Don’t Obsess

This spot! It was driving me out my mind! What a spot—what a spot for a fellow to find! My troubles were growing. The way it kept going! Where would it go next? There was no way of Knowing.

–The Strange Shirt Spot

The above passage comes from a Dr. Seuss book called Seuss-isms. In the story of The Strange Shirt Spot, the little boy was obsessing all day with a spot on his shirt. He would clean the spot off his shirt, for only the spot to jump on something else. That strange spot was all he could think about, and I am sure I am not the only one that has been where this little boy has been with this spot. Let’s talk about obsessions and how we can combat them.

Our minds love to jump on one thing and will not let it go until it figures out the issue, or it tires itself out. The one big obsession I have is trying to figure out why people think and act the way they do. I will ramble on and on to anyone that would listen about how I cannot figure out why a person could respond or react the way they do. I would obsess so much; I would catch myself spending hours on Google trying to find counterpoints to a person’s actions or statements. Did my obsession solve anything? No. Did it help me sleep at night to obsess over it? No, it did the exact opposite. But I just had to know why. With therapy, I have learned that I cannot control everything that is going on around me. I also learned that my way of thinking is not made for anyone else. When I started understanding these two points, I was able to stop my fixation on what other people did or say.

We will all have moments where we will fix our mind on things we cannot control. But if we can remember that the only thing we can have true control over is ourselves, the less likely we are to obsess over things. As my therapist would say, “If it is not on fire, it is safe to say you do not need to give it all of your energy.”  

What About Your Friends?

What about your friends, will they stand their ground, will they let you down again? What about your friends, are they gonna be lowdown, will they ever be around, or will they turn their backs on you?

What About Your Friends? – TLC

Friendships, like any relationship, needs two people to work on keeping it going. When one person is giving their all, and the other person is just taking what is being given to them, it can make the relationship one-sided. We have all had moments playing both parts, so how should we fix it?

One thing we should do is sit down and tell your friends what you need to make the friendship work. How will your friends know what you need if you are not expressing them? The next thing is setting your boundaries. You have the right to tell your friends what you will or will not take in your friendship. No one should be in a friendship or any relationship that your deal breakers are not being taken seriously. We all deserve to be respected, so require it from your friends. Lastly, just because you have been friends for years, does not mean you have to stay in a friendship that you do not see growth in it. As the saying goes, “people come in your life for a reason or a season.” People outgrow each other, and that is okay. Do not feel bad if you have to end a friendship. Ask yourself this question; would you rather have thousands of friends with no real connection, or would you rather have one friend that you have an awesome connection with? Walking away from a friendship does not mean you are trying to fight the person or trying to be hateful; you just see yourself on different pages from that friend.

Being in a friendship can be harder to work on than being in a romantic relationship. This is the person you laugh and cry with. But understand this, you can only be in a relationship that both people are willing to grow and invest in. Make the right choice for yourself when establishing your friendships. It is about the quality of your friendships, not the quantity.

Low Battery

I had no idea what slow down means. I felt that if I sat down longer than a minute, I would get worried that I would not get things done. I have been this way since I was 11, and this “get up and go” mindset has only gotten worse.

“Ariel, when do you ever just stop moving and relax?” My therapist asked during our last session. “What does that mean?” I said, laughing so hard that I begin to cry. My therapist just shook her head and responded to my silly question by saying, “You cannot keep going without stopping and taking some time for you.” I thought to myself, “what if I do need to slow down?”, “What if I am not getting enough rest?” “Well, I have a lot to do.”

Friday, I had a 12-hour workday. I thought I was going to pass out as soon as I came through the door of my house. I didn’t even say hello to my husband before I fell asleep on the bed. When I woke up the next day, I told myself that I was going to take a day to pamper myself. I went to get a beautiful mani and pedi, and I must say it was amazing! I guess my therapist was right; if I do not slow myself down, my body will make me do it.

I know that it is easy to forget that rest is needed to help your body recharge from the work that you do. We are not robots. We cannot put ourselves on a charger for 20 minutes, and we are back at a full battery. If your situation is not on fire, it is safe to say that it can wait until you get your rest. Understand that you only get one body, so treat it with the utmost care.

