A year ago, I found myself on the couch paralyzed. I felt lost, hopeless and frustrated with where my career was heading. I had no clue what my true purpose and passion was. I had no confidence in myself or my abilities. At the time, I was commuting four hours a day to San Francisco for my full-time tech job and planning weddings as a side hustle. Every moment of my day was consumed by doing things for others whether it was for my co-workers, clients or my family.
I had stopped taking care of myself and wasn't connecting to how I felt. That day all my emotions hit me like a ton of bricks, and I found myself paralyzed on the couch. I had stopped listening to myself and completely forgotten how to connect to my inner voice and intuition. I was keeping myself so busy that I never took the time to stop and check-in with myself. I was also seeking outside validation instead of my own.
As I laid there on my couch and searched my streaming options on the TV to numb my thoughts, I stumbled upon a Rachel Hollis' documentary about her Rise conference. I did not want to hear a pep talk about how I needed to change my life, but something inside me pushed me to click and watch. For the first exercise, she had the crowd write a letter from their perseverance. As I mentioned, I did not want to get off the couch for any circumstance, but there I was again with an inner voice summoning me to grab a notebook and a pen. I did the exercise and wrote down all the things I've done in my life that I was proud of, all the things in my life that I thought were so hard, but I persevered. As I read this letter back to myself, tears streaming down my face, I realized how out of tune I was with myself. I had been talking to myself so severely and stacking negative points one on top another until I believed every word I told myself. My outside life was a reflection of my inner world. I knew then and there that if I wanted my circumstances to change, I had to change my inner turmoil to inner triumph.
Little by little, I started to make small and significant changes in my life. The two changes that had the most impact on my life were:
Journaling | I hadn't written in a journal since high school, and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it. This practice also forced me to slow down for a daily check-in with myself and set my intention for the day.
Meditation | Encouraged me to be aware, kind and compassionate with myself. The practice of meditation taught me that my inner words have a crucial impact on my outer reality.
Over time, my journaling and meditation practices have evolved. Little by little, I became more comfortable with these activities so that now they are a non-negotiable for me. I need to do them every single day to feel my best. I make sure I start my day this way so that I can set my intentions.
Today I look back at the person I was a year ago, and I'm so proud of myself for taking that first step and becoming aware of what needed to change. I'm delighted with who I am today and continue to strive to be the best version of myself day after day. I sit here finding myself unemployed in these crazy times, the old version of me would have found every negative story and stacked it one on top of another, dragging me down further. The new version of me sees this as happening FOR me not to me. This unique circumstance is forcing me to get resourceful and creative. I'm choosing to be excited by my possibilities rather than fearful of everything that can go wrong.
If you find yourself in a similar negative self-talk pattern I encourage you to slow down, connect with yourself, be kind to yourself and little by little you will find yourself in a brand new state of mind. You will start living a life that you want, not complaining about the life that's happening to you. You are the writer, actor, director of your own life. What do you want that story to look like? For me, I want to look back and see that I overcame obstacles, fears and created the most beautiful life possible for my family and me.
Shannon McAlister, traveler, crafter, maker, cook, planner and doer.