The #1 lesson on acceptance that I learnt before finding happiness

And my message for you about acceptance.

Week 6

Acceptance is one of the things that can have the biggest impact on where you are now. Our life can’t always be how we want it, there will be good times and bad or there might be people that rub you the wrong way but how you feel about these things will shape your present life and how you ultimately feel on a day to day basis.

From my experience acceptance works hand in hand with forgiveness at times and I probably could talk about them together but I will discuss forgiveness next week, as in my journey there were many things I had to find acceptance for, before I could move to the forgiveness stage.

My lesson on acceptance

While in the relationship with my ex-partner I was not accepting of his behaviour and remember often referring to it as abusive. I vowed while pregnant with my daughter that I would not bring her up in that kind of environment. So at the first sign of it after her birth we were out. It was best for my kids and I. It was hard and while I had made this decision I don’t know that I had really accepted that this would be my life. I hadn’t intended to be a single parent and I had a view of how I wanted things to be even if this was to be the way it would be.

I think the first step in accepting this reality was to accept responsibility for my own life, for the way I felt and looked after myself and the way I behaved. I had to accept that I was 100% responsible for my own life (as The Happiness Hunter says). When I think about this concept I believe it’s what has contributed to my depression over my life and how I view the negative things from my childhood.

When you blame other people for the way that you feel or the way you behave, you’re putting your life in another person’s hands and saying that you don’t have control of yourself. Which is most definitely not true. But I do know, that is often the way it feels when you’re living in a domestic violence relationship.

You might not have a choice about what you wear, what you do, or who you see but you do have a choice about the way you feel about it and the way you behave toward it.

After leaving the relationship it was really hard to remember that I had 100% control over my life now. That I could do what I like, when I like, with who I liked. I distinctly remember feeling closed up in my home, we rarely went out and did anything. When I started my self-care habits that I talked about last week it helped to remind me that I had this control but I was also still living in fear and experiencing the cycle of violence on a regular basis. Why? Why was this happening, I couldn’t understand it. I had left to escape this and to live a free life.

There being one of the biggest and toughest lessons of acceptance I had to learn.

I had to learn and accept that he will never change. That he will always try to control my life, my emotions, my reactions and responses.

Remembering the old saying that “the leopard never changes their spots” was what has allowed me to find acceptance for this continued manipulative behaviour. And it’s made all the difference to my present happiness.

As you know if you read my story, I am a single parent, so I’m not saying that you should accept the behaviour as such. No Way! It’s not on and I will be the first one to tell you to get the hell out of there and never go back. Don’t by any means accept abusive, manipulative, controlling and narcissistic behaviour towards you. But you do need to accept that it may never stop! At least if you have kids it many never stop!

Once I learnt to accept this fact, I was able to work on myself, how I reacted to it, how I allowed my feelings to be effected by it and in doing this I also took that responsibility of myself that I needed to take.

How things changed with this acceptance

Since accepting that the cycle of violence will continue in our lives I have experienced it several times over, but I no longer get drawn in by the dramas he tries to create. The break through really came after a number of discussions with my counsellor and her repeatedly telling me to not respond to his text messages or comments unless they were specifically about the kids and access. Each time I had the discussion I became a little bit better at this. It took changing the message tone to something quite and putting my phone on silent often so I didn’t hear the messages, now I just close the messages without even reading them. But I always keep them just in case.

I realised after the initial round of shutting him out that I was actually holding on, maybe because I wasn’t sure how I would live without the drama in my life, maybe because I had hoped that things would change. But when I thought about it, I knew I needed to accept that I had made a decision, that it was a good one and that I really didn’t want to take it back.

I needed to accept that this was my life now!

That it wouldn’t always be like this!

That it will get better and that I will find happiness!

I needed to let go of him,

Of the family dream I had

And accept the reality of our situation!

I think it was about mid 2013 when this happened and I know that shutting him out but not responding to his messages was what freed up my mind to move on and turned things around for me. I read lots of quotes on Pinterest daily (you can follow my inspiration board here) and I returned to doing things I enjoyed.

 

Acceptance is not something that just happens on its own.

 

You may need to use forgiveness with it as I mentioned earlier.

