Sometimes we feel like we’re unable to be open with our friends because we’re worried about how they will react. Or maybe we already know how our friend will respond.
we might worry that we'll be judged.
Or we know how our friends will respond when we bring it up. Sometimes, we’re conflicted with the decision that we’ve made and that makes it harder to talk about it with our friends. So what does this mean? Maybe, we ourselves need time before we can share with our friends. And that’s okay. As long as you’ve got other friends that you feel safe sharing with, you’re still getting the support that you need.
It can leave us feeling isolated...
...when we can’t reach out to our friends, especially when we need that support.
How do we take care of ourselves when we’re unable to share with friends?
Maybe it's about going through your rolodex of friends and asking yourself what you need from them. It could be their company, without any words exchanged. Or maybe it's time and space for you to talk without them dishing out the advice.
And it's okay.
You can even set a time-frame for your friends to check in with you. Or let them know that you won't be able to answer the phone for the night. You are allowed to ask for space. If your friend loves you, she/he/they will understand and respect what you are communicating.
If they don't get it, you know that it's their own stuff that's coming up for them. Their response lets you know that they're uncomfortable with you setting your own boundaries and what you need. But by being able to get through that discomfort with that friend and by talking it out with him/her/them, your friendship will get even stronger.
So how do you ask for what you need?
It might look like...
"Hey I don't have the energy to talk right now, could we just sit and watch a movie?"
"I'm feeling really sensitive, and I just need someone to listen. I'm not looking for advice right now."
"I'm really exhausted, could we just go to a show and have fun?"
"I can't talk today. I'll let you know when I'll have the bandwidth."
"Hey can I vent without any feedback?"
"I just need you to listen."
"This is hard for me to share. Would it be okay if you just listened?"
"I'm worried about feeling judged. I really need your non-judgment right now."
"It's been a long week. Can we catch up next week?"
We’ve all been there. That feeling that everything is happening all at once. It seems like it’s just too much. You might feel consumed by your thoughts. The hard part about feeling overwhelmed is that it sometimes takes a big cry or a surge of intense emotions before we realize that we need to slow down or take a break.
Redirect Your Focus.
List 1 thing that is important right now. Can you solve anything right now? If the answer is no, we might need a break. This doesn’t mean that it continues forever. Remind yourself that you’ll come back to your problem. Remind yourself that worrying will not make your worries dissipate.
If you’re fixated on one problem, shift to a different problem. This mental break gives us some perspective. It’s a form of brainstorming.
Help Someone Else.
Call someone else and ask her/him about her/his day. This doesn’t mean that you ignore your needs, but if you’ve been thinking about your problem all day, it might distract yourself from your thoughts. Not only will you be there for another person, you might feel useful and feel less powerless overall.
Imagine one of your favorite places. Here, you feel at peace. You’re reminded of the grandeur surrounding you as you visualize. Use all of your senses to imagine this place. How do the clouds and sun interact? Where are you sitting? Imagine how the ground feels and what the air smells like. With this visualization, we’re provided with a temporary escape and chances are, you won’t feel worse than before you tried this exercise.
Repeat a mantra.
Identify an affirmation and repeat it. Take 20 slow breaths. As you breathe, imagine that your body continues to relax five percent more. Feel the tension lifting from your shoulders.When we experience fear and our heart rates increase, our bodies interpret this situation as a threat, but as our heart rates decrease, our bodies inform our brains that this threat (your problem) is no longer an issue. Continue these slow breaths and repeat your mantra.
We’ve all been there. Sometimes it’s when we’re tired, we might be more prone to worrying. Our worries might even stop us in our tracks because we’re focused on what might happen in the future. It can be overwhelming to say the least. What can you do to take care of yourself in this moment.
I’ve outlined some tips to cope with your worries.
Handle what we can right now.
Sometimes this means focusing on what we can do in the next ten minutes. When our minds are racing many miles a minute, we’ll be more at ease when we can focus on what’s in front of us.
Get into the zone.
We all have those activities that make us feel like nothing can touch us. They’re challenging, but to a point that’s just right, and we’re still able to enjoy it. Usually we become consumed by it and our friends have to pester us to stop doing it. Maybe it’s writing a poem, or going for a hike, or playing the guitar.
Sometimes we might think that if we put ourselves into a worrying stupor, that somehow our worries will go away. We often find that worrying more about it continues the spiraling of thoughts.
If you’re worried about what someone is thinking, ask the person. When we’re immersed in these thoughts, we can’t confirm them. When we ask someone what they’re thinking, we can take control of these worries and learn whether they were fact or fiction. In the case that you can’t speak to the person, remind yourself that you’re being kind and respectful. Make a list of all the qualities that you do have and soak it all up.
