Seven areas of focus for self-improvement
I was talking to my husband last night about the work I have been focusing on for self-improvement. For the first time, I was able to really explain and understand what I have been going through especially over the past few months.
About 6 months ago, I started to really pay attention to how stressed and emotional I was. I was feeling overwhelmed and it was affecting my relationships. I needed to do some work to uncover what was bothering me at my core. Something clicked and I realized that I had to sort through my chaotic mind and find some peace in my life.
I instinctively withdrew from my social life (had I only known that I would’ve been forced to in a few months anyway! Hint: This is the PERFECT time to dive into some personal growth and development). I spent a lot of time reading about spiritual awakenings. I took an MBTI personality test and learned everything I could about my personality. I bought a journal. I followed inspirational people in Instagram.
I can’t really explain it, but I felt a pull to do all of these things for self-improvement. I am not sure I could have stopped myself if I tried. And every stone I turned over revealed some new information to improve myself.
This time felt lonely and sad and even depressing at times. I felt like no one would understand me. I didn’t feel like going out or seeing people that I usually love to see, which scared me. However, for some reason I just knew deep down to trust the process. I knew that it wouldn’t last forever. I knew that I would come out of this feeling happier and more grateful. I could see the positive changes before they even took place. I can’t explain this leap of faith, it was just there. I knew when I was ready, I would start accepting and initiating more social outings. I knew I would feel happier and not so sad. I kept pushing through following this faith.
Now I will be the first to say that this will be a forever work in progress. All of these things will require mindfulness and practice for me to fully overcome what holds me back. I am undoing many years of conditioning.
But for the first time ever I am starting to feel truly at peace. I read about synchronicity and how when you are focused on a certain thing you will start to see it everywhere. I have connected with like-minded people. I see inspirational posts everywhere. I notice when people use a positive mindset to comment on a negative topic. I have put myself out there more than I ever have.
Seven areas of focus for self-improvement
I found that journaling was a fantastic way to learn how to observe my thoughts, investigate my emotions without immediately reacting and “talk” through my problems. More often than not I would reach a solution by the end of my entry.
I learned all I could about boundaries. I realized that the reason for my emotional turmoil and burnout was due mostly to the fact that I have never been good at constructing and protecting my own boundaries. I give way too much of myself, it is often not reciprocated, and I ultimately end up with hurt feelings. Or I give so much of myself that I neglect my own needs and eventually burn out.
3. Self-care for introverts
I also discovered that contrary to what I thought, I am actually an introvert. I love to help people and to be social, but only when I am fully recharged. This has taught me so much about self-care. What I always thought of as selfish, I now see as essential. It is imperative for me to take time during the day to be by myself. I like to be alone. Going for walks has been a great self-care activity for me. I have also found yoga to help in so many aspects from stretching and flexibility for my physical health to releasing stress for mental health.
One the most beneficial lessons I have learned is that you are solely responsible for your own happiness. We often look to external sources to provide us with happiness. We search for the perfect relationship, the most amazing home, more money, etc. to make us happy.
However, the truth is, these things may bring a temporary feeling of happiness, but it will not be sustainable. Real happiness comes from your internal outlook. How you choose to show up in the world or how you handle what goes on in your mind is the key to your own happiness. Do you focus on the positive and see the silver lining? Do you take comments personally or are you able to see why another person is saying or doing hurtful things and where it really comes from? Do you accept the things you cannot control? Are you present and do you practice mindfulness to appreciate everything in the moment? Do you practice gratitude?
5. Letting go
I learned how to not take things personal and to let go of all that I can’t control including other people’s perceptions or judgments about me. As a people pleaser, this was especially hard for me. But it has bought a sense of peace and has allowed me to let go of resentment and a sense of betrayal I have been carrying around.
I started to connect with people I never expected to connect with. I started to evaluate all of my relationships in my life. I make more of an effort to make sure if a positive or complimentary thought crosses my mind to say it to that person. And I have noticed it coming back to me. People have given me compliments that lift me up or offer me a friendly gesture.
I have learned to appreciate all of my relationships for their uniqueness and how each relationship or group serves me in a particular way. That has led me to loosen up on my high expectations and standards and has allowed me to just accept things for what they are.
7. Embracing my creativity
I realized how much I need a creative outlet to feel happy. I have always been creative. As a child, I enjoyed art and writing. I have a bachelor’s in English. I learned how to crochet when I was pregnant with my second child. I love to draw with my kids. I have always been aware of my love for creative arts, however for the first time I am realizing how important it is to my well-being.
And this realization coupled with some serious deep work about what I really want to do for a career, now that all 3 of my children will be in school full time, led me to start a blog and launch a freelance writing career.
I love to write. And once I start, the words just seem to flow out of me. My finished product makes me proud and the whole process just brings me happiness. Putting my thoughts to paper improves my mood, patience, and mindset.
As my husband said, then you will never work a day in your life. Realizing that I want to be a writer and knowing how happy it makes me and how fitting it is for my personality brings a level of excitement and enjoyment to my career. Is there anything better than truly loving what you do?
For the first time ever, I feel a real calling. I don’t fully understand how this path started and how I have been pulled along being pushed in the directions that I desperately needed to follow. I don’t have a full grasp on what is happening to me and why. But I do know that focusing on self-improvement is one of the best things that has happened to me.
I am happier. I am back to socializing more but I am aware of burning myself out by taking on too much. I make sure to get in some form of self-care daily whether that means writing in my journal, taking a long walk or doing a yoga class. I don’t let little things fester and bother me and I have stopped taking things personal. I have learned to control only what I can actually control. Learning to manage my emotions and use them for information rather than react to them and allow them to run my life, has been freeing to say the least. Learning how to instill boundaries and enforce them is necessary for my mental health. And practicing self-care has made me more positive, patient, mindful and grateful. I have emerged from the fog.
I do believe that the Universe will give back to you. I believe that the positive things that have started to come into my life are the result of my vibrational energy being raised and my positive thoughts and outlook attracting more positivity. The idea is still strange for me to grasp, as is this whole awakening process, but all I know is that it has made me a happier, more positive person who cares less about what people think about her and more about being her authentic self. The gratitude I feel for this unbelievable gift is immeasurable.