Gratitude

How I Went From Suicidal to Successful

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I love picking things apart. From people, to problems, to clogged pores. Sometimes that’s a strength. More often than not in my personal life, it’s a way to self-sabotage. But today I am going to break out my metaphorical magnifying glass and use my investigative powers for good.

Because today marks a very special day in my life.

It’s the anniversary of the day I decided to stop living out an active pattern of Depression. It may sound strange to call it a “pattern,” rather than a “disorder.” But for me it was a self-sabotaging cycle that kept me stuck. Spare me the angry comments I’m sure that statement will incite, I’m well versed in the biopsychosocial approach, the genetic, and chemical components. Just go with me on this.

If you had asked me at the height (or depth, more accurately) of my Depression if I would ever be 30, happy, and fulfilled, I’d probably have mustered up enough energy to give you the finger before taking an Ambien and calling it a day. So, to celebrate my decision to stop getting in my own way, I’ve decided to put my detective skills to good use and analyze the

How I Went From Suicidal to Successful:

1. Quit the Blame Game.

If there’s one thing I learned from my first 10 years in therapy, it’s that everything I blamed someone else for was my fault and everything I blamed myself for was someone else’s fault. Bluntly put, but accurate. This taught me two things:

  1. Culpability doesn’t change a situation.  
  2. No matter whose fault or who takes responsibility, you have the ability to change your situation.

This. Is. Freakin’. Huge.

It’s easy to get caught in the “I wish things were different” cycle, but all that does is keep us stuck. You can either stay in a shitty situation or you can accept things as they are and get the fuck out.  It all comes down to taking responsibility, not simply for what happened, but for what you want to create.

The Takeaway: Dare to become self-aware, having the courage and humility to take personal responsibility.

 

2. Make Mistakes.

I rocked this one. I’m the type of person who can’t take your word that the stove is hot. I need to get burned, often more than once, before I learn my lesson. This not only applies to the obviously poor decisions I made, but in the ways I attempted to bounce back. Newsflash: There’s no such thing as a “rebound,” you probably don’t need a medication to counteract the side effect of another medication, and escapism only works until it doesn’t. 

The Takeaway: It’s fine to make mistakes, just don’t keep making the same ones. New mistakes = Growth.

 

3. Ask for Help. Lots of It.

DBT, CBT, EMDR, SSRIs, not to mention yoga, meditation, mood stabilizers, family therapy, a spiritual mentor, and puppy cuddles. Loved some, hated others. I wanted to find the one modality that would fix everything. But much like the perfect chocolate chip cookie, it simply doesn’t exist. As I look back and fondly bitch about the methodologies and practitioners who claimed their way to be best, I realize that everything played a role in my growth.  I learned positive communication & coping skills, emotional resilience, and more than anything, how to trust myself. Today, I see an AMAZING therapist, I exercise, I engage in creative outlets, I meditate, and I honor my intuition. Ultimately, even if only 10% of everything I do now is actually making a difference, it all adds up.

The Takeaway: Try everything that intuitively feels right, there’s more than one path to happiness.

 

4. Cultivate Compassion, Forgiveness, and Self-Love.

Hot damn. Those three words say it all. I’ve heard that Depression is anger turned inwards. So it doesn’t surprise me that the biggest shift in my life came from forgiving myself for past mistakes, turning my back on myself, and not living to my potential. Unconsciously, I held onto anger and guilt, further exacerbating the issue by attracting people and situations that would confirm my self-limiting beliefs. I found compassion for others, but never for myself. The moment I decided to give myself what I gave to others was the start of my journey to self-love, self-esteem, and self-respect.

The Takeaway: Forgiveness gives you the power to re-write your story.

 

5. Surrender Control.

I used to joke that I wasn’t manipulative, I was an outcome engineer. While that deep need for control kept me safe, it also kept me stuck. Surrendering an outcome taught me that letting go of what I think I want (whether that be a guy or a job title), creates the space for bigger and better things to flow into my life.