Yes, I’m going to say it--take a break from the internet and social media. Maybe it’s only for ten minutes, but give yourself that time away from it and to focus on what’s really meaningful to you, rather than on what others suggest is important. Ask yourself which people are there for you and what you value most.
Sometimes we might wish that we were in one of Harry Potter’s invisible jackets. It’s safe when we’re with those who make us feel loved. Maybe we’re worried about being judged about what we say or do. This might impact whether you say something. You might be worried that what you say is unintelligent. Or maybe you think that others are upset with you.
It can be overwhelming when we’re caught up by our thoughts and concerned with others think of us. It can make it hard to do the things we want to do if we’re cloaked in anxiety. We might want to feel carefree, or at least less worried.
Are you ready?! Here are some tips to worry a little less about what others think!
It's none of your beeswax.
Sometimes, shifting our narratives can help us work through these thoughts. One way to rewrite this story is to tell yourself, “What others are thinking about me is none of my business.” If the person is really upset with you, he/she can tell you. That person is responsible for telling you.
Otherwise, I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt that you were kind to that person and did nothing wrong!
In the case that person has negative thoughts about you, it often has to do with the other person. If that person is jealous, it means that that person is insecure. Most likely, that person has to do some internal work on themselves and gain awareness of these insecurities if it’s leaking into your space. When we’re worried about what others think, we’re also giving that person a lot of our power. What do I mean by this? Also, the person that you’re concerned with, perhaps you wouldn’t want to be friends with that person anyway. The people that we’re around (and worry about what they think) might not share the same qualities or values we hold.
Another way to approach this is to talk to that person. Maybe you’ll find out that person wasn’t thinking what you thought they were thinking! Or if they confirm your thoughts, it’s a reminder that you’ve got some great intuition. By talking to that person, we might learn something about them. We might find a new friend!
SHare about it.
Our feelings can have an effect on us. If we’re tired or sad, we might be more self-conscious. Acknowledge that it’s okay to feel worried about how others see you. Be kind to yourself and remind yourself that whatever you’re feeling might be making you feel uncomfortable. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable. Tell yourself that it’s okay to feel what you’re feeling. Talk about how you feel self-conscious. Sometimes when we share about it, we take the power out of it. Chances are that if you share about it, someone will understand what you’re going through and see you as bold and courageous for telling them about it. Other times, that person you tell might even share that he/she feels the same way. By putting ourselves out there and sharing the truth, we’re brave. We make space for others to experience our humanity. We model that it’s okay to be vulnerable.
Think about the activities that you are entirely engrossed in, to the point that you don’t care about what others think of you. What is it about those activities that makes you feel self-conscious? Maybe you’re in a comfortable space, surrounded by people that love you. Or it could be that you’re so consumed in the activity that you’re not worried.
Do what you love.
Moments are ephemeral. Think about what you really want to cherish. You make your life. You deserve to enjoy it. To be the main role in your show. Don’t let anyone else take away that power. Do you. If there’s a song you love, belt it out. When we’re doing what we love to do, it no longer matters what others think. If it’s meaningful to you, do it.
We, as people, we are resilient. We grow, we change, no matter what comes our way. I think that’s what makes us pretty special, no matter what our external circumstances are. We are able to push past those difficult times. So when you’re having a rough day, think about how much you have overcome. Gain some strength from that!
When you feel like "everything is happening to me"...
See what you can do to shift this narrative. Identify what actions you can take to play the main role in your story. Life can be tricky. Make room for yourself and what you need. Take the time to reconnect with people who know you as the wonderful being that you are. Ask your friends what they admire about you? We all need those reminders from time to time.
BE open & Flexible.
You might not know it, but something will come your way that will make you smile, if you’re open to it. It reminds me of that Jack Kerouac phrase about pursuing the “road less taken”. From a literal standpoint, maybe, if you take a new route home, you might run into some friends that you haven’t seen for some time, or you might see the mountains from a new perspective. Or it might be just as boring or predictable. The reason I bring up this openness, is that sometimes if we are open to something, we will land upon something that might spark something within us.
I know, it’s definitely not an easy task. So how do we go about trusting ourselves? Start taking small actions that please you and only you. If you want to be bold, try something without worrying about how your actions might affect others. Of course, I am giving you the benefit of the doubt that you are kind and respectful when you try these new things. Why would these actions matter? You’re practicing what feels good to you! You’re putting yourself first, and therefore, you’ll be better equipped to make decisions that align with you and what makes you happy. Trust that you will have the skills to continue despite the rough patch you might be encountering.
