Why “No” Is My New Favorite Word

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Hi there, how’s life been treating you lately? Are you taking care of yourself? You’re worth the effort. ❤

I’ve been working on boundaries over the last several months.

I’ve never been very good at saying no. I feel obligated to be nice. Polite. Helpful. “Lady-like”.

I think that’s something ingrained in us as children. Especially for women.

We are taught to be quiet.

To just deal with it.

Keep pushing through.

A lot of women get into trouble when there’s a situation where they should get out, but society tells them they have to be polite.

You have the right to feel safe.

And you don’t have to “be polite” to someone who is scaring you.

I digress…

Everyone, every gender, is taught to value politeness over boundaries.

But there are ways to protect your boundaries without damaging your relationships.

And, honestly, boundaries won’t damage your relationships with people who truly value you.

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For a long time, I was told to be quiet.

I received both subliminal, and explicit, messages that my feelings don’t matter.

As a child, I wasn’t really allowed to have boundaries.

Do what I say, because I say it. I don’t care how it makes you feel. If you’re uncomfortable, suck it up.

Even children (especially children) are entitled to boundaries.

Growing up like this, you learn to keep a lot inside. To shove your feelings down and ignore them. Something I’ve had to work against in adulthood.

I became Passive.

I didn’t stand up for myself.

I’m learning how to reverse this in the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills Workbook.

It can be scary, changing yourself so drastically.

People who know me are used to me just going with whatever people say.

Don’t ask questions.
Don’t stick up for yourself.
Even if you don’t like it.
Even if it’s painful.

I’m working on finding a happy medium.

Standing up for myself, while staying true to my moral standards of kindness and respect.

Boundaries can be stated in a kind and healthy way.

This is something I was unsuccessful with at first.

I swung in the opposite direction and sometimes came off as rude or aggressive.

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Also, people were so used to me “just being nice” that my new outlook rubbed some people the wrong way.

Especially people who were used to using my doormat-ish tendencies to their advantage.

That sounds gross, and manipulative, but it’s true. Honestly, everyone uses “too-nice people” to their advantage every now and then. We’re human. We err.

It’s been quite the learning curve, to watch who accepts and who rejects my boundaries.

It says a lot about what I mean to the people close to me.

For example, I recently told someone close to me that driving causes me a lot of anxiety. I asked them to give a little more space from the car in front of us, just while I’m in the car.

They listened, and they changed their behavior to make sure I felt safe.

Positive experience.

Here’s another example:

A while ago, I asked someone close to me to be respectful towards myself and my husband.

They refused, then took steps to cut me out of their life.

It was shocking.

I had not expected them to run from my life after such a simple request.

It’s been a couple years and we’re still not speaking. And honestly? I’m ok with that.

I know how important I am to that person now, and I’m not interested in cultivating a relationship with someone who isn’t interested in respecting me.

Yeah, it sucked. But I’m better off knowing the truth than continuing on thinking they care about me when they really don’t.

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Nowadays, I’m doing more to set boundaries.

I’m saying no. It’s become my favorite word.

I’ve learned that downtime is a good enough reason not to make it to every event.

I don’t have to hurt myself to make others happy.

My mental health is a priority.

But how do you go about setting boundaries, when standing up for yourself seems so scary?

The first thing you should ask yourself is what is important to you?

For me, I value kindness and respect pretty highly.

People are important to me.

My mental health.

Then you ask yourself what you need.

I need to feel valued by my loved ones – wanted and important.

I need hugs and affection from the people closest to me.

I need kind words and compassion from those whom I consider friends. (I don’t like to be touched, which is why my needs differ from friends and family, to close friends and close family. This is a boundary I’m still working on establishing with people.)

Then you ask yourself what is not ok with you.

I’m not ok with unkindness or disrespect, in any form.

I’m not ok with physical touch, except from those closest to me.

I’m not ok with people using my neurodivergence against me.

