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How Journaling Can Help
Journaling can be a wonderful way to discover yourself. Journaling is a record of your feelings and perceptions at a certain point and time. You can learn a lot about yourself when you pose questions that challenge you to be truthful about life events. Some people don’t know where to begin, so I’m providing 50 journal prompts.
Years ago, my psychologist encouraged me to write in a journal. I was surprised at my emotional arch while writing. It was awkward at first. It makes your feelings real and tangible. Putting it down on paper challenges you to face how you really feel about something. Subsequently, it brings hidden and undiscovered feelings to the surface. In short, writing helps you to process those emotions.
To clarify, you can start journaling by simply writing about your day. However, there may be times when you may have an uneventful day or simply don’t need to write about it. That is where journal prompts can be valuable. Here are 50 journal prompts to get started!
How to Get Started
You don’t need anything fancy. Ordinarily, some people like myself, love using a beautiful notebook in which to write. However, you certainly don’t need that. A simple spiral notebook is all you need! That said, maybe you don’t care for actual writing. No problem! These days, there are lot of digital options. For example, the iTunes app store has great digital journals like Momento, Daylio, and Day One Journal.
50 Journal Prompts
Describe your earliest childhood memory
What do you want your children to remember most about you?
Who do you want to be in five years
What are three things you would do if you weren’t afraid?
Where would you live if money wasn’t an object?
A moment you wish you could change
What do you love most about your hometown?
How do you picture retirement?
Something that still hurts you.
What were you doing ten years ago?
When were you most proud of yourself?
Write a list of 25 things that make you feel good.
Describe a time you learned from a mistake
What was your first impression of your significant?
Who do you look up to right now?
What scares you most about dying?
Write about your first kiss.
Describe your best memory of your maternal grandmother.
Give your younger self advice.
Recount a time you were falsely accused of something.
What do you love most about your hometown?
How do you picture retirement?
Something you wish people knew about you.
Write about your greatest childhood fear.
What would be used against you if you ran for political office?
Something that still hurts you.
What were you doing ten years ago?
Explain how you’ve changed in the last year.
Recount at time you most proud of yourself.
Describe a time you learned from a mistake
Detail a nightmare that still disturbs you.
If you were president of the United States, what would you change?
Write about someone who is difficult to get a long with in your family.
What was your first impression of your significant other?
Who do you look up to right now?
If you could speak to someone you’ve lost in death, what would you tell them?
Express what scares you most about dying.
Write about your worst habit.
How do you feel about your marriage / relationship?
What advice would you give your younger self
Write a “letter” to someone with whom you are angry. What would you say?
When was the last time you were angry?
What needs forgiving in your heart?
Recount the first time you defied your parents.
Describe what it was like to be a child of your decade (60’s, 70’s, 80s, 90s)
Are you struggling with self-esteem and confidence? Maybe you are disappointed in yourself or struggling to forgive yourself. In those moments, it helps to remember who God says you are.This year, I’ll be offering a monthly scripture reading plan. Join me for the January Scripture Reading Plan: Identity In Christ
Today, I’m sharing something close to my heart – our identity in Christ. I wish I could say that 2018 had been kind to me, but honestly it was a hard year. First, I had a complicated pregnancy, followed by a hard birth and my son’s club foot treatments. Secondly, I’ve had severe postpartum depression. Lastly, I experienced a toxic friendship which ultimately left me without friends or my beloved mom’s support group.
Harsh words were exchanged and sadly, the situation made me question every aspect of my personality, my qualities, and my identity. In those moments, we can believe the enemy’s lies or we can choose to remember our identity in Christ.
Losing Our Identity
It is very easy to get caught up in what the world thinks about you. Our image and reputation becomes important to us starting as children. It’s formed by assumptions, accusations, criticism, popularity, and rejection. Soon, it becomes our inner voice and how we see ourselves. It’s the ground work for insecurity, negative self-talk, and low self-esteem.
Maybe a parent or teacher didn’t think much of us. Those words have a way of haunting us even years afterwards. But here is the good news. Our non-Christian identity is not our true identity.
The world is quick to label us. For example, the world says I’m a woman. I’m a minority. I’m middle class. The world has called me a “know-it-all,” fat, an overachiever, and condescending. According to the world, I’m not normal because I have bi-polar. The world will say I don’t measure up and that I’m unworthy of love and acceptance. Maybe you have heard similar things. But your identity in Christ is far from what the world thinks.
God’s Unstoppable Love For Us
The beauty about our identity in Christ is that it is not dependent upon our accomplishments or failures. The love and acceptance we have in Christ is not dependent upon us or our deeds. It is freely given by a loving and perfect God.
It’s hard to remember, especially when we don’t have the love of the world. After all, if people can’t love us as we are, how can a perfect God? He sees everything I do. He watches me when I’m haughty and self-righteous. He knows when my tongue goes from surly to downright venomous.
Thankfully, God does not love as people love. His love is unconditional. He loves us even when fail to measure up. Mankind revokes grace and mercy when we repeatedly fail. But His grace is new every day (Lam 3:22-23).
