The Quickest and Easiest Way to Self-Care

When you're already overwhelmed and overloaded and your to do list is a mile long, it's easy to see self care as another source of stress. It becomes another thing you're supposed to be doing, another thing to feel guilty about not doing.

Pretty soon it becomes a source of self-criticism:

"I'm not taking good enough care of myself."

"What's wrong with me?"

"I should meditate or something, but I just don't feel like it."

I used to see self care as something to feel guilty about not doing. It was another thing on my to-do list like laundry and taking out the recycling. But as I've gotten more in touch with my feminine energy, I have come to realize that self care is a gift that only I can give myself.

It's not something that inhibits my freedom by taking up time I don't feel prepared to invest. Self care actually gives me the gift of pleasure, the gift of comfort, the gift of expressing love to myself.

As women, it is our birthright to experience pleasure and joy on a daily basis. I make time to do this by waking up at 4:30 in the morning and taking an hour and a half before the rest of my family wakes up to spend loving time with myself.

Here's how that looks:

::I wake up and wash my face with warm water to help energize me.

::I look up at the moon to see where it is in its monthly cycle

::I honor the gift of my body through stretching and exercise.

::I give myself the gift of clarity through meditation

::Finally, I make myself a quiet cup of (decaf) coffee and spend devoted time with my journal

When I do these, things, I feel filled before the day has even begun for my family. If nothing else gets accomplished that day, if the rest of the day gets away from me, I still carry with me the gifts that my morning routine brought to me.

Of course, I always have the freedom to decide that a 4:30 wake up call just isn't worth it and sleep in. But most days, I truly do see it as a gift to myself, nourishment for my soul that only I can provide for myself.

So experiment with making sacred time for yourself a priority as important as getting to class or paying a bill. Experiment with making it a non-negotiable.

Make your presence with yourself your present to yourself.

 

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Five Conversations You Need to Have With Your Gay Teen

Recently, a friend told me that he feels it’s much easier for gay teens to come out to their parents now than it was fifteen years ago when he came out to his parents.  

“However”, he went on, “most ‘coming out’ literature still does ignore the fact that it’s about sex.  Any time you come out, you’re also saying what genitals you’re into...and we all know, sex talks of any variety with parents are f--ing awkward.”

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This conversation got me thinking about clients I've worked with over the years that have come out to their parents.  There are some families in which the ‘coming out’ conversation is the first and last discussion of the child’s sexual identity, and other families in which it’s a jumping off point for an ongoing dialogue.  

According to current statistics, between five and twenty percent of people identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.  If you’re a parent of a gay teen that recently came out, you are probably working through a huge variety of emotions right now from shock to grief to pride, all of which are understandable and expected, even if you have had strong suspicions for some time.

You may also have a seemingly endless list of unanswered questions that you’re not sure how to broach and very real fears about how this could negatively affect him as he navigates a society where he will encounter people that are unhappy about his sexuality.

At the same time as these questions are running through your head, your teen is likely going through some inner-turmoil as well. She is coming to terms with her own sexuality, which is difficult enough for any teen, but especially difficult when it carries the weight of potential rejection by the most important people in her life.

The “coming out” conversation can be tough for all parties involved, but the awkwardness is the very reason it shouldn’t end there. An ongoing dialogue is essential to keeping the lines of communication and making sure your teen gets the support he or she needs.

Here are some open-ended questions that can keep the dialogue going past the first conversation:  

  1. What are the best ways for me to support you right now?  Understand that your teen may or may not be able to articulate concrete ways that she needs your positive involvement right now, and that’s okay. This question is also an important statement that conveys your love for him and your desire to be there for him on whatever terms are most helpful. It is our job as parents to actively seek out ways to reinforce that we want our children to be who they really are at their most authentic

  2. What’s been happening in your life that made you decide to come out now? As my friend pointed out, telling a parent that you’re gay is always going to be awkward because you’re telling your parent not only who you are emotionally attracted to, but also what you’re sexually attracted to.

Any conversation with parents about a sexual topic is never going to be easy.  But this question can also be a jumping off point for a broader look at how your teen feels about communicating with you on important topics in general.

3. Who is supporting you and what has it been like for you at school?  Unfortunately, bullying    of LGBT teens is still rampant in schools and online. Coming out to friends can be even more difficult than coming out to family because a peer group is such a crucial part of a teen’s identity. It’s important to know what’s happening at school while your teen processes what’s going on.

Is he or she joining the Gay/Straight Alliance and being met with complete acceptance from friends or avoiding entire groups of people for fear of being harassed?  Oftentimes it’s some combination of both.  LGBT teens are at increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and feeling isolated or experiencing violence at school can be major catalysts.  

By having a good handle on your child’s peer situation, you will know if intervention such as getting the school involved or seeking the help of a therapist that can provide additional support.