This is obviously a short list, and one that can be expanded on over time.

The most important thing to remember is that you are allowed to have boundaries.

You deserve to feel safe.

Your boundaries are more important than politeness.

If someone doesn’t respect the boundaries you set, that says more about them than it does about you.

And finally, even when you’re scared, you should push yourself to set the boundaries. Stand firm. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.

Because setting boundaries can be the best thing that happens to your relationships. While, not setting them, only leads to discomfort and bitterness.

I hope this article helps someone out there who, like me, is afraid to stand up for themselves.

You have needs. You are worth the effort it takes to meet them.

Sending love,

MK

This boi respects the heck out of your boundaries. Though, if your boundaries include not getting licked in the face, you’re outta luck.

4 Tricks To Get Out Of A Reading Slump

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Hi there! I hope you have had a great week. Have you done something just for you this week?

I got into a reading slump recently.

It was rough.

I couldn’t get into anything I was reading.

I blame The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab. It was heart-wrenching and I had a serious book hangover afterwards.

If you haven’t read it, I definitely recommend it. But make sure to give yourself a little time to recover afterwards.

I was just jumping from book to book, barely giving myself a chance to breathe between one cover and the next.

Then, when this book happened to me (and boy, did it hit me hard), everything else lost its luster.

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So, how do you fix a reading slump?

Well, here are 4 easy steps…

1: STOP READING!

This may seem counterintuitive…

How do I get interested in reading again if I’m not reading?

Well, your brain is crying out for a break.

You’ve exhausted yourself. You’ve lost interest.

If you keep trying to consume more books, you’re just making it worse.

And, you might not be enjoying the books that you would otherwise love!

I stopped reading the Serpent & Dove series, and I think I might have enjoyed it if I hadn’t been in a slump.

So stop reading!

Just give your brain a break.

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2: Find something else that sparks creativity.

Paint. Go for a walk. Watch some movies. Take pictures.

Do something else in the creative world.

Yes, you can still get a great story from TV/movies.

Don’t be snooty.

Just do anything that gets your creative juices flowing.

I like watching movies, but there are so many options.

You just need to remember how it feels to be creative, but without reading books.

I paint sometimes. I’m not great at it, but that’s not really the point.

If your brain is tired of the same old thing, you’re stuck in a creative rut.

Have you tried cooking? Baking?

It can be really fun!

Just do something that makes you feel free and excited again.

Maybe you’ll get that spark back.

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3: Practice Self-Care.

Another reason you may not be into books recently might be because your mood has taken a dip and you didn’t realize it.

I’m guilty of this.

I get so hyperfocused on stories. I let them occupy my mind so wholly that I don’t realize I’m actually compensating for some deeper issues.

It’s nice when a book can help you cope.

Sometimes it pulls you out of this world and gives you a new one to think about for a while.

This can be good, but only for a while.

You have to confront your issues or they will eat away at you without you even realizing it.

This reading slump is your brain’s way of saying,

“Hey! Pay attention to me!”

Take a step back.

Ask yourself how you’re feeling, mentally and physically.

Are you covering up issues you’re struggling with by reading a bunch of books?

It’s ok to take a break and just feel your feelings.

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4: Read a different genre.

This really helped me get back into reading!

I decided to go for something light and easy.

I read Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan.

I’m not going to lie to you. This book was not some masterpiece.

But it was a really fun and easy read!

It was something light that could get me interested in reading again.

It was exactly what I needed.

A change of pace.

Keep in mind that changing genres might not work if you haven’t already done the other steps.

Your brain is giving you a sign. You need to listen, not just hop into another distraction.

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I hope these four tricks will help you get out of your reading slump!

Let me know what tricks have worked for you in the past. I would love to hear from some fellow readers.

And, most importantly, take care of yourself.

You are your top priority.

Sending love,

MK

Linux would like to remind you that there is no greater story than your own. Don’t forget to live a little. And also pet a pooch.

