Confessions of a Single Lady

Excerpts from a journal entry I wrote today:

The thought of dating and relationships also spiraled in my thoughts yesterday–I didn’t think I was as stressful as I feel about it, but deep down I am stressed and insecure about it. I also have a lot of fear because dating requires delving into the there someone out there for me? When will I find them? Am I going to find someone I can see myself marrying and have kids with? Am I even ready for a serious relationship? How will I know when that person arrives into my life? The list of questions can go on and on.

Here’s the thing: I know I am a catch. Sometimes I get insecure about my profile not being “good enough” or maybe I am not as pretty as I think I am. I sometimes even think to myself, “The guys I went on dates w/ are good looking and intelligent–that reflects that I am good looking and intelligent, right?” Wrong. Guys don’t reflect who I am–I know who I am deep down.

Talking to a close male friend on the phone today brought out my wondering of my attachment style. I always assumed I had an anxious attachment style since I am an anxious person, but I took a quiz earlier today that said I had ambivalent attachment. I also sometimes find myself being avoidant. I am certainly more secure in my attachment style than I was prior, but I actually am not quite sure exactly what one I have. That has been on my mind a lot today–to understand more about my attachment style.

it’s interesting because I want to be in a healthy relationship so bad. I want that deep, passionate kind of love that I read about and fantasize about. Every single time someone tries to get close to me, I get scared. I find reasons to not get close, to cut it off, to leave. I always complained about attracting emotionally unavailable guys, but I think I have always been emotionally unavailable to some extent as well. There are not many people that I am truly truly open with. I sometimes even reword things around my therapist as well. I am so afraid of judgement, of people seeing who I really am. There are qualities about myself I don’t like, and there are qualities I do like. I don’t know if there is anyone out there who can actually love me for 100% of who I am. I feel like a chameleon who can fit into any crowd I place myself into–but that isn’t me. I project myself to be who I think I should be for that particular crowd.

I purposely wanted to post this so you understand what can be going on in the minds of your friends who are dating. We put on smiles. We spend time swiping left or right, wondering if we effed up on swiping left on someone who could’ve been our soulmate. We get lost figuring out “who we are” like I journaled about today, and figuring out why we are single (if we don’t want to be single).  Have friends who are entering/fully in the scary dating scene? Show empathy. Don’t tell them, “It’ll happen when you least expect it” or various paraphrases of that statement. WE know it’ll happen deep down, but on the outside we are scared AF. We look like we are having fun–we are dressing up, putting on our best, but deep down we are terrified. Terrified of this being another failed date. Of being alone. Of our date thinking we are boring, or a terrible human being. Of FEELING alone in this whole dating world when everyone around us is married or in relationships. Don’t get me wrong, dating is super fun and is EXTREMELY insightful into finding out more about yourself (hence, the article above) and finding out what you want from someone. I am grateful to be in the position I am, for learning more about myself and others, and am grateful for being able to start fresh in my life.

The next time you have a friend or family member complaining to you about a string of bad dates, or confess their fear of being alone, just show empathy and be there for them. Be interested in their dating life and ask questions, show them that they aren’t alone in this. The friends who I feel closest to right now are the ones that want the dating stories, to laugh about the horrific dating mishaps with me, and at the end of the day..are the ones that constantly remind me that it’s okay to fall down, get up, and try again.


An Old Journal Post

Hello all! It has been quite a while since I posted in this blog..but that’s life for you! I hope to resume writing posts soon and share life’s experiences with all of you.

Today I wanted to show you excerpts of a journal entry I wrote on 12/31/2013. It was roughly 4 years ago that I wrote this and right before the new year, 2014, kicked in. Hope it gives you some inspiration!

It is 12:13 AM and I am sitting in my room. Boy, I just went over one of the older journal entries and it is funny just how much life changes year to year. I am deciding, for the first time, to not make resolutions this year. Every year I make resolutions, they barely go through. I feel like I have already started so many resolutions within the past year that I should just continue them. So in a nontraditional manner, I am not going to make 2014 resolutions, but am going to reflect on what I learned in 2013 and why, in my opinion, it was the most fruitful year for my evolution and growth.

I learned that not everyone is meant to stay in your life, and even some that stay in your life are not meant to stay there forever. In reality, the only thing that is constant in my life is me. I learned that you should focus your time and energy on the people that will help you grow into a better person and not let you fall back into bad habits. I also learned that some people are meant to be there in your life for only a phase and will help you get through that phase, but then their expiration date appears. I am forever grateful for both those people that do and don’t have an expiration date because they taught me this important lesson and have helped me become who I am today.

