The Real Meaning Behind — Be Gentle With Yourself

One day in March of 2020 I experienced my first of many panic attacks. I had run out to pick up my meds at the nearby pharmacy. I returned home when I finally lost control and broke down. I couldn’t hide the tears anymore as they stung my eyes and rolled down my face.

I would describe the four months which followed as ‘the crisis stage.’ At that time, I was barely able to do anything for myself and needed the constant help of a network of people around me. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and was prescribed medication to help with this.

That was over 18 months ago and, since then, I’ve managed to like myself enough to reinvent myself. Though I still feel as if I’m only at the start of a long journey, I’ve started to change.


This is the story of the steps I happened upon which helped me along the way.

Live in the Moment

Much of my time has been spent in reflection trying to learn lessons about my past. But all I was doing was reliving so much guilt from the things I did wrong. When I tried to look forward and plan, fear tended to pin me down. My critical self constantly reminded me that I was neither capable nor worthy of anything too successful.

As much the lesser of the evils as anything else, I started to realize that there was not too much to hate about myself if I simply contemplated the person I was in the present. That was the first spark of light in the darkness.

While a lot of people have told me different techniques to use when having a panic attack unfortunately what they don’t understand is what it is like being in one and not being able to have any control.

Although I have found some techniques I have worked on keeping my stress and anxiety to a minimum unfortunately the thing with anxiety or panic attacks are sometimes you don’t know the source that is causing you to be stressed.

I can remember having an argument with my mother. And before I knew it my heart rate was up, my breathing was fast and shallow, it was very difficult for me to focus on anything other than the object in front of me. Then I felt my body go on auto pilot where I was no longer in the driver seat. Oh I felt my body starts to rock back and forth very slowly and subtle at first but gradually and very quickly mind you my momentum and speed of my rocking picked up faster and faster.

Of course I understand it’s never as easy as just deciding you want to live in the present. medical conditions such as addictions or psychological conditions like PTSD can make that simply impossible without some professional help. What I do know, however, is that living in the present between my first step to achieving some self compassion.

You Are Enough

I quickly return to an old familiar friend, reading. I was late returning after a long journey finally returning home to something you know and feel comfortable with it finally gave me up a safe place to go to.

As I started to read I had a heartbreaking moment of self-awareness: I realized how much self-hate I’ve been nurturing myself with over the years. It broke my heart knowing that every time I had it to the opportunity I have slammed the door in my own face, telling myself I did not deserve it.

Realizing this finally helped me Sees something that I’ve been missing. There is no “better” me and equally, there’s no need for one. I don’t need to be richer, lighter, more successful, or better dressed. I need to work with the forgetful disorganized woman reflected in the mirror. That is the same woman with the imagination, the dream, and the thirst to have her own business.

Before I could start to fully except the bad and the good in myself, hi need to learn to forgive myself for mistakes of my past. For example like chameleons changing their color to blend in with their surroundings y’all tend to adapt our behavior to the situation we are in. The person I am around my family is not the same person I am when I’m sitting home by myself.

It was time for me to stop in myself up for the bad habits that never seem to change and except that I would never be perfect. So what if I slept late in the mornings, for example? It wasn’t actually laziness; it was because I also stayed up late at night. As long as I put in the hours it didn’t matter when the work day started and when it ended.

Life became much brighter when I realized I had to work with the bad as well as it did. All of me was all I had and that was more than enough.

Find the Treasure Within

Becoming aware that I needed to forgive myself for my bad traits opened my mind to consider what was that about me. People around me seem to notice that I tend to light up like a Christmas tree when I talk about things I’m passionate about, and when I feel like I feel useful.

I was blessed with a very odd side of skills that I am truly happy that I have. However at the same time it makes trying to find a job difficult because I’m so knowledgeable but I don’t have a degree to deal with it. That is why I have done about starting my own business because it is something I truly enjoy and that I am good at and passionate about.

It brings me tremendous joy when my family calls me for a tech question or asked me for advice on something that I am very good about. As a first step, however, you should definitely open your mind to contemplate your positive side.