You also need to be self-aware, to be able to recognise your thoughts, actions and feelings. To know when you’re being drawn in and dropping your guard or to know when you need to say to yourself that you are not bound by this but you will accept that this is the way it is/they are and you cannot change it/them.

You many need to create a little mantra that you say to yourself each time a situation occurs or every day until you believe it and live it. I know I used to say often to myself “he will never change but I can change how I let it affect me” and now I say “here we go again”

I might initially be annoyed or aggravated and emotional about it but often I’m just amused, I laugh out loud and I get on with my day and…

this is the ultimate goal behind acceptance.

Particularly in a DV situation, it’s to not have the manipulation and control ruin your happiness. For it to not consume every part of your being, for you to be able to move forward and put that shit behind you!

inhale-exhale

 

My message about acceptance

Learning acceptance for the rotten things that you might still encounter and being able to graciously and calmly put it behind you without it affecting your happiness is exactly what you want.

Non-acceptance causes anxiety because you are then always worried about what might happen. And this is no way to live. ‘Let it go’ I say whenever I find things taking over my thoughts and causing me anxiety.

I have realised this week just how grateful I am that I have this acceptance and how little his dramas mean to my life now and little I am effected by them. It may seem cold and callous to him but I am a warm loving mother and person, I just have no space in my happy life for him.

So my finally words are accept it, move on, stop blaming yourself, you don’t have control over others but you do have control over yourself. Refocus your thoughts away from the negative and let that shit go! It serves no purpose in YOUR HAPPY LIFE

Until next week…

Be happy!

 

#5 steps i took to find self-care in my journey to happiness

and why I think its important for you!

Week 5

Self-care is probably the hardest thing to keep up when you feel low and as a new parent I think it’s probably the first thing mums tend to let go, but putting in an effort can make you feel better.

After the birth of my daughter I epitomised this notion and after the separation I struggled even more as I put the kids first. With a 2 yr. old to look after as well, I was hyper-vigilant and wouldn’t leave the kids while I went for a shower. Too afraid to leave them alone, scared to let my daughter cry.

I had really let myself go! I hadn’t had my haircut for years, I had lost so much weight that I didn’t look like me anymore and I couldn’t even look in the mirror. What had happened?? Before the relationship I put pride in my appearance, I wore makeup even if I was just going to get milk, I had my hair done every 6 weeks and I got my legs waxed. I felt confident being me, I enjoyed my curves and I knew I was beautiful.

Where had that woman gone?

I was polar opposite from those good feelings about myself. I remember talking with my counsellor about it. She emphasised how important self-care was and that I really needed to prioritise it. It took what seemed a looong time to find self-care in my routine.

The conversation about self-care made me more intent on making changes to include it in my life and then I read this quote below which really made me realise I did need to change things.

its-not-selfish

1 : Caring for myself

The first step I took was to have a shower, to make time for a shower, to give myself permission to do this one simple thing. I did it! On the way home I was encouraging myself with positive self-talk, saying things like I can make time for this, even if my daughter cries I am not far away. Below is a pic showing my journal from that day.

I have never looked back, now a shower each morning is a priority, I can’t not have one! It is very important to my wellbeing and I make sure the kids give me space to have a 5min shower own my own. I set the timer and then I get out. But during that time I enjoy the peace, the water running on me, the light coming in through the window, the washing of myself and the care I am taking of my body.

journal entry-shower-blog

2 : Exercise

Because that first step was a really confronting experience I realised I needed to feel better about my body, so the 2nd step was to work on this.

I decided I needed to get out more, walking with the kids, to incorporate fitness into our life. So when I saw an article in the local paper about personal training with other women who were recovering from DV, I emailed and started training with the fabulous Chevy from Fit express 121. I found this so beneficial. It was hard training in a gym in front of mirrors and having to look at myself at first but as my body started to change and I started to feel fitter and healthier I knew this was exactly what I needed.

The training eventually ended but I kept up the walking and then in December 2014 a lovely lady I know signed me up with The happiness Hunter. I walked almost every week with a great group of women for the first half of last year. I really missed the walks at Jells Park when they ended and I’ve struggled to get back into it since. That there being one of my goals for 2016, to spend more time on my health and fitness because it really matters to my self-care and wellbeing.