4. Would you feel comfortable introducing me to a boyfriend/girlfriend? This is potentially awkward situation that can be made less awkward by discussing it way before it happens. It’s okay to be real and admit to yourself if there is some part of that scenario that might make you uncomfortable.

But like any relationship gay or straight, if a person goes into it with guilt and shame, not feeling that who they are is okay with their parents, the relationship can be filled with guilt and shame as well. That is a recipe for a dysfunctional relationship that no parent wants for their child.

5. What’s been making you proud of yourself lately? In the end, pride is about feeling good about who you are at your core, and getting your teen thinking and talking about what she feels are her best qualities and achievements is a surefire way to help nurture that feeling.

Being gay is one aspect of who your teen is as a whole authentic person. It’s a piece of her identity, but not the entirety of how she sees herself. It’s important to communicate that you still see your child as a whole person too and that you are proud because she’s your daughter, not in spite of the fact that she’s gay.


Coming out is a time of massive change and growth for a gay teen, and when one family member changes, the family dynamic can change too, leading to some growing pains. Keep in mind that it’s normal for those growing pains to happen, but that keeping the dialogue going can help you get through it together. No matter what, the message you want to convey is the same as it’s always been: that your love has always been and will always be unconditional.

"My Life Would Be So Much Better if She Got Fired!"

Years ago, I had a job that I dreaded going to. I had a colleague who was hostile, aggressive and antagonistic to everyone around her, and it caused me a huge amount of stress. When we were working together, I felt defensive and vulnerable, sometimes finding my heart pounding at the thought of having to ask her a question or communicate an issue to her.

Her outrageous behavior was well known at the agency where I was working at the time. Everyone was afraid of her, and no one wanted to do anything about it.  As time went on, I began to feel trapped and helpless. I loved my job, but she was making me miserable!

It came to a point where I dreaded every interaction with her. I felt that if only she would get fired or quit, my life would improve dramatically and everything would be good again.

I didn’t realize at the time, but I was putting my sense of joy, freedom, and power in a very unpleasant and unstable person. No wonder I was miserable!

If you are in a situation like this, here are some ways to turn your thinking around, reconnect with your authentic self, and eventually get yourself unstuck from the situation.

  1. Stop feeling the need to defend yourself.

Realize that you are never going to feel or be free when you are in the mindset of needing to justify yourself to someone else.

As executive coach Stewart Emory says, “you’re just an extra from central casting,” meaning that someone else’s opinion of you is never personal. They’re just treating you as they would anyone who represents whatever it is you happen to represent to them.

Be okay with the fact that not everyone will see you for who you authentically are, and you don’t need to spend time worrying about it. By feeling the need to explain myself to my colleague when she was giving me a hard time, I was wasting valuable time and energy. The bottom line was she was never going to be a reasonable person, and I needed to stop wanting her to be.

2.  Use your feelings to guide you to a place of balance.

How do you know when you’re not being authentic? You feel like shit! Luckily, unlike the opinions of a crazy person, our feelings are one thing we can actually control.

As Viktor Frankl said, “Everything can be taken from man except one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist whose entire family was killed and his life’s work destroyed in the Holocaust. Yet through it all, he maintained that we always have the choice of a better feeling thought.

If my younger self read that quote, I might have said that it was impossible to feel good with that woman in my life. In fact, there was a certain satisfaction and camaraderie in bitching about her with coworkers and to my husband. But that did nothing to improve my situation and in fact, it only made it worse.

If I was looking to feel joy and inner peace, focusing on the part of my job that sucked was never going to help me reach that goal - no matter how justified I was.

3. Use your thoughts to guide your feelings.

Many people think that when they feel better, their thinking about the situation will improve, but the opposite is actually true: your thoughts create your emotions. This is good news because it means you have the power to improve your situation all the time - it’s all a matter of focus.

When you’re focused on thoughts that you’re being treated unfairly, you’ll be stuck in a shitty situation until someone else gets fired or quits. If you’re honest with yourself, there is always going to be someone treating you unfairly in life. If you’re waiting until you are treated well by everyone in the world to be happy, you’ll be waiting a long time.

So how do you use your freedom to choose better feeling thoughts? By focusing only on the parts of the job you enjoy. Make a list every day of the parts of your job that are awesome and that make you feel great.

Here are some examples:

  • I’m great at my job and I love how I’ve been asked to head the new project. It feels good to know that my hard work is being recognized.

  • I love that I have friends at work. It’s great that we connect and support each other throughout the day.

  • My job gives me a daily opportunity to be creative in new ways.

  • I love that I’m taking care of my family with my income.

Look at the situation with a sense of gratitude and appreciation and then think about the feelings. The great part is that the more you use these tools, the more they’ll work for you!

             

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to learn more about how to use your thoughts to guide your feelings and find a place of balance, get in touch with me. You can call me at 973-769-2401 or email at amy.beth.acker@gmail.com.