5 Rules for Mental Strength

It is not always easy to be mentally strong. I struggle with this a lot. I’m still working on this one. There are days that I feel fantastic and days that I can barely get out of bed because I feel so badly about myself. I’m sure that many others feel the same.

How does this “being mentally strong” thing work? It’s a little different for everyone, but here are a few ideas:

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Being yourself. This is number one for me. I have fought very hard to be accepted for who I am by my own husband and that’s something nobody should have to do.

People change, and sometimes people can’t accept that. When you are comfortable with yourself, it’s much easier to be strong, because you have more faith in yourself. You know you can get through things. You know that you can tackle what is in front of you.

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Trust yourself. Many of us tend to underestimate ourselves, including me. I’ve made many decisions and second guessed myself, even on picking clothes, shoes and maybe even mascara. This tends to occur when you have low self-confidence.

I’ve learned to trust myself a lot more through therapy-working more to shut down that voice in my mind that says “That’s a bad idea, Wrae. Don’t do it. You can’t pull this off”. When you trust yourself more, you will believe in yourself more. You will make decisions with a lot more confidence, even about the small things.

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Build confidence. As Demi Lovato once said, “What’s wrong with being confident?” First of all, I love Demi. She has an amazing voice, has great style and she’s one of my sobriety role models.

She had a point with that lyric. What is wrong with being confident? I’m not talking about crossing the line and being all-out cocky or anything like that, but knowing what you are capable of and what your limits are.

Everyone has them, physically and emotionally. Don’t feel bad about those limits. For sheer example, I hate spiders, extreme heights, and public speaking.

I had to take public speaking in college and almost had a panic attack once. I was also hugely pregnant with Cameron. My professor wasn’t in the mood to send me into early labor, so he allowed me to give my speech from my seat and things ended a lot better than I had anticipated.

Confidence is good. This also helps with looks and body image- I’m a size 14 now and weigh in at around 170. I do not care to disclose that. I weighed 125 in 2015 before my life imploded and I was a size 4. I have been confident both sizes and weights.

Like every other woman in existence, even the awesome Tess Holliday (my favorite model), I have days where I think I look like crap, but then I remember what my body has been through and will continue to do and move on.

This took a lot of work because, at some points, I didn’t take my 60 lb weight gain well. This confidence can be hard to attain, thanks to social media and Photoshopped images of models. It’s tough to look at, so I tend to look at body-positive models.

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Daily reminders. I remind myself daily to take care of myself- this is a must do. If I don’t take care of myself, who will? I have two chronic illnesses and self-care is a must for both. I also remind myself “One day at a time” because that is how I have set my life up.

I just can’t plan far in the future anymore. Whether it is a phrase, app, or something else that helps, once you set your mind on something daily, it becomes a daily habit to take care of yourself and that leads to and supports mental strength.

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Not caring so much what others think. My mother is 62 and does not care what anyone thinks of her. She has always been like this. She’s small, very feisty, and hilarious. Clearly, these genes have passed on to me.

It took me a very long time to get to the point that I really didn’t care what others think of me, but that’s where I am sitting. It’s not healthy at all to care so much what others think of you, because it will break you down in the end. It erodes your self-esteem when you don’t meet their standards.

Your individuality will fade as you try to be more like others and less like yourself. This isn’t good for anyone.
These tips may be what you need to move forward onto becoming stronger. Take them and consider what else you may need to form more strength within yourself.

Song Lyric Saturday with Christina Aguilera

In case you haven’t been able to find a pattern, I’m a huge 90s-2000s pop fan. Christina Aguilera is one of the best. As of writing this post, I haven’t listened to all of her new album, Liberated, yet, so I can’t say whether I like it or not.

I’ve always liked Christina’s take-no-bullshit attitude. She came from an abusive home and singing became her escape. She went through a few phases throughout her career and is back for more, but this time more mature.

I picked the song “Keeps Getting Better”- it’s from her “Decade of Hits” album.

Basically, she’s like “I’m me, I’m not going anywhere. Deal with it.” I love that so much because it shows confidence, self- esteem and determination. That’s her in a sentence.

Christina has many years ahead of her- I can’t wait to finish her new album.

Looking out

5 Ways to Set Healthy Boundaries

Some People Just Aren’t Worth Your Time

It isn’t always apparent right when you meet people if you can fully trust them or not. Some people put on a great facade and you can’t always see them for who/what they really are. It may take time to see through the fakeness to the deeper side, which usually isn’t pretty. People tend to hide the not-so-great things about themselves because they fear that they won’t be liked. If you’re generally negative, rude and extremely bitter about life in general, most people won’t want to be around you. You will attract others like you, but that’s about it.

These people aren’t worth your time, unless you enjoy being brought down by others. This isn’t great for your mental health. How do you set boundaries and cut these people out of your life if you need to?

Relationships need boundaries

Boundaries are a building block for relationships

Setting Healthy Boundaries

Boundaries are good. They help you feel a bit safer in your surroundings and relationships with others. They also give you a bit more confidence when you may need it. They do not appear overnight and do require a bit of time to develop.

