Monday, September 24, 2018

2 AM Musings on Resilience



I posed this question on my Instagram stories:  "What would you like next week's blog post to be about?"

She wrote one word:  resilience.  

Not really sure what she meant specifically, or what to write about, I went to bed.  I'll wake up early tomorrow and figure it out, I thought.  I do my best writing early in the morning.  

At around 2 am, I woke up and for the next two hours, sleep evaded me.  I mostly blame the Claritin D I took to deal with my crazy fall allergies yesterday.  Regardless, I tossed and turned for a few minutes, and then that word came back to my mind:  resilience.

Immediately, the Brene Brown book Rising Strong sprang to my mind.  The whole book is basically about resiliency, and I'm such a Brene fan that I must admit, I didn't think there was anything else I could add on the subject that she hasn't already said, and much more eloquently than I could, at that.

I read this quote from Rising Strong: "The opposite of recognizing that we're feeling something is denying our emotions.  When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don't go away; instead, they own us, they define us.  Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending - to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened.  This is my truth.  And I will choose how this story ends."

In the minutes that followed, I began feverishly typing notes into my phone.  For what they're worth to you, I'll share them here:

Why do people love reading stories about those who overcome incredible odds to live an extraordinary life?  We are fascinated by tales of people owning their story, especially when it involves triumph over tragedy.  

Many people don't realize that all of us are in the midst of our very own story, one that began the day we were born, and if you're reading this, one whose ending has yet to be written.  And what separates resilient people from those who are not is the ability to both own your story and acknowledge your control over the ending. 

That is not to say you can control other people, or prevent bad things from happening to you; merely that you do not have a passive role in your story - unless, of course, that is what you choose.  But you do have a choice.  We all do.

Being resilient is about owning your truth - all of your truth.  The parts of your story that you shout from the rooftops, and the parts of your story that you hide from the world, or even from your own conscious mind, because there is simply too much too feel - too much pain, guilt, and shame.  

The truth is that choosing not to own our stories of shame and struggle - the ones that are usually kept out of sight, out of mind, for everyone's comfort - denying these stories is the very thing that keeps us trapped by them.

You've heard the expression, "the truth shall set you free."  As true as that is, there is something especially powerful that happens when you set the truth free.  When you are willing to set your difficult, even traumatic truth free, it loses all its power over you.  No longer are you showing up in your story as the hero who has all their stuff together (who wants to read a story like that anyway?), you are showing up instead as a human being, messy, vulnerable, and uncertain...but courageous, compassionate, and fully alive.

Owning your story will look a little different for everyone, but it will always involve vulnerability.  It may look like wearing what you like, regardless of "how it makes you look."  It may be sharing your most recent mom fail with a close friend.  Or it may be entering a therapist's office for the first time to own a story of trauma, heartache, or devastating loss.

One of the reasons we keep our stories hidden is that we are afraid of what people will think about us.

People are also afraid to own their stories because they are afraid they are their stories.  They are afraid that if they struggle with anxiety or depression, it means there is something innately deficient about them.  They are afraid they are less than if their parents couldn't make their marriage work, if they had an abortion, an abuser, or an affair.  If shame is a part of your story, you almost certainly think: what does this mean about me?

It does mean something.  It means we live in a broken, messed up world, where broken, messed up things happen far too often to far too many people.  But that truth is universal, that is the setting for all of our stories.  And the truth is, none of us are main characters showing up with superpowers that can keep the pain, guilt, and shame away.  But we always have the choice to show up to our story, to our lives, with openness, honesty, courage, and love.  In my opinion, those are the superpowers that make for the best endings.

I'm not telling you to overshare with strangers or post about your imperfections or trauma on Facebook.  I'm just saying own your story, whatever that looks like for you.  By owning your story, the story loses its ability to own you.  And nothing creates resilience more than that.

Monday, September 17, 2018

3 Reasons To Invest In An Annual Self-Care Weekend



It's no secret that I'm a fan of self-care.  Clearly.  But this August, I had a crazy idea:  invite my community to a self-care weekend where we can connect in person and learn more about mindfulness and self-care.

But how?  I'm not really at a place (yet) where I can organize everything a weekend retreat would require.  And my main concern?  Making it as cost effective as possible.  

