Self Sabotage Part 2: The Hand-Me-Downs

My sister is a shopper. She always has the nicest clothes and the latest products for her hair and skin. My favorite times of year are when I visit her and get a box full of her “old” clothes and other things she doesn’t want anymore. And by old, I mean last season, or never worn, or “I have one very similar, so you can have this one”. It always feels like Christmas!

This past hand-me-down exchange was again full of some really nice pieces. My mother was also cleaning out her room and added a bunch of t-shirts that I figured I could wear to work or around the house. You can never have enough t-shirts, right? While trying on all of my newly acquired items, my husband said “Why don’t you just get rid of everything you own and buy a new wardrobe?” A perfectly harmless comment. But my automatic response was “I can’t, we don’t have money”.

I CAN’T, WE DON’T HAVE MONEY.

When I said this, I didn’t realize that I believe this statement. I believe it so much, that I have let it run my life. Of course I don’t have money to buy a new wardrobe. I also don’t have money to get my hair cut, or get my nails done, or go to that show I wanted to see, or go to the festival I’ve been wanting to go to for the past few years but never had money for.

I have been telling myself I don’t have money for so long that I actually don’t have any money.

Self sabotage can take many forms. Mine is negative self talk. I am finally able to see what it does to my self-esteem and my all around well-being. This whole time I had no idea that what I believed to be a modest comment was setting the stage for every aspect of my life. Believing this statement was holding me back from being successful in my financial life, and the worst part is that I just thought I was doomed to be broke my whole life.

My challenge to everyone is to be more self-aware. Are you self sabotaging? Is there something in your life you feel is just out of your reach? Like you get close to achieving it and then it slips away? I challenge anyone in this situation to take a step back and listen to your automatic responses and self talk. Are you being kind to yourself? Are you giving yourself the love and encouragement you need to succeed in life?

We all deserve to live the life we imagine. The life in which we achieve all of our dreams and desires. The life where we are genuinely happy. The first thing you can do to begin this journey is start believing it can happen!

Her dream job is to be a princess, but for now, she sticks with being a scientist who has a big imagination. Melissa is from Scranton, Pennsylvania and currently calls Nashville, Tennessee her home. Her family is her life. She loves her dog, Jodi, and her cat, Johnny Bear. Oh, and she is reading the Harry Potter books for the first time, and she thinks they are amazing!

Self Sabotage Part 1

I have noticed for some time that I can’t follow through with my goals and intentions, and that I always seem to ruin good things before they get really good. So today I looked up the meaning of self sabotage. Self sabotaging is when your negative thoughts get in the way of you reaching your goals. I learned the most common ways are procrastination, comfort eating, and self medicating with drugs or alcohol. It is an umbrella term for self destructive behavior. I also learned that I am not alone in my struggle.

I am so good at self sabotage that my New Year’s resolution for the past few years has been to follow through on something. Anything! It isn’t to get in shape or eat better or accomplish a specific goal. It is just to accomplish one of the many goals I set for myself but end up never reaching. We are pretty much 35 weeks into this year, and I have probably said 30 times that my diet will start on Monday. Every couple of weeks I make an exercise schedule that ends after 3 or 4 days. I don’t quit because I don’t like what I’m doing, I actually really enjoy exercising. I also don’t quit my diets because I don’t like eating healthy food, I love healthy food! The list of things I quit is never ending, I really can’t tell you the last time I finished something I started. Let me clarify, I always keep my word to other people, it is only my own goals that I can’t seem to accomplish.

In my brief research of self sabotage, I learned that most of the negative thoughts or actions are ingrained in us from childhood. It may be that we were told by a parental figure that we would never amount to anything because we are too lazy, for example. It can also be from witnessing a parental figure be negative towards themselves in regards to body image issues or money problems to name a few.

I consider myself very successful. I graduated high school and college, I have a really good job that pays the bills, I have a family that is supportive of me. So why am I doing this to myself? I honestly ask myself this question over and over but never seem to find an answer. They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Maybe I needed to take this step of searching Google for “what does it mean to self sabotage?”

