Category Archives: Good Moods

It’s okay to treat yourself well

Life As You Make It Honour Yourself It is easy to internalize the cruel statements and behaviors of other people–especially if those people were people we were supposed to be able to trust. Sometimes, that is exactly what abusers want. They WANT us to feel worthless and like we don’t deserve to be treated well. They want to drag us down so far that we feel like we deserve abuse. If we don’t think we are worth more, we won’t try to escape, and we will remain trapped in their controlling hell. Sometimes people treat us badly because they are too inconsiderate to realize what they are doing, they are too busy to think about it, or they simply don’t care about us.

No matter what, the problem is theirs. When I was a child, my mother literally told me that I didn’t deserve anything while she spent everything on herself. I took that belief with me. As I grew up, I expected nothing good from anyone. I made myself invisible and didn’t speak up about my needs. I let many of the men I dated treat me like dirt, and I became very co-dependent–focusing on treating people well even when they didn’t respond in kind. I had a very hard time relaxing or pampering myself, because I had been told and shown that it was wrong.

The truth is, if someone else treated me like crap, that doesn’t mean *I* have to treat myself badly. And if someone didn’t treat me with kindness, that doesn’t mean that *I* cannot be kind to myself. There is nothing wrong with caring for yourself and honouring yourself. I don’t mean in a narcissistic way, but in a healthy way.

A therapist once told me that I needed to take care of myself just as much as I would take care of my child. Would I feed my child junk food or let him go hungry? No! So of course I should feed myself good meals! Would I let someone hit or abuse my child? Talk poorly to or of them? No! So I shouldn’t let others do the same to me! Do I like to surprise my child with a fun day out? Yes, I do. And it is okay to do the same for myself.

It took me a long time to learn that it was okay to take time for myself, to enjoy life, to feel comfort and pleasure. Now, I make it a priority to do something for myself every night before bed. Even if I’m tired and ready to sleep, I take a few minutes to wind down with something that I enjoy.

It is okay to wear a pretty outfit. It is okay to paint your nails. It is okay to take a bubble bath. It is okay to get a massage. It is okay to read a magazine or good book. It is okay to watch your favorite show. It is okay to eat that piece of chocolate. It is okay to enjoy life.

If you have been through a rough time–with life struggles, short-term abuse, a tragedy, long-term abuse…it is more important than ever for you to pamper yourself and treat yourself well. If someone else was unable to do it, then step up and do it for yourself. One bad event, a series of bad events, or a bad person do not get to ruin your life and keep you from loving yourself when others couldn’t!

Finding peace during times of struggle

Please note, this is a Christian post about a devotional book.
Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence


Lately, I have been going through an extremely tough time. I have a lot of worries and there is nothing I can do other than keep going. Other people’s decisions will determine my future and my children’s safety as I make my case for why I should have custody ahead of my abusive ex-husband. It’s a time of intense fear and stress and I must wait it out.

I am keeping myself busy and healthy in so many ways–seeing friends, going to church, reading, exercising, and more. However, my mind always strays to my anxiety for my children. I have come to the point, where I must learn to accept my wait, accept that I am not really in control of the decision, and find a way to stay calm, peaceful and hopeful in spite of all of this!

I have turned to faith. I have always been a Christian, but now, more than ever, I recognize that I am one small person working as hard as I can, but I cannot change the ways of the world. Sometimes life is scary or unfair. So what is left? Faith.

I found this book at the grocery store a few months ago, (except my copy is pretty pink false leather,) and it jumped out at me. Enjoying peace? Sign me up! I flipped through it and found some passages that spoke to me so clearly, so I bought it. Since that day, it has been a morning ritual for me to read at least one day’s devotional. Often, I read more, but not too many at a time, because I want to savor the message.

So many of the passages have brought me peace and relaxation as they focus on giving my worries to God and expecting Him to walk with me even when things cannot be easy. I have underlined and starred so many sections that were perfect for my situation!

For example, here is one of my favorite quotes from the reading for January 31st, “Refuse to waste energy worrying, and you will have strength to spare.” It’s so simple, but so true. I posted it on my work computer monitor to read it throughout the day.

Most of the devotionals are written from God’s point of view, and are paraphrased from scripture. They include a lot of wise advice such as, not worrying about tomorrow and focusing on living today, remembering that your thoughts guide your emotions, not looking to others to fulfill your needs, and more. The quotes are Christian scripture based, but also include good reminders for everyone. I found so much comfort and peace in them.