Do You Give Yourself Permission To Feel Your Emotions?

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*Trigger Warning*
This post talks about overwhelming emotions and may be triggering for some readers.

Hi there, I hope you are safe and well. Have you been taking care of yourself? It’s important to prioritize your mind & body. Self care isn’t selfish ❤

I’ve been doing a lot of work on feeling my emotions instead of just brushing them aside.

Not going to lie, I’m pretty bad at it.

I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to “be strong”.

Tough it out.

Don’t let them get to you.

Don’t let them see you cry.

It’s taken a lot for me to realize that reaching out is a form of strength, not weakness.

Making connections, talking to people about my neurodivergence, opening up about my experiences… These are all scary things.

But they’re so good.

Photo by Ashford Marx on Pexels.com

In the past, opening up hasn’t worked out so well for me.

I was shut down, disregarded. My feelings didn’t matter. Children should be seen and not heard. Friends didn’t really want to hear the ugly stuff I was sifting through.

The message I took away from these interactions was other people don’t care, so my feelings must not matter.

That’s the thing about having overwhelming emotions. Other people… just don’t get it.

They don’t get excited and feel like their body is exploding.

They don’t get scared and feel like they’re going to die.

They don’t get sad and feel like the entire world is crashing down around them.

They feel their feelings on a neurotypical level, instead of this gut-wrenching, heart pounding, world-ending level.

Being a highly sensitive person (HSP) isn’t all bad. There are some cool perks that come along with it.

But the bad parts can be pretty challenging.

For a long time, I just tried to deal with everything on my own, because no one really cared enough to try to understand.

Usually, that looked like shoving my feelings into a box in the back of my mind and trying to move forward.

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This isn’t a very effective way to deal with your feelings.

Those feelings will start spilling out of your box because there isn’t enough room for all of them. They will creep out and latch onto your mind at super inconvenient times.

Like when you’re talking to your boss.

Why? Because you never dealt with them. So instead they lingered.

If you leave a half-eaten sandwich in your bedroom, it will start to smell. And that smell will linger, cropping up at odd/inappropriate times, until you clean it up.

But how to you deal with your emotions?

This can be such a challenge for people like me who grew up being told to just suck it up. Smile through the pain. Big girls work around the pain.

But that’s not how healthy adults cope with emotions.

Shoving them into a box and hoping they’ll fade away is not effective, as you may have discovered.

The first step to coping with your emotions is giving yourself permission to feel them.

Maybe something bad happened at work. A disagreement with a coworker. A demotion. Maybe you lost your job. Maybe there was a rude client. Maybe working for a living just sucks…

So feel sad.

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

Have a good cry.

Give yourself a hug.

Ask a friend or family member if they have some time to chat.

Talk soothingly to yourself like you’re a child.

“You’re sad. That’s ok. Everyone gets sad sometimes. We can be sad for a little while until you’re ready to feel better.”

Seriously.

Especially if you didn’t get this as a child.

It’s time to raise the child living inside your head, so you can cope with adult life.

For an HSP, the scary part about feeling your emotions is that they can overwhelm you.

This can present a problem, and if you are getting overwhelmed and you feel like the healthy thing is to distract yourself for now and come back later, read this post.

But usually, even though your feelings seem scary, they will not overwhelm you.

And if they do, use the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills workbook to develop some coping skills to deal with those moments.

So how to you let yourself feel your emotions?

Take a deep breath, and ask yourself “What am I feeling right now?”

Get to the root of your emotion.

I’m going to use a specific example for the sake of your ease of reading. But you can apply this to whatever you’re going through.

A coworker said something negative about your recent performance.
You feel angry.
When you look inward (later, when you have the time and privacy to dig into your emotions) you realize your anger was actually stemming from hurt and disappointment with yourself.
You accept that, yes, you are hurt. Yes, you are disappointed in your recent performance, as well.
Maybe you feel embarrassed they called you out.
You give yourself space to feel those feelings.
Then you develop a game plan for how you will deal with work tomorrow.

