It’s not realistic to think that you can be happy all the time.
We live in a culture where we tend to stuff our emotions and fears. We’re busy. We don’t take time to feel and process our emotions and fears.
Lately, I’ve been trying to become more in tune to my inner voice. I think she has been talking to me all of my life and I just tend not to really hear her anymore – she became background noise. Sometimes she’s my number one fan pushing me to try new things and take the next step toward my goals but other times I catch her doubting me or comparing me to others and holding me back.
We have this urge to be perfect, instead of recognizing we are enough. Social media doesn’t help. Facebook and Instagram show individual’s highlight reels of sweet family moments, beautiful bodies, happy relationships, and gourmet meals. Deep down we have to know that these individuals have struggles, insecurities, bad habits, and imperfections. We’re all human!
I don’t eat perfectly all the time. I get frustrated with my progress. I have a list of repetitive fears. I yell at my kids, and I can shut out or stuff my true feelings.
Are you an emotional stuffer?
I would say I’m a problem attacker. I encounter something and I dive into research and I talk to people about how they got through a similar obstacle. It’s kind of like a ‘hurry up and deal with this approach’ so I can back to being healthy & happy as soon as possible.
But, I’m also an emotional stuffer. I question whether I truly take the time to sit and reflect and process the emotional side of a problem or fear. I rationalize this that I don’t have time to do this because work, family, and sometimes friends are counting on me to show up and take care of them,
I’m not alone in this group of emotional stuffers. Emotional stuffing can often result in addictions where people are using a substance or activity to escape from feeling their true emotions.
Addictions, depression, and anxiety run in my family. Emotional eating is the norm. I stuff my emotions and fears by being ultra busy and productive and then retreating into a bowl of ice-cream, a cup of queso, a couple glasses of wine, or a Chick-fil-a biscuit.
My personal list of fears
I think it’s fear that keeps me from truly processing some of my emotions. We often hear phrases like ‘fear is not a factor’ or ‘overcome your fears’. These phrases make it sound like fear is something we need to avoid or quickly get over.
I’m believe we should face fear in the face and really look at her. Ask her why she is here? Why now – in this very moment? What are we supposed to learn from this experience?
Reading, blogging, and listening to self-help podcasts are tools I have been using to help me process and reflect and essentially get better at recognizing my emotions and fears. I want to learn to expect the fear and learn more about myself in the process. Just like anything we want to improve, I have to practice facing my fears and emotions until it becomes a rote habit.
I have several fears jumbling around in my head right now:
- Fear of getting old
- Fear of becoming really overweight & losing my mobility
- Fear of my marriage becoming stale
- Fear of my business failing
- Fear of not teaching my kids enough before they graduate
- Fear of not having enough money for retirement
- Fear of my teenagers pushing me out of their lives
- Fear of being a child without living parents or grandparents
- Fear of being too busy that I’m missing the journey
- Fear of not worshiping God enough
- Fear of not reaching my fitness goals
When I go back and reread my list of fears what strikes me is that these are all things I truly care about and value: my health, my relationships, my family, my security, my faith…my happiness.
Fears can be good. They keep us focused and hungry for improvement.
Some of these fears I have like losing a family member or getting older is really about grieving a physical and emotional loss. Grieving is a sign that we even cared, loved and valued these individuals or our youth. Caring is a good thing!
Listen to your inner voice
I coach family caregivers how to prevent burnout by taking care of their own health & happiness. I wouldn’t be a relate-able or an effective coach if I didn’t struggle with emotional and physical self-care. I’m essentially just like many of you but maybe just a little ahead of where you are now which allows me to easily see where you are and help you take the next few steps toward a happier & healthier lifestyle.
Health & happiness is not a destination with a finish line, it’s a continual journey. As we age and encounter all of life’s circumstances we learn more about ourselves. While life is happening to us it’s also happening to everyone we come into contact with and impacts our relationships.
In this post, I don’t want to offer solutions. I just want to encourage time for you to reflect on your own personal fears and to process your feelings and emotions. Listen to your inner voice and have a conversation with her. I know an extra step I want to practice is expressing my fears and feelings out loud to my kids, my husband, and my friends.
We can do hard things. Truly. We already have done and continue to do hard things. Reflect on that, too. Remember how you felt during those times?
I know it felt impossible, overwhelming, stressful, lonely and consuming. And, you survived it!
We grew from the struggles and learned how to navigate life better.
I think when the fear seems larger than life it’s important to know that we aren’t alone. Others are feeling or have felt this exact same way. There is strength in numbers and we can support and lift each other. We do this in the public Happy Healthy Caregiver Facebook Group and on a deeper and private level in the Happy Healthy Caregiver Community.
I love that. We CAN do hard things and we don’t have to do them alone.
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