Sharing is healing

Last time, I blogged about not letting insecurities paralyze me into closing off to real life. It’s still hard, and I’ll be the first to admit I do not say ‘yes!’ to everything, immediately, always. But the realization that I can decide against my initial response is incredible; it creates so many possibilities!

One thing I also mentioned last time, was how saying more yes doesn’t just create fun opportunities and possibilities, it also helps establish deeper connections to others. I’d like to elaborate on this a little.

When my friend asked me what I’d do if he told me he wasn’t feeling too brilliant and how feeling like that held him back from socializing with me, he turned my answer around. If I would come see him in that case, why do I not let someone else do that for me?

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Sharing my ‘not-best self’ is very confronting, but my guess is that anyone feels that way. One thing I learned over the past one/two years though, is that sharing isn’t just caring, sharing is also healing (Sounds so much better in Dutch though, doesn’t it Joosje?)

Where my first response is to turn inwards when I am not feeling brilliantly, doing the opposite (opening up about it) might be exactly what could help fix things. Over the past year or so, I got a lot better at sharing my struggles, but I mostly got a lot better at sharing my pást struggles. I did not realize I still had trouble in sharing what’s going on ‘in the now’ until my friend pointed out what I am really doing.

My friend got a little angry with me about this. He told me how unfair it is that I close off whenever I am feeling down, rather than to share it. Even though that might sound a bit harsh, he has a really valid point. It is not just through sharing good times that we create a deeper bond with others; it is through sharing our struggles. Our scars make us living beings, but it is our struggles that make us human. And beyond that; it is the sharing of those struggles that makes us connect with other human beings.

Not letting someone into your life when things are ‘a little less than perfect’ is compromising the (potential) relationship you (could) have with someone.

Hello, valid point!

Sharing our struggles with others makes us realize how human such struggles are; we all have them. It puts them into perspective; we are not alone. However unfair it seems that we, humans, are the only ones who seem to (mentally) struggle, it is a beautiful gift simultaneously, because it is exactly those struggles that enables us to connect with others.

Excerpt from a song by Train;

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Sharing struggles, opening up and being vulnerable is not a weakness, it’s a strength. It doesn’t make us less perfect; it makes us better. It makes us better people, it makes us better friends and it makes us better in that it helps heal us.  As I said, sharing is caring, but sharing is also healing.

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Moving beyond self-doubt

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am a thinker. An over-analyzer. It keeps me from doing a lot of things I could or even should be doing (meeting friends, meeting deadlines). This is why I decided that my word of the year 2014 would be ‘yes!’, as in, to say ‘yes’ to things more often rather than thinking in my regular ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’.

If the past month of doing so made me realize anything, it’s that doing the things I would normally dodge or cancel actually makes me feel a lot better. It’s the breaking out of my comfort zone (which, ironically, isn’t all that comfortable to start with) that creates moments that are completely worthwhile. Setting aside my doubts, anxiety and mostly my insecurity creates a space of actually ‘living’ rather than just thinking about living.

What usually kept (or, still keeps) me from going ahead and doing those things is my insecurity. As someone who overthinks everything, I create a lot of obstacles in my head that block options. Whereas someone else might experience that as difficult, for me it can feel paralyzing. Instead of breaking out, I close off to the possibilities and lock myself in self-doubt.

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Over-analysers often tend to be perfectionists as well. If we didn’t care so much about how things turned out, we wouldn’t give them so much thinking time. It’s this perfectionism that often keeps me from socializing. When I don’t feel like I’m in ‘a good place right now’, I’d rather not meet up with friends. I want them to experience my happy me, rather than weighing them down with my less-happy me. A friend of mine confronted me with this recently, by asking me what I’d do if he told me the same thing. What if he told me he wasn’t in his happy place, and that’s why he didn’t want to see me. Would I be okay with that, or would it make me want to see him even more, to help move past the negativity?

Ummm, d’oh! I’d book the first train ticket to come see him!

So why is it that I react so differently when it concerns me? Why do I not allow others to help me move past that negativity? They do not even have to know they are it; I know from experience that going ahead and saying ‘yes’ to things that make me háve to break out of my self-doubt and step into ‘real life’ are already enough to break out of the negative space.

I know everybody goes through hard times. I know nobody feels perfect all the time.

It is extremely silly to accept that as a ‘no problem!’-thing from others, yet allowing it become the main reason to lock myself away from enjoying life and all the amazing people in it when it concerns myself.

If I do not expect others to be 100% happy all the time, why do I expect myself to be so? And how did I let that translate into the silly notion that others expect that of me as well?

The thing is: they don’t. Nobody (well, except myself) expects me to be 100% perfect. Ever. Because, deep down, we all know better than that. We all know that nobody ever is. Realizing this is one thing. Acting on it is another. Moving past that self-doubt, those insecurities and that self-made pressure is not easy, but so far, it’s been worth it. Saying ‘yes’ to things has opened so many opportunities not just for fun things, but also for deeper connection. But more on that next time.