So I started googling.  "Self-care retreats near me."  "Self-care weekend retreat."  "Flights back to Hawaii.  Self-care retreat centers in Connecticut."

And low and behold, I struck self-care gold, Besties.  I found a retreat center that is hosting a weekend focused on self-care, mindfulness, and self-love.  It was a weekend that worked for my schedule, too.  And then it happened:  I called to inquire about the food and accommodations and I discovered that the entire weekend costs:  WHATEVER YOU CAN PAY.

In disbelief, I asked the woman on the phone "So people can seriously just pay whatever they can?  Like five dollars?"

"Yes," she replied, without hesitation.  "Once a year, we like to open up the campus for a pay-what-you-can weekend so that anyone is free to enjoy it."

It was then that the heavens opened and choirs of angels began to sing.

Well, maybe not, but that was all I needed to hear to get the ball rolling for the first ever Self Care Bestie Weekend Retreat.  Praise!

If you are interested in joining us (so far a few amazing ladies have already registered!), email me for more info and the registration link.  The dates of the retreat are October 26-28 and it will take place in my home state of Connecticut.  I would love to spend the weekend growing and learning with you!  And of course, getting to hang out with you IN PERSON!  Gahh, I can't wait!

Can't make it to the retreat this year? I'll just be over here crying No problem!  But I do think an annual self-care weekend is a good idea for just about everyone.  Don't believe me?  Allow me to share three reasons why I believe it's a necessary investment.

1. You need a break.  Like, for real.  This one pretty much goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway.  Life is full of stressful things, and sometimes we need more than just a quiet coffee break to ourselves.  Sometimes we need to fully immerse ourselves in a few quiet days to relax, put our screens down, and breathe in fresh air.  We need to literally get away from it all.  I know for many of us that's way easier said than done.  In fact, I'm right there with you, as we will likely have our first foster baby by the time of the retreat!  But I want to lead by example...I know that especially when it's tough to get away is exactly when we need to the most.  Just some food for thought, my friends.  

2.  There is always more to learn about self-care.  People often ask me...how do you always think of things to write about for your blog?  I laugh and tell them I have over 200 blog post ideas ready to go in my drafts!  IMHO, there is always more to learn about self-care, there are always topics we could delve a little deeper into.  It's important to keep studying ways to take care of ourselves and love ourselves.  That's how we grow.  I'm excited to be in the learner's seat for this year's retreat, right alongside you.  When I invest in myself, I have more to give others. I'm already looking  forward to the weekend recap blog post that will come right after the retreat so I can share everything I learned (and photos of course)!

3.  Part of self-care is connecting with your Besties.  I actually just did an IGTV video all about this, because it's something I cannot stress enough.  Connecting with our girlfriends is so so important, even for the most introverted among us.  Girls weekends are a vital part of my yearly self-care budget for this reason.  When you are with people who love you and get you and encourage you, something spectacular in your soul comes alive.  So while I'm all about spending time by yourself as part of self-care, it's important to find time for your lady friends as well.

There you have it, my friends!  What do you think?  Will you be joining me for the self-care weekend?  I sure hope you'll consider it.  Let me know if you have questions or want more info and I'll be happy to send it your way.

Monday, September 10, 2018

6 Self-Care Services You Need To Try



One of the topics I always seems to gravitate to with my friends (nay, my Besties) is:  what are you loving right now?  It's so fun to hear about (and share!) the products that are making life easier, better, healthier, and more exciting.  Just last night, I complimented a friend's manicure and she told me about this really fun gel nail polish company she started using.  Of course, now I can't remember the name of it (it's like Jamberry, but different, she said). 

For this reason, I thought it would be fun to share the six self-care services I have been loving for quite some time with you, my Besties.  This way, you'll have them all in one place for easy reference and you won't have to worry about forgetting basically as soon as I tell them to you (does anyone else have that problem, or is it just me?!).  

Full disclosure:  Some of these are affiliate links, which means if you decide to purchase using my link (or code), I will get some credit, or in some cases a commission.  This happens at no extra cost for you, but it helps me out, so I thank you for even considering using any of these links.  For most of them, I simply get credit (which is awesome sauce for me because these are all products I legitimately use and love).  And one of my favorite things to do is use the free stuff I receive (#bloggerperks) to gift my Besties (especially those in the My Self Care Bestie Facebook group!) with some self-care goodies.  

