Since I was 19-years-old, I’ve noticed that I was always able to accomplish the goals I set out to achieve each year. Whether my growth being personal, financial, or even with relationships, each year I would grow in some shape or form. If I ever had a seed of doubt that I was not in the place I’d envisioned for my life, I’d remind myself of my self growth journey. Thinking in this manner, made me feel accomplished and reminded me that I still had time to grow into the person I desired to be.
In the past 4 years alone, I have done more work on myself than ever. I am truly proud of where I am at today! On top of going through a tragic trauma, I struggled at losing the love of my life during that time period. These obstacles made me feel as though I had lost everything that I built in the previous years. Instead of going forward, I felt like I had taken 10 steps back. I knew that I needed to take tremendous actions in order to get better and heal from everything I had experienced.
Even though I have done so much self-work within the past 4 years, I truly believe I reached my greatest success in self growth during 2019. In 2019, I made therapy a priority, enjoyed experiences that brought me happiness, and put the lessons I learned in therapy into action throughout my daily life. Below I have narrowed down the top 7 takeaways from 2019 that I have found the most helpful in my life.
- Everyone Needs A Vice
The most important thing I have found is that you must have a vice or many vices that make you happy. You should have a healthy vice. I have found that drinking and trying to numb the pain with any other substance just makes the pain worse. Having a vice that works the mind in a healthy manner is so important!
I have found that some of my favorite vices include traveling, taking a hot bath, meditating, manifesting, taking a hike, walking my dogs, writing, and alone time. I could have been dead three and a half years ago, so it’s imperative that I enjoy my vices in order to live a happy and successful life. I have never been this happy in my life until now, because I have taken the time for myself and did everything I wanted to do. I found that practicing my vices made me happy that took away my stress.
One of the most important vices that I can’t forget, is therapy. I am a huge believer in talk therapy, EMDR therapy, cognitive therapy, group therapy, emotion- focused therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy. I have worked with several therapists who practice all of these modalities and have benefitted from their services in one way or another. I have been attending therapy off and since I was 7-years-old, so I have had several different therapeutic experiences.
Even though I think therapy is a great vice, sometimes it can open up a lot of emotions and you need another vice to help piece you back together. To get me motivated to go to therapy, sometimes I will treat myself by going to the fish store. This vice makes me really happy after therapy and helps me process my emotions better.
2. Boundaries Are The Best Thing To Have And Are Not Rude
I always thought that telling someone “no” would hurt their feelings. The truth is it doesn’t if you voice your opposition in an appropriate manner. If someone reaches out and asks you to do something you don’t want, be honest and say something like, “Thank you so much for the invite. That is not my type of thing. However let’s make plans to do something else.” Voicing your opposition in a kind, direct, yet respectful manner will more than likely not be taken offensively by your peers. Also if you are generally busy and have deadlines give them a date in the future or a tentative month to meet up. When you say that you appreciate their invite, you’re being honest, and you are giving them another option. The average person should not get mad at that response.
If you think that you’re dealing with someone that might be toxic, be smart about your approach! I say “be smart” because you have to establish boundaries in different ways depending on how safe you feel. If you feel like this person is a threat, be polite but don’t try to make plans and most certainly don’t reach out. If they are upsetting you and/or not respecting your wishes then blocking is a great option for ending that toxic communication. If you blocked them, they are still reaching out obsessively and you’ve had no contact, you need to seek help. You need to be smart and careful about creating and abiding by those boundaries.
One thing that I have learned a lot this year is that you can take your time to respond. I used to think that I’d have to answer every call or message I got. Since I’m very social and love people, it would take hours out of my day and stress me out. I felt as if I had to please everyone. Being exhausted from trying to keep up socially, I started to reply less and less while taking my time. I learned that I always got to the messages that needed to be answered eventually and the people who respected and cared for me understood. Knowing that my friends and followers understood made me realize that having that boundary for myself is healthy.
However you establish boundaries is up to you. I really need space sometimes to be by myself, work, and just process my PTSD. I’ve made sure I took the time for myself rather than trying to please someone I cared about by doing something I didn’t want to do. Putting boundaries in place has helped with my overall mental health and has helped with my overall happiness.
