Day 319

110 days later…

I’m back after a very long impromptu hiatus. To those of you following this blog, I apologize for my absence. Life just got really busy.

Where to begin? Well, my aunt passed away in November. I went to her memorial service, which was beautiful. It was a family reunion of sorts. My three siblings and I spent some time together after what must have been years. My decision to go to the memorial was a last minute one, but after hearing my mother describe her plans for the ceremony, I knew in my heart that I would regret not being there to see it, so two weeks before the service, I did what I could to be there. It was only for a weekend (I left on Friday night and returned on Monday night). I’m glad I gave myself permission to go back. It strengthened my sense of self-love allowing myself to honor my aunt’s memory with my relatives.

On top of my aunt passing away, my daughter started really struggling in school.  She can’t seem to learn the material, and she has trouble paying attention, staying in her seat, and working with her classmates. My husband and I think she has ADHD, and we’ve had her talk to a counselor, who confirms our suspicion; however our counselor is not qualified to diagnose our daughter in Japan because she was licensed in California. Anyway, we’ve been trying to get her evaluated by someone who is qualified, but up until recently, we were under the impression that the process started with her school making a referral.

After several meetings over the course of three months, I have recently found out that we were wrong about that. In fact the school has no authority in the matter. I wish I had known that weeks ago. I was so frustrated and disheartened by the whole thing. But that’s water under the bridge now.

The experience with my daughter’s school and my aunt’s passing has made it clear to me that I have got to stop talking about change and actually do something. So, I recently enrolled in an online program for coach training. In about a year and a half, I am going to be a certified coach. Not sure what that is going to look like, but I feel that it is a step in the right direction.

On the one hand, I’m excited to try something new and learn new skills that won’t just be valuable for a new career, but also for my own personal growth. On the other hand, I’m terrified that I may have chosen a career that may not support my family. Becoming self-employed is a risk, but then again, so is being employed by a company. Nothing is ever really guaranteed.

It’s hard to believe there are more days behind me than in front of me on this journey of self-love. As I look back, I feel that I have learned a lot about myself and what I want in my life. I’ve given myself permission to be flawed, to listen to my inner voice, and to trust my heart, and to walk my path even when it feels unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Looking forward, I can see there is still so much I need to learn, but I am optimistic about my future. There are only 46 more days left on this journey, and even if it is just a few lines, I am going to write something on every one of these remaining days.

I’ve just started my coach training, and I have a couple months before I start teaching again. There’s no telling what could happen between now and day 365, but I have a feeling it’s going to be great!

Day 85

People Pleasing: Virtue or vice?

In social situations, when the chips are down and I feel under pressure to perform, people pleasing is my go to strategy. However, since I committed to the 365-Days-of-Self-Love challenge, that strategy and its value has been called into question. How can I love myself and not be completely myself? Although I am leaning towards scrapping this seemingly tried and true tactic, I would like to examine the role people pleasing has played in my life to see whether or not it really is worth dropping completely.

Considering the fact that I’ve used people pleasing for most of my adult life to get by in social situations, it is clear that it has served me in some way. Otherwise it would not be my default persona. I’m comfortable in my people pleaser mask, so much so that it is hard to discern the mask from the real me. There are so many advantages to being a pleasant, agreeable, and nice person. For one thing, people tend to like me. They seem at ease around me and to enjoy my company. I rarely encounter any conflict with others because I usually don’t rock the boat. It also means I can get along with a lot of different people, which makes working with me a pleasant experience. It also makes me very empathetic. I can sense what people want and I immediately give them what they want.

Despite these advantages, there is a dark side to people pleasing. One thing that leaves me feeling icky is the fact that as a people pleaser, I have no real loyalty. I tend to agree with the person with the strongest opinion in the group regardless of whether I believe they are right or wrong. In fact, so strong is my desire to please that I often convince myself that I agree with whomever I happen to align myself at the time. I think this makes me unreliable, which is not something I want to be. Another disadvantage of people pleasing is that I cannot have deep meaningful relationships with others. Almost all of my friendships are superficial and that is because I rarely show more than just one aspect of myself-the people pleaser. At the same time, it is not only the people around me who do not get to know the real me, but I am also at a loss as to who I really am and what I really want and need. As I mentioned before, I wear the mask so often that I don’t know if that part of me isn’t the real me.

