1) Be true to who you are (AND accept it!) These are two very separate things. You can be true to who you are, doing what you wish or like, yet not be okay with it. I personally have struggled with this. I am who I am and I know that I can’t force myself to change, but, I have been feeling as if I need to change. My example: my personality, i.e. being more of an introvert and feeling like I should be more of an extrovert. For so long I felt like I needed to be more social, more outgoing. I felt odd for not being that way. I also, too, felt like I put a lot of pressure on myself to be someone other than who I am. Especially in relation to my ED. I think I felt that when I was in recovery/recovered, I would need to be this social butterfly, very outgoing, personable and social. My ED kept me isolated and closed off and I felt that to truly be recovered, I would need to be this very outgoing person. Granted, I am a lot more social than I was when I was really sick, yet realistically, I am just not going to have a complete change in character “on the other side” and I’m finally accepting that.
2) Be patient with yourself. Oftentimes it can be easy to get frustrated with ourselves, to wish we did ‘xyz’ better or that we could achieve more, do more, etc. Yet there is absolutely nothing that can be gained by being impatient with ourselves. If anything, it only makes things harder on ourselves and makes us look down on ourselves. Patience, though hard to have at times, is necessary…especially when dealing with obstacles that come our way. I know for me in recovery, I have lost a lot of patience with myself, time and time again. I assumed or thought that I should be much farther along in recovery, or that I should just be ‘over it’ by now. Yet, that is unrealistic. I was putting way too much pressure on myself and minimizing the reality of the situation. But by putting that pressure on myself, it essentially made the whole recovery thing that much harder. By quantifying what recovery should be and comparing it to where I was, I made myself lose hope. Yet, when I really stopped and took a minute to step back, and to practice patience with myself, I started feeling a lot better about where I was in recovery and how I was doing. And I actually started feeling a lot better about myself in general, which translated to me working harder in recovery…and really pushing myself that much more.
3) Make time for the people you love. It doesn’t matter how much time you have to give, but just give it freely. I am fortunate that I have my family and close friends very close to where I live. My parents literally live just a few minutes away from me. Yet, the sad reality is, we rarely spend any time together at all. I’m busy during the week with working full time during the day, and evenings are usually busy too, or just time I usually spend doing my own thing. Yet, I really stopped to think how if/when something happens to my parents, I don’t want to look back and realize that while they lived so close to me, I was too busy to spend time with them. I know I’d have regrets about that. So I decided to start making changes. I think a big reason, too, why I wouldn’t spend that much time with them was because I had a lot going on…and felt that I would need to devote hours upon hours with them at a time. I’m finding that that isn’t necessary. Even something as simple as stopping over for 15-20 minutes, just to talk for a little bit, is better than nothing. And so, lately, I’ve really been making that a priority. No matter how busy I am, there is always, always a few minutes to spare here and there. When I can give them more time, I do. But when I only have 15 minutes to spare, I give that to them too. The same thing I believe should carry over to other people in my life who really mean a lot to me; who I truly love and value. I never want to look back and regret how little time I spent with the people I love. Again, it’s not about how much time I spend with these people, but how often, and the quality of the time that I spend with them. It also shows that you really want to be with them, too.
So take that time, whether it be 3 hours on a Sunday afternoon, or 10 minutes after work on the way home.
4) Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want/need. I think for a long time I really had difficulty in really being honest and asking for the things I needed from other people. It may be because I didn’t want to feel/seem needy or like I couldn’t handle things on my own. Maybe I didn’t want to come across as weak? I know I definitely didn’t want to ever be viewed as a burden. Either way, for the longest time I had a hard time really being straight with people and asking people for certain things. In talking with my therapist, I’ve realized that sometimes you just need to be very straightforward about what it is you need. You can’t expect people to always know what it is you want or expect from them. You just need to simply tell them. Yes, it may be hard to do at first. But it’s essential. Otherwise you will never get what you want or need from others, and conversely, they will never know what to give to you or what you need from them. Be upfront and it will only benefit you in the long run.
5) Let go of things that have happened/you’ve done in the past. How often do we tend to hold onto things we’ve done in the past or things that others have done to us in the past? We all do it. It’s so easy to do, too. Yet, if we have this mindset or mentality, we’re only keeping ourselves stuck. There is no good that can come from keeping our mind focused on all the wrongs that have happened or all the mistakes that have been made in the past. We will only keep ourselves stuck there…with the inability to move forward. We can become so weighed down by those things from the past, that we simply can’t ever shift our focus to the present, or even more so, the future.
6) There are things more important than exercising. I know I am not the only one who has had the mentality that it is important to exercise every.single.day. I oftentimes only felt like I had a good day if I got some sort of exercise in. I’d also use my workouts to dictate what I could or could not eat on any given day. Exercising slowly but surely started to be a priority in every.single.day. If I couldn’t exercise because something else came up, well I’d just have to switch things around to accommodate and to make sure I could exercise; even if that meant missing out on a fun time with family or friends. I’ve learned that not only is it okay to take days off, even days that you had planned to exercise on, but it’s a good thing. If you are living your life for your workouts or letting your workouts dictate what invitations you choose to accept or decline, that is a problem. Again, there is nothing wrong with working out and being healthy, but you need to find a balance. Also, let yourself have rest days. There is nothing wrong with taking time off from working out. Actually, it is really important to do so. It allows your body time to rest and recharge. Being healthy and living life also includes spending time having fun and making time for the unexpected.
7) You don’t have to justify or explain who you are and why you are the way you are to others. This had been a very hard thing for me. I felt like it was necessary for me to explain why I was the way I was. The perfect example is my personality. I am more of an introverted person, that is just simply who I am. Being an introvert can often be construed as either being bitchy, snobby, or closed off. I often always felt like people got that impression from me, or assumed that I was a bitch/snob/closed off person. So whenever I could, I felt I needed to explain to people that ‘I’m just shy until I get to know someone!’ or ‘I’m just a quieter person’. But I realized something lately…I don’t have to explain myself. I am simply an introverted person…and that is okay! I am not a bitch, I am not a snob, nor am I closed off. If people want to assume that about me, that is their choice. But I don’t have any reason nor need to explain why I am the way I am. You will never find an extroverted or more outgoing person have the need to explain why they are an extrovert, so why should I have to explain why I am the way I am?! Exactly; I shouldn’t have to.
Lately at work I had found myself needing to justify who I am. We have two new girls in the department and I am not the type to be very outgoing and social. Nor am I the type of person to ask to go to lunch with them or take the intiative in going out for drinks after work. So I caught myself a couple weeks ago, telling one of the new girls that I’m just really shy until I get to know people. That statement alone isn’t a bad thing to say. Yet, my motivation or reason for doing so was. I felt like the two new girls had made assumptions about the type of person I am and that I needed to “defend” myself. Now I see that I don’t have to do that anymore. It’s a great feeling. I’m finally learning to accept the type of person I am, not feel like I need to change it or justify it, and am finally just okay with being me.
Can any of you relate to these ‘life lessons’?
Have you had to learn any life lessons the hard way?