Comparison isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s ingrained in us; it’s a survival mechanism. Comparing ourselves only becomes detrimental when we’re encompassed by it, when it hinders us and makes us overwhelmingly resentful.
We know that jealous feeling. We may consume unnecessary seconds or minutes thinking about that person on Instagram with that “perfect” body or your friend who seems like her life is wonderful. That’s the hard part about these difficult feelings, when they’re more than fleeting, when we’re swallowed by them.
So, what can we do about it?
Here are some journaling exercises to cope with feelings of jealousy. It happens to all of us and it’s normal!
What are you Avoiding?
When we're feeling jealous, we’re most likely focused on others. For some of us, we direct our attention on others because it’s easier than shedding light on ourselves. When this emotion arises, think about what are you insecure about and what it is that you want to change about yourself. Or maybe you do not actually want to change anything, but maybe it’s a question of, “What do I need to accept about myself?”
To clarify, let’s say that you’re focused on how someone has a big house and you find yourself feeling resentful. It’s totally normal. But in this case, maybe overwhelming thoughts come about--perhaps it’s a sadness that you don’t have that house. Or it could be that you’re working sixty hours a week and you feel as though you feel as though there’s nothing to show for it. Or perhaps there’s acceptance that might need to take place, that it might take longer for you to get that house or perhaps it’s that you just need to accept that you’re angry that that person has it and you don’t.
Understand your expectations
Do you expect yourself to be perfect? In what ways are you too critical on yourself? By seeking certain outcomes, from whom might you be trying to seek approval?
What recognition do you really need? Often we might want recognition from others. Why am I bringing up recognition? When we’re jealous or feeling insecure, we might really want confirmation that we are doing well or that we are working hard. In these fleeting moments of jealousy, there might be a part of us that wants that recognition that we might give others.
Are you HUNGRY, ANGRY, LONELY, or TIRED?
When we’re feeling resentful, maybe it’s our mental state that’s causing the raucous in our heads. We’re affected by how tired we are or the kind of week we’ve had. Reflect upon what types of situations that make you more vulnerable, and therefore more likely to experience these overwhelming feelings.
It's All Relative.
There’s always someone who’s is going to be richer, smarter, more athletic, or whatever adjective that creates jealousy for you and there’s always someone who’s going to be on the opposite end. What are some things that others don’t have? Maybe you grew up with both parents or perhaps you have a pet dog or maybe you were able to attend college.
But the point of it is, what will help you gain perspective? Is it volunteering at a neighborhood thirty minutes away from you, where there’s more crime? Or the better question is, what is it that you have gained over the course of your lifetime? How can you compare yourself to you from one year ago? What is different? What have you learned?
I get it. Maybe your perfectionism is getting in the way of finishing or starting projects you always wanted to pursue. Or maybe it’s just too scary to think might happen if you scrawl a few words on a page. It can be suffocating in such a way that we’re unable to to keep going, for fear that our work will be criticized, or for fear that we will be perceived as “less than.” Chances are, if another person truly thinks of you as less intelligent as you are, then that person really is unable to believe in his or her own abilities. Whether or not you are worried about how others perceive you, others have similar concerns.
Ask for it.
If you really want to fend off your perfectionism, asking for what you need is the best way to open the floodgates of flexibility. If you need to, think of it as an act of service to others. By showing that you don’t know something also gives others the chance to be vulnerable. The repetitive act of clarifying something or asking questions then conditions us into recognizing that nothing will bite us in the a** or recognizing that we survived after asking for help. Practice asking for suggestions. It doesn’t mean that you are “weak” or not the “expert”. Rather, it’s a sign of humility. It’s the way that we all learn and assert ourselves.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
Purposely find an activity that you are mediocre at and find the fun in it. Fully experience what it’s like not to try so hard all the time. Maybe you’ll find relief in it! See if you can be silly while trying not to attain the “ideal” outcome. If you need any exercises: draw with your left hand and have a competition with a friend --who can draw the messiest picture?
Even those who might appear “perfect” on the outside or seem like they have it “all together” have skeletons in their closets. Everyone has some fear or struggles that they have endured. We are all fallible beings.
In this exercise, write about your qualities as a person. This key is to identify who you are beyond your external accomplishments or appearance. It might be easier to pretend as though you are narrating someone else’s life, and therefore gain some perspective.
Make a List
By writing this list, maybe you’re better able to see your purpose and realize what is meaningful to you. The reasoning behind this question is to shed some light on what drives us at a deeper level, rather than focusing on superficial outcomes.
Most people do not have the goal to be alone on an island. If you do, have at it! Most of us want to make money, but at the end of the day, we really might want to make money so that we can be surrounded by and spend time with those who matter to us.