Certainly, I have asked if God truly loves me at my worst. Isn’t that what we all want to know? How much does God love us and does He love us when we fail at everything we touch? When Paul asks, “can anything separate us from the love of Christ,” haven’t we all wondered that?
The apostle Paul professes in Romans 8:38-39 (NLT):
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Enemy’s Voice
People are going to say mean, hate-filled things to us and over us. We will never be able to stop people from doing that, but the enemy will try use it against us. He knows how insecure we can be and therefore, he will remind us of every fault, mistake and flaw to keep us trapped in a web of self-loathing. He wants us paralyzed, convinced we are unloved.
It’s almost embarrassing to say, but I was there. Over the last several months those words haunted me every day. I truly felt hated – like I was the worst person alive and I just wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out. That’s just what the devil is hoping for too.
The enemy wants to steal your joy, kill your confidence and destroy your spirit. He wants you broken, confused, defeated, desperate and exhausted. Christ however, wants to give you goodness and give it in abundance. If you doubt that for one second, read John 10:10:
The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life and have it to the fullest.
God has good plans for us (Jer 29:11). To clarify, this does not mean we never experience hardships or cruelty from others. It means those things no longer have power over us.
Remember this – no matter what someone calls you, no matter what someone says you are – God says different!
Who God Says You Are
Finding these scriptures was a fun exercise, because honestly, I could have done this for a year! The more I read, the more excited I get.
God says you are:
Anointed (1 John 2:27)
His child (1 John 3:1-2)
Accepted (Rm 15:7)
Included (Eph 1:13)
Forgiven (1 John 1:9)
Justified (Rm 3:24)
Adopted (Eph 1:5)
Blessed when you come and go (Deut 28:6)
An oak of righteousness (Is 61:3)
Marked with His Seal (Eph 1:13)
Chosen (1 Pet 2:9)
Fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13)
Worth dying for (Rm 5:8)
A conqueror (Rm 8:37)
A soldier in the army of Christ (2 Tim 2:3-4)
Ordained and Sanctified (Jeremiah1:5)
A citizen of heaven (Phil 3:20)
Appointed (John 15:16)
His heir (Eph 1:11)
Free (Heb 9:15)
A priest (or Priestess) (1 Pet 2:5)
Redeemed (Is 44:22 / Ps 111:9)
Precious (Is 43:4)
A Saint (Eph 2:19)
An Ambassador (2 Cor 5:18-30
Without blemish (Col 1:22)
A temple of the Holy Spirit (1 For 6:19-20)
Reconciled (Eph 2:8-9)
Feel better? Me too.
Though my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will take me in. (Psalm 27:10)
The post January Scripture Reading: Identity in Christ first appeared on My Beautiful Mess
Join me in February for Love and KindnessScripture Reading. In the meantime, learn more about making wellness a priority in the post 30 Day Wellness Challenge
Learn how to avoid failed resolutions and get goal setting ideas with the help of a free printable and 100 Goal Ideas for the New Year
(Photo Courtesy of Unsplash)
Goalsetting. It can be a daunting task. Some people avoid making resolutions altogether because they didn’t accomplish them in the past. If you’re looking to set goals, but don’t know where to start, I’m going to give you some hints on how to achieve them and 100 Goal Ideas for the New Year.
Deciding to Change
First let’s be honest. January 1 is not a magical day. Neither is Monday, for that matter. The truth is, you can begin where you are right now. I think humans are innately inspired by organically occurring changes, like seasons or the new year. Certainly, there is something about the newness of Spring coming and the desire to become clean and organized.
Once fall starts, it seems like we are perpetually busy – even more than the rest of the year. It’s a constant stream of obligations, parties and events. Therefore, finding time to create habits in an already frenzied season, is extra challenging. Many people are discouraged by that and consequently choose to wait until the New Year to begin.
Changing Your Mindset
Our brain is a recorder. It remembers how we handled commitments and resolutions in the past. If you never buckle down and finish anything, your brain remembers that and it prepares to be flaky. If you have failed at goals in the past it might be because your drive is based on motivation rather than commitment. Motivation is temporary. It fizzles out. It’s based on feelings. Commitment is different. Commitment means that you do something regardless of how you feel. It isn’t dependent upon inspiration.
That’s why keeping small commitments to yourself is so important. You may not realize it, but you are creating a habit. Following through on obligations not only builds integrity, it builds character and it creates the habit of accomplishing things. If you habitually flake out, you’re programming yourself to be a quitter. I used to have this problem. To be clear…I was lazy. I put as little effort as possible into things and I constantly backed out of obligations.
People who know me now, might find that hard to believe because I’m the exact opposite today. These days, I’m often called an “overachiever!” But that is because at the age of 23, I decided to change that deeply rooted flaw.
How To Set Goals
If you’ve ever worked in a corporate setting, you’ll often hear about the acronym S.M.A.R.T. Initially, I rolled my eyes at another corporate buzz word. But over time, I have found it to be incredibly helpful when it comes to setting goals. S.M.A.R.T. Basically asks the questions: Who? What? How? When?