I learned that social media shouldn’t dictate your life. I used to be so upset if no one liked my status or if no one responded back to me, but I don’t care anymore. I use social media because I am simply a social person. I am not trying to become famous, get compliments, or have a reason to get an inflated ego, but I use it as a way to see what others are up to. I admit, I get jealous at times and sometimes I think I bring that upon myself, but I have learned the important lesson that social media doesn’t define you unless you let it define you.

I learned that gratitude goes a long way. I started a gratitude journal in November and started a daily writing journal in August and I swear that by doing both, I have seen a significant improvement in my life. I don’t mean improvement as in my life got better, but improvement as in my way of thinking has changed. I used to be so negative and my attitude would make me see the world in a negative light, but the act of daily gratitude has changed all of that. Now things that usually upset me either don’t upset me at all or upset me considerably less. Of course I am human and I am not perfect, so I have my days where I become very sensitive and all my walls are brought down, but I can happily say for the most part that gratitude has really changed my life.

I learned that no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, and I can attest to that myself. I have learned in 2013 that, along with gratitude, forgiveness goes a long way. Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily need to vocally involve the other person, but just forgiving someone can let the mind be at peace. I learned to try not to stay angry at people if they’ve wronged me in any way. Everyone is trying their best to be a good person and are doing what it takes to make themselves happy, even if it hurts you in the process. I do the same to others and stay positive that they forgive me too, and usually they do. I know. Sometimes it’s better to try to understand how someone else feels in a situation and try to step into their shoes, which goes hand in hand with gratitude for me. I feel like a lot of situations that would’ve normally really upset me, ended up making me feel gratitude for other people or scenarios.

I learned in 2013 that sometimes letting go is the best thing to do for yourself. Not necessarily in personal relationships, but in every day decisions. I learned to not stay too attached to the outcome of a scenario or whatever your mind creates, because sometimes the unknown shows you how beautiful it is. Now I try not to stay too attached to scenarios, especially if I am just assuming something. Sometimes letting go is the best thing you can do for yourself, and if the situation involves other people, it can be the best thing for them. I have let go of anything that is holding me back against my potential in life and my life has drastically improved with learning this.

Most importantly, I learned a lot about myself in 2013. I learned what makes me happy, what makes me sad, and learned what makes me curious. I learned that I am a strong and independent person, but am very loyal at the same time. I am loyal to my family and I am loyal to those I consider friends. I strive to see the best in everyone and try to make other people smile. I am a good person and I know I have a good heart. I know my self-worth and know that I deserve to be appreciated, loved, and cared for. I am really happy with who I have become and even though I still have a ways to go, I have started the climb to the peak. Here’s to 2014 and continuing that climb.

Much love and hope everyone is doing well!

The Science of Gratitude

Happy April, everyone! Spring finally feels like it has come here to stay for longer than short periods at a time. I am grateful to be able to enjoy the sunshine and spend more time outside.

I want to focus this post on gratitude and go into the science of why implementing it into our daily lives can really help us experience more positive emotions (even amidst negative situations). I really want to highlight this topic because I have personally found that even a single thought of gratitude can dramatically shift my mood from negative to positive and turn a bad day into a good one. You might think, “Wow, a single thought?” Yes, most definitely a single thought! Gratitude can be a very significant tool in helping us lead the kinds of lives we want to live.

The positive psychology field has been very successful in garnering scientific researchers to tap into the effects of how gratitude affects our lives. One of the most informative studies came from the efforts of three scientists, Dr. Emmons at UC Davis, Dr. McCullough at U of Miami, and Dr. Tsang at Baylor. The collaboration between these researchers in 2002 resulted in a famous study (made up of four smaller studies) that assessed how grateful disposition (choosing to be grateful) affected the quality of life (along with numerous other lifestyle factors) in study participants. To measure grateful disposition, they developed a 6-statement Gratitude Questionnaire (GQ-6), which was given to the participants who had to self-report their ratings on a scale from 1-7, with 1=strongly disagreeing and 7=strongly agreeing. You can see and download the questionnaire here and read the original research article here.