One thing I’d like to share now, though, is a realization I had: My paralyzing over-analysing is not a ‘given fact’. Yes, it is part of me, a big part of me, even. But, it’s not like I cannot work on it and go against it, if I put in the effort to do so. Being aware of this habit is the first step into moving past it. It’s not like I broke the habit and changed my persona in the past month, nor do I expect I ever will. But I did realize that, even though it might be my first response to let myself overthink and freeze up, I can decide to make a different choice and go against that initial response. And that is quite a liberating realization!

Monday Motivation / Musings

its-all-in-you

I wanted to share this, because it resonated with me.

Why did it resonate?

Because, while writing someone two weeks ago, in my mind I jumbled together the following;

‘You are exactly what, where and who you are supposed to be’.

Now, I am not calling copyright on this. I am sure other people, great minds, have written this if not similar things. But, it made so much sense. I so longer for this person (and everyone reading this!) to be able to feel that. To feel that they were just right being them. To not Always feel like having to compromise a little something here, to change a little something there. To add some, to deny some, to diminish some.

It has become so natural to so many of us to continuesly renegotiate ourselves. Who we are, what do we stand for, what do we want out of life, what is our purpose? Why, or why not did something happen? Shouldn’t we, or couldn’t we have?

If only we could grasp to this inner truth of being just right, would be such a powerful thing. As the above picture says, we have all we need to deal with all we face. Because we are enough, we are just right! And by acknowledging that, by feeling that, grasping it, we can use it. See it as the powerful burning flame inside us that it is and let it warm us up from the inside. Glow, gleam, shine, beam!

If we would use that flame inside us as a beakon of hope and power instead of continuously burning our fingers trying to manipulate it. When we stop questioning all that we are, could have been or should be. It would leave so much energy to channel in other directions.

Wednesdays words of wisdom

Apparently I am sticking to some familiar series posts right now (fun friday, monday motivations and wednesday’s words of wisdom), but I am too busy with deadlines to write a proper post. However, these words of wisdom found me at the right (vulnerable) time, so I’d still like to elaborate on them.

An arrow can only be shot forward by pulling it back. So when life drags you back with difficulties, that means it is going to launch you into something great.”

I have no idea from who the quote originated, and googling doesn’t seem to bring forth the answer. I found it on a tattoo website (I scan those religiously on down-days), and a girl had a tattoo of an arrow on her wrist. The quote was her explanation. And it struck me (no pun intended) as a wow.

An arrow can only be shot forward by pulling it back. I tend to get so hung up on the bad. How I am so down now, more than ever or whatever, and how I can’t see this ‘ever getting better’. Which, honestly, does not help the process of getting anywhere. But the downs, the setbacks, however large, are always interpreted (by me) as the worst thing that can happen. And I tend to get comfortable in the gutter instead of trying to get back up myself , or even accepting a helping hand to get me back up.

But what if the down, the gutter, the setbacks – what if they are all just a ‘calm before the storm’. The pulling the arrow back. The deep breath before a wild ride. What if it’s just a moment of preperation before the good stuff starts?

‘From the dark, you can see the stars’. I love stars, the moon, the cold crisp air the nighttime brings. I missed it so much when I lived in a 2-million people/skyscraper city. But by reading the first (arrow) quote, I realized I might be getting a little too good at making myself extremely comfortable in the dark. However great the stars are, we all need light. We are like the most gorgeous flowers. We need light to grow, to bloom and to blossom.

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So, from now on, I will try to be a bit more mindful about getting too comfortable in my gutter. About accepting a helping hand to stand up straight again. Because however great the view at the stars might be from that gutter, I, too, need some sunlight in my life. Maybe the setback is a pull back, maybe this will all launch me into something new and amazing. Maybe I’m about to fly and boom. Hit bullseye. Or whatever target or goal. Or just keep zooming. Freely.

Or, like Cupid’s arrow, touch hearts.

*Free translation; May I find some light, to live with a gleam of hope
*Exact translation; May I find some light, and live in its traces
*Made in (mid)2012 (my own, obviously)

Fairytale

Once upon a time, there was a little girl. A little  girl and a white horse.
(Unfortunately, this tale does not involve a prince who rode the white horse, but alas).

The girl had stood to admire the horse, when it shared with her its secret.

You see, this white horse might have been awfully pretty in the girls’ eyes. But where the horse was from, he was just another white horse. In the land of white horses, the white horse felt plain, self-conscious and not at all special. The girl could not believe her eyes! How could a creature this amazing think itself to be plain! Didn’t the horse see how elegant and magnificent it were?

The horse nodded. He did see all those things now. But it wasn’t until after the horse had tried to change everything about the way he looked, that he would realize how what the girl said was true.

‘When I was a young horse, I did silly things’, the beautiful horse admitted with his head down. ‘I did silly things to stand out from the other white horses.

I wanted to feel special. So I prayed and I prayed to be given wings’.

The horse was shocked that one day, indeed, he awoke with wings.

