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Resilience, The Trampoline of Life

I think we can all agree that life is a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows, even if you consider yourself to be a happy person. It is inevitable that you will encounter challenges at some point along your journey. These experiences may bend you, but they do not have to break you. Whenever you come across a difficult situation, you have two choices: you can either let your emotions get the best of you and become paralyzed by fear, or you can uplift yourself from the negative and transform pain into possibility.

When faced with a tragedy, a natural disaster, a health concern, relationships, work, or school problems, resilience is how well a person can adapt to the events in their life.  A person with good resilience can bounce back more quickly and with less stress than someone whose resilience is less developed.  Psychologists have long studied these issues.  Resilient people do not wallow or dwell on failures, they acknowledge the situation, learn from their mistakes, and then move forward.

Don’t get me wrong, being a resilient person is not an easy feat. However, I believe that all of us have the power to develop a resilient mindset; just like a muscle, it needs to be conditioned and strengthened every single day.

Sometimes it takes hitting your emotional threshold, which I like to call rock bottom, before you can tap into your personal resilience. This is how I came to discover my own strength.

Everybody has resilience.  It is just a question of how much and how well you put it to good use in your life.  Resilience does not mean the person does not feel the intensity of the event or problem. Instead, it just means that they have found a pretty good way of dealing with it more quickly than others.  Everyone can learn to increase their resilience abilities.

There are many ways you can increase resilience.  Having supportive relationships in your life and with your family and friends seems to be an important foundation according to much research.  Good, positive relationships help a person with reassurance and encouragement when times get tough and seem to help support a person’s ability to rebound more easily after a difficult event or problem in their life.  Relationships are not just important within the family, but outside the family too. Having a strong network of friends is a valuable component of building better resilience. Strong social networks appear to be a key foundational building block for this skill to increase in your life.

Building better resilience takes time, effort, commitment, and focus. It will not just happen to you overnight, and it won’t just happen to you if read a book about resilience or begin work with a therapist. It’s a process that will take months to learn and master. Don’t be frustrated by this, because unlike your eye color or height, resilience is not a trait but rather a skill that you can readily enhance with patience and training.

How we view adversity and stress strongly affects how we succeed, and this is one of the most important reasons that having a resilient mindset is so important. The fact is that we’re going to fail from time to time: it’s an inevitable part of living. We make mistakes and occasionally fall flat on our faces. The only way to avoid this is to live a shuttered and meager existence, never trying anything new or taking a risk. Few of us want a life like that!

Overall, resilience gives us the power to overcome setbacks, so that we can live the life we’ve always imagined.

Rock bottom ended up being the foundation upon which I rebuilt my entire life. From the traumatic events in my life, I discovered that there were recurring patterns of strategies that I used in order to be resilient. For example, I learned how to make friends with my pain and heal my emotional trauma through yoga, dance, and meditation. There were a lot of moments when I thought, “Why me?” or “Life isn’t fair.” However, through it all, my bounce-back ability remained strong. I refused to define myself by my pain. Instead, I took action to create a new reality for myself. It may not have been the reality that I asked for, but nevertheless, I made it work. I became a new version of myself, one that was stronger and wiser. I like to think of myself as a “resilience junkie”, a woman who is addicted to thriving through adversity- the Suburban Goddess Mom.

 

 

 

Everything Is Going Wrong

Lately I am beginning to feel like everyone and everything is conspiring against me. It feels like no one sees things quite the way I do, and that I am alone in the wilderness and the world. Whether this is actually true or not is irrelevant.

The details of what is going wrong almost does not matter, but let’s say I popped the same tire two weeks in a row, my sewer backed up and flooded the basement, and I have been having personal issues with my ex.  It feels like it never ends.

It’s easy to give up and fall into a rut of negativity and woe is me. Don’t take the easy road. Everyone takes the easy road, which is why many people sit around complaining about everything going wrong in their lives every day. And they wonder why it doesn’t get better.

Life, quite often is just chaos.  Everything around us seems to be falling apart, and many times it is not just one thing that goes wrong, but several.  It is usually the case that if something can go wrong, it will, and often more than one thing at a time.

