Bloganuary Day 23: What’s a lie I tell myself?

There are actually two lies I tell myself: 1) I have no control and 2) I can’t do something. These two lies cause lots of unhealthy anxiety in my life. Undergoing therapy helps me to dispell these lies, but the mind is tricky, and it’s an ongoing process.

Intellectually and spiritually, I know I’m equipped to handle many things. God has equipped me. I’m resilient as a result of the trauma I’ve experienced and the things I’ve achieved despite the trauma. However, my amygdala (primitive part of the brain) doesn’t always want me to forget the trauma. I get triggered, anxious, and fearful over things sometimes. Sometimes I know the triggers and sometimes I don’t.

I recommend the book ‘Rewire Your Anxious Brain’ by Catherine M. Patterson and Elizabeth M. Karle. My therapist mentioned it one session, and I bought and read the book.

The best investment I’ve made is participating in therapy, and it’s been almost 2 years. My therapist loves giving me homework, aka self-work, and much of that self-work helps me to tackle these lies.

I’m kidding when I say she loves to give it, but the fact is she can’t do the work for me. I can talk to her for years because she validates me and is pleasant to talk to, but if I don’t do the hard work of changing my patterns and thoughts that don’t serve me and practicing and incorporating what I’ve learned into my life, then what’s the point?

If you read the book I mentioned, then you’ll understand this self-work is helping me retrain the thoughts in my amygdala and cortex. In reality, the amygdala can’t really be retrained because it holds our oldest, deepest memories/thoughts, but we can introduce new patterns that change how the amygdala reacts.

I know it’s not rational to think these two lies, so one way I combat them is to state my personal POWER STATEMENTS from time to time as often as needed. Here are a few:

  1. I can do this!
  2. This too shall pass!
  3. I do have control!
  4. I’m fearfully and wonderfully made!


How did I do?

At the end of 2020, I had some ideas on how I wanted to navigate 2021. In true form, I was hopeful as I tend to be. I captured these ideas in my popular blog post Top things I’m letting go of in 2021. I was determined to work on things that were in my control despite the chaos in the world such as the pandemic. So how did I do in the 6 areas I identified as wanting to let go of in 2021? Spoiler alert, I didn’t totally eradicate everything on my list. And it would have done me some good to review my list periodically throughout the year.

1. Offence – I think I did alright here when it came to other people that don’t live in my house. I indicated that I would forgive people immediately, and for the most part, I did. However, when you’re in a marriage, offenses occur on a daily basis. When you have children and they live with you, offenses occur on a daily basis. You get where I’m going with this, don’t you? I was constantly challenged with not taking offense with my family. They know how to tug on my weaknesses and which buttons to press. It’s an ongoing process and at least I’m aware.

2. Stressing – I indicated I would stop stressing about my never ending workload. I realized I needed help outside of myself and my circle of friends and family to tackle stress. Therefore, I’ve been investing my time and resources in working with a therapist since April 2021. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in 2021. She gives me lots of tools and homework to help me manage, plus I get assessments every few months to track my stress levels. I wrote about some of my therapy experience in the blog post What therapy is teaching me. Some of the tools are deep breathing, journaling, exercising, meditating, speaking assertively (practice exercises), and engaging in planned and unplanned mindful activities. I also tend to my beautiful 60+ plants throughout the inside and outside of my home. My cats, Beignet and Cannoli, also help me keep stress at bay with their loving presence.

One other thing about stressing I said I would let go of is not worrying about cooking for my family because they often prefer to eat out. Well, to my surprise, it wasn’t long before they started complaining that I wasn’t cooking as much for them like I used. So, I amped up my cooking for a while, but slowed down again since I started my vegan/plant-based journey in June 2021. I do make it a point to make them a meal at least once a week, but it’s too much to cook meals for myself and them at the same time. They are welcome to my meals, but they seldom partake except for my son on occasion. They’ve become a very self-sufficient bunch, especially since I ensure we have well stocked groceries.

3. Bad Sleep Habits – I indicated that I would go to bed earlier instead of waiting until 10:30pm to either get ready for bed or go to bed. After experimenting, I learned it’s best for me to start getting ready for bed at about 8:00 pm so I set an alarm on my phone for this time every night, except the weekend. This time works for me because I love taking long showers or baths in my beautiful, ‘spa like’ bathroom. It takes me about 45 minutes to an hour because of my nightly ritual. I’ve been improving my sleep habits, but I struggle with insomnia possibly due some recent medications and my hormones.

4. Underestimating Myself – Through therapy, I’ve been exploring this one and can honestly say I’ve made improvements. At 48 years old, I’m at an age where I have several competing things going on with my life in terms of career, family and health. I went through a period where I felt a complete lack of control over things in my life, which in turn made me underestimate what I could do. What I particularly wanted to explore is why I underestimate myself with certain people because I generally exude confidence. I have tools such as my list of “Power” statements I reflect on that I not only memorized, but also stored in my phone so I can refer to them when needed. I’ve had tough conversations with several people in 2021 and gained more confidence after tackling those situations.