Goals should be specific. Being specific helps you map out exactly how you plan to get to the desired result. For example, instead of saying, “I want to be healthy,” break down exactly what that means to you. Does it involve losing weight? If so, how much? Does it mean cutting out carbs or replacing soda for water? Maybe it means you work out 3-4 times per week. Be specific about what it is you actually want.
When I decided I wanted to be a cleaner person, I made a list of what that meant. Where was I habitually messy or lazy? For me, it meant putting things away immediately after I used it. It meant doing the dishes every night. No excuses! It meant putting my clothes strait into the hamper instead of leaving them on the floor or draped over something. What specifically do you want to change?
Goals should be measurable. You should know when you’ve reached the end. You should also know if you are making progress. I have found the best way to do this is by writing goals down and finding someway to track progress.
First, if you have a large goal in front of you, I suggest breaking them down into smaller milestones. Secondly, consider there may be many ways to measure your progress. For example, if your goal is weight loss consider tracking inches and dress sizes as a way of measuring your progress. Some weeks the scale may not move, but your tape measure will!
This should go without saying, but your goal should be attainable. No, I’m not trying to be a dream killer. I want you to dream big! Seriously, set your sights high! But lets be clear. Dreaming and goal-setting are not the same thing. Goal setting is about mapping out a realistic way to attain that big dream!
To clarify, let me get personal for a minute. My dream, my big dream is to grow this blog you’re reading. I want it to become my full time job! That’s good, but first I need to set some attainable goals. Subsequently, my goals should be to grow readership and commit to an editorial schedule. Goals should stretch you, but should also be within reach.
Lastly, consider obstacles. What stands in the way of obtaining your goal? Perhaps you tried before in the past. What caused you to fail before? If it’s time management, think about how you will prioritize your schedule. Create a “plan B” or give yourself options for when you get stymied. In other words, if you are prepared for obstacles beforehand, you’ll be less likely to give up when they stand in your way.
Relevant simply means that it is germane to your overall business or life outlook. For example, if you want to live a long, active, healthy life, then fitness goals and nutrition goals are going to be a part of reaching that life aspiration. If you want a greater income, then that promotion goal is going to be necessary. In other words, look at the big picture and decide why these goals will help you create the life you want. If you don’t have a strong “why,” you are less likely to follow through to the end.
Finally, your goal should be bound by time. In other words, you need to give yourself a deadline. That doesn’t mean a random date. It should be carefully calculated. For example, let’s say your goal is to lose 50 pounds. To set a deadline carefully consider how many pounds you can reasonably expect to lose each week, then calculate how many weeks it will take to get to that goal.
On the other hand, you may be doing a goal only for a certain amount of time. For instance, maybe you decide to drink only water for 30 days as a detox. Similarly, you may commit to a 90-day exercise challenge. Either way, your goal should have some sort of time boundary. Even if your goal is a lifestyle change, set a time frame and once you reach it, reset the time again.
100 Goal Ideas for the New Year
Here are goal ideas. You should consider how to specificially tailor them to you. I’ve broken them into ten life categories.
Mental Health / Wellness Goals
Address addictions (smoking, drinking, overeating, pornography, social media, etc)