Without further ado, here are the six self-care services you need to try (ok, you don't need to, but trust me you'll thank me later if you do!).

Hum nutrition - First of all, you should know I'm the type of person who isn't all about supplements and herbal remedies.  I used to roll my eyes at my mom (sorry, mom!) when she would tout the benefits of things like tumeric and omega-3s.  As it turns out, tumeric and omega-3s happen to be like really, really good for you.  So, as it turns out, mom was right (yet again).  I stumbled upon Hum nutrition when I was looking (quite desperately) for a solution to this problem.  Their Big Chill pill definitely helped while I waited for my doctor's appointment!  Currently, I take the OMG Omega the Great, Arctic Repair, and Here Comes the Sun (don't you love that name?!), which is Vitamin D3 (turns out I'm low on vitamin D).  Definitely run any supplements by your doctor before you take them, but if you're looking for a high quality supplement (delivered monthly to your door!), I recommend checking out Hum!  Use code: 152AC2 for $10 off your first order!

Hello Fresh - If you follow me on Instagram, you already know I love Hello Fresh.  I started using it on a whim a couple of months ago, and I have not missed a week since (with the exception of when we were in Hawaii).  If you, like me, loathe the grocery store (I swear it steals a part of my soul every time I go), and are also not a fan of meal planning (does anyone else feel pressure to come up with all the things that all the people like?!), then Hello Fresh is worth a try.  Our family does the 3 meals a week for 4 people plan and it's $104/week.  So reasonable!  At least for us.  The variety of food is awesome, and more often than not, even my pickiest eater (I'm looking at you, youngest child) will actually be excited about what he's eating.  Boom.  That's a WIN.  If you use this link, you can get $40 off your first order!  Be sure to let me know if you try it; I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Therabox - I don't need to go into tons of detail here, because I already did an entire post about my love for Therabox here.  Therabox is a subscription self-care box that I'm kind of obsessed with.  Curated by actual therapists (my homies! - not really, but we have the same job), therabox sends super fun self-care goodies each month, but I love it as a gift to friends and family as well.  For less than $40, I can send them a ton of self-care items, valued at over $100 each time.  No wonder my friends and family love me so much! ;)  If you want to try Therabox, you can use the code TREATYOURSELF to get 10% off your first box.  

Stitch Fix - Oh, Stitch Fix.  I want to not love you.  My husband wants me not to love you.  But for some reason (well, lots actually), I just can't stop loving you.  

Ok, that was awkward.  Sorry.  The truth is, I have been Stitch Fix obsessed for years and although I don't get a box every month (not even close...so don't worry, hubby), I LOVE how easy and fun it makes getting new clothes.  My stylist is Sabrina and every box she sends is a dream come true.  My favorite way to use Stitch Fix of late is when I have a wedding or event to go to, I simply write a lil' note to Sabrina and tell her I'd like her to include a few different options.  In about 7-10 days, the box arrives, I try on the outfits and make my choice.  I've never ever had a box arrive where I didn't like or want to keep anything, but even if it did, I simply send it back (and the shipping is paid for by SF).  Easy peasy new wardrobe squeezy.

Aaptiv - I'll admit, I've had a love/hate relationship with working out.  If Stitch Fix and I's status is: in a relationship, working out and I's status is: it's complicated.  But then I discovered Aaptiv and I thought, why not give it a try (free for 30 days).  It's an app that guides you through all different workouts (yoga, treadmill, outdoor running, walking, and lots of other options) through your earbuds.  All of the workouts are led by certified personal trainers and set to super fun music.  You all know I love a good workout playlist!  This app seriously takes the guesswork out of working out - it motivates me, it's fun, and so easy to use.  This is another one that I definitely want to hear about if you do end up trying it!  Again, for 30 days free, you've got literally nothing to lose.

Plum Deluxe Tea - When it comes to hot beverages, I don't discriminate.  I love me some coffee, but I love me some tea.  Last winter, my eyes were opened to many delish flavors of tea when I visited the Harney & Sons headquarters in New York with some girlfriends.  Not long after that, Plum Deluxe reached out to me to see if I was interested in partnering with them.  After carefully researching their products (they sent me some yummy samples!), I was in.  Not only do they sell delicious one-of-a-kind blends of tea, but they also have a monthly membership where members can try new flavors and get all sorts of perks.  If you're a tea lover, Plum Deluxe is definitely worth checking into! 

