Category Archives: Self-Improvement

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!

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.

I’m a good catch…and the narcissist knows it

Today I looked in the mirror and remembered that I am beautiful On Facebook today, I saw a series of links from different pages discussing why a narcissist would pick us. I already know, but reinforcement and learning more is always good, so I followed the stories.

This page in particular has such a great quote:

And here’s why I think that is. By doing so, the narcissist wants someone who will make him look good….it’s as if they are saying, “See who I’m with. I’m a heck of a guy.” 
Then, since you are above him, he has to run you down privately, and perhaps to others when you don’t realize it, simply because he knows you’re the better person. It’s weird, but in his mind, you have to be demeaned, put down, and belittled SO HE FEELS AT YOUR LEVEL, or even better than you are. But, in reality, he knows the truth.

This is right on! I’ve been saying for a few years that the narcissist targeted me because I was a CATCH. Then, he tried to consume everything good about me and take it as his own. It’s been a rough few years through a smear campaign as he’s projected all of his abusive behavior onto me and pretended he was the one who was innocent. But the truth is, he saw a light in me and knew that I was valuable.

My ex abuser is a known womanizer. He rarely dates anyone for more than a night or a week. But he wanted to marry me within weeks. He pushed really hard. I hesitated and he pushed more. He was 56 and had never been married, but he was insistent that he marry me. I used to wonder, why me? But you know what? ME because he saw that I was a good person with good values. He saw that I was someone worthy and someone with a lot to offer. He knew I was a prize and he wanted to own me.

As soon as we were married, he treated me like garbage. Literally over night. He started telling me how worthless and awful I was. I was confused. How did I go from being the best woman he’d ever met to being worthless? Why did he marry me? It didn’t make sense.

When I met him, I had a good job and was on a good path. I had a beautiful happy child and a lot of friends. I was quiet ,but could warm up after I got to know people. I was pretty well-liked in our social circles. People thought I was smart and funny. Men thought I was attractive and tried to date me, but I was always too shy to date much. I had a good reputation. The narcissist wanted that for himself. People thought he was lucky when I started dating him.

And you know what? He was!

Several years later, he has abused, smeared and demeaned me until I’m a laughingstock among many of the people who used to think I was fun. He has taken most of my friends, (who clearly weren’t real friends,) and he lives my life that he took over. I have little left, and he is Mr. Popular. What in the world happened?! Well, I met a sociopath. That’s what happened. It’s awful.

But this is meant to be a happy blog, so let’s move on! I had that good reputation because it was real. It was me. It is who I am. I am considerate, smart, witty, thoughtful, pretty, and all kinds of good things. That sociopath wasn’t shopping for a loser. He didn’t break 56 years of bachelorhood to settle. He thought I was that special and that valuable. He is a vampire latching on to what I was. But I am not only the same person I always was, but I am an improved version. I am more astute, stronger, wiser, more enlightened. I have been through a hell that not everyone can experience or imagine, and it has taught me many new skills, as well as awakened me to the weaknesses that I can work on.

He’s still just a narcissist. Yawn.

If you were targeted by a narcissist, it was never because there was something wrong with you. It was because there was so much right about you. Take heart in that and know that, no matter what horrible things they have done to you, you are still you. You are still the magic person that the narcissist wanted to be…but can’t.

That is winning.

Accepting what is good enough so I can focus on things that matter more

Don't waste time on the wrong things. It will only keep you from getting to the right things. Don't be afraid to let go of things that aren't right for you! I have a problem with being a perfectionist. I like to be super neat and organized, and sometimes I get a little bit stressed if I can’t keep everything perfect. In recent years, I have learned to STOP that! But sometimes, I still struggle with it.

Recently, I was sick for a few weeks and a friend came over to help me catch up with chores and house cleaning. Of course he didn’t do things the way I did. He didn’t sweep every corner of the floor to get all the fuzz balls. He didn’t wipe the windows until they were spotless. I was also doing a bunch of work to catch up, and I had to stop myself from re-doing the less than perfect things.

 

When Perfect Isn’t Good Enough: Strategies for Coping with Perfectionism

I have two little kids at a home and I’m self-employed, (a wonderful new development!) There is no way I can be the best at everything. It reminded me of a time in my early 20s when I was a supervisor in a department store. I had a hard time delegating tasks to other employees because I wanted every bit of of my department to be perfect. But the thing is, in a store with thousands of customers every day…nothing is going to be or remain perfect. You have to meet a happy medium where everything is functional, nice and good enough. Not only is that a crucial lesson for managers, but it’s a crucial lesson for life. Especially if you have kids, pets, a spouse, or a roommate, you have to compromise and stop trying to be the best at everything.