That anger you felt may have been overwhelming.

You may have been seething all day.

But by looking inward, you found that your anger was actually some other, more vulnerable, emotions putting on a brave face.

You used Radical Acceptance to accept what you cannot change.

And you developed a game plan to change what you can.

That’s some pro-level adulting, right there.

The thing about emotions is that, inevitably, they do pass.

Emotions are like a wave.

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If you give yourself permission to feel them, they will become bigger and bigger, they will crest, then they will fall-become small and more manageable once again.

If you struggle with the emotion, and feel as if it is beginning to overwhelm you, it’s ok to take a step back and come to it when you’re ready.

As a neurodivergent individual, it’s important to find the balance between allowing yourself to feel your emotions, and going down a negative spiral.

So how can you tell the difference?

Usually, allowing yourself to feel the emotion looks like comforting yourself. Building yourself up. Accepting what is.

Spiraling looks self-depreciating. Focusing on all the negative things and jumping from one ugly thought to the next.

Feeling and coping with your emotions in a healthy way will not involve shaming yourself for the way you feel.

If you do it in a healthy way, it should feel very healing.

You should feel refreshed afterwards.

Lighter.

That doesn’t mean the crappy situation is magically solved, it just means you gave yourself permission to feel the emotions it brought up.

To heal from trauma, in whatever form it was presented.

And to move forward in a healthy way, without lugging your emotional baggage with you.

I hope this post helps someone out there deal with their overwhelming emotions, and maybe even get in touch with themselves a little more.

Sending love,

MK

This boi would love to give you a smooch if you’re feeling sad, and snuggle you until you’re ready to feel better.

What If I Want To Be Sad?

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*Trigger Warning*
This post deals with depression and negative self-talk, and may be triggering for some readers.

Hi there, I hope you’re doing well! Are you taking care of yourself? Maybe it’s time to do a check-in. How’s your body feeling? How’s your mind feeling? Don’t be afraid to give yourself some grace. ❤

My mental health took a dip recently.

It happens.

More often than I’d like.

Sometimes I feel kinda up and down. I’m doing fine, then something switches and the tide pulls me under.

I thought I’d share some feelings I was marinating on while trying to get out of my funk.

I was talking with my therapist recently (if you don’t have one and you are struggling with your mood, please find one, they can be really helpful). She was checking my negativity.

She’s very sneaky about it. She watches me spiral, lets me get it all out, then says “Was there anything good about it?” or something of that nature.

It kinda makes me stop and think.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Yes there were negatives.

We’re not going to ignore any feelings here.

But if we’re going to spend so much time thinking about the bad, let’s not forget the good.

So my recent mood swing… I’m going to be honest, sometimes I’m not sure why my mood dips.

But it did, and I found myself coming up with all the reasons my life sucks.

Hardship in my relationships with friends and family.
Work has been rough.
Writing is not going super great right now.
My mental health seems to keep getting kicked down, despite my best efforts to even out.

Then I really start spiraling.

I feel discouraged.
I feel alone.
I’m not good at anything.
I just suck.

It can be so easy to get trapped in the negativity spiral. It’s like the thoughts have a mind of their own.

One minute I’m recounting things that happened, that are in fact negative… Then next thing I know, I hate myself and my life is awful.

It can get out of control really quickly.

So how do you fix it?

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I think the hardest part is recognizing what you’re doing.

You have to take a good, long look at yourself and say, “Is all of this really that bad, or am I in a negative spiral?”

I’m not saying things in your life aren’t bad.

We all have stuff we have to deal with.

Stuff we wish we could just drop and leave behind us.

But that’s not how life works.

So what I’m asking you to do is use Radical Acceptance like I talked about in this post, then ask yourself: “Is everything truly awful, or am I letting the negativity take over?”

Say you have an arguement with your partner.

