Along For The Ride

Where is your head at?

This week, we are going to touch on the type of mindset we have as individuals, more specifically- a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset.

Where is your head at? I have been stuck many times in a fixed mindset, giving in to the thought that my life circumstances were already determined and I had no way of deviating from this prescribed path. Let me digress and explain what a fixed mindset and a growth mindset are. According to the Positive Psychology Program, a fixed mindset is focused on validating oneself. A person tries to prove themselves but is very sensative about being wrong or making mistakes. This leads to doubting themselves which destroys confidence. A fixed mindset to me is like being stuck in a traffic jam by choice when there are innumerable opportunities to take an exit.

A growth mindset “is about achieving mastery and competence. The person believes that superb personal qualities can be learned developed or cultivated.” The important thing here is that failure is viewed as an opportunity to learn and grow. You hear the saying that you learn more from losing than winning and this is so true to me. The opportunity to look at what you did wrong that led to failure and the ability to adjust a find new strategies is so important for overall growth.

The big thing here is a fixed mindset is limiting on your potential because you believe there is a limit to how well you can do. A limit to how intelligent you can become, or how successful or how anything else. A growth mindset gives you unlimited potential because you believe that its there.

Think about where your head is at and what type of mindset you have. Is it fixed? Is it growth? Try to take control and be confident in yourself. If you find it hard, find someone that inspires you. I was stuck in a rut until I met Jing. She is one of the most inspiring people I have ever met and has shown me that regardless of circumstances, there is still a chance to grow. If you cannot do it on your own, find someone who can help encourage you. Whether it’s your mom, your dad, a sibling, or even someone at work.

“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop” -Confucious 

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Along For The Ride, Uncategorized

What does privilege mean?

The theme for posts this week will focus on privilege and what that means to us as individuals but also as parts of larger communities.

It’s when I look past the difficulties I have spelling the word that I can see the impact the word has in my life along with everyone else. I think what many people think now when they think of privilege (thanks again, Grammarly) is white privilege. First, let’s look at what privilege actually means. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines privilege as “a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor”. (side note, privilege was in the top 1% of definition searches on the website. Hmmm…) One step further, the definition of White privilege according to Dr. Francis Kendall, who works as a consultant for organizational change focusing specifically on diversity and white privilege, is ” an institutional (rather than personal) set of benefits granted to those of us who, by race, resemble the people who dominate the powerful positions in our institutions. I understand fully that I am in a very privileged position. I also understand knowing that I am in a privileged position, it is my obligation to use that privilege in order to better the world for everyone, not just the privileged.

Privilege is often broken down and compared between ethnicities and then also gender. One place that is not always looked at is the differences between being able and disabled. Disabled is a very broad term in regards to what it refers to. Being disabled means that you are limited in some way because of a physical or mental condition. This can cut across so many different areas of someone’s life. I personally have not felt marginalized because of my color, gender, or abilities, but I have seen it happen to people I really care about.

This is the important idea that I want to get across and communicate with others, Just because I do not personally feel marginalized does not mean I shouldn’t get involved. Too often I feel that others are complacent with circumstances that don’t directly impact them. The point is, you have a heart, listen to it, it will tell you whats right. You have a voice. Use it, to help others who may not know understand. I put forth the importance of living each day knowing that it can be better than yesterday, for yourself but also for others around you.

I will leave you with a quote that I have read many times to start my day and remind me of what I can do:

“Never be complacent about the current steps; don’t agree and follow the status quo. Be determined that you are making an indelible impact with great change. Now, dress up and go to make it happen!” – Isrealmore Ayivor

Along For The Ride, Emotions

I need help! Where do you go when you’re overwhelmed?

It can be really really hard to be in a place in your life where you are overwhelmed by what life has to offer. I have certainly felt the weight of emotional burdens and at times succumb to the pressure. Many are overwhelmed with strong feelings of sadness or anxiety, even persistent anger or fear. Some, unfortunately, can say they have had to deal with all of the above.

I will stick with my own personal truth for this post, but I would love for those who read the prompt to comment what their own truth is, and how they handle life when it becomes overwhelming!

I honestly have been able to stay pretty in control in recent years, but there are still times where I feel like I cannot handle everything on my plate. When I feel like I am not in control or are overwhelmed, it is not obvious or clear at all. I am an extremely stubborn person (thanks, Dad), and have a very hard time asking for help. In some regards, this is a good thing as it pushes me to figure things out independently. On the other hand, it can be detrimental. I have learned it is vital to try to understand when you really need help, and also to think critically about when not asking for help will put you in an even worse position.

Like I mentioned before, I am a stubborn person (also have to thank my twin brother, Wade), and the reason I know how important it is to be mindful of how much you can handle is from the many times when my lack of asking for assistance led me to deal with far more pain and negative emotions than I should have. Being in those positions negatively impacted my productivity and also my personal relationships. I was unable to put enough of myself into what really was important to me as I was spread too thin.