12. Donate one trash bag of decluttered items per month
13. Create a cleaning schedule
14. Figure out a system for keeping a messy area, clean
15. Create a pantry or freezer inventory
16. Keep obligations and be on time to events
17. Completely reorganize a closet
18. Create an organization system for paperwork
19. Reduce waste and disposable items in your lifestyle
20. Give everything in your home a place
21. Reduce “eating out” budget by $X
22. Create and maintain a budget for 12 months
23. Reduce or pay off one of your debts
24. Save for an emergency fund
25. Track every dollar spent
26. Save for a vacation
27. Create multiple income streams
28. Create a retirement plan
29. Use cash instead of debit and credit cards
30. Reduce your student loan debt
Diet & Fitness Goals
31. Eat less fast food
32. Reduce calories
33. Exercise 3-4 times per week
34. Learn a new sport
35. Do a 30-Day diet challenge
36. Lose one dress size
37. Drink 8 glasses of water per day
38. Reduce / cut out carbohydrates
39. # of Steps per day
40. Participate in a half marathon or full marathon
41. Make a war binder
42. Keep a gratitude journal
43. Commit to going to church every week
44. Read one Bible verse per day
45. Complete an act of kindness or service every week
46. Commit to a ministry for one year
47. Keep a positive attitude
48. Practice and make time for regular meditation or prayer
49. Make friends within the church
50. Read the bible from start to finish.
51. Have better sex / Sex more often
52. Commit to a regular date night
53. Replace couch potato time with engaging time together
54. Complete couples devotional together
55. Practice supporting your partner
56. Travel together
57. Show regular appreciation & squash out complaints
58. Focus on practicing regular forgiveness
59. Volunteer as a couple
60. Pray together
Hobby / Skill Goals
61. Learn to draw
62. Learn one new thing a day
63. Learn a new language
64. Learn woodworking
65. Complete a DIY project
66. Learn how to cook
67. Read more books
68. Learn photography
69. Learn to grow your own veggies and herbs
70. Learn an instrument
Business / Career Goals
71. Update your profile and stay active on LinkedIn
72. Produce more “x”
73. Read one business or career-related book per month
74. Create and organize your paper or digital filing system
75. Go completely paperless
76. Increase social media followers by “x” amount
77. Mentor someone
78. Learn a new aspect of your industry
79. Send thank you notes to people who help you
80. Create a healthy work/life balance
Personal Development / Psychological
81. Become more proactive
82. Stop dwelling on the past
83. Remove false / toxic friendships
84. Practice being more agreeable (getting along with others)
85. Increase confidence / self-esteem
86. Become more generous
87. Accept flaws
88. Overcome anxiety
89. Practice being slow to offend
90. Live with an attitude of forgiveness
91. Learn a new word a day
92. Increase your IQ
93. Learn one history lesson a week
94. Improve geography skills
95. Take online classes
96. Refresh your grammar and spelling skills
97. Read a book a month / join a book club
98. Learn about a subject you’ve previously struggled in (physics, math, etc)
99. Read classic literature for one year
100. Read poetry
I sincerely hope that this post, 100 Goal Ideas for the New Year helps you slay goals. I would love to hear what your goals are for the New Year. Make sure to subscribe via email to receive your FREE Goal Slaying Worksheet to help you obtain your goals for 2019!
Staying home is a big decision for any woman. It’s hard to stay sane as a new stay at home mom. It doesn’t matter your background, although I think the more you’ve invested in your career the harder it is to give it up. Some women can’t stay home. It takes two incomes to make ends meet and there are some mothers who view staying home as giving up their independence. I’ve learned, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. You actually have to be extremely independent to be at home. It can be a very lonely road. There are no awards or commendations. No raises or promotions if you did an extra good job this year. And truly no sick days! I’ve learned it takes a very special person to do this and enjoy it.
When I first became a stay-at-home mom, I left a 50-hour a week job. It was a very stressful job full of confrontation and lawsuits. Moving from the corporate world to being at home was like shell shock but after lots of trial and error, I’ve learned what works for me. Here are some practical things that helped me stay sane when first started staying home. I hope they help you find your own way.
Create Routines and Schedules
My job was appointment based and so while I was working, I lived by a planner. When I quit my job, I threw it out. Who needs a planner at home, right? My first 6 months at home were awful. Let’s just say, I couldn’t get a handle on anything. I couldn’t keep up with chores. Laundry piled up. Dishes were stacked in the sink. I’d double booked myself or forgot appointments altogether. I felt unaccomplished and overwhelmed.
Then I discovered a Happy Planner. It’s a planner, except you can customize and decorate it. You may not be a planner person and that’s fine, but I will tell you that creating regular routines are good for both you and baby. You choose how stringent or relaxed you want it. Babies and toddlers do well on routines. It’s good for their circadian rythyms. When they know what to expect, it reduces anxiety and tantrums. They feel secure and you can better manage responsibilities without feeling frazzled.
Leave The House Often
I get it. I know how awful it is to leave the house with an infant. You feel like your packing for a 2 month trip across Europe. But the more often you go out, the more confident you’ll get doing it and eventually, it won’t even seem like such a big chore. This is key to staying sane as a stay at home mom. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut. It’s easier to stay home, but I promise it will do both you and baby a world of good! You’ll feel like a prisoner in your own house if you don’t. I recommend one outing a day.
Meet your husband for lunch, visit parents or in-laws, or have breakfast with a friend. Take a walk with the stroller. It doesn’t even have to be outdoors. Walk a mall or shopping center. Target seems like stay-at-home mom hangout everywhere. You can stop at a coffee shop or schedule a play date with another mom. If you have shopping and errands to do, I recommend spacing them out one per day. You get a break from your house and one outing ensures it won’t be overwhelming. If it’s a very quick outing, make it easier on yourself by just bringing a diaper clutch. It’s scary at first, but over time it will become second nature.
Find Support With Other Moms
The most shocking thing about being a stay at home mom hit me at about six months. My phone stopped ringing. Maybe you’ll have a different experience than I did, but I was absolutely shocked by this. I was very quickly forgotten by friends and colleagues after a few months away from the workforce. I’m not blaming anyone.
When you have a baby, your life changes. It’s common to stop accepting invitations shortly after giving birth. After all, you’re not sleeping and you’re trying to find your feet. After a while, people stopped inviting me altogether. Severe post-partum depression compounded my loneliness. I didn’t have any friends in the same stage of life as me, but then I’m an older mom. Sadder still was that my poor husband, although supportive and attentive, was suddenly solely responsible for all my social and emotional needs. If you want to strain your marriage, this is a great way to do it. No one person can be your everything.