The Takeaway: Let go of what you want so you can receive everything you need.

 

Bonus Tip: Green things are good. Junk Foods=Junk Moods. Seriously, clean up your diet and you’ll stop feeling like shit.

 

I was recently asked in an interview how I changed into the person I am today. The truth is that I’m the same person I always was, I just removed the blocks that prevented me from expressing and embracing my true self. Today, I look back on my old story with a feeling of gratitude, both for the lessons I learned and the ability to share it with others.  Thank you to everyone who’s supported me (and challenged me) along the way, it means more to me than you’ll ever know.

20 Things I Wish I Knew in My 20s (but probably wouldn’t have listened to anyway because I was in my 20s)

Today I’m 30! For many people (especially women), it’s a scary time. It’s the moment we realize that life looks nothing like we expected it would. Personally, I’m a glass half-full kinda gal. Instead of focusing on what I’m missing, I’m thinking about the bullets I dodged, the lessons I learned, and the life I’m working to create. My 20s have simultaneously been an incredibly formative time while also being the decade where I’ve made a myriad of mistakes. After all, I’m a work in progress, but there have been some huge takeaways…

The 20 Things I Wish I Knew in My 20s:

  1. Don’t be afraid when reality doesn’t match what you thought it would look like.
    When I was a kid, I thought high school would be exactly like the show “Saved By The Bell.” In reality, nobody was friends with the principal, our lives didn’t revolve around kidnapping our rival’s mascot, and I couldn’t fit in my locker. But more than that, I thought I’d be confident and mature. Similarly, I look at my friends in their 40s, an age where I thought everyone has it together and realize they are still figuring it out, too. Here's why that's a good thing: when you're stagnant, you're dead. Anyone who tells you they have it all figured out is either an idiot, a liar, or hasn’t truly lived. So whatever your perception is of what things “should” look like, let it go.
     

  2. Don’t be so focused on the future that you ignore what’s in front of you.
    This applies to everything! Don’t future-trip in relationships. Don’t work so hard that you can’t enjoy the little things. Don’t spend so much time “pursuing” happiness that you forget that you have access to it at any moment you choose.
     
  3. Courage is a decision.
    It’s not an emotion, it’s a choice. Your fears can’t shape your life unless you’re happy being unhappy. You don’t need to be “ready” to make a change. You just need to acknowledge your fear and take action anyway.

     
  4. You aren’t too old for a career change.
    No matter how many degrees, time, and money you’ve put into something, it’s a sunk cost. You don’t get it back by sticking out something you don’t love. Don’t listen to your parents. (Sorry, mom!)  You aren’t “playing it safe,” you’re playing it scared. Do you really want to live with regret because you were afraid to pursue your dreams and embrace your potential?

     
  5. You are going to change.
    I was pretty adamant about a lot of things in my 20s. Things I believed to be universal truths. For example, in my early 20s, I thought holistic health was a bunch of witchdoctors prescribing tea. Clearly, a lot has changed. Often, we acknowledge how much we’ve grown and changed, but we think that we won’t change in the future. We assume all our growth has led us to this point where we’ll remain. You’re always evolving. Accept it.

     
  6. Nobody’s opinion is more important than your own.
    Other people’s views are not more relevant than your own. It does not matter if they are older, more successful, or better educated. Their opinion is simply that, an opinion, nothing more. Learn to cultivate self-trust, knowing that what’s right for you is your truth, no matter who disagrees.

     
  7. Nobody is good at life. We’re all learning.
    “#Winning” is not real. It’s not growth or true success. Knowing yourself is. Don’t ignore your flaws, but lean in and get curious. Nobody likes you more just because your Facebook is filled with photoshopped selfies and check-ins at cool places. Your waistline, your resume, and your job don’t make you better at life. Owning your shit and loving yourself because of it is what makes you a winner.