The most damaging thing that people pleasing does is it sends the message that I am not good enough. It reaffirms the harmful core belief that I must be perfect to be loved. If I believe that I have to be someone else to receive love and attention then I will always be reluctant to be authentic. Although pleasing people protects me from being hurt or rejected, it also prevents me from connecting with people on a deeper level. More importantly, it also prevents me from connecting with myself.

I imagine that having been in the habit of pleasing others and putting others’ needs before my own, it will be difficult to truly retire this aspect of myself. I am not that sure I want to completely leave her behind. She has some really great qualities. As an advisor, she’s great, but as a leader, she’s too myopic. If I am ever going to truly experience life, then I have got to stop being a player on a stage. There is so much more to me than a pleasant smile. The question is am I ready to share the with the world? Am I ready to be me and reflect all the aspects of myself including the ones I have deemed unlovable?

I honestly don’t know, and the thought of putting myself out there and showing my not so pleasant aspects scares me. However, in order to experience love and acceptance for who I am, I’ve got to love and appreciate myself no matter what mood I am in. Part of loving myself is being authentic, and embracing those parts of myself I abandon every time I favor my people pleaser over every other aspect of myself. It’s what someone who loved themselves would do, so it is something that I will do from now on.

Day 65

Changing My Situation: An Act of Cowardice or Self Love?

So, last time, I talked about sadness, and now I’ve discovered that beyond that sadness is a heck of a lot of anger. I am furious at my situation at work right now. I hate that when I am in the office I feel invisible. Aside from one other woman, my office is dominated by men. I am not used to so much testosterone in one place, and I feel like the energy that men give off is much more different than the energy that women give off. I feel really uncomfortable in that office, and really out of place. However, it is not that I am surrounded by men that puts me off, it’s that everyone in that office seems to be so close, and it just compounds the fact that I feel so alone. It really sucks.

The thing I hate the most is how they talk, or rather yell across the cubicles about the latest house party or trip to the bar they had. They are constantly talking about sports which is completely out of my realm of understanding or interest for that matter, and they are always collaborating on papers and presentations, which makes me feel even more excluded because on a number of occasions, I have asked them to collaborate on papers or classroom research and on all of the occasions except one, I have been turned down. I know these experiences are supposed to teach me something, but I am having a hard time with these particular lessons. I just end up feeling really unhappy when I am around these teachers.

When I get like this, I binge watch Teal Swan videos on YouTube. I feel like she’s speaking directly to me, and one of things that kept coming up in the videos that I watched today was the idea that its okay to want to change a crappy situation. I thought to myself, that perhaps the lesson that I am supposed to learn is that I need to change my situation. I’m tired of just accepting my fate and trying to see the positive aspects of situations that just plain suck. I do not like my work environment, and my social life is lacking big time, so I am not going to just sit quietly and take it. No! I am going to change my situation.

Fortunately, the teachers’ offices in my department are housed in two different buildings. The building that I am in has social lively teachers who like to talk about their drinking escapades and the latest Game of Thrones episode, and from what I’ve been told, the other building has more serious teachers. I’ve heard that it is a really good office to be in if you like the quiet. In addition, a good friend of mine who is currently on maternity leave is in that office now. Before, when I didn’t care much about myself or my feelings, I preferred to be in the lively office, but now that I am taking better care of myself and listening to what I need and want, I have found that I no longer like my office, and I want to get out of there as soon as possible.

However, I can’t help feeling like I’m escaping an uncomfortable situation rather than facing it and accepting it. In other words, I’m not gravitating to something more desirable but rather running away from something. There is a part of me that feels like leaving my current situation is the coward’s way out. Then I examine that thought. I ask myself, if you had a friend who was in the same situation would you encourage them to just tough it out and stay in the situation so that they can learn from it? No, absolutely not. So then why do you expect that of yourself? I suppose it is a remnant of the days, which were not that long ago, when I didn’t think much of myself. However, now, I am going to meet my needs without judgment.