Moving On

As I’ve been working through this I have been able to recognize the voice of my critical self and to argue with it. I had to challenge are those limiting beliefs and rationalize what I wanted to do.

There are three big steps that I have taken and continuously have to work to get to a point where I can believe in myself and enjoy the world around me.

  • Live in the moment
  • Realize that you are more than good enough, warts and all.
  • Good to know the treasure that is within you that you can share with the world.

For sure these are big steps, and possibly some of the hardest ones you may ever have to take. They may not be for everyone. There are countless ways to get back up on your feet when you’ve been knocked down. By taking these, however, I tend to know who I am, then to love and finally to be that person.

Toxic Myths About Success

Everyone KNOWS the game of Monopoly, right?

About ten years ago, The University of California ran an experiment on wealth and privilege. They rigged a popular board game in favor of one person. They gave these privileged players:

  • 2x more start up money
  • extra dice
  • extra bonus cash each time they went around the board.

They recorded the games to see how the players with advantages treated everyone else. The theory was that the advantaged players might admit their luck and try to help their opponents.

Well, that didn’t happen…

Instead what wound up happening was the players who had the advantage:

  • Got louder
  • Taunted the other players
  • Body language became more exaggerated
  • Started moving other players pieces for them
  • Within minutes, every trace of empathy and respect vanished.
  • Some of these players even started explaining their “strategies for success.”

Sound familiar?

We see this behavior everywhere now. As wealth consolidates among the top 10% of the world’s population, they are getting more and more aggressive towards the rest of us. They’re pushing for laws that strip away that last bit of opportunity we’ve got to act more like them.

At best, this advice is worthless. It had NOTHING to do with their success. At worst, it sets people up for failure, and encourages them to punish themselves for factors beyond their control.

It’s time to debunk. Let’s go.


You have to wake up at 4 or 5 am

The super wealthy & their guru army have been selling this bad advice for years now. It’s time to drive a stake through this advice. Waking up that early works for some people. For others, it won’t.

It can actually hurt.

There’s no science behind the myth that waking up before sunrise makes anyone more likely to succeed. In fact, psychology has found the opposite. The human population falls into different chronotypes and sleep patterns. Some of us are wired to wake up early. Others are wired to stay up late. Some of us reach peak productivity and creativity before lunch. Others hit their stride later. You can force yourself into a dominant chronotype in order to please your bosses – but usually at your expense.

So, let’s be blunt. When Rachel Hollis or someone brags about waking up at 4 am and then tells you to do that, she doesn’t have a clue what she’s talking about. She hasn’t done any research on chronotypes or circadian rhythms. She doesn’t even know what those are.

She’s simply a Monopoly player who started out with extra cash and dice, and now she’s made a fortune off advice she thinks worked for her, because she read it in a pamphlet.

Obviously, she’s not the only one. There’s hundreds of influencers and gurus out there promoting the 4 am myth. It’s worthless advice. You’re better off doing some research and experimenting to discover your chronotype. Do what you can to build a career around it. Advocate for yourself. You might have to conform to other peoples work hours at times, but you don’t have to beat yourself up about it.


You need self discipline or grit to succeed

Psychologists are finding out the ugly truth behind success. It doesn’t have nearly as much to do with hard work as we thought. That is jagged pill to swallow, because it’s hard to keep going if you except that life is entirely rigged and you’re doomed to indentured servitude.

Well, ask yourself:

Are you any better or excepting the lie that if you work hard and don’t fight the system, then eventually you’ll become a millionaire? That’s been the dominant message for half a century now, and poverty is only getting worse. That is worse. Healthcare is worse. We’re sitter and more miserable than ever. Americans work harder and longer than any other developed country. We have almost nothing to show for it.

Environment plays an enormous role in our success.

Some of us can modify our environment to some extent. Once you scape poor inner-city’s and rural towns, your odds skyrocket. Opportunities rain down on you. Not everyone t can escape their surroundings. Some people succumb to them, and it’s not their fault.

It’s not completely hopeless.

We just need to wait up and start speaking the truth: hard work and self discipline pay off when we also possess the right environment and social conditions, and nobody enjoys extreme advantages.

That’s the entire problem lately. A handful of mediocre players hold most of the monopoly money, and they aren’t sharing.