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The horse paraded around town. Horses from everywhere came to touch his wings and stare at him in awe. The horse felt wonderfully special. Finally, he thought. But only after a few days the attention wore off. The other horses went back to their day to day business and the horse, too, had to continue his doings. At night, the horse continued to pray. Oh, couldn’t he be granted greater wings? Wings that, whenever and wherever, would never fail to amaze people, however often they would see him?

Only few mornings after, he was stunned to find his wings to have grown.

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Now they were of size to -for sure!- be undeniable. The horse went out again to strut around. Indeed, the response of his fellow white horses did not let him down. He, again, felt like the most special horse the land of white horses had ever known.

Until again, after a few days business returned to usual. And the white horse found himself awake at night again, his mind fluttered with images of wings larger than life. When he finally fell asleep, his prayers had again resumed. Oh, could he be given wings that would be larger than he could possibly imagine?

Later that week, the horse awoke painfully so. When he turned his head, he found, attached to his back, wings so large, they took up all of his sleeping space. The horse carefully arose, and hurried into town.

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Everyone agreed; The horses’ new wings were the grantest and greatest wings anyone could have ever imagined. But with every step the horse took, he felt more and more self-conscious. The horses no longer just stared at him in awe, but they started to ask questions. Could he now run faster than any other horse? Could he now fly?

After a few days of practice the horse was sad to find out he could not. His new wings were too large to be of any help. They were heavy and painful on his back, they were uncomfortable to rest in his small sleeping space, and they were impractical in his day to day doings. Even playing with his friends and family had now become practically impossible due to the size of his wings.

The other horses ridiculed him. The horse stood out so much, yet he had no special powers over the others. The horse could do no special tricks. After only a few days, the horse silently cried himself to sleep. Oh how he longed to go back to his normal self, so he could enjoy the company of his close loves again.

After a few uncomfortable nights of solitary tears, the horse awoke feeling like a heavy weight had lifted from his shoulders. Or, were he to say, back. The horse was extatic to see that the large wings on his back had miraculously disappeared. He galloped into town, jumping and dancing and wiggling about. ‘Freedom!’, he felt. Freedom! He may now no longer stood out from the rest, but he did feel at peace with what, where and who he was.

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The horse looked at the girl, who stood next to him in disbelief. ‘It is not having wings that makes you more special. It is not having wings that makes you feel free’. He took a deep breath. ‘Feeling special or being free is not physically visible. Feeling special and feeling free comes from within’, he whispered. ‘We are exactly what, where and who we are supposed to be’.

When the horse gently nudged his soft nose onto the little girls’ cheeck, she woke to find herself in her bed, with the friendly face of her mother hovering over her head. ‘It is time to wake up, beautiful girl’, she smiled at her. And it was the first time the girl felt her mothers’ words to be true deep within.

*Original white horse picture by photographer Cornelie Tollens. Wings and words by me.

Wednesday’s words of wisdom

This monday I decided to do a (long due) Monday Motivation again. Today it is time for another long due series post; a wednesday’s words of wisdom.

green green grass

We all get into a slump sometimes. And oh how easy it is to stay stuck in there. Sometimes it’s just easier to convince ourselves that that is just how it is, or even how it’s meant to be. Others can recover, others can get better. Others can recover without blabla. Others are wiser. You are just blablablaBLA. It’s so easy to compare and then judge yourself. To put yourself on the lowest step of your imaginary ranking. This is life, we are all human. There is no hierarchy. We are equals.

We should stop frickin’ comparing.

Instead of pointing fingers, we should lend each other a hand.

Stop judging. Not just others, but stop judging yourself. We can continue to list out our own flaws, and flat-iron someone else’s. The irony is, the other will probably be doing the same thing. It’s so much easier to name brilliant things about someone you admire, when it is so hard to name even one amazing asset of yourself. I know the popular saying is that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. However, think about this one for a minute;

The grass is greener where you water it

Isn’t that so true? If you keep putting someone else in the spotlight, only allowing yourself to wither in the shadow, how can you expect green grass? Grass doesn’t grow in the dark. It needs both water, light and space. So why not claim it. Claim your light. Your water. Your space. Find out what makes you grow. Your essentials. You cannot grow in (self imposed) shadows, you need and deserve to be acknowledged. Loved. Your soul needs nourishment, just like the grass needs water. Your body deserves to be nourished like that too. And you deserve to claim space. To settle, to ground in. And if your space has a big fence, or a big tree, or a big whatever blocking your direct sunlight, you need to cut it down. Weed out the things depleting your soul soil. You deserve to grow and bloom and blossom

*My feet 5 yrs ago, anklet was replaced by my two ‘wedding-bands’ a year later. Pretty darn green grass though

Happy New Year

I’ll be the hypocrite with the happy mask tonight. But, even though I don’t feel like I’m on top of the world right now, please know these wishes do come from the bottom of my heart.

JUMP               SMILE

May 2013 bring many new highs and highlights. Let whatever holds you down fly, and smile while you’re at it!

Love, Sooz