I needed friends. Not just any kind of friends. Friends who understood why it took me a couple of hours to leave the house and was still late. I needed friends who understood all the doubts and second guessing you do as a mom. Friends who force me to leave the house and have some fun. I needed mom friends. These days, if you don’t have any you know personally, you can find play date groups in Facebook groups, Meetup.com, churches, and local websites. I can’t tell you how my life changed when I made non-judgmental, supportive mom friends. I found out I wasn’t weird, inadequate or a failure.
Only in the last 50 to 60 years have women been in the workforce. Before that, all women were at home and had the support of other women at home. Your mom, sisters and neighbors were all at home too. They’d talk over the fence while they hung laundry on the line or did gardening. Women didn’t have to look far for support. Now women are divided between home and work. Those who choose to stay at home may feel alienated because we no longer have the support system we once did. But some awesome women out there have created mom and play date groups to help, so go join one!
Make Your Wellness a Priority
When my oldest son was about 8 months, I felt miserable. He was sleeping through the night, but I was still perpetually exhausted. If I’m being very honest, I had no joy either. I felt depleted in just about every way you can. That’s when I realized I wasn’t taking care of myself anymore. When you have a child, your focus goes from yourself to another person in an instant. That’s good, but don’t forget that you need to take care of yourself and you have to make it a priority. If you wait for it to happen organically, it won’t. Trust me. Don’t give yourself crumbs either. Make it a priority.
This means being deliberate and purposeful about making time for yourself, even if you have to pencil it in a planner. Talk to your partner and get them on board. Whether it’s exercise, a mom’s night out, or a long bubble bath, do things that bring you peace, restoration and fun. There are lots of ways to take care of yourself and I’ve written another post with a free printable if you need ideas. I used to think that “love thy neighbor as thyself” was just about another person. But it’s actually two commands in one. You can’t give what you don’t have and you can’t teach what you don’t know. Practicing regular self-love is about caring for yourself, so you can care for others.
Bloom Where You’re Planted
Attitude matters. When I was working, I went through a season of joylessness. I was working in insurance and was very unhappy that I wasn’t working in my field of study – psychology. But that’s when God revealed to me that I was using it, just not in the capacity that I had planned. Everyday I helped people recover when their house burned to the ground or was completely flooded. I was there when family members died. I was, in fact, doing the very thing for which I trained. Everything is a for a season, and it’s up to us to embrace the moment. To put it plainly, your happiness is up to you.
Some days you’ll have to dig deep to find it. It’s hard to remember there should be joy in this. It’s hard to remember why you’re doing this when the house is a mess, babies are fussy and toddlers are on the ground in a full blown fit. You’ll find yourself fantasizing about how perfect working was, even though it’s completely untrue. You had bad days there too. There will be days you need to adjust your attitude. Learn more about how to stay sane by Resetting Your Day as a Mom. Our kids grow up fast and these will one day be “the good old days.” The small things you do everyday are our children’s memories. Make it count, because their lives will be spent away from you longer than they were with you. Enjoy this season and bloom where you’re planted.
Give Yourself Grace
I saved this for last on purpose because it’s the last thing I want you to hear (or read, that is). We’re on our own journey. Your life should look like your own – no one else’s. It’s perfectly okay if you don’t homeschool and bake pies. It’s okay if your life isn’t Pinterest worthy. Trust me when I say Facebook, Instagram and other social media are full of moments that only make the highlight reel edit. It’s an illusion of perfection. Comparison will suck all the joy out of life. Don’t do it.
Don’t be hard on yourself. Give yourself grace for mistakes and learning. Make forgiving yourself a habit. Allow yourself to be human. Progress is more important than perfection. Just when you think you have the answers, children will change the questions and the learning begins again. Some days are going to be incredibly hard. Keeping little humans alive might be the only thing that gets done and that is perfectly okay.
Recently, I parted ways with Facebook. It was time for a social media detox. I’m sure I’ll be back at some point, but I needed to take a break from it and reclaim my time. Therefore, I decided to quickly amputate myself from the negativity that seemed to fester there. You can read more about my departure and why I left in my post Living Without Likes: How I Broke Up With Facebook
If you’re not sure if you want to take the plunge, you don’t have to deactivate your profile. You can simply delete the app from your phone and other devices and log out of your account so that you will have to manually sign in. It seriously reduced temptation to check it all the time.
I’ll be very honest, the first few weeks I quit were hard. I wasn’t sure how to replace social media in my life. For that reason, I created a list of activities to help pass the boredom. Whether you want to break up permanently or just have a trial separation, here are 30 ideas you can do instead of logging onto your profile. I did one every day until I finally broke free of the addiction. I’ve included the free printable30 Day Social Media Detox to help you offline. Good luck!
Take the Challenge:
Day 1: Write a letter to a friend
Day 2: Take a walk or hike
Day 3: Exercise
Day 4: Start a journal and share your thoughts there
Many of us have considered breaking up with Facebook, but it’s hard to live without likes. I fully recall the day I decided to create a Facebook profile. It was still in its public infancy. I admit I was part of a mass migration from MySpace, another social networking site that was slowly dying. I had friends abroad who had also joined and this seemed like a great way to bypass expensive phone bills and massive time differences. I was also involved in modeling and local theater and its a great way to connect with others in the industry.