  • Determine what your limits are- what you will and will not deal with. Everyone has their limits, and should not be surpassed. That is seriously unhealthy, and can become potentially dangerous.
  • Be direct. When speaking to someone about their inexcusable behavior towards you, being direct is the best way to go. They will realize at some point that you’re being serious (even if you haven’t before) and that while not being rude, you are setting some sort of boundary. Remind them of past events if needed. It may help them realize the damage that has occurred.
  • Resist arguments. One of the main goal of setting boundaries is to have a conversation, not an argument. It may get hard, but this can be done without fighting. Sometimes this requires a break and coming back to the discussion- this is okay. Just make sure you come back to it.
  • Take some space. Sometimes people need space after discussing things, either before things go bad and arguments occur, or afterwards to reflect and maybe think things out. Either is good.
  • Saying NO is good. Some people have a serious issue with saying “no” to others and this can become a bigger issue than anticipated. Making others happy is a good thing, but what happens when you become unhappy because you don’t have time to make yourself happy? That isn’t being selfish, it’s a matter of your health. Many don’t realize this is also a boundary issue. Start small on this one.

Those who truly want the best for you and care about you will respect the boundaries you set and adjust to the changes. Those who don’t? They may not need to be in your life and you might want to consider cutting them out of your life.

Looking out

Using the Scissors

In 2015, I lost someone I loved, quit my job and lost a handful of friends in the space of 2 days. That’s a lot. It took a lot of therapy to deal with that. It took that death to fully open my eyes to who I was spending a lot of time with. I was going out a lot with a small group of my co-workers. I already didn’t like one, so I stayed away from her when I could. The others had their own things I didn’t like about them, but they were generally a ton of fun.

What happened when I needed them the most?

They completely flipped on me. I was told some super nasty things and I didn’t take it well. I never went back to that job (except to get my things and write a note to my manager to tell her I wasn’t coming back and why. The online exit survey was a blast.) and in my efforts to cut people out of my life, my Facebook block list is about 100 people strong. I blocked those “friends” and anyone that associates with them because I didn’t want anyone to tell them how I was doing while getting my life back together. My Facebook remains on very private settings. That story is also told through a filter of grief, and grief will make you do a lot of things.

How do you say goodbye to people that aren’t good for you? In my case, I literally cut people off without a second thought. It was the best option at the time and as of yet, one person has tried to approach me on a different social media site. She was immediately blocked. I don’t suggest this option unless it is something extreme, like if you are in immediate danger or in a situation I was in. If you are honestly okay with cutting people off this way, then go for it. I’d love to hear your story. Send me an email, PM, or leave a comment.

Otherwise, I suggest something a bit gentler- like an email, text or a phone call. Maybe an in person meet up if you’re comfortable and you know nothing will go bad, as in someone getting aggressive. I’m all for people settling things peacefully. In the email, text, etc. try to sound as non-judgmental, mean, as possible. Things can get lost in translation. Just explain how you feel about the situation and that you feel that there is a need for a break in the friendship/relationship either for a certain period of time or permanently. If in person, let the conversation go naturally, because both of you know why you are there. Just be ready for an exit if things don’t go in the direction you plan for.

Hopefully you can come to peace with letting go of people that aren’t healthy for you. It will be a good thing in the long run. Your circle may be smaller but it will be stronger.

Pics courtesy of Pinterest and Unsplash

Talking About Pride

Coming Out of the Closet

I decided to use an actual definition for this one, because I understand that not everyone may be clear on this one. I also think it’s the respectful thing to do. I’ve got friends and family members in the community, so I’m very clear on what this term means. Planned Parenthood- Coming Out Definition

It’s a hard process. Some people choose to wait until a certain time, some never do. It’s an individual choice, and should be respected. If someone comes out to you, please respect that person’s decision to tell you, even if it isn’t within your own values. It takes a lot to say “I’m a lesbian” or “I like guys”, or however it is said.

There is a lot of fear in coming out, however. Many people fear these things:

  • not being accepted. If there is a history of hearing homophobic slurs throughout life, it’s going to be hard to go against that.
  • getting cut off financially/becoming homeless- especially in teens and college students. Some wait until after college for this reason.
  • anxiety, depression or other mental health issues worsening afterwards due to above issues.

There is so much more support these days for the LGBTQ+ community. I feel there is a long way to go in the legal world, but it’s coming. Marriages were a huge issue a couple years ago and I shed tears when they became legal everywhere. I believe some states are still trying to fight that one. Macklemore had it right when he said in “Same Love”- “No freedom until we’re equal/ Damn right I support it”.

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Pride Events

Have you ever been to a Pride event? I have been to quite a few. Louisville is a big city and every June, there’s a huge Pride event. This year’s event is June 15-17, with lots of food (my main requirement for anything), music and a lot of other fun things. I usually see a lot of friends while I’m there. It’s so much fun. If you’ve never been, and you’re comfortable going, go. If you aren’t sure if there is an event near you, try looking on Google “pride events” and your city or the nearest city to you. Not everyone lives in or near a big city.

