I often forget and fall back into old behaviors and habits. I call this “forgetting myself”.
Through support groups and the atonement of Jesus Christ, I know better ways. As I practice these better ways they become more a part of me. But, often my first reaction or inclination is my old behaviors. I’m learning not to berate myself, but to calmly stop, step back and think, and choose a better way. Then I am remembering myself.
Sometimes choosing a better way might mean I have to go to a loved one and tell them I’ve changed my mind. I used to think that if I said something I had to stick with it, but that does not support change. Giving myself permission to change my mind allows me to be true to my own goals and values. Changing takes time and I need to be patient with myself as I learn. I also need to be patient with others as they get used to my new ways of behaving.
When I remember the person I want to be I don’t forget myself or react with an angry temper. A quiet voice helps me remain calm and able to think. I can remember to not forget myself.
I don’t have to worry?
I did not realize that I don’t have to worry and be anxious about everything or that “worry is optional” before I came to support meetings. My life was worry and fear. I was truly amazed to see people, whose lives and troubles were worse than mine, laughing and smiling and enjoying life! I wanted what these people had the very first meeting I went to.
In support meetings I learned that worrying about people or things I cannot change is useless and a giant waste of time. I learned that worry is not love. Of course hearing that and doing it are two different things! I had a hard time giving up worrying. I did not know how to stop worrying.
I hear in support meetings different ways that people give up worrying. Some make a God box and write down their worry on a piece of paper and put it in the box. Some people write in a journal. Some picture themselves giving their problem to the God. Some people walk or run until they felt better. I found that picturing my Savior with outstretched hands and seeing myself placing my worries and fears into His hands helped. Sometimes I have to picture myself also crawling into His loving hands. My worry always goes away when I do this, at least for a short time. When the worry returns, I do it again. As I do this, I can live worry free for longer and longer periods of time.
I am learning that I can be happy no matter what is going on around me. “Pain in inevitable, but worry is optional”.
Fill my own bucket first.
Sometimes I feel worried and anxious about doing something for myself or turning down an opportunity to help someone. I feel selfish when I take care of myself. On an airplane they tell you if the oxygen masks drop, put yours on before helping others. I can see why this is important and I realize that I need to fill my own bucket to have the resources to help others.
I don’t like feeling tired, worn out and negative. I realized one day that I was not doing very well at taking care of myself. I was reading my scriptures and praying every day, but I was putting all my time and energy into helping others and had become exhausted. I can keep my bucket full by just a little shift of attitude and being careful to give some time to myself.
When I want to volunteer or someone asks me to do something, I can tell them I’ll call them right back, or I need some time to look at my calendar. I can stop and think for minute. What am I doing this week and what have I already done? How am I feeling? Have I remembered to go to the temple? Have I taken time to do something creative this week that makes me feel happy and fulfilled? Have I taken care of my responsibilities? It’s OK to say “No, I cannot do that this time”. It’s OK to put something on my calendar for next week and not try to fit it in now.
I feel contentment, happiness and peace when my own bucket is full. I have energy and enthusiasm for helping others when I take care of myself first.
Gratitude makes a good day.
Gratitude makes my world brighter. It helps me to have a good day.
When I start my day off with prayer and remember to thank God for all my blessings, and thank Him even for the hard things, it helps my day be brighter and my burdens lighter. It helps me to see my trials and the hard things in my life as opportunities to grow and learn rather than miserable things to get through. Thankfulness makes my heart light and my vision bright. Being grateful is not like wearing rose colored glasses. It is more like being able to see things as they really are – being able to see the big picture.
I don’t think God sees my trials as negative things. They are probably the very things that give me the chances I need to grow and become more like Him. I can cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
Sometimes I hear stories of great upheaval, hurt, anger and abuse. But, I must be careful not to give advice and especially not to encourage someone to make a drastic change. I am only hearing one side of the story. Everyone must think carefully about their situations and make their own decisions with God’s help. I cannot tell someone else what to do in their life because I am responsible only for myself and will never be able to see all sides of someone else’s life.
When I first came to support meetings my thoughts and reports of my grievances were highly dramatized and colored by my confusion, fear and anxiety. With my constant fear, tension, anxiety and frustration I was not capable of rational perspective. As I learn to apply the atonement of Jesus Christ and the tools I learn about in support meetings, I am slowly relaxing and am able to see my part in my troubles. I am learning to have compassion and understanding for my loved ones and their deep unhappiness and guilt. I am learning that I can only control me and to put the focus on myself. As I focus on my shortcomings I am able to change and grow towards peace, happiness and serenity.
When I hear others people’s stories I am learning to be there for them instead of giving advice. When I support, love and listen I better understand others and myself. I am learning to have empathy. Peace, happiness and serenity are taking the place of fear, tension, anxiety and frustration.