Controlling Your Inner Empath

I saw this journal prompt that I want to share. The prompt said, how do you set boundaries and avoid absorbing someone else’s emotions and stress? I had a big issue with set boundaries when it comes to absorbing someone else’s stress and emotions. I like to call myself a mother by nature. I want to make people feel better. I did not realize, however, that the more I put my all into someone’s issues, the more I felt drained. But to me, I thought that was what you do when you are a friend. I did not understand this until I went to therapy that I was a empath, and it was doing more harm being this way than good. I would not only have my stressors to deal with but now I am taking on the stressors of others without even knowing I was doing so.

How do you stop? We have to learn that we cannot fix the problems of others. It is not our battle. You did not create the stressful situation they are in, so why do you have to take on the responsibility to pull them out? I am learning that it is okay to listen and not jump into action because the person is upset. Sit down with your friends and family and let them know that although you love them, you cannot wear their stress and a coat. Understand you do not have to be a hero to be a friend.

The Rainbow

Today there was a rainstorm that lasted about an hour where I work. I looked out of my office window at the rain and began to think of the most harmful and negative things I could come up with. I left work feeling so sad and defeated. As I was driving home, I saw the biggest rainbow I have ever laid eyes on, and I began to smile from ear to ear. The weight of my sadness and defeat from the day lifted. I could finally breathe.

I have always been told that rainbows symbolize promise. I think we can all need a little promise to get us through these rough times we are facing. We are dealing with so much pain and anger; it feels as if we will never see the light again. But what I would like us to do is think about a rainbow. Better yet, find a picture of a rainbow and make it your lock screen. Once you do that, make a promise to yourself. Your promise can be as big or as small as you want it. When you come up with that promise, write in your notebook on your phone; that way, if you start feeling down, you can look at your rainbow and that promise you made to yourself.

It may seem like a lot right now, but trust me, it will come in handy when you need it.  

The Power of No

How many of us can say we can take no well? It is okay if you cannot, but what if we can look at the word no differently? Now before you say there is no way that the word no can be changed into a positive concept, I want to tell you a story about how the word no went from being the worst word ever created to landing my new job.

Education is my life, so much I am currently obtaining my Doctorate in Educational Psychology. Yes, I am a nerd. I always wanted to run a school or daycare, but life after Undergrad took a toll on me. When I landed a Preschool Teacher position at a child development center, I was excited. I loved the children, and I thought this could be a job that I could move up into a Director position. When I saw there was an opening for a floor lead, I quickly applied. “I should get this,” I said to myself, “I know Early Childhood Education like the back of my hand.” When I went to talk to the Director about it, she said there was no way I could be a floor lead. I was hurt. I have never dealt with someone telling me that I was not good enough. The parents loved me, and the kids did too, so I did not understand why she did not see the good work I could bring to the position. I shortly left because I knew that I would never get a chance to prove myself.

When I became an Academic Advisor at a University, I took to a Director there. He told me I had the potential to become a manager because of how effective I was at my job. He would give me articles to read about effective leadership, and I even started my master’s in Organizational Leadership to prove to him I was ready for the next step in my career. I knew I had a shot for the Advising Manager position that was opening up. I put my resume in, and I waited. When my Director came into our team huddle to announce who he was choosing, he selected a guy who did not have experience in working with students at all. You might be saying, “Ari that is rude,” hear me out, his position before that manager position was handling degree processing. Also, he could not calm a student down to save his life; and he would give me all of the “high touched” students as he called them. Again, I felt defeated. I could not understand why my Director would give me articles to read and put me on special projects that managers typically handled but could not see the leadership potential in me.

I became an Academic Advisor for another college; I knew I wasn’t going to move up there because my manager was only 10 years old than me. Also, she said I did not have the emotional intelligence to handle leadership, which, if you know anything about me, I am the definition of emotional intelligence. I know you might be thinking, “Ari, when will you get to the part where the no’s turn into something positive?” Just follow me for a little while longer. I recently applied for a Director position at a childcare center. I went in knowing that I did not have the managerial skills other than what I learned from my Organizational Leadership degree, but I could not pass on the chance to interview. I went into the interview, and I gave it my all. I left out of there feeling good about it, but still, in the back of my mind, I was thinking that another no was coming. I received a call on the last Monday of April from the Executive Director of the center. “Hi Ariel, I have some news for you about the position.” He said. “Yes?” I said nervously. Will this conversation be any different from the rest? “I want to welcome you to our team,” He said. “You are our newest Director!” I could not believe it. All the times I have heard no, and how I wasn’t ready for this type of responsibility, someone saw my passion and wanted to see me impact a team.