So tell me, my friends:  which self-care subscription or service are you most excited to try?  Or, which one are you already loving?  Let me know - I love hearing from you!

Have an amazing week, my loves!



   
   

   

   


Monday, August 27, 2018

5 Free Resources To Help You Help Someone In Crisis



Remember that scene from the movie Jerry Maguire where Tom Cruise is begging Cuba Gooding, Jr. to "help me help you?"  It's a classic scene and you can feel Jerry's desperation palpably, which is probably what makes it so memorable.  It's also memorable because on some level, it's feeling we can relate to, especially when someone we love needs help but we aren't sure how to help them.  Today, I'm sharing 5 articles that can help you help someone in crisis.

Specifically, a mental health crisis, such as someone you know expressing suicidal thoughts, intention to harm themself or someone else, or severe depression, anxiety, or a problem with addiction.  

I know these aren't fun things to talk about, but it is so, so important that we do.  It's important that we know how to respond when someone we love vulnerably shares their most difficult struggle with us.  It's important that we know what to look for and how to bring it up if we suspect a severe mental health problem in a friend or family member.  It's important because it could save their life.

Before I share the articles with you, I do want to note that although there is much we can do to help a loved one in a mental health crisis, it is not our job to rescue or save them...in fact, that is not even a possibility.  Every human being has their own mind and will - you can do and say all the right things, and they may still be deep in their struggle.  As difficult as it is, I encourage you to set an emotional boundary for yourself whereby you are willing to show up and be a support to a person in need, but you are not willing to take responsibility for their mental health and choices.  The truth is that even as a therapist, I can't save my clients from a mental health crisis.  I can, however, provide support and encouragement, as well as offer resources that will hopefully get them to a better place.  

And so can you.






With open ears, eyes, and hearts, we can all do our part to help the hurting people around us.  It is so very crucial that we do.  If you're uncertain whether or not someone is in crisis, ask them.  You aren't responsible if they lie or evade you, but it costs you nothing to simply ask.  And it could end up being priceless to them in the long run.

If you or a loved one is struggling through a mental health crisis, please call: 1-800-273-8255.

Much love to you all today, my friends!

   
   
   
   
   


Monday, August 20, 2018

Hi, I'm a Therapist, And I Take Prozac



As I sit down to write this post, it feels like it could potentially be the most vulnerable thing I have ever published to date.

In the past, I've blogged about my fears regarding my son's health issues, our foster care journey, and my marriage.  I've shared my commitment to end my self-tanning habit (pale girls unite!) and my embarrassing irrational fears (the Hokey Pokey sill gives me the heebie jeebies, btw).  

So why does sharing about my recent foray into psychotropic medication feel so taboo?  Why does my heart beat faster as my fingers reach for each key to tell this story?  Probably for one reason and one reason alone:

stigma.

For years and years (and YEARS), our society has been blessed with the science to treat all sorts of ailments, both physical and mental with medicine.  From blood pressure issues to bipolar, there's really not much that modern medicine can't help our bodies regulate.  It's amazing, when you stop to think about it.  And lately, when I've stopped to think about it it, I've considered it an amazing gift.

You see, since the age of 17 I have struggled with PMDD, or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.  For those of you who don't know, PMDD is essentially PMS on steroids.  And it is no fun.  To say the least.  Each month, for approximately 4-5 days, I become so irritable, so agitated, and so anxious that I am, simply put:  the exact opposite of myself.

Perhaps some of you can relate to this struggle.  Perhaps some of you know what it feels like to not feel like yourself, to feel, in fact, like the worst possible version of yourself - and yet, to have little to no control over your words, actions, and emotions, at that delightful time of the month.  The worst part?  Once those difficult days pass, the guilt and shame over how I treated those I love the most remains.  

So many times over the years, I have looked back and thought, "How could I say that to my husband?" or "Why did I lose my cool with my boys so easily?"  or "Why did I slam that door?  WHO EVEN DOES THAT?!"  Me.  I do.  Or at least, I did.