Thinking back to an economics class I took in college: you may be the absolute best at a lower level job, and you maybe “just” pretty good at a better paying job, but it’s still better to take the pretty good position over the perfect position because you can go farther with it. Why limit yourself to being perfect at something that isn’t as important when you can have something better? And so with cleaning my house…do I want the absolute cleanest kitchen floor in town? Or do I want an okay floor and a great day with my family? Sometimes you have to let go of perfect and choose good enough because good enough is better for you.

 


Present Perfect: A Mindfulness Approach to Letting Go of Perfectionism and the Need for Control

Letting the little things be less-than-perfect helps reduce stress and helps improve your quality of life. In the end, all those little things won’t matter. It’s hard to let go of trying to be perfect at everything, but it’s something I am learning to do.

Turning Post-Traumatic Stress into Post-Traumatic Growth

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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.

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!

If a person doesn’t see your value, don’t try to force them to. Respect yourself!

Value yourself. You show others how to treat you.

Value yourself. You show others how to treat you.

For going on three years, my narcissistic sociopath ex spouse has trashed me to anyone and everyone he can find–including all of my closest friends, my family, my toddler, all of my acquaintances, and possibly even some potential employers. He is relentless. But, he’s also charming and he’s in their faces pushing boundaries all the time while I’m at home raising kids and living my life. So, he’s the one most people believe. You would think that any sane person would wonder why he goes around giving them unsolicited monologues about how evil I am, but sadly, not many people stop to think about that!

After I kicked the abuser out of my life, he began smearing me within days, and he started with my local social acquaintances to be sure to cut me off from any possible support right at my home base. Then he went for men who had tried to date me, the people I talked to most, my closest friends. When he worked through all the “valuable” people, he just started aiming for anyone who was left. I have lost so many false friends this way.

Recently at a social event, I was talking with someone that I had been friendly with in the past, and my ex abuser happened to enter the room, (specifically to intimidate me, but that is a whole other story!) As soon as the narcopath walked in, the person I was chatting with stepped back and said maybe he shouldn’t be talking to me because my ex abuser had warned him not to. I was shocked that an adult would be so gullible. “Okay,” I said and started to walk away. The guy changed his mind and decided it would be okay to talk to me after all. Gee, lucky me. Since my abuser has so many people giving me the cold shoulder based on his lies and the web of gossip he created, I was sort of glad to have someone to talk to anyway. More than once, the guy made comments about how we shouldn’t look too friendly. At the time, I accepted that.

Then I got home and realized how incredibly rude and childish that person was–at over 50 years old! What an ass he was to treat me like I was lucky he’d talk to me because he was warned by someone who viciously abused me and many other women! I had never done anything to him, and I am wonderful person which is exactly why the abuser was trying to consume my life. Jerk! I now wish that I had just walked away the moment he acted like he was doing me a favor by allowing me to be in his presence. Who needs to be treated so badly? Especially based on lies and a sociopath’s smear campaign? Next time, I will spend my precious time with someone thoughtful and respectful!

Controlling your reaction to things you cannot control

Napoleon Hill’s a Year of Growing Rich: 52 Steps to Achieving Life’s Rewards

I post about reading this book every once in a while, because I read one chapter at a time and I’m taking my time. It’s a very inspiring book! Even though it is focused on getting rich by making more money, the tips the author gives for getting rich are really tips that make our lives better anyway. And that is where my journey is taking me after surviving abuse–a better life where I am assertive and taking care of myself better than I have in the past!

The chapter I read today was “Your Source of Power,” and at the end was a quote that really got me thinking. I’ve read it before, but I usually find it a bit frustrating. Hill says:

Your state of mind is something you can control completely….

No one can control the actions of others or the many circumstances of life that tend to make one angry, but you can control your reactions to these actions and circumstances.

This is not a new idea, but sometimes I just read things in a new light. This idea is also the main point of another book I read called People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them the Keys. That book is filled with assertive ways to deal with maddening people! It really is the truth that we can control our reactions, but I’ve always found the idea so frustrating because when you are dealing with a crazy person–especially an abuser–you begin to feel helpless after a while. It’s hard to believe you have any control over anything when there is a strong bully ruling over your life! The authors can say we control our own minds, but if you are being criticized and attacked and gaslighted daily, it really gets hard to stay strong. So I guess what I’m thinking is, sometimes it is harder than usual to control your reaction to a situation and stay strong, and that’s why every time I’ve seen that quote, I have had trouble fully accepting it. It was always so hard to see a way out of the abuse.