No’s can be tough to handle, but as my therapist said, no just means next opportunity. Someone’s no to you will be someone’s yes soon enough. You have to push away your doubts and allow yourself to get back out there to search for that next opportunity. Do not let no keep you from trying to reach a goal of yours.

Fighting the Unknowns

Many of us suffer with the future because we do not know what will happen. We want to be able to plan our next move, and no matter how well we think we have things mapped out, we are never truly prepared. Our anxiety plays a part in this because it wants to know where we are going before we get there. But how can we fight the unknown? Let’s talk about it.

One way for us to fight the feeling of the unknown is by living in the moment. We cannot change our past, nor do we know if the future is promised us, but we do have the chance to shape our present. When we live in the moment, we can prevent things from happening that may impact our future. We cannot fix anything when we are so fixated on how things were or how things maybe later on down the road. The only way you can calm your anxiety is by thinking about what you can control today.

Another thing is being okay with option number 2 or 7. We come up come with all these plans, but most of us want the very first one to stick. And do not get me wrong, your first one could be the one, however, what do you have for backup if it does not work? I have heard a lot of people say that having options is accepting failure, but that is not true; having other options is being realistic. As the old saying goes, do not put all of your eggs in one basket. By relying on one plan, you are setting yourself up from a major let down if your plan does not go the way you want it to work. Look at how many people we see as successful; they had several plans and options to fall back on if their first plan failed. Do not allow yourself to feel foolish because you want to make sure you have all your options laid in front of you.

To sum this post up, we cannot predict what the unknown looks like to us; but we can enjoy what life has for us today. Life is not a one size fit all. Life is about making choices and learning from them. Love the life you are living, and push through the unknowns. It will be worth it.

Sorry Not Sorry

You are walking in the store shopping. As you go on to the next aisle, you noticed that you and another customer are dancing with each other. “I’m sorry.” You said as you move out of the customer’s way. Now it is fine to say sorry when you are in someone’s way, but why do we say sorry for being ourselves? We want to be liked by people, and there is nothing wrong with that, but everyone will not like us. For every 100 people that say that they like you, there will be 1 that will find something wrong with you. Here is a story about figuring out why saying sorry is not needed all the time.

I have been told that I have a tone that can be read as “unfriendly.” Every time that I would say something at work, someone would get offended and say that I was rude. I would instantly say that I was sorry. The last thing I wanted to be was rude and unfriendly to people. I would try to change my voice and slow down my speech; nothing worked for them. “Ariel, you have to change how you speak to people,” My manager said. “Say it with a smile on your face.” I asked myself how can I make them see me as anything but unfriendly?

I started smiling, still was not friendly enough. My manager brought me back into her office. “Ariel, I am still getting emails from other employees about your tone.” My manager said as she shook her head. I could not handle it anymore. “What do you want me to do?” I asked my manager. “I am not going to say sorry because they cannot deal with my tone.” “Ariel, you have to try.” She said. “I did, and it is not working,” I cried, “I cannot help it if my tone makes them feel uncomfortable.” That was the first time I did not say sorry. I could not keep beating myself up for something that I was not doing. I was not rude or unfriendly; they just wanted me to do what they wanted me to do. I had to remind myself that I am at work to be productive, not to be the popular girl.

Is it going to be easy breaking out of the habit of saying sorry when you did nothing wrong? No, but we have to remember that we are not on this Earth to please people. We cannot control people’s feelings; we can only control our own. You do not have to apologize for being you. You do not have to apologize for making moves for yourself. Do what makes you happy, and as long as you are not doing something disrespectful to someone, keep the word sorry out of your mouth.