Hoping for reassurance that either a) things would get better or b) I'm not alone, I would confess these things to my closest girlfriends - my mom, my sister, and besties.  Many of them have graciously shared their similar struggles over the years, for which I am thankful.  When I've made myself particularly vulnerable and shared my struggles with a friend I've known for less time, I have often heard the following: "What?  Cathleen, I can't imagine you ever losing your cool!"

I wish I could be flattered by that.  But unfortunately, I know the truth, and usually quip, "Ha!  Just ask my husband!"

After much prayer and research, and after many natural remedies and herbal supplements had been tried, I headed to my doctor last month and told her that I need to know if there is anything more I can do to treat my PMDD.  For my whole life, I had simply accepted it as part of "the curse of being a woman."  I had written it off as something my favorite people must simply learn to cope with because I just can't help it.

With tears in my eyes, I shared with my doctor that I don't want to be that wife or that mom anymore, even for 4 days a month.  "It's not fair to my husband; it's not fair to my kids," I told her.  "And since we're about to add another baby to the family this fall..." I trailed off.

My doctor is a literal angel who said, "Cathleen, this isn't something you can control."

God bless the woman.

We then discussed my options, of which there were three.  Go on the pill (no thank  you), go on a low dose of Zoloft every day, or go on a low dose of Prozac for 14 days each month.

Intrigued, I asked her why for just 14 days.  She said you can start taking Prozac 14 days after the first day of your cycle, and take it until your next cycle begins, thereby getting all the benefits of Prozac (or fluoxetine, as it is known generically), without any of the possible side effects.

Sounded good to me!  At least, I figured, it was worth a try.

Fast forward to today, and I can honestly say the game has been changed.  Last month, despite getting ready to leave for a vacation (a known anxiety trigger for me), despite some undelightful behavior by certain children at times (putting it mildly), I kept it cool.  I was pleasant.  I wasn't worried or irritated over literally nothing.  I was ME.

Concerned that perhaps the change was only noticed by me, I asked my husband's input.  Cautiously, he told me..."this was the best month we've had in....a loooong time."  Bless him.

So why am I sharing this with you?  I mean, it would be a lot easier (and a lot more comfortable) to keep this to myself, preserving the image that some of you may have of me that I never lose my cool, or I always handle my emotions skillfully (ha! no amount of Prozac can guarantee that!).  Simply put, the reason I'm choosing to share my decision to take medication is the very same reason that kept me from wanting to initially:

stigma.

As a psychotherapist, I spend a good deal of time assuring people that their decision to take psychotropic medication doesn't make them bad, crazy, or weak; rather, it makes them healthy, wise, and strong.  While I myself don't prescribe medication (and am by no means a pill-pusher), I want people to understand that there is no shame whatsoever in taking medication, under a doctor's care, for its intended purposes.  And in fact, doing so can seriously change your life.

My great hope and deep desire is that this post can help someone out there feel validated in their decision to go on medication for a mental health issue.  I pray it can help someone feel less afraid to go on medication if their doctor has recommended it, but they just can't seem to say OK to it yet.  I hope it can help family members and friends encourage their loved ones who might be suffering tremendously to explore their options for medicinal treatment with an open mind.  I also hope it can help a whole host of women who might be chalking up their PMDD as "just part of womanhood" to consider (with their doctor) whether or not Prozac or another treatment could help them feel like themselves again.

Because, as I'm often heard saying:  YOLO.  And I, for one, don't want to spend my days (even 4 per month) dealing with PMDD. Ain't nobody got time for that.

If you love this post, there's a good chance you'll love my monthly self-care workbook/magazine, My Self Care Bestie.  You can learn more or subscribe here.







   
   
   
   



Monday, August 6, 2018

Why I'm Setting Intentions For My Vacation



As most of you already know, my husband and I are headed out on a much needed, long awaited vacation this week.  After years of dreaming, hoping, and planning, our week in Hawaii is finally happening.  I really think I won't believe it until we get there and get a lei at the airport.  Wait...is that something they actually do, or is that just in Saved By The Bell Hawaiian Style?

Regardless, I couldn't be more excited - before our foster care journey begins this fall, my husband and I really do need this time away together (and don't feel too bad for my boys, they'll be having the time of their lives with family all week).  