Arguments/disagreements/fights (whatever you call them) suck, but they happen in every healthy relationship.

You’re human. It’s not possible for two imperfect people to perfectly agree on everything all the time.

So you have this argument, and instead of leaving it where it is, you begin to spiral.

We had an argument.
My relationship is awful.
I’m not a good partner.
They don’t like me.
I’m a burden.
I don’t like me.

But instead of letting the spiral continue, you take a pause.

You use Radical Acceptance.

You say, “We had an argument. That sucks. I feel sad.”

Then you stop the spiral before it takes root.

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The ugly thing about thoughts is that if you say them enough in your head, you start to believe them.

So if you spiral and reach the self-doubt stage, those words you say to yourself are words that take root in your heart.

I’m a burden.
No one likes me.
I don’t like me.

At first they’re just words, but if you keep saying them enough, they will become your reality. You will honestly believe that you are a burden, no one likes you. And you will actually begin to not like yourself.

Don’t go there.

Because you are not a burden. You are worth the effort.

People do like you. You have friends. Family. That partner you just had an argument with. They stick around because they like you, not because you have somehow tricked them into it.

Not liking yourself can be a real feeling that is so hard to pull yourself out of. You run down that hill without a care in the world, but the trek back is quite the climb.

So don’t go there. And if you are there, go look in the mirror and say nice things to yourself. It sounds stupid, but like I said, the more you say something, the more you believe it.

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Before you go any further down the negative spiral, take a breath. Say to yourself, “You are spiraling. You need to stop before this goes any further.”

Am I asking you not to feel your feelings? No. Not at all.

Your feelings are real and valid. But these thoughts are cropping up because of your feelings, and they are not always true.

Negativity leads to more negativity, so you have to stop before you go too far.

If you continue down the negative spiral in the name of “Feeling your feelings” you’re fooling yourself. This is not helpful. You are punishing yourself by piling on more and more ugly thoughts.

So take a breath. Pause. Say “no” to the ugly thoughts. Do not allow any more to pass through your mind.

So now you’ve stopped the spiral. Yay You!

But there’s still a little ways to go.

Don’t worry, you’ve already finished the hard part.

But it can be easy to slip back into the negativity, so you have to run in the opposite direction.

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It’s called Opposite Action. You can learn about it in the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills Workbook. You should check it out if you’re needing help overcoming overwhelming emotions, or just looking for self-betterment.

You feel pulled toward these negative thoughts, so instead you should seek out positive thoughts.

Let’s start with some opposites to the ugly thoughts that cropped up before.

We did have an argument, but that’s normal in a healthy relationship, and we’re stronger than this fight.
My relationship has more good days than bad.
I am a good partner.
My partner cares about me.
I’m worth time and effort.
I love myself.

Then take it a little further.

What are some redeemable qualities about the relationship?
What is something good that happened recently?
What is something you love about yourself?
What is something you love about your life?
Name 2 things that bring you joy.
Name 3 things you have done that make you proud.

These are just examples, and I encourage you to find whatever works for you.

Just like negative attracts more negative, positive will attract more positive.

Feel your feelings, but don’t let yourself spiral.

You can still acknowledge that something sucked and you’re sad without going down that ugly road.

You’re worth the effort, so don’t let yourself go there.

I know the sadness can be intoxicating sometimes.

Like you’re so angry with yourself that you deserve to feel this pain. So you list all the reasons why.

But you don’t deserve it. There is a child inside you who lacked something growing up, but didn’t have the capacity to fill that void.

You’re grown up now, but you still have to raise that child inside you.

If a 6 year old was sitting next to you, saying all these ugly things, you would stop them. You would tell them how wonderful they are and that things will be brighter soon.

Maybe you should use some of that kindness for yourself too.

Sending love,

MK

When Linux is feeling down, he avoids the negativity spiral by thinking about fetch.
And treats. Lots of treats.

Do You Ever Feel Alone?