Fast forward to 2018. My friend’s list had ballooned 5,000 friends and over the last year, I’ve been chipping away at removing all the people I barely know. You know the type, the person I met once at a party, the friend of a friend I haven’t seen in five years. There is the co-worker I had lunch with ten years ago and the other members of a long-ago wedding party. I fully admit, I was not selective when I added them.
Over the years, Facebook has changed dramatically. Maybe I was naive, but I thought Facebook was a way to connect with others, but that’s not what it became. Facebook has become a cesspool of negativity. I don’t think I even realized just how it had been affecting me. Here are a few things I noticed about how Facebook affects us negatively and how I solved it by breaking up with Facebook (at least temporarily).
It Dehumanizes Us
You wouldn’t think that would be the case, do you? After all, it’s supposed to connect us. But what I have found is that I speak to my friends less regularly. I don’t pick up the phone and call them. I see pictures they post and so I feel connected in the moment, but really, I’m not. I found that after 10 years on Facebook and nearly 5,000 friends (at one point), I only had a couple of friends that I actually checked up on or that bothered to check up on me. We aren’t meant to interact with people from behind a monitor. You can’t expect to build lasting relationships by yourself with a keyboard. Get out and see your friends. Quitting Facebook has caused me to be more intentional about my friendships.
It’s a Time Burglar
We all know social media can be a time waster. Sometimes that’s exactly why we use it. Scrolling your news feed is an easy way to pass time while you’re waiting in a doctor’s office or waiting for your kids to get out of school and in the car. I admit that it was the first thing I’d do after waking up. I’d grab a cup of coffee, sit down, and scroll. But there are far more productive things you can do with your time. I was shocked to discover how much time I spent on social media. I felt like I had so little time to get things done and it was true. I wasted a lot of time being unproductive on Facebook. Now I utilize that time with prayer, chores, working on my blog, and most importantly, spending time with my kids.
It Can Set the Tone for How You Feel
As I mentioned above, I looked at Facebook when I first woke up. Because of that, I noticed recently that it often set the tone for how I felt. The day I broke up with Facebook, the first few posts I saw were deflating. The first link was about a five-year old who had been beaten and burned by his mother. The second was the beating of a black man. Five posts were about the Kavanagh hearing and seven others were political themed rants (from both sides of the aisle). Two posts were venting over some negative issue in someone’s life and two posts were about a friend or family member that died. The first twenty posts or so were all negative. It completely obliterated my happy mood.
Maybe you think I’m overly sensitive. How many times have you seen a post and been offended by it? We should be slow to offend and I certainly am not suggesting that we bury our head in the sand and ignore bad things. But what we view, what we read, what we put in our minds affects us and we should be both vigilant and selective with what we surround ourselves. Negativity is infectious and toxic.
It Affects Our Empathy and Sensitivity
The one thing I hate most about Facebook is that it has become a political platform. I’m as opinionated as the next person, but I hate that nearly half the posts in my news feed are politically charged. It is very easy to argue with someone when you don’t have to face them. People get down right nasty to each other. They say things to each other on Facebook they would probably never say to each other face to face. I admit, I am guilty of this – and I don’t like it. It’s disappointing, but I became a cocky, self-righteous, little jerk on Facebook when I disagreed with something. I actually lost friendships over it. There is a time and place to have those kinds of discussions, but I’ve become convinced Facebook isn’t the place for it.
You Can Become Addicted to Virtual Validation
Honestly, this is a tough one. It’s tough because I never realized that this actually affected me until I left Facebook. My first week or two away, I had the constant urge to post when I did something fun or something awesome happened to me. You see, as much as I hate to admit it, I am addicted to validation from friends online. The acceptance of others made me feel good about myself. I cringe just writing that. I didn’t know it, but Facebook became an emotional crutch for my insecurities. Leaving Facebook, has caused me to explore the root of insecurities and deal with them in a healthy way. The problem with using virtual likes for self-esteem is that it is never enough. You’ll need constant validation and not receiving it throws you into a depression. Likes don’t define your value. Learn to live without likes.
It Creates Unrealistic Expectations
Some people use Facebook like a diary, vomiting every emotional thought they have and while that is exhausting, there is something more dangerous. There are some people, myself included, who use Facebook to post only the good and exciting things that happen. I did it intentionally, not because I was hiding anything, but because I wanted my page to stay positive. But there is a problem there too. Comparison. I’m not an envious person, but I surprised myself when a good friend of mine built a dream house. I have a nice house and yet seeing his, left me feeling…well…dissatisfied.
Whether we care to admit it, we compare ourselves to other people. Seeing other people’s vacations, homes, new cars… all those status symbols can cause you to feel cheated and dissatisfied. Life feels unfair because you don’t have as much fun or have nice things. It might make you feel like a bad mother because you don’t buy organic produce, cook from scratch, do crafts with your kids or breastfeed. Maybe it makes you feel like your marriage is lackluster or that your spouse isn’t attentive enough. Comparison causes us to have unrealistic expectations about how our life should be. It kills gratitude and robs you of joy. Facebook is often a highlight reel, carefully editing out problems, failures and setbacks. Don’t believe it. It isn’t real.