As I check (and re-check) the forecast for Hawaii, I can't help but notice that a hurricane by the name of Hector is currently projected to swirl a bit too close for comfort towards our vacation destination.  I mean, seriously...WHAT ARE THE ODDS?  (And don't say it's hurricane season - I know it is, but seriously...what are the ODDS?).

Part of me is tempted to be like, "Oh, of COURSE there would be a hurricane that could possibly affect our trip.  Naturally," and be all whiny.  Another part of me is tempted to be scared..."what if something really bad happens?  Should we even still be going?"  And still another part of me is tempted to be disappointed if we have to miss anything or change any part of our well-laid plan.

But the biggest part of me is longing to be different - I'm longing for intentionality.  I know this vacation is a dream come true and not something we do every day (or even every year).  I want to make the most of it, come what may. I  want to be my best self.  I want to make the best of every situation and enjoy the ride.

So if you don't mind, I think I need to write my intentions for this precious vacation right here in my little corner of the internet for all (or at least you, dear reader) to see.  Partly because I process best when I write, but also because I want some level of accountability for these goals.  Thank you for indulging me, my friends.



3.  I will not spend the whole time talking about our kids (but it's ok to talk about them sometimes ;)).

4.  I will be brave (and I will fake it till I make it if I'm feeling less than brave in any situation).






10.  I will drink out of a pineapple.  And a coconut.

11.  I will check in with my boys each day but I will not spend time worrying about how they are doing, because spoiler alert:  they'll be fine.

12.  I will savor each experience and SLOOOOW DOWN.

13.  I will feel like a kid again.  And act like a kid again.

Alright my friends, that's what I've got for now.  Do you have any other suggestions for me?  Any other vacation advice or intentions to add to the list?  I'm all ears!  Much love to you all and I'll be taking you (somewhat) along with me via my Instagram stories, so if you don't follow me there yet, ALOHA (HELLO!), what are you waiting for?!

XOXO


Monday, July 30, 2018

5 Tips For Making New Friends After 30




I'd like to share 5 tips for making new friends after 30 with you today, but before I do, I need to start today's post with a confession.  Are you ready?  Here goes...

This weekend I crashed a 30th high school reunion party with a group of my girlfriends.  

Wait, wait!  Before you think terrible things about me, let me give you the details...

Several months ago, the ladies from my church small group decided that we needed a girls' weekend.  Sign me up! was my initial thought.  We were planning to head to Mystic, Connecticut, a place I had always wanted to visit, but had never gotten around to it.  One of our friends even had Marriott points we could use for our rooms to make it affordable for everyone - things were working out perfectly!

But as the time drew nearer for our girls' getaway to start, I began to feel somewhat nervous.  While I had been hanging out with most of these ladies for about two years in a small group setting or occasional dinner out, doing a whole weekend together was a new experience entirely.  As I packed, my thoughts were a mix of how fun it would be to spend so much time together, and how nervous I was to head away for a weekend with a relatively new group of friends.

Long story short, I had nothing to worry about (isn't that usually how it goes?).  We had an amazing weekend sampling wines at a beautiful vineyard, eating delicious seafood, sharing our hearts with each other, and yes...crashing a high school reunion....you didn't think I had forgotten to finish that story, did you?

Upon our arrival back to the hotel after dinner Saturday night, we were headed to the elevator when all of the sudden we heard loud 80's music (I want to say it was "Poison" by Bel Biv Devoe but it's hard to say for sure).  Thinking it was a wedding reception, we headed toward the music, joking that it would be hilarious to crash the wedding.  Not that we would, of course!  Outside the ballroom where the music was bumpin' was a sign that indicated it was Fitch High Class of '88's party.

For some reason, the thought of crashing a 30th high school reunion was hilarious to us (since most of us were 6 in 1988) and 3 out of the 6 of us decided to further investigate.  We only stayed for a moment or two (just long enough to assess that no one was really dancing - come on, Fitch High alum!!) before I caught the stink eye from a woman and we high- tailed it outta there!  

I talk a good game, but I'm really a goody-two shoes scaredy cat at heart.

Giggling all the way up to the hotel room, I realized something:  these girls were my friends...no longer new friends, but real friends.  Friends who insisted I call them the minute we get our foster care call so they can bring us anything we might need, friends who know each other's struggles and strengths, and friends who I can truly be myself around.  Such a relief - and such a gift!