3 : Appearance

Whilst working on my body was critical for recovery so was how I saw myself, so my third step was to work on myself image. Because…

“How you see yourself is how others will see you”

Having not had my hair cut for years I decided it was time I finally time I did. Not just a trim but short how I liked it and how I wanted it. I couldn’t afford a colour at first but I booked in for 6 weeks later and got a colour that time. Now I was beginning to feel like me again. In order to keep up feeling good about myself I decided I really couldn’t afford to let it go. So I kept a regular 6 weekly appointment with the hairdresser, with it in my calendar I made sure I always had the money to pay for the cut and colour. I didn’t go to one of those expensive salons, I found a lady who worked from home, whose prices were affordable on my budget. She probably wasn’t the best but it was enough to make me feel good about how I looked and for me that is self-care.

4 : Creativity

Step four was about spending time doing things I enjoyed. I couldn’t always do this with the kids, I didn’t have friends to do things with so I had to think about what it was I used to do in my spare time. I loved craft, making things and art.

So I started looking for inspiration and found this idea for upcycling catalogues and magazines. I started rolling paper to make an artwork, I think I rolled close to 200 pieces of paper that I was going to turn into a mixed media piece to represent 2 yrs. of freedom after DV. I still haven’t made my own artwork but I’ve decide I will do it this year to mark 5 years as a survivor. What it did do, is allowed me some time out from the daily grind, gave me a fun and creative way to meditate and got me thinking creatively again. It ignited a passion within and I haven’t looked back. Begin creative, making things or painting is part of who I am and I need that in my routine as part of my self-care practises to give me that time out I often need.

5 : Environment

The last thing that really turned things around for me was finally creating space in my home that was just mine. For almost three years I shared a room with my little girl. I loved having her close by but I also hated it. I always ended up with my son in bed, and remember often thinking we might as well live in a one bedroom flat.

Their toys took over the living space and by the end of some days you could barely move across the floor. Because it was so much work to pick them up it often just stayed that way. I hated this! It would drive me crazy, but I didn’t have the energy to clean it up on my own.

I recognised that this was dragging my happiness down. It needed to change! The kids and I started cleaning up as they played during the day and we always played a game to pack up before bed each night.

Next I enlisted the help of my mum and uncle to move the rooms around so I could have my own space and the kids started sharing a room. Finally I could go to bed at night and read or play music if I wanted to. It was so liberating to finally have my own space, to have a home I enjoyed being in and this was the one thing that for three years had been missing from my self-care practises.

Self Care is about what makes you feel good Today!

Over the years self-care hasn’t always been just about my hair or clothes or passions or having my own space, it was also about being a mum and making time to really be with the kids, enjoying their laughs and smiles and spending quality time with them.

At present I feel my self-care is a bit low, I haven’t been keeping up with my hair since moving and I haven’t made anything for almost a month now. But I have spent a lot of time over Christmas, New Year and these school holidays with my kids and family relaxing and going slow though. I know however that I need to start doing some of the things from my steps again such as exercise, getting my hair cut regularly and to craft at least once a week. Mainly because these are important self-care habits for me.

While this is what works for me, everyone is different and so your self-care needs will be different too. Working out what your needs are comes down to what makes you feel good on the inside and what puts a smile on your face. There really is no steps or process about self-care, the steps I took where a natural progression for me. They were the things I identified as being wrong with how I looked after myself and how I loved myself in the process of daily life. You need to weigh up the priorities, look at how it will impact on your time, self-care and parenting (if you are parenting) and what will work to make you happier TODAY!

Your self-care practises can change over time or as required, to fit different situations and that’s ok. It’s about doing things that work for you on any given day. You just need to start somewhere small, like I did with the shower.

Lots of the coming steps I used for finding happiness come back to the self-care topic and in the next round I will talk more about how I viewed myself in the early days and how that impacted on my self-care routine.

But for now, go back to your life wheel and see what areas need to improve, that might give you the answers to where you need to put in place some self-care routines and what they could be.

If you go back and look at mine you can see I’ve had a slide in the feelings about my physical environment. It’s mainly due to having no storage at my current home, so guess where all our crap is…yep that’s right in my room. For 2016 it’s my priority in Feb to clean up my space and make it how I want it so I can again feel good about my environment.

