALL THE TIME AND MY MIND IS ALWAYS ACTIVE

When l am hyper I’m often rough with my cats and my dog. l will sometimes jump on the couch and on people. I run around and get hurt. I have a hard time stopping myself. My body is always full of energy.

l never get tired.  l could get three hours of sleep, and l would not be tired. I get sick often because I don’t get enough sleep. 

At night I think about a lot of things, so I have trouble falling asleep. I leave my room many times to go into the hallway. Sometimes I have to go to the bathroom, but other times I feel like I have to go but I really don’t. It’s hard for me to get comfortable.

It can take 1-2 hours for me to fall asleep once my mommy leaves my room. When I wake up in the middle of the night l stay up and go to the bathroom every few minutes or l go play with my cats. No matter what time I fall asleep I will wake up the same time each morning. l think l do that because it is so hard for me to sleep and I’m bored.

Sometimes my brain tells me to lie and to do the wrong thing like climb on countertops and sneak downstairs during the night.

my mommy tries to help me to stop and think before doing something, but I always act first.

I understand that doing some of those things can get me into trouble. I’ve gotten hurt a lot because I always run around, and I fall many times.  I still do it anyway because my body acts before I am able to think and stop myself.

 

TECHNIQUES THAT I USE TO HELP MANAGE MY ADHD

techniques i use to help manage my adhd

I try to tell myself, “l am going to fall asleep.” Many times that doesn’t work for me because I’m not tired. That is what having ADHD feels like. It can make sleeping very hard sometimes. l wear an eye mask, and l try to imagine things that make me happy when I’m lying down. That is helpful sometimes. Maybe it can help you.

You will have ADHD forever and you cannot change that, but what you can change is what you are doing now.

Putting my feet on the wall and listening to yoga music relaxes me. You can do that along with your kids if they are hyper. My mom does that with me and it helps. If you have a child with ADHD, this is helpful to calm down and focus. My mommy calls it a legs up the wall pose.

Sometimes when I am hyper, I go into my playroom and push on the wall for 20 seconds. I also run laps pretending that there is a wolf chasing me.

During school when I am having trouble focusing, my mommy gets my attention and says, “1-2-3, eyes on me.” She also tells me to put on my listening ears and my looking eyes. That gets me to pay attention, and then I am able to listen to her explaining things to me. She will give me breaks when I need them, and she sings songs about what I’m learning to help me remember things.

My mommy also gives me reminders to always double check my work before handing it in. When my body tries to tell me to do something I shouldn’t do or I try to rush through my work, I tell myself and my mommy tells me that ADHD isn’t the boss, I am! 

I have two favorite breathing exercises to help me calm down. One is where I start by squeezing my feet and let it go, then my legs, then my tummy, chest, arms, and face. At the end I squeeze my entire body at the same time. The second exercise is what my mommy calls 4-7-8 breathing. You take a deep breath in and count in your head for four seconds, then hold your breath for seven seconds, then let out the air for eight seconds. You can do this as many times as it takes before you feel relaxed.

There is an area of my room that my mommy calls my calming corner. I go into my room and squeeze some of my toys to help me calm down. Sometimes I jump up and down, which gets some of my energy out. I also have a bean bag chair that I throw myself onto. My parents put or roll heavy things on me (my weighted blanket or an exercise ball) to help calm my body down. That helps me to relax because I like the pressure on my body. They also sometimes give me big squeezes to help me calm down.

Since I have a lot of energy, I like to go outside a lot. When my parents take me outside, I run around and I go on my scooter and swing. This helps me because I like fast rides, and it relaxes me a little bit. 

NO MATTER HOW ADHD MAKES YOU FEEL, KNOW THAT YOU ARE NOT ALONE

For other kids that have ADHD, you are not the only one. There are many other children who have it and have to deal with it like I do. I understand what goes on and how it makes you feel, but it’s just something you have. It’s not who you are. 

So read this post and tell your kids to read this. I want them to know that they are not the only ones who have ADHD. I have ADHD and I understand. They are not alone. This is what it feels like to have ADHD. I hope this will help parents understand what their children have to go through every day.

Thank you for reading my post!  My mom writes to try to help people. Please share my post so that I can help many people.  If you or your kids have any comments or questions then leave a comment or send an email. Don’t forget to subscribe to my mommy’s blog!