I’d highly recommend this devotional book for guidance and wisdom through life, but especially through hardships that drain us of hope and energy.

The importance of redirecting negative thoughts to boost your mood and heal

Sunflower Field with setting Sun in Background, nice Sunburst and Sunbeams One of the most important lessons I ever got from therapy was the reality that my thoughts control my feelings and moods…and I control my thoughts. It seems so simple, but it’s true and it works.

For those of us who have been through narcissistic abuse or other terrible events, we often get bogged down thinking how horrible things are. It is really hard to escape those patterns. The thoughts and images come back. They haunt us. We see that bad things have happened to us…and often there is quite a bit of bad before the good comes. They create a chain.

The abuser did horrible things to me. I tried to talk about it and get help, but no one listened. The abuser stayed calm and told everyone I was a liar. People believed him. I didn’t get the help I needed. Life isn’t fair. Nothing goes my way. Things will never get better….

And on, and on, and on it goes. The bad memories. The negative thoughts. The misery. The loss of faith in others. The loss of hope. The feeling that it’s better to give up. We feed into it. We make it bigger. We give it life. And it takes over.


Thoughts and Feelings: Taking Control of Your Moods and Your Life

But, we can help stop that. It’s not easy, but it’s possible and it’s essential to healing. Every time we think negative thoughts, our feelings become negative and we start repelling the good things in life. That’s why it is necessary for us to STOP the negative thoughts and re-frame them. Take back your power! You can’t just push the bad thought out of your head because it will bounce back. You have to replace it. You have to make it your job to focus on the positive thoughts. Even if it doesn’t feel right, and you aren’t convinced, DO IT! Treat it like work that you have to do and make it a priority…not just something that will happen to you. You have to make it happen.

There is a saying that one should “fake it until you make it.” In other words, even if you don’t feel happy, strong, and confident, pretend you are anyway. The very reality of acting like you are trains you to actually be happy, strong, and confident. Just like forcing yourself to smile can make you feel like you really are ready to smile. And there is all kinds of exciting research showing that forcing yourself to smile really does work!

When my therapist told me that I need to talk myself out of negative moods even if I didn’t feel very convinced, I did what she said. She’s given me really good and practical advise, so I trust her. And I have learned that she was right.

As I’ve said before, you can understand in your mind everything that is wrong in life, and you can understand why. You can even understand how to get past it. But there comes a time when you must proactively WORK on that hurdle. Just reading the books and knowing isn’t quite enough. It’s a good start, but you have to make the jump and take action to start the final stage of healing.

Coloring benefits and coloring pages

I’ve enjoyed coloring for a long time, because I thought it was relaxing and enjoyable. I remember my ex husband used to yell at me for it and call me childish. I personally think there is a difference between being childish, (because I’ve always been super responsible,) and learning to find enjoyment and peace in childlike fun. I hope I never lose my ability to love the little things! I was excited about a year ago when I started seeing research articles about how good coloring books were for stress, and now there is a new trend–coloring books for adults. I will admit, if I was still in touch with my ex, I’d say “I told you so!” ;)

Recently, I decided to make some coloring pages of my own to reflect the parts of life I want to savor. They aren’t very fancy, but they help me relax and stop stressing.

Please feel free to share and print, (but please give credit.) If you click on the photo, you will get the full version.
truth

Copyright 2015 Joanna Moore

Turning Post-Traumatic Stress into Post-Traumatic Growth

laymileaf1
I learned about a new idea tonight–the theory of Post Traumatic Growth. After going through an extremely abusive relationship, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I think my case is “mild,” but it sometimes comes back to me and ruins a day or two with flashbacks and bad dreams. I hate what happened to me, but sometimes I can see that it changed me for the better. I wish I could have changed for the better without being abused, but the events definitely pushed me into realizing I needed to learn to protect myself from predatory people and it inspired me to put more value on myself…and to better take care of myself.

In abuse recovery groups, we often hear cliches telling us that things will become better than before and that we will learn to be stronger and happier after trauma. It sometimes seems very hard to believe, but on good days, I know it’s true. My life, and my treatment of myself has changed dramatically for the better since I escaped from an abuser and said “no more!”


The article I read tonight was based on the book Upside: The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth
When I read this article, I could relate. The idea of growing stronger after trauma is not a new idea, but I’m excited and inspired that there are researchers studying it and learning about it. The article notes that, it isn’t the trauma that helps us grow, but instead we grow from our reactions and our thoughts about it.