In Teal’s most recent video, she talks about the law of attraction and how the purpose of our lives is for Source energy to expand, and that expansion happens through joy. As I understand it, because of the way the law of attraction works, we move toward our joy and what we want when we are faced with the contrast of our desires. In other words, if we enter the world with a desire to know love, we enter a situation in which we encounter its opposite, which according to Teal is fear. The way the universe works is to give us what we don’t want so that we will go towards what we do want. This is how I see the move to the other office. My current office is causing me pain, and to get relief from that pain, I am going to the other office. Whether or not I am going to face the same loneliness and isolation remains to be seen. However, at least I’m doing something to change my situation, which is at least a form of self care. We shall see how it goes.

Until next time, I wish you all the best.

 

Day 51

A Circle of Friends

I have friends and I am grateful for them, but I cannot deny the fact that I am very disappointed with my social life. I usually see my friends once or twice a year and some of them live very close to me. I would like to have friends who enjoyed spending time with me enough to make time to see me more than once or twice a year. I want people in my life who want to maintain a meaningful and close relationship with me, and I don’t think it is possible to do so if we only see each other once or twice a year, especially when it is usually at a party which makes it difficult to have a deep, meaningful conversation.

It is hard to write this because it admits that at 38 years old I have not managed to maintain a meaningful and deep relationship with anyone other than my husband. However, as I have committed to loving myself and meet my needs, I am allowing myself the desire to have meaningful and deep relationships with other adults outside of my family. I am admitting that I have a need, and that the friendships that I have although much appreciated and very valuable to me are not enough. The people with whom I have invested so much time and emotional energy for whatever reason are unable to meet my need for human connection. I am not angry with them or resentful, but I am sad. I am deeply saddened that feel unloved, undervalued, and insignificant in my current friendships. Well, those days are over.

There are people in my life who can give me what I need. There are people who love and respect me and want to commit to maintaining a relationship where we meet on a regular basis. There are people out there who would love to sit down with me and talk about life, the universe, and everything over a cup of tea. There are people who would like to share their ideas about parenting and living in a foreign country, and commiserate with me over the frustrations of being an adult child in a country whose language and culture continues to elude you despite the ten years you have spent there. Somewhere there is a woman whose parenting philosophy includes protecting her children’s psyche, helping them self-actualize through example. There is someone who is also asking the really big questions and getting a kick out of the adventure that comes with seeking the answers, and would love for me to join them on their journey.

I know you’re out there. I am open to meeting you whoever you are, and I am looking forward to experiencing life with a circle of friends.

Until next time, I wish all of you the very best.

Day 46

Back on Track

My last few posts have been interesting, but they have not been in alignment with my original purpose for writing this blog. This is partly because I have hit a wall in my shadow work. When I try to do it, I have a hard time concentrating, and when I finally concentrate, nothing comes. In Day 40, I wrote about being lost in the shadows and my determination to rescue a lonely inner child. I promised that I would not give up until I found the source of my loneliness. Well, now I’m at the end of Day 46, and I have yet to find and rescue this inner child. However, I feel more open to love and the possibility of love, so the fact that I have acknowledged this loneliness has changed its affect on me.

Despite this, I feel that I’ve been resting on my laurels a little too much lately. I haven’t been meditating on a regular basis, and as far as getting up early to make more time for things like shadow work, meditation, and research, I haven’t been doing that either. It’s time to get back on track and reassess my goals, my vision, and my commitment to this process. Even if I haven’t been able to make much progress in shadow work, I will continue to do it and most importantly write about it.

I think I’ve let my ego take over in the past few weeks wanting to put my best foot forward and focus on the positive things in my life thus far, but that is really not the purpose of this blog. The purpose is to share the experience of going through the 365 Days of Self Love challenge no matter what that might look like. When I stopped meditating and doing shadow work on a regular basis, I lost sight of this fact, so now whether I am making progress or not, I’m going to bring the 365 Days of Self Love challenge back to the foreground.