They’re taunting us.


You just have to believe in yourself

The whole notion of “believe in yourself” is a staple of self-improvement culture. It’s a duh statement, And a cosmetic believe held largely by those who grew up in loving, supportive middle class families.

The truth is much more complicated than that.

Social psychology has shown us poverty breeds an insidious self-esteem problem That’s incredibly Difficult to overcome. Kids who grow up in safe neighborhoods with plenty of food are more likely to “Believe in themselves” than students from poor community’s with tired, overworked parents. They’re also more likely to delay gratification. They appear better at problem-solving. They appear more self-reliant.

Why?

Turns out, household were tired and overworked parents did irritated at her kids more often. They say “no” more often instead of using phrases like “not now” or “maybe later”. They’re more likely to say hurtful things by accident, and less likely to spend quality time with them. They’re less patient, and actually more likely to just do things for their kids instead of taking the time and energy to coach and encourage them.

It makes a huge difference.

Even worse, studies have also found the teachers attribute kids from Logan come household with lower ability. In other words: if you’re poor, you get stereotyped is dumb. You get treated as dumb, and punishment you start acting the way you’re treated. You stop trying to solve problems yourself. You don’t even asked for help.

You give up.

We learn to believe in ourselves because other people believe in us first. Not everyone in our lives is going to believe in us, but everyone needs a handful of people in their corner rooting for them.

Some people never get that. Their parents trash Their dreams instead of crafting them into something achievable. At inner-city schools, you can get harassed and even beaten up for doing well in school, or carrying your books home to study. What people don’t believe in themselves, they don’t believe in each other. They teach others down. A feedback loop forms, and it doesn’t help when leaders And politicians keep using bad advice from privileged players to justify their conditions.

Believing in yourself isn’t enough. You need tools and resources. You need allies and support. If you have those signs, then don’t hoard them. Share them. Tell someone you believe in them.

Even better, show it.


Everyone can be exceptional

By definition, exceptional means “not like everyone else.” We need exceptional people, and they deserve rewards.

They just don’t deserve everything.

A tiny handful of people can always work their way up from nothing. They were tired, but they also get lucky. There’s no denying it. The problem is that everyone wants to tell the story of their own exceptionalism to justify their wealth and explain away their advantages. They say they’re the exceptional one, but anyone can do what they did. They come up with endless reasons why most people don’t “succeed,” and then they ramble about what they did to get where they are.

Well the monopoly experiment prove that a bunch of bullshit. We don’t need everyone to be exceptional. Turning everyone into a super human isn’t going to solve our problems. Will wind up with the same inequalities as before. Will have a population of homeless people with IQs above 180 who can lift a train, and it still won’t be enough.

Most of the advice floating around out there won’t help anyone succeed. It’s not backed by research or even genuine reflection it’s a bunch of platitudes people used to explain away their bonuses.

The real answer is pretty simple.

We need to level the board game, by supporting laws that make it actually fair for everyone to succeed again. If we don’t, then it won’t be long before nobody can succeed anymore. In the meantime, those who succeeded can try not to be such spoiled winners. We can stop giving lame advice that sets other people up for failure.

Regardless Of Chauvin’s Guilty Verdict We Need More Dramatic Changes

As I am writing this, Derek Chauvin, an ex- cop was found guilty on all three charges against him for murdering George Floyd, in May of 2020. Had he not been found guilty on any of the three charges against him there would have been some serious riots happening across the United States. But he has been found guilty.

But let’s hypothetically say he was found not guilty or received a mistrial, the outrage would be A TIDAL WAVE. Our justice system would have demonstrated YET again that a cop can kill a black man with impunity, even if there were witnesses on the scene and conclusive video evidence seen by lens of millions.

I felt in my gut that Chauvin would be convicted. Chauvin is to simply put it a sacrificial lamb, the cost of doing business. Chauvin will be regarded as someone who dug his own grave, unnecessarily kneeling on the neck of George Floyd in front of witnesses he could see were recording his vicious act of murder.

