Happy Monday! It feels so good to be back with you all. I took a much-needed week off of blogging because I felt myself starting to burn out. I sat down to write last Tuesday and truth: my heart was not in it. Here I was writing about self-care, and yet I wasn’t listening to my body and wasn’t taking care of myself. How hypocritical of me. That’s not what I’m about. I could not, in good conscience, keep writing that post and then submit it like I was living this life!
My husband took one look at me and said “maybe you need to take a day off.” I didn’t like hearing that. Not one bit. But he was right. So I closed my laptop and grabbed a bowl of ice cream (duh) and took the next week off.
But now I’m back and feeling refreshed! I have so many exciting things coming up in the next few weeks for you! I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s going to be pretty great. September is going to be a great month for The Light Owl and I can’t wait to show you what I have up my sleeve.
Ask The Light Owl: Your Personal Growth, Relationship, and Mental Health Questions, Answered
But without further ado, welcome to my new series, Ask The Light Owl. I’m going to be answering a bunch of your questions that you’ve submitted over the past few weeks. Thank you for sending so many thought-provoking questions! Some of these were so good, I’m planning on writing up entire posts about them.
How/why did you choose to go into the mental health field? -Marsha
This is a question that I was wondering when I’d answer on this blog! When I started college, I initially aspired to be a writer (which is weird, since now I do that too!). I was an English major in college, with a focus on English Writing. I wrote a lot of poetry. Reading and writing had an existential quality to me at the time, and still does to much of an extent. But I found learning a lot about myself and about humanity through stories. I never thought that I’d go into a human services field, until I took an intro to psych class that changed my mind. Throughout college, I was challenged to deal with a lot of my own stuff, and by junior year, I flip flopped my major and minor, and graduated with a bachelor’s in Psych with an English Writing minor. Although English made me feel understood, psychology made me feel validated. But I still liked trying to figure people out.
I originally planned on going back to school for social psychology or personality psychology, but things worked out differently, and I ended up getting my Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling instead. My program required that we do group therapy as a class. Between that and my bachelor’s program, I learned so much about myself and was able to overcome a lot of my own demons. And now I write my blog as a passion project. Things worked out nicely!
How do you find your passion? – Ish
This is a great question that I’d love to write an entire post about, so thank you for the inspiration, Ish! It’s hard to sum up finding your passion in a paragraph or two. Your passion isn’t something to be found, it’s something to be felt. Passion, by definition, is an emotion. But for some reason, we tend to think that finding passion takes logic and strategy. It doesn’t. Finding your passion takes listening to your heart, as cheesy as that sounds.
Think about when you were a kid. What did you dream about being when you grew up? As kids, we had no idea that our dreams weren’t feasible ways to make a living. Our dreamer spirits got squelched somewhere in adolescence. So my advice to finding your passion is to go back to what you wanted to be when you were a kid. What inspired you then? How have your interests evolved over the years? What’s stayed the same?
When you’ve answered these questions, think about how you can channel those values in your everyday life. A large part of pursuing your passion is believing that your passion is capable of being pursued. The moment your passion becomes a pipe dream is the moment you lose it.
How can I find a hobby I can be passionate about? -Anonymous
Trial and error, my friend. Much like finding your life’s passion, finding a hobby you’re passionate about takes listening to your soul. If that’s not something you’re used to doing, start by listening to what you talk about. What topics get you excited every time they’re brought up? Start there.
I also recommend expanding your idea of what a hobby is. I was totally where you were about 6 months ago when I was trying to find a way to spend my free time. Before, I had this narrow idea of a hobby being starting a collection or doing some out there project that few people do. I thought about collecting postcards or making mini models. But those things don’t really represent what I am and what I’m interested in. But writing does. Being creative does. Helping people does. My hobby came to me when I stopped looking for it. I never thought that I’d be investing so much time into my little blog, and yet here we are! Start with what you love already and go from there.
How do I define success in my life? -Anonymous
I can’t answer that question for you, friend. But I will try to point you in the right direction. I think there is a danger to letting other people define success for you. That sort of thing can lead to feeling inadequate and comparing yourself to other people. Defining success has to come from within you. A good way to start is by looking back over your life. What things are you proud of?
You’ve gotta meet yourself where you’re at. Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. My definition of success will be different than yours, and probably everyone else’s. What I can tell you is to recognize your successes and celebrate them, no matter how small. Life is about the journey and the small successes. It’s my philosophy that we never “arrive,” so to speak. What fun would that be? Keep setting reasonable goals, keep pushing yourself, keep celebrating each victory. That’s success to me.
