My life has been a series of hills and valleys where I’ve looked for myself in all the wrong places. I joined the Army when I was younger because my mother said I should. I stayed in abusive relationships because I feared not being loved. I wouldn’t speak up in controversial situations at work because I feared losing my job. I took too long to learn to say no and mean it. I was stressed, unhappy, and just existing from one day to the next, questioning where I belonged and with whom.
Have you ever felt that way? One of my main lessons is that there are no secrets in life. The answer is always right there in front of us – when we’re ready to see it. In case you’re having trouble, here are a few steps I took to find myself.
NIX ENERGY-DRAINING RELATIONSHIPS
There’s truth to the statement that sometimes you have to love people from afar. You don’t stop loving. What you learn is that everyone has a different stress threshold. We all have different energy levels dependent on what’s happening in our lives. And it’s better to learn that and then take steps to walk away than to ignore it and risk volatile situations, and possibly a permanent break in the relationship.
LEARN TO SAY NO – AND MEAN IT
I had to learn that I’m not a bad Nana if I don’t babysit my kids; that I’m not choosing lonliness if I don’t date just anybody; that when I say, “No thank you” it’s not being offensive to my host. People are going to ask; people are going to expect; but none of us are obligated to sacrifice our peace just to ease someone else’s stress. While there may be times when giving of our time and energy may not be ideal, those times should not need to happen frequently.
DO THINGS THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY
Go to a movie alone! Volunteer! Take yourself out to a fancy restaurant! Learn to roller-skate again! Go bungee jumping! Start a new hobby! Spend your Sunday doing
absolutely nothing. Life’s too short to cancel out the things you want to do because you don’t have anybody to do it with; because you fear judgment; your spouse doesn’t want to; or you’re afraid to take a risk. Life’s too short to wait on somebody or until your mind says, “I’m ready.” You may NEVER be ready. Just Do It! (That roller-skating one was for me. 🙂 )
SEEK OUT THE POSITIVE/ KEEP A JOURNAL
When I was in my 20’s and 30’s, I’d read Susan Taylor’s “In the Spirit,” and Iyanla Vanzant’s “Acts of Faith: Daily Meditations for People of Color” for positive thoughts. These days the internet has a virtual smorgasbord of memes and other resources to nurture positive thinking. Read! Surround yourself with positive people; and keep a journal of your thoughts and plans. When you get things out of your head and onto paper, you’re speaking it into existence.
EXERCISE TO FEEL GOOD
I discovered that when I exercised for my enjoyment, because it made me feel good, I looked forward to doing it again, and it helped me think. Forget about losing weight for a minute. Forget about forcing yourself do something just ’cause you saw it on Instagram. Find something for you: walking; skipping; roller-skating; jump-rope; trampoline jumping – ANYTHING! Just enjoy it!
Peace and blessings