In the eyes of too many police and political leaders, Chauvin’s actions were NOT a moral failure, but a failure of optics. Even in 2020, when we had seen numerous police shootings captured on cell phone video and posted to YouTube or Facebook where they went viral, this was extreme. It went on for a long, long time; eight minutes and forty-six seconds to be exact. It sparked protests and uprisings not only across the country but across the world.

So Derek Chauvin may be sacrificed for the benefit of a white surpremacist policing system not because he abused his authority but becausee he displayed utter contempt for Black life too brazenly, in front of too many eyes.

What does his conviction change?

In the three months after George Floyd’s murder, cops killed about 288 people in the US, and there was a slight uptick in the already disproportionate number of those killed who were Black and/or Latino. As of April 18, cops had killed 319 people in 2021.

George Floyd’s murder changed nothing.

There has been a lot of work done by Black and Brown people, Black and Brown-led coalitions, and anti-racist allies to finally change our barbaric system of policing and imprisonment.

But in the end, we have seen a hashtag, a whole slew of platitudes, and some words. But change has been meager at best.

Maryland recently passed what many termed “sweeping police reform.” But despite the kicking and screaming of police associations and Maryland’s own backward governor, Larry Hogan, the changes did very little. Penalties were increased and civilian review strengthened, but fundamentally, nothing has changed.

Yet, Maryland is FAR ahead of the rest of the country. Some police departments have seen small reductions of budgets. In Congress, bills meant to stop the sale or transfer of military-grade equipment to civilian police forces have been facing tough challenges. In some cases, there have been responses that diverted some resources from police to social services, along with some of the responsibilities that police should have had in the first place. But these have been isolated instances, and the pushback has been strong.

There have certainly been discussions about the deep, inextricable relationship between racism and policing. This focus has been built on a deep and rich body of work that has demonstrated the roots of policing as a means of maintaining the power of the ruling classes, using both police violence and racism as tools.

Yet now, after we watched the police murder one person after another, and then witnessed the overwhelming violence cops have employed against protesters, often unprovoked, we cannot help but conclude that nothing has changed.

Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo made headlines in just the past few days. But since the testimony in the trial for George Floyd’s murder began, police have killed an average of three people a day.

And with Derek Chauvin convicted, and sentenced to life in prison, what will change?

Cops will continue to kill people. Those people will come from all races, but they will be disproportionately Black and Brown. They will be overwhelmingly poor and worki-class people.

Still, it is important — especially so for me as a white woman — to understand that many people, particularly people of color, need to see Derek Chauvin thrown in jail. It matters to many that Chauvin be convicted, that retribution meted out.

People feel that way not only because of George Floyd but because of the constant, interminable pressure of being Black or Brown in America. Living with police harassment, or the fear of it, feeling a shivers of fear when you drive past a cop car, the feeling of danger if you see it behind you and the terror of actually being pulled over is a terrible thing to live with. Walking down the street is NO different. Breonna Taylor and Botham Jean, among too many others, show that you can’t even leave that fear outside your own home.

So, yes, the burning desire to see George Floyd’s murderer go to jail is perfectly justified and understandable. And, given the system we live in, it’s also the only kind of Justice that can be offered — the retributive kind.

But in the end, it will change nothing, and it can even make things worse. Politicians and pundits will use Chauvin’s conviction as proof that the “system works.It will be a tool used to shut down calls to Defund the Police and to end political pressure for all but mildest police reform.

And George Floyd will still be dead. As will Duante Wright, Adam Toledo, Laquan McDonald, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and so, so many more.

The justice their memories need is the justice we all need: a society that respects all life, that recognizes that violence does NOT solve our problems, but treating all of our communities and every individual within those communities, with respect could.

Police, it should be obvious by now, do not prevent crime. Incarceration is expensive, it is inhumane, and worst of all it is NOT only ineffective, it actually reinforces people’s disenfranchisement and lack of connection to each other, thereby bolstering, or in many cases, creating, the very conditions that lead to violence.

We can honor the murderered many, we can honor their memory and, yes, we can bring at least some justice to this country. We do that NOT by taking vengeance, although accountability and a reckoning are going to be necessary to heal wounds. But we bring that justice by building a better world.