In that study, participants who went through a period of deliberate rumination, in which they thought deeply about their experience and how best to find a way forward, were more likely to rebound to a better place.

 

 

 

The article mentions that it is important not to get stuck, though. That is something that is hard to avoid for those of us who continue to deal with abusive people. It’s really hard not to focus on how bad things are, when it seems like no change is in sight. I know for me, my head understood how to “get over it” a lot sooner than my heart did. I finally had to make the jump from just understanding how to feel better to actually, actively getting better!

 

Here’s another quote that especially spoke to me:

…in another report, those who felt more depressed after their diagnoses were more likely to say they had made positive changes up to two years later compared with those who found the ordeal less trying.

That’s pretty comforting. Of course we hate going through really rough recovery after domestic abuse, but those of us who have it harder are more likely to make the bigger, better changes. There is light at the end of this tunnel! Sometimes we struggle to believe that we will rebound better than ever, but now there are experts and studies to back us up and gives us information on who recovers better.
Here’s another article on the subject that lists some characteristics of people who grow instead of “breaking.” One of the things that can help you recover better is a good social support system, but here’s an interesting quote:
Support from those who have had your experience can be just as helpful – even if those people are strangers. Back in the day, this takes the form of bereavement groups. Today, it can be a Facebook group or an online community.
This is good to know! Especially for those of us who are estranged from abusive families, or who have watched our abusers fool and take all our friends away from us.
Another thing that can help is “emotional” disclosure. Talking to others is good, but so is writing in a journal or sharing what happened to you. There are more helpful points and ideas, but it all comes down to: we have the power to view our traumas in a productive way and choose the mindset to thrive. Our thoughts control our emotions, and it’s important that WE take our thoughts where we want to go!

Here are a couple other books about Post-Traumatic Growth that sound promising:

 

Don’t be the grump that scares people away

Surround yourself with beauty!

Surround yourself with beauty!

It’s easy to get caught up in a bad mood, a bad day, a bad life…and get grumpy about everything. It may make sense to you, but consider how it sounds to other people! There is a grump in my office who is just so grumpy, I groan and want to get away every time I see her! I’ll call her Frieda.

Frieda’s desk is close enough to mine that I can hear her very clearly throughout the day. And do you know what I hear? Her being grumpy, short, cold, and rude when she’s on the phone with our clients. Sometimes I am shocked at how rude she is! She is so grumpy, she ends up arguing with them–unnecessarily, because if she wasn’t being so mean, they wouldn’t respond defensively. I hate sitting near Frieda. I take care to always use a soft, calm, and polite tone with clients. I find that works much better than pissing them off ;) But then I hear Frieda being harsh and grumpy and sometimes I end up mumbling under my breath, “geez, stop being a jerk.”

I also hear Frieda grumping and trashing our co-workers. She’ll look at someone else’s work and nitpick everything she thinks is wrong with it. She will grumble to the person who sits next to her about how awful so-and-so is, and how they always mess things up. I’m still pretty new to the company, and I’ve had the delight of hearing her discuss ME while complaining about those idiot new people. Oh how pleasant…. NOT! Hellloooo, Frieda! I can HEAR you trashing me. How about a bit of empathy for the newbie who still has a ton to learn? Or…get this. Maybe I am not doing anything wrong and you are just a grump who thinks everyone should do things your way?

So I have to sit there listening to Frieda being mean to clients, gossiping about co-workers, oh…and grumbling about our supervisors. And I wonder, (since Frieda is married,) how really miserable her husband must be because I have never heard her say anything nice.

We recently had a day for charity fundraising that included some games to play in between doing work. Because of it, we received e-mails from our Human Resources department to help us play along. Most people thought it was fun, and a nice break from the stress…but not Frieda. She grumbled and grumped about all those annoying e-mails and how stupid the games were. She complained that the HR department was wasting time and needed to get back to work. She grouched that she was going to send a letter to the CEO about how pointless and wasteful the games were.

I had to bite my tongue after hearing a whole day of her being a grump.

I wonder if she has any clue how mean and awful she sounds? Or how all of her complaining and attacking makes other people see her? She must have *some* good qualities, (since her husband hasn’t run away from home!) But…all we hear is the negative all day. It’s so depressing, I’ve considered asking to move to another spot in the office. I don’t want to hear her being mean all day. I want to be in a positive mood at work, and I want to do a good job, and be fair to everyone else! But Frieda is quite frankly…a drag.

Don’t be a Frieda!