Below are the 6 statements that were on The Gratitude Questionnaire (GQ-6) and the four studies that the researchers performed:

  1. I have so much in life to be thankful for.
  2. If I had to list everything that I felt grateful for, it would be a very long list.
  3. When I look at the world, I don’t see much to be grateful for.
  4. I am grateful to a wide variety of people.
  5. As I get older I find myself more able to appreciate the people, events, and situations that have been part of my life history.
  6. Long amounts of time can go by before I feel grateful to something or someone.

Study 1: The researchers recruited 238 undergraduate psychology students to take the GQ-6 and self-report their life satisfactionvitality, subjective happiness, optimism, hope, positive and negative affects, and psychological symptoms (anxiety/depression/etc). They then wanted to look at the correlation between grateful disposition and the above measures of positive well-being, in addition to prosociality, spirituality/religiousness, and the Big Five traits.

Study 2: This was similar to Study 1, but the researchers involved non-students through a web survey on the internet and wanted to see the correlation between grateful disposition and positive and negative affects, the disposition to forgive, spirituality, and the Big Five traits.

Study 3: The researchers looked at the correlation between the factors considered in Studies 1& 2 and grateful disposition, but also looked further into a relationship between materialismenvy, and grateful disposition in 156 undergraduate psychology students.

Study 4: From Studies 1-3, the researchers found that disposition toward
gratitude was correlated with the Extraversion/positive affectivity, Neuroticism/negative affectivity, and Agreeableness traits from the Big Five assessment. In this study, they wanted to see if there was any correlations that existed independently of these Big Five traits and retroactively performed correlation statistics by keeping certain Big Five traits constant in their re-analysis.

So what did the researchers conclude from these studies? They had numerous findings and conclusions, many of which were laid down as a foundation for future gratitude research, but overall, they found that grateful people are higher in positive emotions and life satisfaction and lower in negative emotions such as depression, anxiety, and envy. Even more interesting is that most people report being grateful (an average rating of nearly 6 on a 7 point scale). Gratitude really is all around us!

Interestingly, the study showed that a grateful disposition didn’t necessarily diminish unpleasant feels (i.e. make our problems go away), but did enhance pleasant emotions. Dr. Emmons states on his lab website that, “Grateful people do not deny or ignore the negative aspects of life.

What does this all mean for us going forward? It’s absolutely GREAT news and shows us that, while gratitude doesn’t make our problems go away, it can certainly enhance our ability to experience positive emotions in life. Also, even if one is born with a lower grateful disposition, there are ways to cultivate more gratitude in life. I find that gratitude helps me get to a better mental state of mind that increases my ability to find clarity in unpleasant situations and gain the strength to find solutions to problems i’m facing. Gratitude is my catalyst to making better decisions in life. Was I always like this? Absolutely not. By making it a goal to practice more gratitude every day (through the suggestions I make below) has truly made a dramatic change in my life for the better.

With all of this being said, what are some ways we can cultivate more gratitude in our lives?

  1. Keep a gratitude journal and use it to write down all the things and people in life you’re grateful for. This is a wonderful reference you can go to during moments in life when you feel negative emotions. You can also create a daily exercise and write down 3 positive things that happen every day, which is is a great way to seek out the good things that happen to us on a daily basis.
  2. Write a gratitude letter to people you are grateful for. Show them how thankful you are for them being in your life. On that note, write a gratitude letter to yourself and highlight what parts of yourself you are grateful for. Show yourself the same gratitude you show others!
  3. Meditate with a lovingkindness meditation (also called Metta meditation) that evokes compassion towards yourself and others by repeating loving phrases towards yourself and others. My meditation teacher (in the Saturday morning group meditation class I used to go to regularly) would always include this Metta meditation at the end of our 30 minute individual meditation practice and I often felt my heart open after doing this.
  4. Count your blessings and try to circumvent negative thoughts that pop in with something that you’re grateful for. I like to personally ask myself during hard times, “What can I learn from this? What is this situation teaching me?” and try to use every negative situation as an opportunity to grow and/or learn more about myself.
  5. Make cultivating gratitude a shared effort and have a shared Google doc/Skype date/club meeting/journal/list/e-mail thread with someone else or a group of friends who is/are trying to cultivate more gratitude into his/her/their life/lives as well. Just like finding a workout buddy, our goals can be more easily obtained (and fun!) if we share them with others and have someone else hold us accountable for what we are trying to achieve. I also find it helps to find more motivation when someone else is participating in a goal with you, and luckily this gratitude goal will benefit all included party members in a very positive way.