Last week, I did an Instagram Live about overcoming social awkwardness, feeling like you're not good enough, and making new friends after 30 after a dear reader reached out to say she had been struggling in these areas.  As I responded to her concerns, I realized that we could all maybe use a refresher course on making friends when we're not surrounded by tons of people our own age, as we were in high school or college.  

If you just read that and thought, "yep, the struggle is real," here are 5 tips to help you make new friends after 30:

1. Get over social awkwardness - My friends, we are ALL awkward.  We are.  You are, I am, every single human is.  Why?  Because we're all different - and that's a good thing!  Often, when we meet someone, it feels awkward because our minds usually go to "I want to make a good impression" and "what do they think of me?"  Almost immediately after we meet someone, we feel we have to be the best, most polished version of ourselves in hopes that this person will like us.  Believe me, as a recovering people pleaser, I totally get it. But the sooner we realize we are all perfectly imperfect, showing up and doing the best we can in each and every circumstance, the sooner our concerns about social awkwardness will fly the coop.  If it helps, rather than beat myself up for something I said that didn't come out the right way (which happens more than I would care to admit!), I simply tell myself:  that went exactly how it was supposed to go.  After all, it's in the past, I can't take it back, and perhaps there was some greater reason for it.  Also, there's nothing you can say that you can't take back or ask forgiveness for.  So there's that.

2. Realize that you actually ARE good enough - So much of social anxiety stems from feelings of unworthiness, self-doubt, and low self-esteem.  For some reason, our minds have a tendency to fixate on the social situations where things didn't go right, rather than when they did.  And then that darned negative self-talk takes over and tries to win the day.  If you can relate, try reminding yourself of what you bring to the table in a friendship.  Actually do the work it will take to love and accept yourself, and reduce your negative self-talk.  

Need extra help with self-love?  I made you a free printable for that!
   
   
   
   
   


3.  Remember that real friendships take time - We want what we want, and we want it now.  I know.  Usually when people start to question their ability to make friends, it's because they are already feeling lonely or isolated.  If that's where you are today, I hear you.  It's ok to feel that way today.  Remember that anything worth having will take some time, and friendships are no exception.  It took literally two years of meeting in a small group setting for my friends and I to feel like we were comfortable enough to do a girls weekend together!  Be patient - making friends is about the long game.  Just because you feel lonely today doesn't mean you will feel that way forever.  One step, one day at a time is the way to cultivate meaningful friendships.

4. Put yourself in situations where you will meet new people - This may seem obvious, and yet this is the advice that will send most people running for the hills.  Why?  Because it means you will have to put yourself out there.  You might have to join a group or a club.  You might have to be around lots of people you don't know.  And that makes people feel awkward and uncomfortable (see # 1).  But the truth is, if you want to make new friends, you have to put yourself out there a bit.  You have to get out of your comfort zone .  Think about a hobby you've been wanting to try or something you'd like to improve at.  Scan your church bulletin for gatherings you could show up to and maybe meet some new people.  Then, actually go - take a class, join a team, or head to that potluck.  Yes, it will feel uncomfortable, but again - if you aren't willing to change anything, then nothing will ever change.

5. Be the hostess with the mostess - If you are really serious about making new friends after 30, you're probably going to need to bust out your own coffee mugs (or wine glasses) and invite some people over.  Don't wait for people to include you or invite you to a party - or worse, feel bad when they don't.  Simply think of some people with whom you are acquaintances and plan a get-together.  It could be a playdate at the park, a ladies night, book club, or whatever else you would like.  Be creative and assertive - if you want new friends, there are probably plenty of casual acquaintances in your life who feel the same way, but they're too nervous to host anything.  Beat them to the punch and do it yourself!

I hope these tips will help you feel better about making new friends after 30.  It's not easy, and it will take some work, but if you're willing to commit the time and energy to it, I guarantee you'll be crashing a 30th reunion with some true friends in no time.  

Unless, of course, you think that's crazy and ridiculous and not really your thing, in which case I'll refer you to point # 1 and just say:  that went exactly as it was supposed to go.  ;)


 

design + development by kiki and co. creative