This is just an example from my current situation to get you thinking about what you need. I thinks it’s really important to include self-care into your day as you still need to look after yourself, to look after others and you are just as important as they are. If you don’t feel good in yourself, then it makes it harder to get through the day and you never quite shift that low feeling.

Best of luck with finding selfcare…and

Until next week…

Be Happy!  

why support is so vital to your happiness

Week 4

support-is-behind-you
Photograph 027 by Lauren Mancke found on minimography.com

Engaging support made all the difference to my life. It can change yours too!

It’s interesting when you start talking to people just how differently others view things. A persons view or understanding of support is one of those things and I believe it is often shaped by the type of support that they experienced when growing up.

As a single parent many people have often said “oh it must be hard” or things like “hats off to you” and “you’re doing a great job” but I wonder do they think about what it takes to do that job. I rarely find they ask if I have support and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the same for a lot of other single parents out there.

Because I am parenting alone I’ve had to put in place a support network of sorts to help me get by each week, because what if I get sick? How do I get my son to school, who helps me take care of the kids or give me time to get better? Reality is – if I didn’t have support – no one, I would just have to get by.

Recently when chatting with a group of mums one of them mentioned about how another mum – not present- had been quite unwell. That mum has moved to our area from interstate and has no family or previous friends here to help. It was stated how great it was that she had already made some friends who have been able to help her out with the kids as her hubby was away with work. He travels frequently and then she is essentially parenting alone. I thinks it’s great that people had offered to help so she could rest and get better. I’ve never had that kind of support from people around me and I mentioned it, maybe I shouldn’t have but it’s what sparked this blog post. One mum present said to me “but your daughter goes to daycare.” Does that matter, does it help, and is this her version of support? My thoughts are YES, and for me this works, but what makes people think that because my daughter goes to daycare that I am ok or coping any better. Parenting in any form is hard work and we all need support.

support-vital

Support might mean different things to everyone but I really believe it’s a vital part of our wellbeing and ongoing happiness.

I instinctively knew that I needed support after my separation and I know from personal experience that you can feel supported even without family or friends to help.

How do I know this?    Because…

In those darkest days I felt well supported due to the fact that I actively sort out the type of supports that would make a difference to my life.

  • I had a family violence support work who I developed a great working relationship with and I knew I could call at any time to talk things out.
  • I put my kids in daycare because I needed to (and that was ok),
  • I even engaged a family support work through ChildFirst, which was a really hard thing to do but it helped so much.
  • I got myself a great counsellor who I could see weekly.

And this was my support network!

It was enough to get me by and allow me the time to get better, adjust to parenting alone and navigate some of the challenges that you face after family violence.

Even though I am now over the trauma of the separation, I have continued to keep up some kind of support in our life because quite frankly it keeps me sane. The kids and I moved to be closer to my family for extra support in 2015 and I can say that I really felt it at times when the support was not there. I stopped seeing my counsellor because of the move and I have really battled at times with this and it’s meant I have done a lot of the work on my mental health alone. I don’t recommend this but if you have someone in your life that you can talk to and bounce ideas off then it might be ok. Without this little bit of support in my life I think I could quite easily slide back into depression because every day would be a struggle!

 

It’s really important to identify what your needs are!

Then to seek out the support in those areas. You can do it by understanding where you are at NOW!

If you go back and look at your life wheel, you can see the areas that need work and it might mean you need to find support so you can work on these areas to find more balance.

You need to look for the support you need, you need to ask for support and you need to be open to receiving the support. Don’t be afraid to ask, don’t see it as a weakness but rather as a strength because you understand your needs.

Make sure you also regularly check in to see if the support is working for you and meeting your needs. You will know if it is by the way you feel or manage day to day things. You will see a shift in the way you feel and if you don’t then the support is not meeting your needs.

In the end it is really important to your long term happiness as it allows you the time and ability to work on other areas of your life. It doesn’t have to cost the earth and if it’s not possibly right now, then look for something else that will make a difference.

Take the time now to think about how you could feel more supported in your life. What is missing, what do you need help with, what would make even the smallest difference for you and your family?

Sometimes it helps to talk things over with someone else, so if you’re struggling to pin point what kind of support you might need you can leave a comment here or email me and I will try to help.

Likewise if you have a story about how support has changed your life then share it here so others can see it does make a huge difference.

Until next week…

Be happy!