What I’ve Learned About my Battles

What I’ve Learned About my Battles

For the first post of the year, I’m going to get personal. I want to share some inner battles of mine that perhaps you are also facing, or can at least relate to, for which you can receive some inspiration, encouragement, or wisdom.

These four battles have either been longterm ones that maintained their status as the most trying battles throughout my life, or have just begun their onslaught. They are all battles I’m still facing today. Among the many different kinds I’ve faced, or am facing, these have stood out as the most resilient (but no less beatable!)

  1. Anxiety

Once upon a time I used to think anxiety wasn’t a legitimate mental problem. Then I experienced it for myself, and realized that it’s the real deal. The toughest part is the physical affect it has on me. It’s amazing how a problem that’s entirely in the mind has such power over your body and health. I’ve experienced drastic panic attacks that caused me to faint, and I’ve experienced the very subtle yet nagging symptoms like chronic nausea and inability to sleep soundly. Of course, though, I would really just like to be at peace in my mind for once.

What have I learned about it?

Anxiety is a heightened, severe version of worry. It’s gone past feeling concern for the future. It’s feeling straight up fear. So when we fight it, we have to treat it as fear. You know what we do with fears? We face them. Sometimes the best way to fight anxiety is to charge in to the very thing we’re anxious about.

For the physical symptoms, there’s a few things that can do some serious help:

  • exercise
  • healthy diet
  • taking vitamins
  • yoga and meditation
  • drinking plenty of water
  • herbal tea

Counseling, spending time with friends, reading, and partaking in a hobby have all proven, at least to me, that they can really help one deal with chronic anxiety.

2. Shame

This was no longer an issue of shyness or social awkwardness. I eventually realized that a lot of my social behavior stems from embarrassment of merely being in public! I act (and think) as if I am less than everyone around me, that I’m no good, useless, pointless, without purpose…and then I become consumed with shame.

And yes, sometimes, this feeling produced thoughts of suicide.

What have I learned about it?

This shame is an absolute, genuine, unadulterated LIE. I never needed another person to tell me that. I knew it for myself. Yet, I still let it hang around. That usually created this horrendous cycle of shame (“I’m ashamed that I feel ashamed”). How do I fight it? I recount the things I’m good at, the people who love me, and what I’m passionate about. I remind myself that I’m good at such-and-such, that so-and-so loves me without condition and has proven it, and that there’s somewhere I’m willing to make a difference: I am good, I am not alone, and I have a purpose.

3. Self-pity

Self-pity is a very dangerous game to play. Let it latch itself onto your heart, and suddenly you’re impossible to please, you’re bitter, you’re hateful, you’re narrow-minded, you’re unbearably selfish, and you’re a wet blanket. Basically, you become the kind of person no one wants to be around. It’s not too hard to wonder why.

My battle with self-pity became so bad that it reached the point where God had to convict me. Hard. It was destroying me. It is destroying me. It’s proven to be one near-impossible root to pull out. I let it become a part of me. I let it manifest itself in my everyday behavior and thought pattern. I have come to detest the person I am when I operate in self-pity.

What have I learned about it?

Self-pity goes hand in hand with clinical depression. Does this mean I’ve been depressed? Maybe. It puts blinders on our eyes that only lets us see ourselves. We’re the only ones we can possibly think about. How horrible is that? So you know what I do to fight it? I force myself to think about those in worse situations than me, like those with a terminal illness. Compared to them, I have no right to victimize myself. It quickly snaps me back into right thinking. With how deep self-pity has dug itself, it’s practically every other minute of my life. But I fight on. If there’s one thing I refuse to become, it’s a self-pitying wretch.

4. Jealousy/Comparing to others

I did not know that I had a deep-rooted issue of living in people’s shadows until the day I went up for prayer back in youth group. I had no clue what I needed prayer for, I only knew that I needed prayer and I was too compelled to stay back. Then the youth pastor began praying, and she prayed…that I stop living in my older siblings’ shadow. It shocked me so hard that my eyes shot open and I reeled just a little. That was an extremely emotional moment. It was like a glass had shattered and a light came on all at once.

That day I discovered that I struggled with being jealous and comparing myself to others.

I particularly compare myself to those more successful than me. Sadly, in my mind, that ends up being everyone! I make up some reason of why anyone and everyone is better than me. I secretly, and guiltily, desire for their success, desire to do what they did to get it…desire to get it faster. The end result is a dissatisfaction with myself, with where I’m at in life, and with what I’ve accomplished. I’ve even been so bad as to be dissatisfied with my current age. That’s when it’s just stupid and crazy.

What have I learned about it?

First of all, comparing is a big, fat waste of energy. Being jealous just makes you an unhappy cynic. The best treatment method? Thankfulness, thankfulness, thankfulness. I fight by replacing thoughts of jealousy and comparison with finding something to be thankful for. I don’t always succeed. I don’t always fail. So I’m making progress.