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*Trigger Warning*
This post deals with feelings of loneliness and depression and may be triggering for some readers.

Hi there, how are you doing today? My mood has been low lately, what about you? I hope not, but if you’re struggling, make sure to take care of yourself. You’re worth the effort ❤

Loneliness is one of the major triggers I struggle with.

It’s a symptom of my brain chemistry.

When my mood takes a dip, I think no one wants to be around me.

Why would they, when I’m like this?
No one really likes me anyway.
If people wanted to be around me, they would reach out.

These ugly thoughts tumble around my head and get stuck on repeat.

You’ve never felt the depths of loneliness until you’ve been surrounded by people, all talking around you and laughing, but not one person makes an effort to connect with you.

Photo by Aline Viana Prado on Pexels.com

Maybe it’s me.
Maybe there’s something fundamentally wrong with me.
Maybe if I just lighten up… be more positive…
Maybe if I was neurotypical…

Ugly thoughts, I know. But that’s what runs through my head.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

Call me jaded.

Call me negative.

But the world is full of selfish people.

When was the last time someone asked you how you were doing, and after you gave the socially acceptable “Fine, how are you?” They took you by the hand and said, “No really, how are you doing?”

When was the last time you felt deeply cared for?

Important.

Valued.

Special.

I don’t mean to be so negative. I’d love to be adorable and positive, but that’s not really how the world works. Not my world, anyway.

Here I am.

I’m neurodivergent. 

My world gets dark, and sometimes I’m not sure why.

Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

The reality is that not a lot of people in this world are going to take the time to get to know the real you. To go the extra mile to make sure you feel cared for.

They exist, but it’s rare to find them.

If you do find them, hang on to them. That’s a special person, indeed.

But I can tell you one thing.

I care.

I care how you feel, even if no one else does.

If you were sitting next to me, I wouldn’t let you get away with “Fine, how are you?”

I know what the darkness feels like. We’ve been familiar for a long time now. 

So when I can’t seem to escape the darkness, I will do anything in my power to bring light to your world.

I think sometimes the people in this world who feel the most pain are the ones who try the hardest to take it away from others.

And sometimes, when I’m in pain, giving love makes me feel a bit lighter, even if my problems don’t really go away.

Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

People around me see me as bright and bubbly. Laughing and smiling. 

But that’s not always how I feel.

I just don’t want the darkness to spread.

I’m responsible for the way I act, no matter how I’m feeling.

Just because I’m having a bad mental health day, doesn’t mean I have to bring you down with me.

Why? Because I don’t want to be the person who hurts others. And because you’re important to me.

I see value in every person I meet.

Maybe because it’s so rare that people see the value in me.

You are deeply cared for.
You are important.
You are valued.
You are special.

And if the darkness is hanging over you today, I hope you find it a bit easier to bear in the knowledge that you are not alone it this. 

I’m here too.

And as souls brought up in darkness, I think it’s our moral obligation to seek the light.

To bring healing and love and laughter to the people who mean something to us… in the hopes that whatever darkness lingering over their head might be vanquished.

And maybe, while you’re being a warrior for love and light, you might find some healing for yourself in the light you bring to others.

Maybe making someone feel valued and loved is exactly what you needed.

Maybe someone will see how special you are while you’re telling them how special they are to you.

At the end of the day, no matter how you’re feeling, you are responsible for your own actions.

You get to decide how you want to treat people, what words come out of your mouth.

So who do you want to be?

I hope the rest of your day is filled with light and laughter.

Sending love, 

MK

This boi will bark and bite if the darkness gets too close!
…JK he’s a chicken, but he will definitely lick your face if you get sad.

Kindness Is Not Free

I may earn commission on any links in this post.
See Disclaimers for more details.

*Trigger Warning*
This post talks about mental health and may be triggering for some readers.

Please seek help if you need it.

