Boundaries

I know I’ve written about boundaries before. I feel it’s such an important topic. Having strong, healthy boundaries is often the difference between staying true to yourself or going “whichever way the wind blows.” There are many different types of boundaries.

Physical boundaries can include who you let in your home or who you let touch you. Time boundaries determine how much time you’re willing to spend on a given activity. We all only have so much time and in order to decide how to spend it, some things must be sacrificed. Emotional boundaries can include not spending time around toxic people or limiting the amount of time you spend around them. It can also include protecting yourself from triggers. Sexual boundaries include determining which sexual activities you engage in, when, where, and with whom. Financial boundaries can include not spending more than a certain amount on eating out monthly, requiring a certain salary before accepting a job, or not loaning money. Material boundaries can include not owning a lot of stuff, minimizing stuff so that it doesn’t create an unnecessary burden or so that your priorities do not become skewed. Intellectual boundaries can include refusal to believe something without evidence or not holding a certain position just because your friends and family do.

I often have trouble with striking a balance and maintaining healthy, not rigid or porous boundaries — speaking up for myself and saying “no” when need be, while allowing wiggle room for exceptions. But I am working on it.

Finding Out Who I Am

I have realized I need to stop trying to “find out who I am.” This expression is overly dramatic, as well as scary, in my opinion. To be disconnected from myself is a terrifying feeling. In reality, I already have myself. I do not need to find myself. I am myself. I think spending time in nature and staying busy doing the things I enjoy will help me learn more about myself. I feel like I create myself little by little, and more puzzle pieces start falling in place. How are you creating yourself?

On Soulmates and Unconditional Love

I don’t believe in the concept of “soulmates,” and believe it to be an inherently self-defeating concept and unreachable standard. I think about how many people have multiple happy marriages in their lives and how many people agonize over not finding “the One.” I believe you’re lucky to find someone who aligns with your values and your personality, and who understands how to engage in healthy conflict. The idea of “soulmates” seems metaphysical and borne of religion. You can go your entire life wondering if your partner is “the One,” constantly comparing them to an abstract you hold in your head, without appreciating them for who they are and how they complement your life. Not feeling as though you’ve met your “soulmate”, you’re bound to feel like a failure.

I also don’t believe in unconditional love except for possibly the love a parent has for their child. No other kind of love is pure and unselfish. And often even parental love is at least partly based on selfishness. The closest concept to unconditional love that exists is what mental health professionals call “unconditional positive regard”, which involves a therapist supporting a patient/client without judgment, no matter what they are told by the patient/client. However, even this is conditional, based on the patient/client’s ability to pay the therapist.

I’m not sure I even believe in love. “Love” seems to describe a feeling, an abstract concept, a checmical reaction. Often commitment, respect, affection, and exclusivity (in the case of a romantic monogamous relationship) are present; however, these aspects can also be present without any pretense of love being involved.

Does anybody else agree or have a different perspective they’d like to share?

Subconscious Influence and Its Role in Desire and Decision-Making

I’ve been thinking about subconscious influence and how it covertly affects the decisions I make. For example, for those of you who wear make-up, do you ever ask yourselves why you wear it? I started wearing make-up as a teenager to hide acne and redness. I continued to wear it regularly throughout my early 20’s. I didn’t necessarily see it as fun or as creative expression. I felt I had to wear it to be socially acceptable. I think a lot of women believe it is their own choice to wear make-up without realizing our choices and preferences are not created in a vacuum. Even if we don’t realize it, we are subconsciously being pushed towards certain values and standards and away from others. It’s just something I try to be aware of. Today, I wear lip color from time to time when I feel like it but no face make-up. I don’t like the feeling I am wearing a mask or covering up my own skin. Make-up has also started to irritate my eyes and skin and I just don’t really have the motivation to try mineral make-up. The older I get, the less I care about such things. When it comes to other issues, whether it be my hair, jewelry, the clothes and shoes I wear, or something else, I try to think critically about why I make the choices I make and if they are internally or externally-motivated. What are your thoughts on this topic?

Choices

Is anybody else ever saddened by the fact that by the choices you make and opportunities you take, you’re by default losing out on other choices and opportunities? That it’s impossible to live in or even visit all the countries that exist, meet people from every cultural group (some countries having a very large number of subcultures), learn all the world’s languages, work all the types of jobs you want to try out, take all the courses you want to take, obtain an in-depth knowledge of all the topics that interest you, have all the experiences you want? To me, this realization is crushing.

What Do You Like About Yourself?

I find it easy to dwell on the things I don’t like about myself. However, when I consider my qualities and the things I believe I do well, I find several positive things to say about myself. For example, I am passionate, I’m a good writer, I love to learn, I’m a critical thinker, I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong, I’m hardworking, I’m loyal, I’m creative, I’m organized, I help others, and I never give up.

What are some traits about yourselves that you admire?

Are Your Goals Your Own?