I hope this article has inspired you to cultivate more gratitude in your life. What are you grateful for? 🙂

Let Go of Being Perfect

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you enjoyed the holiday season and stayed warm and cozy if you happen to be in a cold climate this time of year. 🙂 The holiday season, for me, was one chock full of love, fun, and cheer, but also included a lot of tough reflections about myself I had to embrace, accept, and plan to change for the better. One of the thoughts that I kept ruminating over and over in my head was my innate desire to always be perfect and my struggle in being able to let things go. Funny enough, I didn’t even realize that I had been holding off writing this blog post for fear that it wouldn’t be “good enough” for people to read. Thank you, Kristen, for inspiring me to finally get this out topic out of my head and into words, perfect or not. 🙂

So if you look around social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc) you’ll often find at least something that involves “letting go”..heck, you’ll even find shirts, mugs, and jewelry that people use as a reminder to let go of whatever it is that they need to. So what does it mean to let things go? I don’t mean literally throwing things away (Though there is a huge advantage to decluttering) or letting a balloon/kite go up in the sky (That DOES sound fun! No, don’t stop writing and go find a kite to fly..), but I mean letting go of what brings harm and negativity into your life. To me, there is no limit or expectation as to what you can or should let go of. In my life, I’ve made it a goal to let go of thoughts, objects, past mistakes, behaviors, and people that do my life more harm than good.

This struggle with being able to let go isn’t new for me at all, but has been one I’ve been mentally struggling with for as long as I can remember. It’s been very easy for me to let go of objects and people, but negative thoughts, past mistakes, and behaviors has been much more of a difficult journey. If you were a reader of my old blog, I wrote two articles, one in March 2014 and one in January 2015, that were relevant to this topic and included one of the many antidotes I’ve personally found helpful in taking the steps to let go of perfectionism: self-compassion.

In my old articles, I emphasize a situation of a friend coming up to you feeling upset about something they failed at, made a mistake at, and/or did a sub par job of. Let’s imagine this friend coming up to you in the following scenario:

Friend: I made a mistake doing [insert task here] and now I feel stupid and like a failure. I’ll never be good at [insert goal here].

What would you say back to this friend?

A) It’s okay, dear friend! None of us are perfect. We are all doing the best we can, like you did, and now you can learn from your mistake and try again. You’re doing great and don’t give up!


B) Yep, you are a failure and stupid too. Why aren’t you perfect?!?! You should just give up trying your best, dwell on your mistake over and over again, and might as well catastrophize the worst case scenario for this stupid mistake you made.

Chances are you chose A and showed compassion and kindness to your friend and did what you could to comfort him/her. (If you chose B, please click “x” on the top right of your window browser and go see a therapist ASAP. Ok, just kidding, but not really…at least go pet some fluffy little animals and think about some things.)

So why is it that we can show others so much love and compassion, but we struggle to show ourselves love and compassion in the same way? Perfectionism is essentially a built-in tool for failure because we will never be perfect, no matter hard we try. Perfectionism is an energy drainer that sucks out energy we could use for so many other productive activities or people in life. Why should we even want to be perfect? Making mistakes and being imperfect is what drives us to grow and change our lives for the better. Being imperfect gives us a reason to become mentally stronger and more resilient. Being imperfect is a quality that we, as humans, share and bring us together through our families, friendships, support groups, online message boards, social media, and more that we use for love and support during hard times.

With all of this being said, I’ve made 2017 the year of self-care and self-compassion. It’s about time we show ourselves the same compassion we show others and treat ourselves with kindness. We, together, can strive to let go of the belief that we are not good enough, imperfect, or deeply flawed.

I challenge you to have an internal conversation with yourself when you start having self-defeating thoughts and ask yourself, “If my friend came up to me feeling upset about this situation, what would I say to him/her?” So, instead of wasting our energy on thinking about our failures, here are some things I’ve found to be helpful (and more beneficial) to do with that energy:

  • Start a gratitude/bullet journal — I am SUPER excited to start my new bullet journal! I plan on making bullet lists of what i’m grateful for, activities I can do when I start thinking negatively, positive affirmations, fun books I plan on reading, activities/trips I want to do/go on, hobbies I want to try, recipes I want to make, people that I can call when feeling upset, etc. Use it as a way to refocus your thoughts on activities and people in life that bring you joy. 🙂 Find out how to start one here and find more ideas on bullet page lists here.
  • Keep a list of qualities you like about yourself and things you’ve done that you’re proud of – This can be included in the bullet journal above as a page! Make copies of this list and keep it in areas that you have access to–your purse/bag, on your cell phone, in a document on your Computer, in your pillow, etc. Whenever you start finding yourself being flooded with self-defeating thoughts, remind yourself of what you’re proud of and all the great things you’ve done. 🙂
  • Set some healthy goals for yourself – Instead of focusing on what you lack, focus on healthy things that you can add into your lifestyle and let go of ones that do you harm. As an example, I’ve made it a goal to exercise for at least 30 min 3x a week (anything that gets me off the couch/apartment and moving) and to cook more healthy meals. I’ve also told myself I want to meditate every day, even if for 5 minutes. On the flip side, I want to let go of unhealthy eating habits and cut down caffeine intake (Don’t worry, I still love coffee!) and sugar consumption. The key is to not be hard on yourself if you don’t meet your expectations. So what if I have an especially tiring week and I need to catch up on sleep? No problem! So what if during this same tiring week I don’t have the energy to cook healthy meals and want to just have mac n’ cheese and ice cream? I’ll happily have that mac n’ cheese/ice cream and not beat myself up about it, but re-frame it as an act of self-care for an especially tiring week. Show yourself that same love and compassion that you’d show a friend who is upset at not meeting his/her expectations.
  • Schedule some self-care time during the week – I have dedicated a whole Pinterest board to self-care activities as part of my 2017 resolution. What does self-care time mean? This means you will set aside time in your busy schedule to do something for YOU. Not anyone else, but you. It can be as little as 5 minutes to a whole day in the weekend, maybe even the whole weekend. This is where it’d be helpful to have a list of things you enjoy doing. Maybe it just entails listening to your favorite song or taking a short walk outside. Maybe it means watching a guilty pleasure of a TV show or reading a book you haven’t had time for. It could simply mean closing your eyes and meditating. Whatever self-care is to you, try to make that a priority at least 1x a week even if it’s for a few minutes, even 1x a day if you can manage it! We all lead such busy lives, and this can be especially difficult to balance when other family members and children are involved, but it’s important to take time to recharge your own battery so that you can truly be present for the loved ones in your life.
  • Start a journal/exercises to challenge self-defeating thoughts you have – I read this great book last year by Dr. David Burns called Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy and, I have to say, it did a number on making me more aware of my thoughts (Here’s a TEDx talk by him too). One of the things I remember most from his book is how to defeat ANTs, or automatic negative thoughts, and how challenging them could be useful in our everyday lives (whether clinically diagnosed with a mood disorder or not). For every self-defeating thought you have, challenge it with a TRUE statement. Often, our self-defeating thoughts are misrepresented facts that are influenced by our emotions at the time. Here’s an example of challenging an ANT:

ANT: I said something insensitive to Person X and accidentally hurt their feelings. I am a bad person and don’t deserve to have their friendship/relationship/etc.

ANTI-ANT:  I said something that this person found insensitive, but that was not my intention at all. I care about this person and meant no harm. I will apologize if I haven’t already and will not let this define who I am because I know it doesn’t reflect who I am.

So, instead of making the ANT start an endless cycle of why you’re [insert negative criticism here], stop the cycle and state a true fact. (Disclaimer: For this and the other suggestions I made in this post, if ANT exercises/journaling end up doing more harm than good and doesn’t help, then stop and let it go.)

  • Seek help – This 100% goes hand-in-hand with perfectionism. It’s easy to fall into the trap that “you’re crazy”and imperfect/flawed/insertcriticismshere if you seek professional mental help. This may especially be the case if you are inherently hard on yourself, but you absolutely not crazy for seeking mental help when you need it. I repeat, you are are not crazy for wanting to improve your quality of life and trying to make positive changes for yourself. If your perfectionism and self-defeating thoughts have started to take a toll on your daily life and nothing (like the examples above) seems to help over the long run, it’s okay to seek help outside of your support network of family and friends. I’ve done it (no shame at all and happy to talk about it!) and I know many others that have done the same at some point in their lives. Your well-being and quality of life matters and doesn’t deserve to be sacrificed for the fear of what others might think.

It’s about time we all embrace the fact that we will always be perfectly imperfect and strive to show ourselves the same love and compassion that we, so openly, give to others. Much love to you all and wishing you a New Year full of love (the self-love kind, too) and care!