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, and all the othersdeserve better than vengeance. They deserve to be the symbols of a country, of a world, reborn. One where we live up to our promises of dignity, decency, and respect for all.

We can do that. But it will NOT come out of the trial of Chauvin, no matter how the trial ends.

Making Changes

Warning there is use of vulgar language because I use it to show examples and set premise.

I love structure. As much as I try to be hip and flexible, to just go with the goddamn flow, I’m wired differently. I like routines, schedules, and knowing what’s coming down the pipeline. I get the same thrill from new planners that I do from old books.


About the eighth month of the lockdown, I started looking at the other side of my personality pendulum and things started looking really intriguing. I was an introvert who would avoid groups, a secluded bookworm who wanted group movie nights, and a homebody who wanted to be a wild child. The ‘as-long-as-everyone’s-happy’ person and the ‘never-say-no-to-an-authority-figure’ child didn’t live here in the eighth month of lockdown (Sidenote: she has still not returned) Brutal honesty all the way.

Being out of practice with standing up for my needs, it wasn’t pretty. Picture if you will for a moment a toddler who just overheard a parent say “motherfucker” and is now jovially repeating it everywhere. Burned bridges barely held together due to my complacency. Blew up foundations. Exposed creepy-crawlies under the rocks then sat in the mud muttering to myself ‘who cares? the world is on fire.’ Family, friends, acquaintances, internet peeps, didn’t matter: they all got the most wishy-washy, wobbliest version of myself I’ve ever been.

Sometimes change can be a fickle visitor blowing in and out like an ocean breeze. 2020 was NOT one of those times.

About two weeks ago I decided to look back and re-read some of my older pieces and I couldn’t connect with what I had written. I remembered writing the words, thinking those opinions, but they weren’t me… at least they weren’t me anymore. As I read these pieces I felt a confused fondness like I’d feel for a stranger. As if the lockdown illuminated the-whole-and-real-person and showed that I’d been suppressing far too much of her. Reading back through them and comparing my writings from 2020 was like have a weird conversation between two people who remembered the same events very differently/

On and on it went. Without my writings, I don’t think that I’d have realized how drastically my worldview and perspective have changed while living through Groundhog Day (good movie, imo) monotony. The big hearted compassion is still there. The grace is still there. The feistiness of going to bat for the underdog is still there. I’ve simply learned to extend and demand those things for myself as well.

The world is still on fire. Life as I know it is still short and fleeting. I am still struggling with some of the same apprehensions. I’ve still got a few of the same longings. There’s no wrong way through feeling trapped in a rut you didn’t even make. No shame here if you’re burnt out, sick and tired, stretching for a small amount of “pandemic normalcy” with warmer weather.

Some days, you find all the beauty you can carry in your hands and hoard the happiness in your pockets. You hit all your goals, get a speck of novelty, or make your own adventure. Other days, you’ll ding through another day of fatigue and self doubt, thinking that “nothing’s changed.”

Yet, you have. You’ve changed.

You learned that you are not as strong as you think and stronger than you ever imagined. You’ve learned to cherish the people you needed during a certain version of yourself and let them go when they wanted to leave. You’ve learned that love comes in multiple ways, and you’ll miss it under your nose if you’re constantly chasing the horizon.

You’ve imagined and daydreamed countless worlds and acted to make your corner of this beat up country a little bit better than you found it. You’ve imagined the possibilities of everyone feeling safe enough to relax their fists. You’ve daydreamed about a country where every person is safe, seen, and loved.

2020 was a barefooted-untouched luggage-unfilled yearning-slow soil growth-waiting wanderlust year. 2021 might be a little different but don’t lose the stillness. The good bits of the various versions of yourself. That human ability to mourn huge losses and celebrate small wins. The recognition that the lights will come back on, and the lows won’t stick around forever.

Nothing’s permanent.

You’ve marveled at the creative problem solving of your neighbors. You’ve mourned countless dead and those who are dying. You’ve made so much progress just by accepting that personal progress isn’t linear and hustle culture progress isn’t an urgent priority.

Everything changes eventually. Even and especially you change. Believe it or not, change may be a crazy chick, but she has the best of intentions.