5. Weight – Welp, I didn’t lose weight. In fact, I gained a few pounds…even with being on a vegan/plant-based diet for 6 months. There are some other reasons for that such as taking a medication by way of injection for 4 months to prepare my body for a surgery (future post) I’m having soon. However, physical weight is not the only weight I hoped to lose. I’ve been actively utilizing the tools from my therapy sessions to help me.

6. Guilt – The key to this one is self-compassion. I never thought about being compassionate with myself until my therapist encouraged me to do so. This was a difficult concept for me to grasp because I only think about compassion for others. An exercise I did to help me was made a list of how I can express self-compassion. When my internal dialogue sounds negative, I review my list and do some deep breathing exercises. I refer to my list often.

Although I didn’t know it when I wrote the initial post, therapy has been tremendous in helping me overcome many of the things I identified. Perhaps I was being overzealous when I indicated I would “let go” of them in 2021. Perhaps the question isn’t how did I do, but how am I doing? It’s a process that I can’t put a time stamp on that may take a lifetime. I know how difficult it can be to change patterns of thinking because I’m going through that now. I will definitely continue to work on letting go so I can have a more peaceful, healthy, and happy life.


What therapy is teaching me

It took me a few minutes to realize the inevitable as I lay in bed moist and warm from my hormones being out of control. I tossed and turned as the thoughts started flooding my mind. I finally glanced at my watch to see it was about 4:00 am. “Why am I up?” “You know you’re awake so you might as well get up.” “Why don’t you read a book so you can get sleepy again?” “What should I do now?” “What was my homework assignment again?” “You know what??? I should write a blog post!”

So here I am, up early in the morning wanting to share my epiphanies from the last few months. I’ve been consistently inconsistent with writing my blog posts. This is where I am in life right now and that’s okay. I always have a story or lesson to share. Capturing them in a blog post has been challenging because I only have so much time in a day. In fact, this is true for all of us. I’ve chosen to prioritize other things but always return to blogging because it’s a form of self-care for me. And whoever reads this, gets to ride with me on this journey.

Shortly after we moved into our new home earlier this year, I decided it was time to revisit what I had been putting off for a while. Also, a conversation I had with my nephew helped me to move forward with the decision, which was to seek therapy. This big wonderful thing happened in my life – a new house, new surroundings, and new beginnings. However, there were some personal challenges I’ve been wanting to work on related to my relationships, career, and health. On top of that, I was also realizing the toll the pandemic was taking on me. The move encouraged me to do other things to improve the quality of my life. This was the perfect time because my life wasn’t in crisis mode and things were settling down.

I work in the mental health field and understand the benefits of therapy. It’s not a stigma to me but mental health is still a stigma for many. However, I think the tides are changing. More people have access to and are seeking the mental health help they need. I see signs that therapy is being normalized. Some of my young adult family members have or are participating in therapy. I mentioned my nephew earlier who is very open about it. He also encouraged me to consider a therapist who would understand the unique cultural and racial challenges brown skinned people face.

I decided to take the steps to find a therapist. It took me a few weeks to find someone I was interested in through the Therapy for Black Girls website. I was able to peruse the websites and information for the different therapists in my state. It was important for me to work with a woman, slightly older than myself. I contacted her, we connected, and the rest is history.

It’s been 4 months now since I’ve been in therapy and it’s one of the best investments in myself I’ve made. I attend bimonthly sessions. Here are just a few thoughts on what therapy is teaching me about myself:

  1. I need to constantly work on boundaries – setting them, refining them, reinforcing them, and communicating them. I used to pride myself on setting boundaries. This is how I’ve established and maintained a place of peace since my early twenties. I have boundaries that are firmly planted; however, over time, I’ve allowed people and circumstances to erode some of them. I’m back to setting, refining, and reinforcing boundaries because they keep me safe and in check. They also teach others how to treat me.
  2. I had no idea how to demonstrate self-compassion. It was a foreign concept to me but I’m learning. I was not taught to show compassion for myself. I’m an overachieving, recovering perfectionist, constantly on the prowl to do better/be better, and to do things/do things for others, but what about self-compassion? And self-compassion is different from self-care. Self-compassion means I don’t mentally beat myself up because I can’t figure out how to relate to someone close to me. It means I don’t keep pushing myself when I know I’m tired. There is so much more to this.
  3. Validation is so important. I’m in a leadership position at work and it’s true that it can be lonely at the top. My workload is heavy and I don’t have the capacity to meet with my peers on a regular basis. Not only that, I’m not always sure who I can trust at work. Having the outlet from my therapist to be able to express my thoughts and be validated has been very helpful to me. Also, the validation helps in my personal life too because I don’t want to burden family (and they probably won’t understand anyway) with the particular challenges my husband and I experience with our health issues.
  4. It’s OK to retrain your habits and thoughts; in fact, it’s necessary if you want to change. A lot of what I’m working on is retraining habits I picked up over time and building new ones. Is it frustrating? YES! Is it hard? YES! Is it worth it? YES!

What I’ve shared are the biggest relatable lessons but there are many other things I’m learning about myself. If you’re interested in pursuing therapy, I hope you move forward with it. Really consider who you would want to work with, how much it will cost and is it within your budget, and your availability to attend regular sessions.