Today, I did one thing in accordance with my commitment to do what feels right and what someone who loved themselves would do, and that is joining a Zumba class at my gym. I had mentioned before that I had danced Zumba before I had my son. It’s been almost a year since I danced, and it was wonderful to get back into it. The teacher was energetic and kind, and relatively easy to follow. At the end of the class, I met four people, one of whom is from New Zealand. I have a feeling she and I might become friends. It was an uplifting ending to a not so good day. I had debated whether or not I should go, but when I asked the question it was clear that I should and I am very glad that I did. Zumba is part of my weekly routine now.

Committing to self love and doing the things that someone who loved themselves would do is proving interesting. My priorities are shifting. I am taking more time to myself, resting more, and listening to my body and my emotions more than I did before. It still feels selfish, and I admit that I feel panicked when I get to the end of a day like today with nothing really to show for it, but I have a feeling I’ll adjust to this new perspective and I will be the better for it.

What I can say about this process is that it has made it a little bit easier to accept myself no matter how I feel or what I do or don’t do. I am in better spirits, and I feel lighter on my feet. I smile more often and I have a lot less stress. So despite the discomfort of changing my perspective and shifting my priorities, I am still quite pleased with this process.

Until next time, I wish you all the best.

Day 38

An Email From Mom

This summer we plan to go to the States to visit family, and as usual my mother wants to monopolize all of our time. I just received an email from her lovingly offering to pay for my daughter’s ticket and explaining how nice it would be to have us stay at her house and how much she wants my children, especially my daughter, to stay with her. Really, nothing my mother ever offers comes with no strings attached. She is a master manipulator and she is all sweetness and light until you dare oppose her.

I feel like the walls are closing in on me. I feel pressured to say something to her, but I’m afraid of the fall out because we will not be staying with her, and will be staying at my husband’s parents’ house, which is not okay with my mother at all. She’ll use her usual “What about family,” speech in which she will completely lose sight of the fact that my husband’s family is family. I’ve been here before and I just don’t see a way out of this.

So of course I ask the question “What would someone who loved themselves do?” The answer is simple; someone who loved themselves would politely and lovingly inform their mother that they will be paying for their own tickets, and that they will be staying at their in laws’ house and that their children will stay with their mother at some time during their visit if their mother can respect their decisions and be pleasant when they come to visit her, if they decide to visit her.

I’d love to be able to say that. I’d love to be in a space in my life where that will be possible. However, this is easier said than done. I have a lot of fear where my mother is concerned, and rightly so, she is my mother. She raised me to fear her and to obey her, and to agree with her. She raised me to understand that she will withdraw her love the minute I even think of defying her, and my need for her love and approval is so deeply ingrained in me that I would rather abandoned myself and my family to keep her love. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it is true. I have so much work to do.

Until next time, I wish you all the very best.

 

Day 36

Being Good To Myself: Not Just A Notion Anymore

Today I did several things to be good to myself. I got up early, got some reading done, and went to the gym and worked out. Although the day could have gone more according to plan, I think I did the best that I could. I’ve decided to focus on what I did accomplish rather than what I could have accomplished. That’s also in line with being good to myself.

That’s essentially what I am aiming for these days. No more beating myself up for not being good enough. Those days are over. I have committed to self love and even when I fall short of my goals, I will think encouraging thoughts. Nothing good ever comes out of berating myself for not doing everything right; it just makes me feel awful and lose my resolve to keep trying.

It’s all just an illusion anyway. My thoughts about my progress or whether or not I’ve succeeded or failed; they’re all the stuff of fantasy. So why not make up a fiction worth living for? Why not see myself in a positive light while striving to make life better? In the end, it only ever really matters to me. No one else can experience what I experience. People can empathize, but they can never really know what it’s like to see me through my eyes. So why not see a wonderful person, rather than a broken and flawed human being? Why not look at my life and see potential, rather than a culmination of bad decisions? Seeing myself in a positive light will only serve to uplift me and clear my mind of all those barriers that keep me from being me. Someone who loved themselves would see that no matter what I do I am always me. I am neither good nor bad; I just am, and that’s a wonderful thing.

So, I’m looking forward to tomorrow while taking my lessons from today. I’m planning to get up early again and try to meditate without falling asleep. I’m going to do more reading, and then remain open to whatever the day will bring. Until next time, I wish you all the very best.