One of my most stressful issues is money. Not that I don’t make enough of it, because I do if you look at my tax return. It’s the fact that I never seem to have any. I get raises and pay off bills, and still end up feeling like I’m struggling. For example, I got completely out of credit card debt and then back into credit card debt within the same year. It’s like I can’t handle being in control of my finances. I have to ruin all of my hard work and make my money situation stressful for myself.

After thinking about my multitude of self sabotaging habits and which areas of my life they impact, I came up with this list: money, interpersonal relationships with friends and coworkers, losing weight and exercising. I have spent the entire day thinking about these things and what the reasons are that I can’t seem to accomplish even the tiniest goal related to any of these topics.

Money, as I explained above, has always been an issue for me. But what I keep forgetting is that money has always been an issue for my parents and their families as well. The more I thought about this, I remembered my father saying that no one in his family (except for one of his sisters) has ever or will ever have money. They can pay their bills and everything, but they will never be able to reap the benefits of saving up for a big vacation or retiring early or buying a fancy house. Hold on a minute. Did I just say that a comment my father made 20 years ago is still effecting how I live my life? That answer is yes.

Interpersonal relationships is another one of my sabotaged areas. I have a hard time forgiving people, and have completely ended friendships because of something that was said or done. I also have a problem of not thinking before I speak, and this has gotten me into uncomfortable situations. I can hurt someone’s feelings so easily, and I don’t ever intend to. I still get scolded by my mother for how I speak to her. Let me just say that woman is a saint for raising me, I can’t imagine how difficult it was. Another example happened just the other day. I made a comment at work to management that I never should have said. I did apologize to my manager, and she reminded me that I need to think before I speak. It made me stressed for days, and I even started thinking that I should not be in my field, and I shouldn’t try to pursue a position in management one day. Seriously? I am really good at my job, and I have always been a leader, so why in the world am I thinking these things?!

If I think back to my childhood, and what could be the reason for this, I can only think of how my parents argued all of the time. I remember them yelling at each other constantly. Even though they have been divorced for over 10 years now, nothing has changed between them. Is this what has impacted my ability to interact with others in a way that will form lasting relationships? Is this the reason I have a hard time getting to know people and letting myself be vulnerable so that people can know who I really am? I am not my mother, and I am not in the situation of being in a marriage with someone who I don’t get along with, so why can’t I have successful, life long relationships? I deserve to.

I will combine losing weight and exercising into one category. Body image. I have had body image issues for as long as I can remember. I was never skinny enough or pretty enough, no matter what others said to me. There was a short period of time in college when I did think I fit my definition of skinny and pretty, but I did not get there in a healthy way, and that is an entirely different blog post.

All of my life, I was involved in activities like ballet, tap and jazz dancing, hip hop dancing, basketball, softball, track and field and cross country. I even tried my hand at soccer and tennis, but didn’t have the time to commit to them. I was an athlete. I worked my butt off at everything I did, and I was pretty good at everything I tried. So why am I having such a hard time getting back into exercising? I’m not talking boot camps and doing things I hate. I am taking ballet classes and my husband is a boxing instructor, and I truly don’t mind running and doing yoga. I just can’t get through an entire week doing what I had planned for myself.

Are you ready for this? When I was a senior in high school, I was told that I would not be starting on the basketball team, and instead of me, the daughter of the men’s team coach would be taking my position. I, to this day, believe this was the wrong decision for the success of our team. To make a long story short, we lost games we shouldn’t have and weren’t the best we could’ve been. And I sat on the sidelines watching the entire time, knowing that when I was allowed to play, we did a lot better than when I was on the bench. So I ended up quitting the team before the season ended, because I just couldn’t handle watching everyone else play. I even watched a whole lot more during practice because I wasn’t considered a key player, and for that, my endurance and skills suffered. I guess I am a quitter now? Why am I letting this one bad experience ruin all of the experiences that have come after it? This happened 11 years ago.

Her dream job is to be a princess, but for now, she sticks with being a scientist who has a big imagination. Melissa is from Scranton, Pennsylvania and currently calls Nashville, Tennessee her home. Her family is her life. She loves her dog, Jodi, and her cat, Johnny Bear. Oh, and she is reading the Harry Potter books for the first time, and she thinks they are amazing!