The reason we think it’s like “everything goes wrong at once” is because we only notice things when they happen in patterns to some degree. When a lot of things happen at once, it can be overwhelming and scary.  It can seem like the world is out to get you, but I assure you it is not.

The thing is, you oversee your life.  You determine how the story plays out.  Outside factors may come in to shake you up a bit, but I encourage you to remember that every hardship you have ever gone through has been conquered. So, why should this time be any different?  The real answer about what to do when everything seems to be going wrong: find a way to transform your perspective so that obstacles feel like opportunities.

There is also an opportunity to remember that we are in control of our lives.  We are all choosing and guiding our lives every minute of every day, and by the choices we make and the thoughts we have, we mold and birth our future.

It is all about attitude. Negativity attracts even more negativity, so change your mindset.  It is always important to practice gratitude but perhaps even more so when things are downright unbearable in life.  Plus, once you hit rock bottom there is only one direction you can go, so give it some time. You will be moving on up before you know it.

One of the most important things I try to remember is “will it matter in 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 months, 5 years?  If not, try to let it go.”  If I keep that perspective then I can be in control of my reaction and continue to rise above as the Suburban Goddess Mom!

 

Empath Is My Path

All my life I have been extremely empathetic, but for the first half of my life I didn’t even realize that this was a unique character trait that not everyone shares. When I was in close contact with people who were yelling, I would literally shake. When those around me were sad or scared, I would drink in those feelings like a sponge, not realizing that these feelings weren’t my own. It hadn’t dawned on me that feeling other people’s pain wasn’t a “normal” reaction.

Empathy is the ability to tune into and share another person’s emotion from their perspective. It plays a crucial role in bringing people together. It’s the joy you feel at a friend’s wedding or the pain you experience when you see someone suffering. It’s an essential ingredient for building intimacy in relationships.

There are some people who are naturally empathetic. They are more instinctively inclined to step into another person’s shoes. These are the listeners, the feelers, and the ones you turn to in times of trial. People with strong empathy skills can step outside of their own experiences and understand what you’re saying, thinking, and feeling. Empathy is a trait that anyone can learn, but natural empaths have a unique ability to go below the surface and see your soul, accept you where you are and where you are coming from.

You can experience empathy by noticing a person’s body language and voice, but acute sensitivity includes being open to the emotional energy vibrating between you. You might feel this energy in your heart or gut. You sense not only what people feel, but also what they need. You can tell when they need attention, acknowledgment, or an offer of help. You grasp when they want you to back off and give them space or when they want you to quietly stand by. You know when they are impatient to move on or if they want to take more time.  With empathy, you will feel their stress, anxiety, and anger in your body. You might feel their pain emotionally and physically. If you let these emotions sit in your body, your body and mind can be emotionally hijacked.

But this seemingly positive emotion can also have a downside, particularly if someone gets so consumed by another’s feelings that they neglect their own feelings and needs. Because I was empathic, I was often sympathetic to the plights and concerns of friends and family. I didn’t mind because I was happy to offer whatever support I could. However, as I entered my thirties, the burden of other people’s emotions, on top of my own unresolved feelings, became too heavy to bear. But I didn’t know that consciously. I wasn’t even aware of what was happening to me. Those who regularly prioritize others’ emotions over their own are more susceptible to experiencing anxiety or low-level depression. I felt a strong need to withdraw, and I could no longer be in the same room or the same house with people who carried intense, often unconscious, emotions. I had to learn ways to manage the emotional energy, both my own feelings as well as the energy others were bringing around me which I was absorbing.

Being empathic and super sensitive to energy is not something that I can just decide to change, but I can become more aware of how it affects me. The empowering thing is the realization that I can change my reactions and my own behaviors, no matter how overwhelming the emotions others and I feel in the moment. Because 90 percent of the behaviors we do are habitual—meaning we are only doing them because we did them yesterday—we can literally re-train the brain to respond in a new way to the exact same stimuli. I used to think my only two choices were to react to negative energy with negativity or to withdraw and detach. Neither option was conducive to building strong, supportive relationships or to my own happiness.