Hi there, how are you doing? Have you checked in with yourself lately, taken stock of what you’re feeling physically and emotionally? You can bury a whole lot in the back of your mind. I hope you take some time today to do something that brings you joy ❤

Have you ever heard that saying “Kindness Is Free“?

It’s a nice idea. Kindness costs you nothing, so give it out every chance you get.

Lovely, right?

And I suppose in the capitalist culture we live in, that’s pretty accurate.

It costs no money.

You don’t trade anything of substance for it.

You don’t run it on credit or send someone an IOU.

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But for anyone who has had a bad day, had someone treat them like crap, had a stressful day at work, then chosen to take the high road and speak kindness anyway:

You know it costs something.

It may not cost money… it may be “free” in our society’s terms, but it can be really expensive in immaterial terms.

Let’s be honest, if kindness was free, it wouldn’t be so rare.

I’m not talking about the random, easy kindnesses.

I’m talking about choosing to say something that will protect someone’s heart, when all you want to do is get back at them for their rude comment.

I’m talking about going out of your way to make a new person feel welcome, even though it’s scary and you might be labeled an outsider along with them.

I’m talking about choosing to say kind words to your family, your friend, your partner, when they are making you so angry all you want to do is yell at them.

These acts of kindness are hard.

They take work.

Effort.

You have to swallow your pride and force down the words that are ready to leap off your tongue.

You have to choose something that, frankly, you don’t want to choose.

Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

I think this is what defines us.

What we choose to do when we’re under pressure.

It’s not being kind when it’s easy, when it’s free, that shows your character. But being kind when it’s hard.

When it costs you something.

Think about a time when you didn’t feel like being kind. Maybe it was an augment with a loved one. Maybe it was a rude coworker. Maybe you were having a bad mental health day and you weren’t sure you had it in you.

Now think about what you said. Were you kind? Or did you act on your impulse?

Did you shout at your loved one and storm away, or did you take their hand and tell them how much they mean to you and that you want to fix this?

Did you write a passive aggressive letter to your coworker outlining their bad behavior, or did you rise above and set a mutually respectful boundary?

Did you inflict the pain you were feeling on others, or did you seek to protect the hearts of others from your pain, and reach out to someone for help?

No judgement here.

Honestly, today my coworker was being rude to me and I snapped at them.

I did not choose kindness. I could have, but I didn’t.

There are a million excuses. It’s really hot out. I’m tired. This person has been rude to me a lot lately. I wasn’t really that rude…

But I’m not defined by situations or the behavior of others.

I’m defined by my choices.

In that moment, I wasn’t kind.

But I will choose kindness next time.

We’re human, we make mistakes. What’s important is that we keep trying.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Choosing kindness is so important, especially in light of the turmoil in our world right now.

People are hurting, but you can’t always tell just by looking at them.

If I am rude to someone, I have no way of knowing that person has been struggling with mental health and I just triggered them.

If I insult someone, I have no way of knowing they have struggled with self image for years and I just set them back.

If I ignore or dismiss someone, I have no way of knowing they have been struggling with feelings of loneliness and lack of self-worth.

I have no idea what is going on in someone else’s life.

I have no way of knowing how my unkindness might affect someone.

So it’s that much more important to choose kindness.

Every chance you get.

Even when it costs you something. Pride. Effort. Attention. Ease.

Sometimes I ask myself, who do I want to be?

Do I want to be the woman who hurts people, or lifts them up?

Do I want my words to make or break someone’s day?

Do I want people to feel the pain that I struggle with day in and day out, or do I want to bring light and life to the people around me?

It’s all a choice.

Every day, every hour, every moment, I can choose who I want to be, how I want to act.

Kindness may not be free, but it’s always worth it.

Sending love,

MK

This boi jumped on my sunburned legs last night and scratched the crap outta me, which was not kind. But then he gave me kisses and snuggles later because he’s been trying to exercise his kindness muscles. He’s proud of his progress.