     
  8. You don’t need to know what you want.
    There’s so much pressure to know “what you want to be when you grow up.” Most of us are in careers that have nothing to do with what we studied in school. We’re taught to pick a career and stick with it forever, but that’s an antiquated view. If what you’re doing is making your skin crawl, you probably won’t “grow into it.” Don’t commit to something just because you’re supposed to. It’s fine to play it safe as long as you’re experimenting with things that actually light you up.

     
  9. Everything is “figureoutable.”
    Don’t know how to do something? Google it, Youtube it, find a mentor. My greatest accomplishments are the things I was terrified to do because I didn’t know how. Everything can be figured out, it’s about resourcefulness, not resources.

     
  10. You don’t have to be loved by someone to be lovable.
    Your worth is not dependent on other people acknowledging it. You aren’t more valuable as a person just because you have a partner, more Facebook friends, or any other form of external validation. Until you can self-validate you’ll always feel like you’re lacking.

     
  11. Be aware of what you’re really upset about.
    When it’s hysterical, it’s historical. If you’re going from 0-60 because they forgot to give you extra hot sauce with your order, it’s triggering an old wound that hasn’t been healed. Don’t take it out on the delivery guy. 

     
  12. Communicate as your best self.
    This means a few things: 

    -Stop thinking whoever can shout the loudest is right. 
    -State your needs.
    -
    Don’t avoid conflict just because it feels icky or you think the person won’t like you. Stating your truth and being rejected is better than being loved for someone you are not.  I could go on and on about communication, so I’ll simply say communicate as your best self.
     
  13. Other people’s shit is other people’s shit.
    This one is huge. You aren’t a good friend, lover, or family member by taking responsibility for other people’s problems. The goal is interdependence, not codependence. Support others in a loving way, but allow them to work things out on their own.
     
  14. Don’t try to change people.
    Accept them where they are. Love them for who they are, not for their potential or who you wish they would be. I spent my 20s trying to change others instead of myself. But as the serenity prayer says, “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” My advice: know the difference and don’t take it personally.

     
  15. Acknowledge that this moment won’t last forever (even if it feels like it will).
    Everything in my 20s felt like it lasted forever. Waiting for a guy to call me back, for a promotion, for things to “go my way.” When I was struggling with severe Depression, my best friend gave me a ring that said “gam zeh ya'avor.” Modeled after a magic ring of King Solomon’s, it translates from Hebrew to read, “This too shall pass.” Whenever I was sad, I looked at it and found the strength to continue. (And I tried not to look at it when I was happy!)

     
  16. You don’t need to settle.
    In my culture, single women in their 30s and 40s are cautionary tales. When I was unhappy in a relationship, I was taught to “make it work” lest I wind up alone for the rest of my life. That may be the worst advice I was given. Ever. The truth is that “the good ones” are not a limited commodity. And until you know yourself, you won’t know who is right for you. If I had married a man simply because I was supposed to, I’d already be divorced. The best way to find the right partner is to be the real you, not the you you’re supposed to be.
     
  17. Forgive your past screw-ups.
    I’ve made so many mistakes. For most of my 20s, it was the only way I learned anything. But after learning the lesson, I held onto the pain and guilt instead of surrendering and forgiving myself. Often, we focus on forgiving others instead of forgiving ourselves. And while it can be painful and challenging to have compassion for ourselves, it’s the first step to letting go of your old story and writing a new one. The truth is that you can’t go back in time, but you can focus on what you want to create in the future. For more on how to forgive yourself, click here.

     
  18. Find gratitude for the good, the bad, and the straight up ugly.
    One step past forgiveness is gratitude. While that may sound crazy, it’s the fastest way to accept who you are and where you’ve been. It’s easy to find gratitude for the good things, but being thankful for the painful experiences allows you to embrace your growth and transformation.

     
  19. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
    Nobody knows everything. Most of us simply fake it. There’s no weakness in asking for help. Just be sure to ask the right people. Ask the person who has what you want. Your partner, friends, and parents, though convenient, aren’t necessarily the best sources.