Still, it gets me thinking…when my ex was screaming and calling me names all the time, and I was huddled and crying in fear, could I have changed my reaction by simply not letting his rages scare me? I don’t know, because he was so unpredictable. I did change the problem by ending the marriage very quickly, so I guess that was the only way I could control my reaction to a volatile person.

Since I used to be a co-dependent, I’ve always had a problem with working harder and harder to fix the problems with abusive people, when I should have been strong, and kicked them right out the door after it became clear they weren’t going to change! When I was trying to fix disordered people, I was giving up my own power and letting them run all over my life while I waited for them to be respectful. (As if that would ever happen!) I can’t believe it took me so long to gain the insight and boundaries to stop letting unrepentant abusers control me when I could have said “no!” so much sooner. Lesson learned….

As I’ve been healing, I’ve really taken heart in this idea that I can control my reactions instead of trying to control people’s bad behavior. It is so much easier and less stressful, that’s for sure! It makes me feel like I have more personal power, and it gives me so much excitement for the future.

The other day, someone did something really crappy to me–stole my work off of my website, cropped out my website address, re-posted it as her own, said it was hers, and told people they too could share it. I was not happy that this person was so disrespectful with my work, nor the fact that technically, that is a crime. When I confronted the person, she refused to remove my stolen work, and she blocked me. That’s the kind of situation where someone else is taking control of your life, and you feel like you can’t stop them! It was incredibly rude and entitled of that person to think it was okay to do that! And it was that situation that made me see that old quote up there in a new light. I am no longer allowing people to abuse me. That person violated me, and I cannot control her behavior, nor can I make her an honest, ethical person. She was dishonest and that probably isn’t going to change. People are what they are until they decide to change… and judging by her refusal to remove my copyrighted work or even talk about it, she wasn’t planning on changing any time soon!

So…if I can’t prevent someone from violating me, I can control whether or not I let them continue, and whether or not I let it ruin my day. There are always going to be jerks in the world. All I can do is use my legal rights, (which I did.) I am done engaging with that person, because I don’t want to waste my time on abusive people anymore. I cannot keep those types of people from walking through my life, but I can keep them from staying. And that’s really what that quote is about.

The importance of relaxing without feeling guilty

blogphotoBecause of the way I was raised with an abusive mother, I was taught not to take care of myself or nurture myself. I was made to feel guilty about enjoying anything. I grew up to be a strict goody-two-shoes who was nervous about trying anything “bad” or even taking a break. Hedonistic people live for pleasure, but I grew up being the opposite–denying myself pleasure. In some ways, that is a good thing because I never got caught up in vices, but at the same time, I never learned to relax…or even believe I deserved to.

I rarely watched television, I never drank alcohol, I didn’t get to movies, I didn’t splurge on self-care like massages or manicures, I didn’t buy delicious foods, I didn’t take time out for fun. I lived as if I did not deserve anything good. Even if I did watch television, I’d do work while I watched. I never did anything enjoyable without doing something productive at the same time. I have been one incredibly stressed-out person!

Most people are looking to watch less T.V. or get off the couch more, but recently, I have started trying to do the opposite. For all of my life, I have been active and busy doing things that “matter” from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed. In the past few years, especially now that I have two toddlers, my days have been non-stop. It’s nearly impossible to keep the house clean, keep the dishes done, get all the laundry finished, and I’ve been stressing myself out trying to do everything and keep everything perfect.

That’s no way to live!

So, a few months ago, I decided to sit down in my comfy recliner and watch MORE television. Every night before bed. And…I force myself to put down the laptop, put down the books, and just sit. (Even though it’s tempting to run around the house and put things away with the TV going in the background.) I’m challenging myself to just sit, relax and do nothing. To enjoy just watching mindless shows for pure enjoyment. It’s nice!

Learning to enjoy life probably comes naturally to many people, but it was not natural to me. In fact, I remember being around 9-10 years old and watching my mother buy herself new clothes. I asked her to buy me a shirt–a purple turtleneck–and she told me that I did not deserve anything because I did not earn the money. Even when I did grow up to earn the money, I carried that comment with me–that I did not deserve things.

Over the past few years, I have learned to indulge myself in luxuries like some fancy perfume, a manicure, a massage…and a night in front of my television watching good-looking men on an interesting show. Purely wasting my time…and not feeling guilty about it!

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