 

Do any of these sound familiar? Relatable? It’s okay. It’s normal. It’s human. Every kind of battle is capable of being fought and won. They each take different strategies and levels of action, but they’re all the same. You can do it, just like I can.

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5 Things I’ve Overcome and Am Overcoming

5 Things I’ve Overcome and Am Overcoming

Through each year there will always be at least one or two things that we fight passionately, usually in our minds and emotions. They often leave us weary and hopeless. But here’s something to note of a battle: it’s never over after one fight. Victory comes from a collections of small wins, which we accumulate over a long…period…of…time.

I have more battles than just these five, but these are some that I’ve been fighting for a long time and have made small but significant progress in.

  1. Social ineptness. Okay, I’m not inept in social settings, but for a long time I believed myself to be, and still I struggle with feeling comfortable and confident in the public eye. But taking on people-oriented roles like retail jobs have helped me develop far. I used to be that kid who literally hid behind her mother’s legs. One thing I can still work on is eye contact (it makes me nervous; I habitually look around the room during conversation), but each day I get a little closer to my goal.
  2. Anxiety. I don’t think I’m too intense to be labeled a “worrier,” but I definitely have my moments. I can easily get anxious about situations, especially the ones in which I know nothing and feel completely useless. Once upon a time it even opened the door to having some nasty anxiety attacks that went on for months. But I moved on from those, and I’m still moving on from anxiety all together.
  3. A passive voice. This is a reference to my writing (of course I had to include one writing item). It still comes up, but with the help of dedicated editing and rewriting I have not only fixed the mistakes I’ve already made, but I’ve gotten better at recognizing that sneaky passive voice when it comes up in the moment.
  4. Self-imposed standards (based on comparison). Since high school I’ve had a bad habit of comparing my progress with my peers and family members, thinking that because they achieved a specific thing at such and such time, then I should have also achieved it at that same time. This has led to becoming my greatest enemy when it comes to standards and expectations. It’s a subconscious urge that I have to fight, but reminding myself that our pathways are extremely different, and we can achieve the same goal in very different ways, usually helps me get back in focus.
  5. Not valuing the small victories. I know I can give myself more credit than I do. I seem to subconsciously put numeric values on achievements, which doesn’t allow me to enjoy the small ones and reward myself. It may be cheesy, but saying that “it’s the small victories that count” is all too true. Bigger victories are only accomplished through smaller ones, after all.

 

What battles have you overcome or are currently overcoming? Sometimes sharing them can help motivate us to fight on.

5 words I’m focusing on this year

Starting this year, I’ve decided to make a habit of choosing a handful of words that will be my focus for the year. This was inspired from a Monday Night gathering, where a challenge was to choose a word to focus on for the year along with a related scripture. My word was trust.

Here are five words, including trust, that I’ve chosen to focus on for this year:

  1. Trust
    One thing that I have been working on for a while is trusting in God, and trusting him in all areas of my life. I too easily fall into self-dependency and forget to lean on the Lord, especially in situations of which I have no control.
  2. Change
    Something stirred inside me at the beginning of 2014: this year is going to be very eventful. I don’t know why, but that was consistently there in my mind, and I took it to be a preparatory message. Since January there has already been significant change and progress, particularly in my personal life, and the adventure is like no other.
  3. Write
    My goal to write, write, and write some more has never been so strong. It helps having a Creative Writing class at the moment too. This endeavor has pushed me to search for those opportunities to write, like internships, submissions, and progress on my novel.
  4. Prayer
    This is something interesting: I want to advance in prayer. At the moment I am struggling with it, with what exactly I’m not sure, but it’s a very important part of my life that I never want to lose grasp of.
  5. Expand
    With this word I am specifically speaking of my skills and experience. There are several hobbies I want to embrace, and certain activities like editing, crafting, and blogging are specific areas that I want to expand with, not just in experience but in professionalism.

What would you say are your “focus words” for this year?

5 Things I want to Improve

There’s always room for improvement. And there’s always something about ourselves that can be better than it is right now. Here’s five things for me that I want to improve, and have begun the mission to improve them.

  1. Trusting in God. It’s amazing how free I feel when I stop worrying about things and just leave it alone.
  2. My writing. Well that’s a no-brainer, right? But I don’t just want to improve my writing; I also want to improve how much I write.
  3. My mornings. Just an hour earlier and a lot of progress can happen…
  4. My sense of strength. Being so petite I walk around feeling like I’m going to shatter and brake. I have to believe I’m stronger than I perceive myself to be.
  5. My editing skills. If I want to get professional, I have to study up and learn everything I can of it.

What are some things you want to improve about yourself?