It Stops Us From Being Present
When I was younger, I left home with nothing more than a suitcase and lived abroad in Europe. It was the best experience. This is back in the 90s before cell phones! In my youthful ignorance, I never even thought to bring a camera. That’s right. I backpacked all throughout Europe without ever taking a single picture – and I survived! I have amazing memories and stories from my years abroad all perfectly captured in my mind.
Fast forward to 2018, where I can barely eat a meal without taking picture. I went back to Italy for my honeymoon in 2013 and I spent nearly the entire trip behind a lens. I seriously regret that. Being present is way more fun. Taking in every detail with your eyes and mind is so much better. I was happier before we experienced it behind a cell phone camera lens. Enjoy the moment. You miss things otherwise.
What I Learned
It’s been a while since I broke up with Facebook. I didn’t deactivate my account. Instead, I deleted it from my devices and I logged out so it requires effort check it. I learned I can survive without friends knowing what I’m doing every day. I now fill the hours with much more fun and productive things. I don’t need likes to feel worthy and secure. I have everything I need and I’m grateful for what I have. If you’re looking to take a break from social media either temporarily or permanently, take a look at my 30 Day Social Media Detox Challenge coming this Saturday!
It’s easy to get so wrapped in our busyness, that we forget or neglect to take care of ourselves. Self-care is a vital part of maintaining balance in our life. Stop giving yourselves crumbs and make yourself a priority. Take the 30-day Wellness challenge!
(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)
In 2009, I was going through a really rough time. I was overworked and completely burnt out. I basically had a full-on nervous breakdown, which sadly was witnessed by some co-workers. The result, was a sabbatical from work and re-examining my work/life balance.
I sat there in my therapist’s office and complained. Complained about my responsibilities and workload. I talked about pressure, stress, and deadlines. It was the rude customers and domineering bosses who kept piling on demands. It was crushing my soul. I was joyless. “Whose fault is that,” he asked. ” My employer, of course,” I retorted. “No,” he continued. “That is your fault because you don’t set boundaries. You are joyless, because you don’t do things that bring you joy.” I’m pretty sure I stared at him for five strait minutes. My fault?
He was right. Boundaries are crucial in life. They are, for all intents and purposes, imaginary lines in the sand of what you will and will not accept. Most people avoid setting boundaries for one simple reason: it means saying “no” and saying “no” risks disappointing someone. If you’re a people pleaser, this can be exceptionally hard. But if you’re a “giver”, you must set limits because “takers” never do.
Today, I’m inviting you to take the 30 Day Wellness Challenge. This means putting yourself first. For 30 days, try practicing some self care. It doesn’t matter if it’s aimed at your body, mind, or soul. The point is to be deliberate and consistent in “being kind to yourself.” This was something with which I’ve always struggled. Sometimes self-care is simply saying “no” to activities, things, or people that bring stress, strife, or anxiety.
What Self-care Looks Like
I’d like you to try a quick exercise. Write down things that bring you peace, balance, and joy. Perhaps it is being outside in nature or maybe it’s a fun night out. Discovering what actually makes you happy is crucial. What restores you? Write down as many things as you can think of. Then spread the activities out over a month. Start with just one thing a day. If you need help, I’ve provided the free printable 30 Day Wellness Challenge to get you started.
Make You A Priority
It’s not just about practicing self-care. It’s about prioritizing it. This means not saving it until the end of the day when you’re depleted. Rather, it’s about making it one of the most important things you do today. For example, one of the things that brings me restoration is prayer and meditation. I almost never had time for it with kids. I would save it until the end of the day when I couldn’t focus on a single thought. Although sleep is important to me, I started getting up just 30 minutes before the children. I’d have a cup of coffee while it was actually still hot and spend 20 mins in prayer. It brought me so much peace starting off the day that way. Don’t give yourself the crumbs. You deserve better.
Some days we don’t feel like adulting. Other days we’re just downright miserable, lonely and frustrated. Instead of wallowing in mom guilt, try these tips for Resetting Your Day As A Mom
It had been 9 days. Nine days of snotty notes, phlegm filled coughs and clingy, whiny children. Furthermore, I was sick and it was my fifth day battling this awful bug. All moms know there is no such thing as a sick day. Moms are expected to just chug some medicine and get right back to nursing others. Meanwhile, in the midst of all the coughing and sneezing, I had also managed to throw a birthday party for my husband.
By the time Monday rolled around, I was utterly exhausted and we were still sick. We hadn’t been out of the house in 9 days and let me tell you that cabin fever is a real thing. We were all sick of being sick and boy was it starting to affect my attitude.