Change Your Words, Change Your Life: Understanding the Power of Every Word You Speak

Recently, I read a book that was filled with wisdom about the power of our words to make or break our reputations, make or break our moods, and to make or break our relationships. Maybe I should silently donate a copy to Frieda ;)

She might be a fun and interesting person, but all I know is that she sounds like a meanie. It’s something to consider for all of us. When we think we are venting, (not that there’s anything wrong with that,) are we going overboard? Are we making our entire world gray and dreary? Are we scaring people and opportunities away from us? Are we destroying workplace morale? Do our moods spiral downward as we focus more and more and more on negativity all day? Who knows what damage is done by a big mouth and a bad attitude!

I know from time to time, I get into these modes, and now I realize with horror…I hope I don’t sound like Frieda! Like the title of the book tells us, your words can change your life. I enjoyed the book a lot, and have been making an effort to remember the good advice in it. Listening to Frieda has inspired me to be even more careful about how I talk because I don’t want to make people feel the way Frieda makes me feel.

Enjoying life and finding hope through daydreaming

Dreaming big and living well!

Dreaming big and living well!

I have a confession to make: I’m a 30-something adult with a big crush on someone! And, even though it’s nothing more than me daydreaming, it brings fun and hope into my life. It puts me in a good mood and makes me want to be and feel pretty. It makes me want to listen to romantic music and smile.

It’s not even a realistic crush, but the daydreaming is like a form of meditation. I sit and let my thoughts drift off so I can think about pleasant scenes and forget my daily stress for a while. It’s like a mental vacation, (with a cute guy ;)) So, today I did some searching online about the value of daydreaming. I found a lot of technical articles about how letting your mind wander can lead to big ideas and inventions, but I also found another shorter article about how daydreams give us hope. I could really relate to several of the ideas in this post:

Wishing and Hoping and Daydreaming

To quote the author, Amy Fries:

We daydream for a variety of reasons, and one reason is they give us hope and help get us through the rough and boring patches of life. This isn’t a small thing. All of us face our challenging days, and without the capacity to envision a brighter future or new goals, life would be bleak indeed.

 

That is how I feel. I like the idea that daydreams empower us even when we aren’t at the best spot in our lives. They keep us hopeful and that is important to keep going.

Another quote from the article spoke to me in particular:
While the relationship between daydreams and depression isn’t entirely clear, there are some theories that depression is marked by a lack of daydreaming–in other words, when depressed, we lose our ability to daydream in ways that boost us when feeling low or amuse us when tired or bored.

I’ve always been a dreamer. I was an avid reader as a kid, and I was always staring out windows, (and getting in trouble in school,) because my head was figuratively in the clouds. I loved making up stories and daydreaming about my future. Like many girls, I used to daydream about growing up and marrying a prince charming. I remember when I married my first abusive spouse, I was desperately in love, (or so I thought.) When he started being controlling and critical every day, my daydreaming stopped abruptly. It was like the horror of finding out all my daydreams were wrong killed my hope for the future. I remember telling my therapist that I didn’t daydream anymore. I just had a very gray and bleak vision of what life was going to be like with that man.

When I realized I no longer daydreamed, I felt sad. It was like a part of me had changed and lost my wistful positivity. It was like losing a part of my personality.

But, not forever! I am feeling much more like my old self these days. Even though nothing especially exciting is going on in my life, I feel alive, pretty, hopeful, confident…and like dreaming again. It’s a great feeling!

Daydreams at Work: Wake Up Your Creative Powers
And there is science to back up the benefits of letting your mind wander and take a break…. For example: research shows that when we give our brains a break, our brains have a chance to process things we’ve been learning and we can remember things better.

Daydreaming also correlates with better working memory.

I also found articles that say daydreaming increases happiness and hope, it enhances productivity, it can help build empathy and more.

If nothing else, I know that drifting away into fantasy land gives me a welcome break and helps me think of the good things I’d like to add to my life. I’m enjoying my crush ;)

Taking care of yourself as a single mom when you have no support

“I restore myself when I’m alone.” Marilyn Monroe
Like many women, I am a single mom. Like not as many women, I have absolutely no family to back me up during emergencies, or even on a normal day when I could use a break. I can go months at a time without ever having time for myself. I go to work, then I come home to be a mom. I haven’t even been able to get to the doctor or dentist recently because there is too much going on at all times. Not that I don’t want to be a mom, but I think I’d prefer to be a mom who had a couple hours alone once a month or so! Being a mom is a 24/7 job that takes a lot of physical and emotional strength, and it’s only human–and healthy–to need a break to replenish your inner strength. But…I don’t get one. I don’t have a functional family that I feel safe around, and I don’t have spare money for a baby-sitter. So…I constantly seek ways to pamper myself a little without actually spending time alone.

