Happy New Year friends! I hope you had a beautiful night ringing in the new year and are having a restful first day of 2021!
2020 was such a formative year filled with growth, lessons, and blessings, but 2020 also started off pretty rocky for me… my grandma had just passed days earlier on Christmas Eve, I was going through a divorce, and I was confused, emotional and exhausted. I had a sea of different voices and opinions (and judgments) surrounding me, crazy high levels of fear, anxiety, and insecurity inside of me, and a very unclear & unsure future ahead of me.
I felt God with me and believed better days were ahead but it took all I had to trust that and keep moving forward. I wasn’t very grounded, and I didn’t know, trust, or love myself (or God) anywhere close to where I needed to.
Enter Covid, something I now see as one of the biggest blessings of my life.
It was so easy to keep going going going, especially after moving to nyc. I had an endless list of event and party invites, meetings, and friends in New York and abroad who wanted to spend time together, all on top of work and daily responsibilities. All things I was and am grateful for, but all things that left me so busy I hardly had time to think and sleep, let alone truly, deeply reflect.
Being without work for months, loosing my uncle, spending 6 weeks alone and afraid in a nyc apartment, were all really hard things last spring. But what was harder was spending so much time with me, my thoughts, and my emotions. Our heads can be a scary place. It’s no surprise to me that Jay Shetty mentions in his book’s chapter on reflection that in a study done at Harvard, the majority of the participants “chose to zap themselves with an electric shock rather than be alone with just their thoughts”. But as he also mentions, when we never take time to be alone with our thoughts and reflect, all our distractions and things we daily consume become our values by default, and we become victims to whatever ways of thinking we’re taught or used to.
Enter some incredible resources and a lot of time to spend consuming them and reflecting, and suddenly I found myself slowly but surely wrestling through and healing that fear, anxiety, and insecurity that I could hardly see past at the start of this year, and honestly many times before in my life.
After this year, I truly believe that so many of the things we struggle with, even severe anxiety, can be healed, or at least significantly improved. It first of all takes even admitting we are struggling and need help & change, and then it takes work, it takes time, and it takes cutting unhealthy things, ways of thinking, and sometimes even people out… but it works. I found so much healing, peace, and happiness this year, I’m incredibly sure of and passionate about the healing that is possible and about sharing everything I’ve learned and found helpful that I can with you all. Life is hard, but having awareness, the knowledge that you’re not alone in your struggles, and tools + resources to navigate them with, can and do make a world of a difference.
While I have so much I want to share about my journey, I wanted to start off by sharing some of my biggest takeaways from this year, in hopes they might inspire and/or encourage some of you! I was going to do one post, but it got pretty long, so I decided to turn it into a series and share one a day, the first being…
The Investment you Make in Your Mindset & Mental Health Will be One of the Best You Ever Make
So much comes back to your mind. Like almost everything. Your mindset (your established set of attitudes/values) are the root of your thinking, decisions, and actions. If you’re operating with a mindset that is grounded in faith, abundance, gratitude and growth, life can throw pretty much anything at you and you’ll make it through stronger than before. However, if you cling to fear, scarcity, lack, and the familiar, you’ll stay struggling and stuck (and likely often anxious and unhappy) for as long as you do. A lot of mental health issues stem from an unhealthy mind & mindset. The great news is that you get to choose your mindset, and the resulting life you live that flows out of it.
It’s not a chocolate vs vanilla choice by any means, and some of it is outside of our control (mental illness is real and shouldn’t be taken lightly or dismissed!), but there is a lot that is. Sometimes it takes a while to even realize your mindset isn’t serving you, sometimes it’s obvious… Either way, it’s a heck of a lot of unpacking, work, and time to cultivate the mindset you want. You’re literally rewiring your brain and building new thinking habits. Figuring out what you need to work is a job in and of itself, let alone unpacking it and where it came from and then retraining yourself every time you think that way to think better.
For example, anxiety that consistently crops up consistently over getting fired from your job. Obviously there’s a whole set of issues that could reside in your job or your performance, but if you’re doing your best, you don’t need to live with that. But many of us do. At best, we just try to ignore it or live with it, at worst, we beat ourselves up over it and let it affect our self-worth which ultimately drags us down. Meanwhile, unpacking and healing it is what will truly bring peace, joy, and probably a promotion versus being fired (or walking away from an unhealthy job environment with confidence because you know your worth and that something better lies out there for you). Where that anxiety comes from is often our families of origin and how our thinking and view of self was formed as a child. If you were constantly made to feel you weren’t enough growing up, that negative belief about yourself becomes part of your mindset and affects your thinking and therefore so much of your life. Fear and anxiety in the work place, people pleasing, abandoning yourself and your values for acceptance… they’re just the tip of the iceberg.
After you become aware and start unpacking, it takes about 21 days just to form a new habit, much longer to break an existing one, and both that time combined to break old and form new ways of thinking. I don’t share that to discourage you, but to encourage you to have compassion and patience with yourself as you put in the work. Work that’s 1000% worth it.
My work has consisted of a lot of reflecting, journaling, unpacking, studying/learning from experts and people I respect and want to be/think more like (top of that list being Jesus, Dr. Henry Cloud, & Jay Shetty), meditating on what I’m learning, and then rewiring + retraining myself and my mind… This work has become one of my top priorities this year and has proved to be one of the best investments of my time and energy I’ve ever made. It’s literally changed my life, reduced my anxiety, filled me with peace and joy, attracted amazing things and people into my life, helped my relationships flourish (the healthy ones I’ve chosen to keep/invest in), and freed me (I don’t think it’s crazy to compare negative thinking patterns to a ball and chain on your leg!) so I can walk more in my purpose than I ever have!
There’s so much more that could be said on mindset, and it’s a topic I’m sure I’ll chat with you guys about a lot this coming year, but for now, that’s my #1 takeaway from 2020… Stay tuned for my second tomorrow!