     
  20. Find your tribe.
    Just because you were friends as teenagers or in college, doesn’t mean you need to stay as close. As you develop into your true self, you’ll align with people who mirror that. Transition can be lonely, but you’re more likely to find real friends if you're your real self. 

Bonus: I wanted to write so many other things like impulse control and a tirade on poor grammar, but I’ll leave you with this: Nothing good happens after 1 am and nothing good comes from drinking alcohol in the form of a shot. Seriously, nothing.

 

They say that your 20s are for defining and your 30s are for refining. I couldn’t be more excited to see what the next decade brings! So here’s the takeaway: No matter where you are, it’s never too late to learn from your past and embrace your potential. 

Share your story in the Comments Section below!

The 10 Traits of Emotionally Resilient People

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Ever notice how some people are stressed during transitions while others can “roll with the punches?” It all comes down to emotional resilience. While some of it may be biological, there are 10 traits that you can start cultivating today to start living life with less resistance and more ease:

Emotionally Resilient People:

1. ...Wait for what’s right over what you want right now.

Yup, just like the classic Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, this is about impulse control- the ability to stop and consider whether you want to act on a desire. For example, when a family member makes you angry, your immediate response might be to lash out. However, impulse control allows you to pause and assess whether that’s really the best course of action in the long run. Delaying gratification and controlling our urges allows us to choose actions that align with our best intentions.

2. ...Sit with discomfort

Similar to #1, those who are emotionally resilient are able to tolerate discomfort. Remember that thing you said out of anger? (or hunger?) How would that response have been different if you had tolerated your discomfort for an hour? While #1 was about choosing the best action, this is about sitting with an emotion without taking any action.

3. ...Get some perspective.

If you’ve ever said to yourself, “hindsight is 20/20,” then you recognize the possibility that it may be true for your current situation.  Often, when we’re in the trenches, it’s hard to see the bigger picture. Sometimes things happen FOR you, not TO you. What seems painful now might actually be the gift you couldn’t give yourself.

4. ...Practice acceptance.

Acceptance is not the same as complacence. It’s not about giving up and letting the stress take over, it's about experiencing the full range of your emotions, trusting that you’ll bounce back. 

5. ...Remember the power of time.

The emotionally resilient remember that time heals all wounds. People who have a tendency to feel depressed often fear spiraling back into it, but feeling an emotion is not the same as getting caught in it. Think back to the last time you felt like this, you may have thought it was the end of the world, but you recovered. The same is true now.

6. ...Don’t need all the answers.

Often, when we try hard to find answers to difficult questions, we “try too hard.” This blocks our intuition and prevents us from receiving answers. The emotionally resilient know that it's okay to not have it all figured out. They trust that they will find the answers when they are ready.

7. ...Engage in self-care.

Emotionally resilient people know that self-care is a non-negotiable. It’s a daily practice and commitment to self that strengthens their inner resolve. Ranging from exercise, to meditation, to a cup of tea, the resilient have go-to stress busters that don’t involve hitting the bottle.

8. ...Can laugh it off.

Sometimes things just suck and you simply need to laugh it off. Humor goes a long way.

9. ...Choose to be happy instead of being right.

Emotionally resilient people know that being right is not what will make them happy. Sure, it’s nice to be right, but it’s better to be happy. Ask yourself is this fight really worth it? Are you fighting to resolve the situation or fighting to win it? In any moment you can choose what’s more important to you: the relationship or your pride. 

10. ...Cultivate joy and gratitude.

Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, the resilient focus on what’s right. There is always something to be thankful for. Remember, where attention goes, energy flows. So why not cultivate more of what you want instead of what you don’t.

  

Ultimately, emotional resilience is all about attitude.  As Bo Bennet said, “Having a positive mental attitude is asking how something can be done rather than saying it can’t be done.” By developing these 10 traits, you’ll be able to spend more time living with ease and grace, spending more time in the light with fleeting moments of darkness. Or, you can continue to fight tooth and nail and see where that gets you. The choice is yours.

Share your tips & tricks with the Community in the Comments section below!