I’m realizing how easy it is to delude yourself into believing that your goals are your own. Most goals come down to one thing — pleasing others, fitting in, checking off boxes. Do your goals excite you? Are they in line with who you are? Do they honor your interests, strengths, and values? If not, examine them critically to ensure they are not interlopers, others’ goals for you masquerading themselves as your own. I’m currently working on this.

Quick Anxiety-Reducing Tips

I struggle with anxiety and I have learned what helps me during these times. Although different coping techniques work for different people, I decided I would share mine with you in hopes they might help somebody.

Drink water — I feel more clear-headed, positive, and emotionally stable when I am hydrated. On the contrary, I feel foggy-headed and am more vulnerable to negative emotions when I am dehydrated.

Get outside — I feel calmer and uplifted when I spend some time outside, especially if the weather is nice.

Take a hot shower — For me, showers are like being back in the womb. They’re cocooning and allow me both to experience a level of sensory deprivation (everything going on outside the shower stall falls away), while also experiencing some positive and calming sensory input (the roar of the shower in my ears and the pounding water on my body).

Exercise — Moving my body is an almost immediate anxiety lifter. It feels good to be active, to strengthen my body, and to engage in this type of self-care.

Deep breathe — Anxiety leads to shallow breathing, which can lead to more anxiety in what becomes a vicious cycle. Simply concentrating on my breathing and taking deep breaths calms and centers me.

Repeat a mantra — I will sometimes self-soothe by repeating a mantra such as “Everything will be okay” or “It’s not that serious”. Sometimes vocally contradicting the anxiety results in it dissipating.

Start cleaning/straightening — A clean, uncluttered environment has always made me feel more in control of myself. On the contrary, a messy, chaotic environment contributes to my bouts of anxiety.

Think grateful thoughts — Considering what I’m grateful for always calms me and helps put my worries and concerns in context. The situation is almost never as dire as I make it out to be.

Talk to somebody — Being alone can aid the anxiety in continuing. Sometimes just talking with a friendly person can cause the cycle of negative thoughts and emotions to end.

What are some ways you successfully battle anxiety?

I Missed an Exam

So I decided to go back to school and started an online bachelors in English program with a writing concentration in January, with a full course load. I’m also working full time. Yesterday I realized I missed an EXAM that was due Friday. Yes, an EXAM. One of only four that is responsible for 16% of my grade. I have no good reason for having missed it. There were multiple emails sent out about it reminding us it was coming up and even a study group that another student had started to prepare for it. My only excuse is that a quiz for a different course was also due that day and I got confused. When I realized I missed the exam deadline, I emailed my professor and asked if there’s any way I can make it up. If not, I will ask for extra credit opportunities so I can possibly make up some of the points. I feel so stupid. And inadequate. And like a fraud. It makes me think, why did I ever go back to school? Why am I paying tuition money? At my age, I probably should have saved that money for something more practical. I went back to school to earn a degree in something I love and possibly work in publishing, get away from the vortex of soul-sucking, meaningless jobs I’ve been working. I’m so mad at my stupid mistake, though. I wonder if it’s even worth staying in school while I experience such severe depression-induced fog 24/7. I wonder if I “bit off more than I can chew”. Anyway, I just felt like getting the feelings I’m experiencing out of my head and down “on paper” in an organized way. I realize this isn’t earth-shattering and will not actually affect the outcome of my life, but it feels earth-shattering right now. And I keep obsessing like, what if because of not making an A in this class I get passed up for an internship or job opportunity in the future? I was hoping to make an A in all my classes except for the math classes, where I’d feel lucky to get a B. The self-loathing is just pretty bad right now. I think, there are some people who go to school, work, and have a spouse and kids to take care of and be there for. And maybe other things going on, as well, like church or other community activities. And I do none of that. So why did I screw up? It’s 7 in the morning and I just realized last night I had missed it, and I just woke up and decided I had to write about this. Try to get it out of my system. Because I don’t want to obsess about it even more and it ruin the rest of my weekend before I go back to work. Can anyone reading this relate with mental illness making even the smallest things seem so much harder? Anyway, thanks for listening/ reading.

Another Mental Health Post

Anybody else dealing with poor mental health just think, when I work this situation out or achieve this goal or get into this routine or stop doing this, all my mental health issues will fall away? I know this way of thinking has stopped me from getting help. And I just can’t seem to shake it. I do believe my issues are largely stem from living an unbalanced lifestyle, and that if I would just tweak certain things in my life, I’d be a lot happier and less stressed. I’d prefer changing my lifestyle to telling all my issues to a stranger and being put on strong medication with potential serious side effects. But I’m experiencing a vicious cycle where I need motivation, energy, and mental clarity in order to make the changes, which I don’t have because depression and anxiety have sapped those precious resources. I’m tired of the self-help books, as well. I’ve read so many of them at this point, and they all make the same basic points. They’re all helpful but only to the extent that I apply the advice and wisdom to my life instead of keeping it all in my head. I’ve been feeling more in the mood for novels with high intrigue, emotion, and twists. Something to truly allow me to enjoy and relax, get lost in a different world rather than to constantly examine my life, find it lacking, and spend all my time navel-gazing.