Being valued for being you.

I remember being young and wishing my classmates liked my ideas. I was not a popular girl, but I was smart. I was also shy, so when I had an idea to share, it was a big deal for me to open my mouth and let it out. My mother once told my sixth grade teacher about this, and he responded by saying that all of the students liked my ideas, and I always shared good ones. So why was my perception of myself so different?

Fast forward about eighteen years.

At my current job, I started off working on second shift. Soon after I completed my training, I ended up in a leadership position because I was more experienced than the other people working my shift. I was the person to whom the newer employees asked all of their questions. I was the person they found when there was a technical issue, or someone made a mistake and needed help correcting it. I was the person who had the confidence and experience to answer questions that can change someone’s life. I took that responsibility on with great pride. I am a leader at heart, and I am always up for a challenge. However, I didn’t really think much about the fact that I was making a difference in my workplace.

I started working on day shift about three months ago. I was expecting to be treated like the new person, but to my surprise I was treated the complete opposite. Everyone was helpful and patient while I readjusted to my new hours and duties. It was during this transition when I realized I can be true to myself and still be successful. I can be quirky and silly, but still professional. I am valued for being me. For my entire life, I never really knew what I was capable of by simply doing what I enjoy and what comes naturally.

I have been in my field for four years now. Even though I do not consider myself very experienced, others treat me like I am. I have been invited to go to conferences and work on special projects. An experienced coworker even asked for my opinion on something she has expert knowledge of. In that moment, I realized I am being treated as an equal among my peers, my opinion is valued and my ideas are liked. I felt like I earned a place I never even imagined. And on the inside I was shouting, “ME! She asked ME!”

Self confidence is a hard thing to grasp sometimes. As humans, we are usually humble in our view of ourselves. I think more of us should shout out “I did it!” “I made it!” Or “look at me, I’m awesome!” Holding back on who we are will only hold us back in life. We must be true to ourselves and keep moving forward. The realization that others value my opinion and ideas is truly a milestone for me. I feel like this is a new beginning, so there is an unfinished end to this post. But I wanted to write about it because it is uncomfortable and new. This is a perfect example of a transition in life, and I’m sort of in the “wow, this is really happening” stage. I think it is amazing how much I have grown as a human that I am able to recognize that something in my life is changing. I just have no idea where it will go from here!

Her dream job is to be a princess, but for now, she sticks with being a scientist who has a big imagination. Melissa is from Scranton, Pennsylvania and currently calls Nashville, Tennessee her home. Her family is her life. She loves her dog, Jodi, and her cat, Johnny Bear. Oh, and she is reading the Harry Potter books for the first time, and she thinks they are amazing!

What Animals Can Teach Us

     Yesterday, my cat, Johnny Bear, got outside. Now, he is an indoor cat and has been his entire one year of life. He went out of my apartment door, down half a flight of steps, through the posts on a railing, and out onto a slanted, black metal roof. Have you ever heard a cat scream in terror and pain? It is an awful sound. And I keep reliving that moment over and over again. My poor cat was basically stuck in a rain gutter and then trying to climb up a hot metal roof. He tried twice, and that’s when I ran inside to get a blanket. What I was going to do with that blanket hadn’t been figured out yet, but it seemed like a reasonable action at the time. When I ran back outside, he was gone!

     Don’t worry, he somehow managed to get off the roof and was trying to get in a neighbor’s apartment on the floor below me. When I finally brought him inside, he was still making some horrible sounds. I felt terrible! He didn’t want me to even look at his paws. But they were different variations of red, wrinkled, and blistered.

     The point of me sharing this horrible event is that I think I was more emotionally damaged than my cat. He is usually very active, but he spent most of the day sleeping. He did get up a few times to eat, so I have to believe he is feeling ok despite what happened, and that he is in pain. Me on the other hand. I was anxious and wanted to cry all day. I kept wanting to cuddle with him, but he couldn’t care less about cuddling, he just wanted to do his own cat things.

     One time, I cut my dog’s nail too short and she started bleeding. I had the same reaction then too. What I’ve learned from both of these occasions, after much sulking and feeling sorry for my pets, is that they aren’t mad or sad or emotionally hurt. They understand that what happened was an accident, and they forgive and let it go.

