As I researched topics for this month's article, I googled what important topics or awareness month June was noted for. There were so many options to choose from since just about everything we do has a day or month dedicated to it. The one I thought was the most pertinent to the mission of Family Services of Warren County was "rebuilding your life month."
Rebuilding your life isn't something people always recognize or think they need to do. You may say to yourself "life is what it is" but that's not necessarily what this means. Many times people build the "walls" of their life before they build its foundation. Without a strong foundation, the walls are unable to hold the elements life throws at you. Eventually the walls may crumble due to family stress, financial stress, emotional issues, negative thoughts, and in general an inability to deal with life stressors. The foundation that must be built first is "you" and only you. Some days I wish we were taught how to build our own foundation of life in grade school or high school but I guess we all need to grow and learn at our own pace. Hard work and determination to make it means that you are more determined to keep it and therefore less apt to "lose it.. I am a firm believer that we all have to go through the motions of life and this helps us build our foundation one brick at a time. Isn't it like the story of the 3 little pigs? The one that built the house with the strong bricks was the one that survived the elements of life called the big bad wolf!
That being said, where would someone begin to build the foundation if they wanted to make major life changes? I would say the steps are unique to each one of us. When you put yourself first, and when you have a healthy positive attitude, the rest just follows. The secret to success can be in our thoughts, our feelings, and our acceptance of reality. This acceptance also gives us the courage to change the things we can change, and the wisdom to know what we cannot change. First start with loving yourself. This is the greatest gift you can give yourself and those around you is a healthy positive you!
Much of our experiences in life are our own perception, or how we look at it, not in the actual event itself. Here are some tips that can help you:
Radical acceptance! Accept what you cannot change nor have control over. There's a freedom in walking away and accepting you cannot do anything about it.
Manage day to day stress so it doesn't pile up.
Healthy Lifestyle changes. Exercise, eat healthy, and talk to others. It's important not to suppress issues or feelings. This just leads to depression and anxiety.
Go to counseling and learn healthy ways to cope with life issues. (I once had a client who asked me how I handled everything and I simply stated- this is what I do! I'm not an electrician so I wouldn't try to be one, yet so many people try to cope with life without the right tools. It's OK to not know everything, we're not all experts at everything we do).
Use natural supports in your life and try not to feel bad calling a friend or family member when you need to talk about something. If they get annoyed or angry- then they are not a "healthy support" for you anyway.
Deal with conflict when it arises. Being passive about a situation allows issues to fester and boil up. It's extremely unhealthy. Interpersonal effectiveness skills are essential to healthy communication and getting your needs met (another tool you could learn in counseling).
I would have to say last, but not least, change your attitude! Begin to research positive slogans and use them daily until you actually feel it! Ask friends and family to be aware of your negative affect or behavior towards others and let them call you on it without becoming angry at them. Only YOU have the power to rebuild your life and the power to choose to live the best life possible. Blaming other people, or other things, as reasons to stay negative keeps you unhealthy unable to make the changes you need. Don't let excuses interfere with what you want. Isn't it time to rebuild your house, even if it's one brick at a time? I believe it's time to "Get out of the problem and into the solution". Once that foundation is built you're more likely to live a healthy and successful life that you DO deserve.
Michelle Williams, LCSW, is the executive director of Family Services of Warren County. The Kwik Fill Kinzua Classic Bike Race is Aug. 10. Register at www.kinzuaclassic.com and benefit the work of Family Services.