Related reading: Breaking the Cycle of Social Comparison
What would you recommend to a couple where one is depressed? -Anonymous
Again, without knowing the extent of the circumstances, this is a hard one for me to answer. Feel free to DM me, anon, on my social media accounts and I’ll do my best to help ya out! But to address in more general terms, I think the two most important things to keep in mind here are communication and validation, and both go both ways.
Communication will look different for each person. For the depressed one, communication will probably look a lot more like trying to express feelings, and validation will look like noticing the non-depressed person’s kindness and efforts to help. For the non-depressed person, communication will probably be asking questions and talking about their own feelings. Validation will be acknowledging the depression and calling it what it is. But it also will be recognizing that depression can be debilitating. Relationships are not always 50/50. Sometimes one partner needs more support than the other. So for the non-depressed person, learn to lean on your friends. Seek support from others so you’re able to support your partner.
The type of depression that you described– difficulty getting out out bed and helping around the house, sounds more like just everyday blues. So I’d also recommend counseling too, for both of you! As a counselor and someone who has undergone counseling, it can be seriously life-changing. I think that anyone can benefit from counseling, whether it be someone who is depressed, someone whose loved one is struggling with depression, or if you’re trying to strengthen your relationship. Sooner is always better than later when it comes to therapy.
Related Reading: 10 Tips to Help Someone with Anxiety
How does attachment disorder affect future relationships? -Tyra
For those of you who aren’t aware, attachment disorder is usually something that presents in childhood. A lot of kids who were adopted or were in foster care struggle with attachment disorder, but it can also present in people who have experienced trauma.
Attachment disorder boils down to one thing: trust. People with attachment disorder trust easily, and break trust quickly as well. Attachment disorder affects future relationships as much as you allow it. Understanding attachment disorder is the first step in conquering it. Recognize that you have issues with trusting people, whether it be too easily or too scarcely, and communicate that. I’d guess over 75% of the relationship problems I see are as a result of not communicating enough.
So if you’re the type of person who puts all their eggs in one basket, communicate that to your partner ahead of time. If you know that attachment is an issue for you, you don’t want to blindside your partner. Let them know, “I’ve been through some stuff in my past, and here’s a pattern I’ve noticed.” You don’t need to fill them in on everything you’ve been through on the first date, but it’s my opinion that a little history goes a long way. And if you tend to not trust easily, it’s okay to let them know that too. Most likely, your partner isn’t a mind reader. So if you need patience, let them know. If you need validation, let them know. And if you need space, let them know that too! Learning how to effectively communicate in a relationship will go a long way.
How do you deal/navigate through a tough relationship with a friend? – Elizabeth
The theme of the hour: communication. If there is any lesson I’ve learned in life, it’s to be up front and authentic with people. So if you’re sensing some tension, or have an issue with a friend, communicating is going to be the most effective solution. Obviously, this is much easier said than done. So you’ll want to make sure you’re clear and specific with what you want to say. Check out my post, How to Fearlessly Handle Confrontation, for a detailed way to confront people in a healthy way.
Sometimes though, the friendship isn’t worth saving. Are you holding onto the friendship because of the nostalgic value? I’ve been there. Just because you’ve known each other forever doesn’t mean that the friendship is supposed to last forever. If you’re realizing that the relationship is irreconcilable, it’s okay to end it. Give yourself the time and space to grieve the relationship.
Related Reading: Letting Go of Toxic People: Why Now is the Right Time
What helps you find satisfaction in overcoming bad circumstances? -Anonymous
Self-awareness, my friend. It’s really easy to get sucked into the hole of ruminating and sulking about everything bad happening to you. And that makes it hard to recognize when things are actually going well.
Have you ever heard the term “look at the world through rose-colored glasses?” It refers to people who are constantly optimistic. The same concept can be applied to people who “look at the world through dark-colored glasses.” If you are constantly focusing on the bad, you won’t recognize the good.
One of my favorite ways to find satisfaction in overcoming the bad circumstances is recognizing the things you’re grateful for. If you’ve stuck around this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of gratitude exercises. Gratitude is such a simple and effective way of helping you find satisfaction in overcoming bad circumstances because it puts things into perspective. Life doesn’t happen in black and white. So even when everything seems to be going wrong, there is always something to be happy for. Heck, overcoming bad circumstances in itself is something to celebrate! So if you’re the type of person to make a big deal out of the negative, but shrug off the positive, try keeping track of all the good that happens to you. Write down three things each night that you’re happy about. It could be something as big as starting a new job, or something as small as having a great cup of coffee. It’s those little moments that will carry you through the worst days.
Related Reading: The Life-Changing Power of Gratitude
This was such a fun project to take on! Like this series? Have more questions for me? Hit me up on social media using #askthelightowl and you might be featured on another upcoming post!
What have you been struggling with lately? What’s been amazing in your life? Have a question to Ask The Light Owl? Let me know in the comments. 🙂
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