3. Breath Work
One thing I noticed this year is that when I get anxiety attacks, I get the feeling of dizziness, loss of breath, I feel like my life is ending and maybe I’m having a heart attack. This year my anxiety attacks have dramatically decreased. One of the main things I believe has helped with my anxiety is working on my breathing.
You would think that breathing would come naturally, but do you breathe out of your stomach or your chest? I have learned this year that stomach breathing helps you get in more oxygen to your brain. When I feel like a panic attack is coming on, I try to take deep breaths through my stomach hold it for a second or two and then let it out. I have also learned that drinking little sips of water helps bring oxygen to the brain and lessen the likelihood of an attack. Following sips of water, I like to practice breathing meditation exercises. When you work on your breath, it can help you think more clearly.
4. Most Relationships Have Seasons
Relationships are complicated, no matter who they are with, friends, family, work, or significant other. I used to get sad if someone left my life, I would think about our relationship a lot. It gave me anxiety and hurt me. I felt as if I had to reach out and make things work, when they weren’t working. This year I have realized that people change and sometimes people are good for a certain point of time rather than indefinitely.
There are other reasons relationships come to an end. Sometimes you move away and it’s just hard to get together. There are times where you may be in different seasons of life than the other person or maybe you just realize that they are toxic people. It is alright to let these relationships go. They were there and it’s okay for them not to be there anymore. One of the main relationships I had to let go of was an 8 year relationship. This was an incredibly difficult relationship for me to let pass on. However, the relationship was no longer serving me and it had ran its course. Although it was hard to let go of, it opened up my time and heart to someone really special in my life.
5. Be Your Independent Self
Over the years, I have been disappointed that I’m not married with a house, kids, and all my animals. I have always dreamed of being a wife, mother, and caretaker. I had to accept that it might not happen in this very moment, which means I need to focus on other aspirations. In 2019, I really found my love for traveling, my passion for being a victim’s advocate, and my love for writing. I have found what makes me feel the high that I feel when I’m in the honeymoon phase in the relationship. Writing this right now, I feel confident and empowered with everything I’ve done. I didn’t follow the guy and his wants/desires. Instead, I embraced who I was and set out to accomplish goals for MY life. John Lennon says, “Life happens when you’re making other plans”. So make your own plans and maybe when you’re doing what you love someone will see that light and you might find that person, or not! In making your own plans you won’t care if you’re not in a relationship or not.
6. Know The Red Flags And Hold Yourself Accountable
So many of us have been in a toxic relationship. Everyone in your life could be toxic, but you won’t know unless you educate yourself on the red flags. I have listened to countless podcasts, had a lot of life experience, read books, and watched documentaries. I seeked out all the information I could along with working with my therapist to understand what red flags to look out for. I came to the understanding of why I was attracted to some red flags, why I allowed them to slide, and now how I can stay the heck away from them.
There are two main books that I have read that have helped me gain an understanding of what red flags to look out for and why I subconsciously fell for certain red flags. The books I learned these lessons from are Psychopath Free and The Body Keeps Score. Psychopath Free helped me understand what a narcissist truly was and The Body Keeps Score helped me understand why I went back an entertained people with this quality of character. I won’t get into too much detail of what red flags I realized from my relationships that I ran straight to. This would take too much time and I’d rather save it for my book, so that you can understand it better. I will tell you that once you educate yourself and stop yourself from going back into these toxic relationships, you can have a lot more healthier relationships in your life, which will lower your stress and improve your quality of life.
7. Knowing Yourself And Getting What You Want In The New Year
When you realize what makes you happy and what doesn’t, you can learn to filter out the negative. This year I have learned I am a pushover and I need to have better boundaries with people. I have found many vices that make me so happy. In therapy, my therapist has held me accountable has told me that I don’t breathe correctly among many other things. Having that insight has helped me so much with stress and not having as many panic attacks. Relationships have ended this year, they have simply come to the end of the cycle. Some people I’m cool with and some I don’t talk to. I used to be so upset about relationships ending, but accepting this natural process has increased nu self-growth and ability to relax.
I have done things that brought so much joy to my life! If every year is like 2019. I know I will be alright in life because I have a true understanding of who I am. I have goals that I am putting into action, that I’m making happen. Be your best self and know who you are. You can never stop getting to know yourself. When you put into practice what you have learned about yourself and your life, you will succeed in this new year! I hope everyone is having a great 2020 so far! Let’s make this the best year yet!
XOXO Terra Newell