Moodiness Is Contagious
From the moment I woke up, my toddler was under my feet following me around everywhere I went. I felt myself get irritated that I couldn’t even walk without feeling like I was going to trip over him. Normally pretty self-sufficient, he suddenly couldn’t do anything for himself. His mood crescendoed with a full-on meltdown when it was time for me to feed little brother.
Next, there was my infant who spent the better part of 5 days crying and refusing to be put down. The whining was so bad I felt like I could hear it even when he had stopped. Consistent baby cries are enough to make anyone feel like they’re going mad. I felt my blood boil. I just wanted to rest. The mess of the party was still looking at me and I had two babies that were requiring every ounce of energy I had. I wanted to walk out the door and run for the hills! My words whipped around the room like a scorpion’s tail. It’s a moment you pray no one ever sees. It reminded me of something someone said to me once.
If your pastor were to ring your doorbell right now, would your attitude change?
Ugh! Of course it would. It would,’t even have to be my pastor. But the answer tells you that you are totally capable of changing your attitude. You are in total control of how you behave. Therefore, if you could straiten up your attitude in a moment’s notice, it tells you that this crabby, ornery mood is totally on you! That’s right – it’s up to you. Believe me, I fail at this more than I care to admit. Moments like this that douse me with buckets of mom guilt afterwards.
You Set The Tone
Have you ever noticed that whenever you are in a bad mood, you’re kids also seem to have the roughest, most emotionally charged day? That’s because you set the tone in your house. It’s true. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but girlfriend, it’s true. Your kids look to you to see how they should behave and they emulate what they see. If you are resistant and angry, they pick up on it. Worse, they mirror it.
The good news is that you can reset your attitude. It takes some determination, but more than anything it takes your will. You have to decide to change your attitude. Here are some things that have helped me in the past.
Take a Time Out
Stop. Just stop right in the middle of that fire-breathing sentence and pull yourself together. Listen to what you just said and how awful it sounded. Walk away from your kids for a second if you have to, but take a moment from spitting venom and cool down. It’s not easy to admit, but the truth is, toddlers aren’t the only ones who have meltdowns! If you need to, phone a friend. Sometimes distraction or talking with a supportive person is enough to change our attitude.
Breathe & Reset Your Day
Go strait up zen and breathe in and out meditation style. Listen to your breath. Let your heart rate fall. If you need to, talk to yourself. Pray. Mediate. It’s up to you. Because I’m a Christian, I often call out the enemy and rebuke him out loud. I recognize that I’m in a battle with an enemy who wants to steal my joy (John 10:10) and devour me (1 Peter 5:8). Compose yourself and decide not to act like that. You have the power to reset your day as a mom.
If there is one thing that I learned with my psychology degree, it’s that hurting people hurt other people. When we are hurting or depleted inside, it rears it’s ugly head in the form of lashing out. Normally there are rational explanations for our mood. Maybe we are running on a few hours of sleep. Similarly, maybe our kids aren’t feeling well. Maybe we’re just all a little tired of being cooped up in the house. It sometimes helps to get to the bottom of why we’re so moody. And if it’s your kids’ behavior that set you off, consider they are hurting or frustrated about something too. This is the place where reason and compassion meet. Gain some perspective and remember you control what happens next. You have a great life and you have so many things for which to be happy and grateful.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”- Maya Angelou
If you’re anything like me, you had grand plans for your day that suddenly feel like they have been hijacked. You must realize that that is a symptom of needing to be in control. Your plans; your way. Things don’t always go the way we planned and we must accept that. Be willing to let housework go for a day. It’s never ending anyway. I promise you, there would be housework tomorrow even if you worked today. No load of laundry is as important as loving your child.
Reprioritize and remove unnecessary commitments. Many times our moodiness comes from a place of being overwhelmed and frustrated. Take a good hard look at what you have on your plate. Remove unnecessary things that are weighing you down and reorder what you do have, spreading them out into manageable chunks. Delegate tasks to your husband. Usually most people don’t help, because they don’t know they’re needed.
Finally, ask for help. That friend, parent, in-law, sibling or neighbor who always says, “let me know if you need something,” is the one you need to call. People don’t go around offering help if they don’t mean it. If they offer, they truly don’t mind. Swallow your pride and ask for help. No one is going to think any less of you. If you’re truly struggling you need to call on the people that love you for help. Sometimes just having some support changes everything.
This is the hard part. Letting it go. Once emotions are settled and the moment has passed, we are quick to feel guilt and condemn ourselves. Identifying regrets is a healthy way to stop ourselves from making the same mistake, but it can become unhealthy if we wallow in self-pity and condemn ourselves. That’s because over time, we believe what we say about ourselves. If you constantly tell yourself you’re a failure and a bad mother, you’ll start to believe it. Don’t give into that. Part of self-care and self-love is forgiving yourself. Allow yourself to be human, including making mistakes. This life is about progress, not perfection. Hold yourself accountable. Apologize if necessary. Commit to change. Move forward.
In conclusion, it is awful that are children see us at some of our worst moments. But even in our adult-sized tantrum we can show our children how to regain self-control. Don’t be hard on yourself, mama. You got this!