     I think we can learn a lot from this animal trait. I believe it has something to do with how animals just live in the moment. If they feel hungry, they eat; if they feel tired, they sleep. If they are stuck on a roof, they try to get to a place of safety. When their paws are blistered, they lick them and get the dead skin off. They aren’t mad at themselves or anyone else. They just deal with the situation in front of them. When that is dealt with, they move on to the next thing.

     My animals have the best life. They get to sleep whenever they want, which is usually most of the time. They always have food available. They get to exercise and play. Sometimes though, they have to stay home alone for an extended period of time. They have to get bloodwork done and teeth cleanings at the vet’s office, and believe me, my animals believe the vet’s office is the worst place in the entire world!  But when we get home, everything is fine again. We go on our walks and watch tv and play, and the world is great again.

     So why do I spend so much of my day thinking about the past and what I could’ve or should’ve done differently? Why do I worry about the future so much? When I spend all of my time worrying or ruminating, I can’t enjoy today for what it is. I might miss out on an experience that would make me happy.  What if Johnny Bear might cuddle with me, but I miss that moment because I’m so stressed and he doesn’t want to bother with me?

     From today on out, I’m going to try to be more like my animals. I’m going to try to forgive myself for anything I am anxious about. I’m going to try to forgive other people since I can’t control what they do. I’m going to forgive my dog, Jodi, when she goes in the garbage and trails it all over my apartment. I’m going to forgive Johnny Bear for waking me up at 4 am because he wants some attention. After I forgive, I’m going to make myself present for focusing on what needs to be done next. I will do things that make me happy, help others any way I can, give Johnny Bear the attention he wants, and clean up the trash and play with Jodi. After I do that, who knows! I’ll just do what I need to do to make myself feel satisfied with life. I’m curious to see what happens.

Her dream job is to be a princess, but for now, she sticks with being a scientist who has a big imagination. Melissa is from Scranton, Pennsylvania and currently calls Nashville, Tennessee her home. Her family is her life. She loves her dog, Jodi, and her cat, Johnny Bear. Oh, and she is reading the Harry Potter books for the first time, and she thinks they are amazing!

Love Yourself First

“Make sure you secure your oxygen mask before assisting others.”

We’ve all heard these words before, but they don’t just apply to oxygen masks on airplanes.

My version is “Make sure you love yourself before helping others.”

Today, I compared myself to other bloggers. “I’m not as creative. I’m not as good a writer as everyone else. No one is going to care what I have to say.” And my favorite, “I only got 0 comments and 6 likes.”

STOP IT RIGHT NOW, MELISSA.

Phew.

Okay, Melissa, you are a smart, thoughtful, caring and loving person. You have a good job, a loving family and the best pets. You have amazing hair! You are funny and have a big imagination. You influence the people around you in a positive way. You have succeeded in life even though it hasn’t always been easy. You have grown so much over the past few years, and I am proud to call you, ME!

That’s better.

Now I want everyone reading this to try that.

As humble humans, it can feel uncomfortable to praise ourselves. If any of you are like me, I can give out compliments all day. But I usually forget to tell myself that I’m awesome too.

The fact that our society and social media have made it so easy to negatively compare ourselves to others (even though we know nothing about the circumstances behind the photo or video we see online) has changed the way we view ourselves.

You all know what I mean.

You also know it’s unhealthy.

And honestly, who cares about the number of likes. That should not be a defining characteristic of who we are.

So my first piece of advice to me, is to start loving myself. Stop comparing myself to others. That includes negatively and positively. Because everyone has a story, a different story, and they are all unique and awesome.

Go give yourself a hug and a pat on the back. Then go do something that makes you feel good. You deserve it. You are amazing.

And don’t forget to love yourself.

Her dream job is to be a princess, but for now, she sticks with being a scientist who has a big imagination. Melissa is from Scranton, Pennsylvania and currently calls Nashville, Tennessee her home. Her family is her life. She loves her dog, Jodi, and her cat, Johnny Bear. Oh, and she is reading the Harry Potter books for the first time, and she thinks they are amazing!