I wouldn’t change my empathic nature even if I could, because it has helped me to understand people and open my heart to them.  I realize that we are all on the same human journey together, seeking compassion and love, even if we’re not going about it in the most effective way. Empathy is a powerful tool that allows people to feel connected and understood. Instead of exhausting myself with this gift, I will make sure my life is balanced to be able to offer it without hesitation or resentment. This Suburban Goddess Mom will use it to empower others and take care of myself in the process.

 

Green-ish With Envy

We live in the age of envy. Thanks to social media, we are constantly being exposed to positive, beautiful, successful, photoshopped versions of our friends, families, colleagues, acquaintances, and even strangers’ lives. Social media is taking envy to the extreme, and as much as I don’t love to admit this, I get a bit green with envy (mostly of beautifully designed homes and women who are naturally and effortlessly thin).

Psychologists have recently suggested that there are two types of envy: malicious envy and benign envy. Malicious envy is proposed as a sick force that ruins a person and his/her mind while causing the envious person to blindly want the “hero” to suffer. On the other hand, benign envy is proposed as a type of positive, motivational force that causes the person to aspire to be as good as the “hero”—but only if benign envy is used in the right way. The only type of envy that can have positive effects is benign envy. According to researchers, benign envy can provide emulation, improve motivation, positive thoughts about the other person, and admiration. This type of envy, if dealt with correctly, can positively affect one’s future by motivating them to be a better person and to succeed.

Often envy involves a motive to “outdo or undo the rival’s advantages”. In part, this type of envy may be based on materialistic possessions rather than psychological states. Basically, people find themselves experiencing an overwhelming emotion due to someone else owning or possessing desirable items that they do not. But envy is more than desire. It begins with the almost frantic sense of emptiness inside oneself, as if the pump of one’s heart was sucking on air. One must be blind to perceive the emptiness, of course, but that’s what envy is, a selective blindness.

The circumstances in which you might be envious will always involve a social comparison or competition between yourself and another person. Such competition and comparison with others are a part of the yardstick by which you measure yourself, your self-evaluation. Since envy is triggered only when you come up short, that’s part of the reason why it is experienced as such an “ugly” emotion.

Envy has held us hostage for far too long. It is time, once and for all, to break free from envy and experience a more fulfilled life. This Suburban Goddess Mom’s life is too good to envy anyone else’s.

The Best Part Of Being Divorced

Divorce is difficult.  I am not trying to minimize that undeniable fact, but I do want you to know that there are benefits to enduring a marital dissolution as well. Divorce is not in its entirety a cause for celebration, even though I did have a divorce party, and I am super happily divorced.  It’s the end of a marriage, and no matter how bad the marriage was, the fact that it’s over is sad.  The dreams you and your spouse had for your life together are over.

But there are so many benefits.  Here’s my list!

  1. I used to be lonely; I’m not anymore.
  2.  My happiness and mood used to be entirely dependent on my ex.
  3.  My friendships have become much stronger.
  4.  I was able to take the time and space to work on myself.
  5.  My ex and I have become friends, a real support system for each other and our kids.
  6. I feel better about myself. My self-esteem and self-worth have improved dramatically.
  7. My future is so bright, with so much to look forward to.
  8. My relationship with the kids has solidified and flourished
  9. I found true love.
  10.  I no longer feel trapped.
  11.  I don’t feel judged all the time.
  12.  I get to make all my own decisions and do it my way.  Scary but good.
  13.  I don’t wait up for my ex to get home from work or have to keep his dinner warm.
  14.  I do not need to keep the house clean to his OCD rules.
  15. I do not need his constant approval.
  16. I do not need to dull myself, my clothes, or my personality down to fit his ideal.
  17. I can have my own opinions.
  18. I don’t have to make excuses for him, his behavior, or his lack of being present at events.
  19. No more walking on eggshells.
  20.  I can now let go of the love that wasn’t there
  21. One of the best parts for me is the built-in breaks.  I have weekends. and weeks where I am not an active, full time mommy.  It’s amazing.

Yes, divorce is awful for everyone involved, but if done for the right reasons, it can also be a beautiful beginning.  Life is too short to be unhappy.  The real best part of being divorced is that I found myself, the Suburban Goddess Mom.