It’s not a secret, I have kept a blog since I moved to New York in 2003 and written privately, in over 200 journals. I know writing is more therapy than anything, but it is still never an easy process.
In recent weeks and months, I have written a lot about my mental health and been reflective, wondering what lessons should be cultivated because of what I am learning about myself.
Lesson #1- Self-Evaluate
We can be our own worst critic and talk ourselves out of our purpose. I recognize what challenges us to grow can also cultivate our greatest successes.
We need to do more than consider the pros vs. cons. We need to evaluate our purpose, goals, action steps and results. We determine each and every step of our lives and we need to evaluate ourselves in such a way, that we can make progress no matter the process.
Lesson #2- Develop a Growth-Mindset
Self-doubt is my Achilles heel and I know that I need to work on my self-belief and confidence because I know I am capable of rising above mediocrity.
Self-doubt sows more self-doubt and suddenly a “maybe” becomes a “indefinitely maybe.” I don’t know why, but it is very easy to step back into old patterns of thinking and stop short of goals because I choose to wade in self-doubt. I need to make a list of the “cans” rather than the “coulda, woulda, shoulda’s.” Finally, and I mean FINALLY, I need to focus on the possibilities rather than improbabilities and lead with purpose.
Lesson #3 – Focus Forward
I am focusing forward. If I do fail, I can start again. I don’t have to be ashamed of failure as long as I learn the lesson forward.
Showing weakness gives me an opportunity to develop my strengths and step into my future.
We cannot step forward alone. I definitely have a circle and advisory board that helps me cope and rise above life’s challenges and setbacks.
Lesson #4- Speak Affirmations
Insecurity, fear, self-doubt, toxic relationships, and negative self-talk is dangerous and impacts mental health, so we need to learn to change the narrative and change how we speak power, kindness, and affirmations into our lives and everyone around us.
Our mental health depends on us to speak up while silencing stigma.
Lesson #5 – Choose Solutions
I saved this lesson because real change requires more than seeking and being open to the idea of it. We have to be proactive and choose to live differently. In my life, this is bigger than self-evaluation, developing a growth mindset, focusing forward and speaking affirmations. Yes, I needed all of those lessons but they were not enough by themselves. In the middle of my mental health journey, I decided to ask my doctor for help. We discussed my medical options to improve my mental health and for the first time, I chose an antidepressant.
This solution had been offered previously, but I refused it. I had these messages that replaced my daily affirmations.
I thought if I took meds, I would be confirming that my past held me captive.
I didn’t want “them” to win or still have power over me.
My parents had already changed my life when I became a ward of the state. The changed my life and I didn’t want them to further influence my life.
I wanted to prove that I was okay on my own and that “I had made it.” Taking meds would prove that I was still a hurt teenager.
Finally, I was afraid of the side effects and didn’t want to experience suicide ideation, so I avoided meds.
Avoiding medical help made me feel like I was a survivor but finally accepting it made me feel like a warrior, someone who has a real chance of winning my struggle with anxiety and depression.
So, here is to Day 1. Really, Day Won!
1. Do you self-evaluate regularly? (Not constantly, just enough that you know you are making progress on your purpose?)
2. What are you doing daily, to develop a growth mindset? What prevents you from focusing on your “cans.” If you do not have a list of “cans” make one now.
3. Draw a circle. Who is in your circle? Write down the people who support you (in the valleys and mountiantops). If you don’t have anyone, start asking for help.
4. What daily affirmation or mantra can you practice to help you cope and grow?
5. What solutions so you need to choose for yourself? What will you need to do to make change in your life?
You can choose to break free but your decision requires you to change. You can do this but it is going to take effort. All change begins with one step. Are you finally ready?
Kimberly C. Rhyan is a former foster youth and speaker/trainer/consultant who inspires/empowers foster parents, caseworkers, supporters, educators, and foster care youth/alumni to step into their future better prepared to facilitate/achieve foster youth’s successes. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org in regard to booking your next event and/or consulting services.