These events began as a way for people to get together, have fun, be themselves, meet others and not fear being judged or getting hurt. Of course, this didn’t always go well but over the years, the events have become safer. There will always be those that oppose these events.

The Kid Version

I have a friend, Kate, that is happily raising a son, with her wife, Christy. Lucas just turned two, and he is the happiest toddler that I’ve seen in a long time. I hope he stays that adorably happy. They got married in Hawaii a few years ago and the pictures were adorable. I know they have struggles like everyone else, but they’re one of the cutest couples I’ve ever known. Lucas is like every other toddler out there- he just has two loving moms.

I wrote a post not long ago, LGBTQ Kids: A Guide for those who need a bit of help figuring out how to navigate the waters of having a child that is LGBTQ. This is becoming more common than people realize and I wanted to bring that to your, my readers’, attention. If you know someone who could benefit from it, feel free to send them the link. I think it could help parents who aren’t sure what to do. We don’t always know what to do as parents, or even aunts, uncles, and so on. That’s okay. That’s why we ask others for ideas and read up.

Kids are pretty smart. They can tell who accepts them and who doesn’t. They’ll stay closest to those that do. All kids, no matter their sexuality, need someone who loves and accepts them exactly for who they are. They don’t need or deserve ridicule for who they love. They have enough to worry about.

Mental Health Issues in The Community

Anxiety and depression are common in many people. When you are struggling with hiding who you are (or feeling like you have to), losing someone you love and having to start over in a small pool of people and not feeling fully accepted,things can get very hard.

Drugs, alcohol and self harm are three coping skills that are used by this population. Sometimes it can be deadly. There are therapists that specialize in LGBTQ issues.

This may be a good time to look into how you can become an ally or otherwise support the LGBTQ people in your life. How can you be an ally?

Pics courtesy of Unsplash

Why You Need to be Ready for Peer Pressure

Puberty is a Sneaky Thing

Teenagers, and all the interesting things that come along with them, sneak up on us before we even think we are ready. I barely blinked before Cameron turned 13. His voice is getting deep, he’s taller than me, and what is food? It disappears before I see it. This kid is still writing the parenting manual at my house because, clearly, this book will never be done.

Peer pressure hasn’t really hit my house yet, but I’m waiting on it. I think at some point, most kids encounter it. It might not be at school, but at school events, the park, mall, wherever else teens hang out.

NOTE: In drug descriptions, I will use the legal term for the substance. I prefer not to use slang.

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The Main Lesson

I’m skipping the main description of peer pressure, because anyone reading this is an adult and most of us have been there at least once. (Remember cutting class? That counts.) Everyone’s description is a bit different, so I’ll leave that one open.

Why do you need to be ready for it?

  1. Blood pressure purposes. I’ve had a stroke and it’s not fun. I’d like everyone reading this to avoid that scenario when your teen comes home and wants to talk about being asked to smoke a cigarette, marijuana, drink or do many of the wildly stupid challenges they have seen on YouTube.(Julian has enlightened me on that arena, and all I can say is… wow. We have had to have a few talks on that, seeing as he is the family stunt man. I can only hope those talks stick in his mind.)
  2. To know what to say. Everyone sees things differently, but nobody wants to judge their kid, right? I don’t do scripts in parenting. because that never goes well, but I do suggest asking your child what was going on when they were asked to cut class/ use a drug/drink/etc, how they felt about it, whether they wanted to, why or why not/ what happened, etc. This will likely get you better results. Talking calmly usually does. Your teen is more likely to talk to a calmer parent.
  3. Watch out for personality and other changes. Peer pressure can get intense. If you dealt with it as a teen, you can probably remember how hard it was to deal with- anxiety, depression, even anger. If your child decides for some reason to go along with the things he or she is being pressured into, there will be even bigger changes. You’ll probably be able to see those- personality changes, maybe changes in how they dress, eat, etc.
  4. To be able to help if your child doesn’t go along with the crowd. Most teens just want to fit in. Cameron had to wear a heart monitor 24/7 for a month, and it had cords that dangled a bit. He was usually able to keep them covered, but one of his classmates saw the cord and asked what it was- he told her it was for earbuds. He didn’t want to tell her he was on a heart monitor. He just wanted to be like every other 7th grader and have earbuds dangling out of his pocket at school. If your child faces peer pressure and decides not to go along with everyone else, they may face some backlash, most likely in the form of bullying. Please see my post Bullying: A Closer Look if you need information on this issue.
  5. To be able to stay informed. I mentioned YouTube videos earlier- those stunt videos are just one trend that teens get into, but it’s good to stay somewhat up to date on things. Talk to other parents, family members, etc. It can be helpful in trying to deter your teen from potentially dangerous activities.

Happy parenting! It’s a blast, isn’t it?

Pics courtesy of Unsplash

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Twin Mummy and Daddy
Bringing up Georgia