I know other moms who get girls’ nights out, go to salons for a “me” day, get together with friends, go to movies, and have time to do things for themselves. I’m a little jealous in a sad way, because I know a happy and well-rested mom with a support system can be a better mom, (or at least it’s easier to be a good mom when you have back-up!) Sometimes I worry that my kids aren’t getting as good of a childhood because they don’t have the support of a bigger family, and because it’s all on ME to make sure they turn out okay. Yikes! So, I make an effort to find replenishment in little ways that help me stay peaceful and strong.

Recently I saw another parent looking for ways to get a break without actually getting away, (and that one wasn’t even single!) so I know I’m not the only one. What are some ways to get a few minutes for you when you can’t leave your home or your children?

Here are some of mine:
1. Buy a new bottle of fingernail polish, then paint my nails. I get to feel pretty at work the next day!
2. Stay up late to watch a movie or show I like after the kids go to bed. (Then daydream about the leading man ;) )
3. Take an extra few minutes to use my favorite lotion and massage my feet.
4. Eat some fattening food and enjoy it without feeling guilty.
5. Listen to my favorite music, (through my ear phones,) after the kids sleep.
6. Repeat the song I like best over and over until I have heard it as much as I want to!
7. Look through humorous websites until I’m laughing.
8. Look at happy photos from my photo albums.
9. Waste time doing nothing…without feeling guilty.
10. Chat with a friend by phone or online.

And of course…read and write blogs!

Splurging a little lifts your mood and gives you confidence!

Let your confidence shine!

Let your confidence shine!

A while back, I was reading some articles and information about the importance of what we wear and showing off a little to impress others. I’ve always been frugal and avoided name brands, because I thought that was the smart thing to do, and that what I wore didn’t matter. It turns out, sometimes what we wear does matter because wearing or owning items of value gives others the image that we are confident and successful, as well as able to do great work. What we wear to an interview can influence whether or not we get a job or make a sale. For example, if you are a real estate broker, and you drive around in an old junker car, your clients are going to think that you must not make much money, you must not sell houses very well, and you must not do a very good job if that’s all you can afford. But, if you pick them up in a nice new Mercedes, they are going to think, “wow, that Realtor must really be good to have such a nice car!” Let’s hire her to sell our house too!

It’s not necessarily fair that life works this way, but sometimes it does. Our first impressions matter, and people judge us based on appearance even if we don’t think they should. I had read this in multiple self-help books, so I decided to invest in some nicer clothing and accessories.

I decided to buy myself a Coach purse. I’ve never owned one, but I know they are a status symbol, so I started looking for deals and learning about their value. I knew I didn’t want to spend a ton of money, so I went to their outlet store on a sale day. Immediately, a very pretty, robins-egg-blue purse caught my eye. It was a sunny spring day, and that beautiful blue was so pleasant and calming! It fit in with all the good feelings of a fresh spring after a cold winter, and it inspired me. I made myself look around the store and see everything, but I went back to that purse, and I bought it.

Once I got home, I put it on my dresser, and every time I walked by, I smiled about how much I liked that color. It lifted my spirits every time. Then, when I needed to go out, I decided to put on a prettier outfit and carry my new purse. Usually I go to the store in jeans and a t-shirt, but that day I put on a pretty spring dress for no reason other than I felt like being pretty! Usually I let my pretty clothes wait in my closet until I have a special event, but it was really fun just getting prettied up to go to the store.

Now I carry my blue Coach purse everywhere I go. It perks me up and makes me feel special. I carried it to a job interview last week and the person interviewing me complimented me on it. I got the job, too! I don’t think it was the purse that got me the job, but instead the confidence I felt when I carried it and felt good about myself.

Yes, that purse was a splurge, (for me,) but it was totally worth it! The color brightens my day, carrying it makes me feel good, and it makes me stand out. That investment in my wardrobe was also an investment in ME, and I’m glad I made it. I can’t spend that kind of money every day, but it’s important to remember the principle behind it. Be good to yourself and remember you have value, and you do deserve little splurges. When you pamper yourself, you feel better, and you look happier to the world around you. Your improved mood will inspire others to have confidence in you as well.

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