Embracing Failure

Raise your hand if you like failing. No one. Okay. What if I told you that failing should be viewed in a positive light? Please do not click out of this post! Just listen to why I say that we should see failure as a good thing.

I read this article in Psychology Today by Dr. Art Markman called ‘People Don’t Share Their Failures Often Enough.’ In his article, he talks about a trial that was done with participants being asked to play a game. The game had three boxes, one box had a 1 penny loss, the second one had a 20-cent gain, and the third had an 80-cent gain. Each participant had two tries at choosing a box. On the first try, most of the participants received the 1 penny loss, then do their second try; they received the gain. The second part of this trial was for participants to share their experience with the game. What the researchers noticed was that the participants would only tell about their gain and not their loss. The funny thing is participants were given an incentive to help each other. However, they still would not share their loss.

So how does this apply to us? We tend to focus on what people will think when it comes to wins and losses. We rather look good in the eyes of other people instead of being true to ourselves and let people see when we fail. We also think that failing at something is to fail at life altogether. That is not true. We cannot have highs without going through some lows. We can look at many famous people from the past as well as the present that had no problem letting the public know how many tries they had to take before they became famous. So why can’t we do the same? Have you ever thought that by sharing your misses, you can help someone step out of their comfort zone? We need to understand that we all will have some failures, but it is how we bounce back that matters most. Do not beat up on yourself because of your failures, use it as a lesson, a blueprint if you will, to get you to the finish line. I know it can be easier said than done, but if we can work each day on taking our lost as an opportunity to grow, we will be better in the long run. Hold your head up high and keep trying until you reach the top. Your failure is only a stepping stone for something greater.


Until You Use Me Up

Have you ever given too much of yourself? I mean, you gave so much that it drained you mentally, emotionally, and physically? Well, welcome to the club! I used to think that the only way to show that I cared about someone was to give too much of myself. You may be wondering, if I do not give my all to a person, how will they know I care?

I have been in two major relationships before I dated and married my husband. The first one was puppy love. I met him when we were 18, and I just knew I was in love with him. Every time he would call, I would do everything in my power to answer. I was so focused on loving him; I did not notice he was taking advantage of me. One time we were sitting in his car, and he kept sighing. “What’s wrong, Babe?” I asked. “Man, I’m broke,” He said, holding his head. “I have no gas, but I wanted to see you.” I started thinking to myself that I had to help him, but I only had $40 to my name. Then I thought to myself, “But he came all this way to see you.”

“What do you need?” I said, taking his hand from his head. “I need like $20 bae.” He said, looking at me like a sad puppy. “Well, I have $20 I can give you,” I said, reaching into my bag to grab my wallet. “Naw, I cannot take money from you, baby.” He said. The look on his face, however, was saying something different. He was looking like, “Come on and show me the money.” “Here,” I said, holding out the money, “Take it, babe.” His eyes perked up, and he took the money from my hand so fast that it felt like a vacuum sucking up dust. “I’ll pay you back.” He said as he leaned over and kissed me on my cheek. Let’s just say that he still owes me $220.

My second one was emotionally draining. I thought he was the one, but every time something would come up in his life, I was the first person he would get rid of. I had to fight to keep him around. “Stop calling my phone Ariel,” He shouted. “I told you when I am ready to talk to you; I will!” “Why won’t you talk to me,” I cried. “I want to help you; I love you.” My phone beeped to let me know he ended the call. I would cry myself to sleep because I wanted him to let me in. He went as far as blocking my number and blocking me on social media. When he was ready to be bothered with me… I mean ready to be loved by me, he would unblock me and asked me to forgive him. It took me a while, but I decided to let him go. He was very upset about that.

I told these stories to make this point; if you are giving more than you are receiving, it is safe to say it is not a relationship you need. We cannot continue to fill everyone’s cup while you sit around being thirsty. Again, how do you care about someone without emptying yourself? You set parameters in your relationships. You let them know what you will and will not do. A relationship is all about give and take. If you are giving more than you are receiving, you are cheating yourself out of the love and respect that you deserve. Also, do not let anyone make you feel bad for saying no. That is your right to say no. You have to know when enough is enough. You can love someone without draining your pitcher, and if they do not like it, so be it.