Focusing on what I do when I do feel overwhelmed? Well, the easy response would be “I don’t get overwhelmed”. That would also be an unrealistic response. I have worked really hard to develop a patient outlook on every facet of my life, but that is just the beginning. One thing I do to help myself not feel overwhelmed is take full control over some aspect of my life. My physical health is one of those aspects. I make sure to go to the gym very often and try to eat as best I can. I am human and do lapse into little carb binges here and there (cough* cough* whole pizzas), but overall I eat pretty healthy.

Other things that I try and do are to read or make sure to do some mindful breathing occasionally throughout the day. If I find my mind racing or thinking about too many things at once, I close my eyes and do 4-7-8 breathing techniques. It is something that I initially did with the children I work with, but I tried it and it does help to slow my heart rate down. The way to complete the 4-7-8 breathing technique is to breathe in slowly but fully over four seconds. The second step is to hold that breath for seven seconds, then slowly release all of the air in your lungs over eight seconds.

There are plenty of other aspects of my life that can be overwhelming. I am a supporter of and love someone who has a TBI. Her life itself is far more overwhelming than my own, but I do my best to take some of that off of her shoulders, and along with managing my own busy life, supporting her in the right way can be hard sometimes. Though it can be difficult for me, I understand that I am very privileged to be able to take control over the pieces in my life that I do have control over. I keep myself from being too overwhelmed by understanding where my life sits in comparison to others. I know I have it pretty good, so I do my best to try to help others get the same feeling of control or comfort as well.

How do you handle feeling overwhelmed? Everyone has different circumstances that lead them to the feeling, but something we all have are our own strategies to deal with them. If you are comfortable, share what makes you feel overwhelmed and how you handle it, or even don’t handle it.

Along For The Ride

under construction

The title says it all. It is something we all are experiencing to some degree. To me, it represents the way in which to view my life, as a perpetual process of change. To others, it could mean a difficult journey after a terrible accident. Some changes that have impacted me in my own life have been difficult, but some perspective I have gained has made me realize it is so much different for me as I have some semblance of control over the changes in my life.

I have an incredible amount of admiration for those who are able to endure after life-changing events. The courage and perseverance I have seen is inspiring. Being able to take what life’s circumstances throw your way in order to try to do more than simply survive can be an overwhelming challenge, but there are many in the TBI community that I have met which do their best to carve out a life where some enjoyment and happiness is present.

Personally, as a supporter of someone with a TBI and also as someone who works closely with individuals impacted by mental illness, I look at my life as an opportunity to try and change the lives of others for the better. I think there are many people in the world who are very compassionate and have this same goal. I know I have mentioned the importance of compassion in a previous post, I cannot put forth this idea enough though. Along with the opportunity to make lives of others better, it is a goal of mine to continue to change and grow into someone who is not only compassionate but someone who is able to build and strengthen communities that are supportive of mental health and those with mental illness.

I will work hard to not take for granted my position in the lives of others and the opportunity I have to truly make a positive difference for them. What I hope to encourage others with is an understanding that all of our lives are under construction, and we have a chance to do something great with them. If you are passionate about something, be brave and stick with it,

Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi

Along For The Ride

Unseen difficulties of mental illness

It’d been a long week for me with school and work so I had planned to go out with a couple of buddies last night, get some dinner, go play some darts. At dinner one of my friends started talking to me about some struggles he had been having recently with anxiety. He had made a mistake at work a couple months ago and since then he has felt a lack of control of his career, worrying about job security.

It was difficult to hear parts of what has been going on for him, he’s been having physical symptoms along with trouble sleeping and just kind of felt stuck and not himself, and that he was unable to be himself because of his anxiety. I don’t think a lot of people realize just how difficult normal functioning is when you have an ongoing battle with mental health issues. Another aspect of mental health that I don’t think a lot of people consider is the comorbidity that goes along with it. More often than not someone will be battling more than one mental health issue, making it all the more difficult to overcome.

The reason that I bring this up, internalizing behaviors like anxiety, depression, somatic symptoms- are not obvious and can go unnoticed and unchecked for so long and at times to the extreme detriment of those who are suffering.

It is our responsibility as friends, family, and loved ones to be aware and vigilant when we notice changes in those around us, especially if we know there is a history of mental illness for the individual or in the individuals family. I take on the responsibility of being a supporter willingly and I will admit it is not easy to help sometimes. I have run into a couple of brick walls in my life when I have tried to help others, but I still will not give up, and I strive to be more helpful in the future.

I have been told that I can be somewhat parental, and not as patient-centered as I should be which is an important lesson to learn as collaboration is more effective for long-term care and not “band-aiding”. There are times when those who are suffering don’t know how to help themselves and they may need extra help and support and even some coaching, but then there are times when individuals understand their illnesses far more than someone who is not suffering and those are the ones that you need to listen to when you consider “how can I help?”

This is so important because if you think about it, having a mental illness doesn’t mean you are a child or are incapable of making your own choices, it just means that it can be a lot harder to do so and to handle certain situations.

Even if you do not personally know someone who is suffering from mental illness, you can still be a voice for those who do. Remember, not everyone who is suffering is obvious, and a lot of times it isn’t until it is too late. Sharing information on ways to get help and support is one way, but also just showing that mental health is important to you. Social media spreads far and wide and if we all can spread the message of support, those who suffer won’t feel so alone.