How To Write When It’s The Last Thing You Want To Do

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Hi there, how are you doing today? I hope you’re showing yourself some love. ❤

This post is mostly about writing, but feel free to take it and apply it to other aspects of your life. Painting. Working out. A new job. Putting yourself out there.

Do you ever struggle to start writing? You have things you want to say, but when you open up the document, you have no idea how to string the words together?

I feel this all the time.

Some might call it writer’s block. I’m not sure how severe it has to be in order to be classified that way… but there’s definitely a mental block, and it prevents me from writing.

Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

I used to look up little tricks.

“How to write.”

“Mistakes to avoid as a new writer.”

“How to overcome writer’s block.”

I would get lost in this trail of articles telling what to do and what not to do. What to avoid. What I have to do if I want to be a good writer…

But the thing is, I was researching this stuff for so long, I think I might have just been procrastinating.

I mean, how much research can you really do before you realize…

That information is only helpful if you’re writing.

Photo by George Milton on Pexels.com

I’ve tried so many different things just to get myself to write.

But there’s really nothing that you can substitute for that feeling you get when you’re in the zone.

Your fingers are typing faster than your mind seems to be working, and the words just flow out. You watch it happen and can’t believe all of this is coming from you.

Where did this inspiration come from?

Well, let’s just say, if you’ve done it before, you can do it again.

But do you know what the difference is between when you felt those words flying onto the page, and now?

You were writing.

So how do you get there again?

Well… you just start.

Seems too easy to work.

“You can’t just switch it on…”

But you totally can!

It’s actually really rare that I feel like writing, and yet I write almost every day.

How do I do this? By forcing myself to start.

Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.com

I sit down in front of the keyboard. I put my phone away (I know, scary). I have an idea in my mind of a goal for that day.

500 words.

1 blog post.

A sentence.

Whatever I need to just sit down and get words on the page.

And I find that once I start, after a bit, the words just flow.

It’s a little rocky at first. I’ll probably have to go back and do some editing.

But it’s a whole lot easier to edit the writing you have done, than to put words on a blank page.

It’s not about being perfect, it’s just about doing it.

Think about it this way…

You’ve always said you need to work out more. So one day you finally just do it. Even at the idea of working out, you’re tired to the bone. But you put your tennis shoes on, you change into some cute workout gear. And you Just. Do. It.

I guess Nike had a point…

And once you start working out, it’s not that hard to do a few things and call it good. Maybe you lift some weights. Maybe you do some running. Maybe you’re more into squats. I don’t know, it’s your body. Whatever feels right.

But the point is, what was the hardest part: the work out, or getting the clothes on, going to the gym, and deciding to start?

Photo by Andres Ayrton on Pexels.com

Starting, right?

Yeah, me too. That’s why when I say I force myself, I really mean it.

The toddler in my brain is kicking and screaming. So I tell her, “If you do this, you can have a special treat when you’re done. You like goldfish right? Yeah you do. So get in there, you got this!”

Er… you know… broccoli. Because I’m an adult ‘n stuff. I don’t eat goldfish… 👀

So, today, I challenge you.

I challenge you to sit down and start writing.

Or painting. Or working out. Or applying for new jobs. Or going on a date. Whatever.

I don’t care if it’s good. I don’t care if it never sees the light of day.

I don’t care if all you do is a paragraph. A couple sentences.

Because once you know you can start, it will be that much easier to do it again tomorrow.

So get to it.

Sending love,

MK

Linux can’t wait to see how far you can go!

My Mental Health Does Not Make Me The Problem

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*Trigger Warning*
This post talks about mental health and messages of shame and feeling alone. Reader discretion is advised.
Please reach out to someone if you need help.

Hi there, how is your week going? I hope you did something this week that was just for you. Something that put a smile on your face. ❤

I read a book instead of getting some work done. And I’m not cooking tonight. Nothing puts a smile on my face like takeout.

Today, I wanted to touch on some messages that have weaseled their way into my mind time and time again over the years.

-Everything is my fault, because I’m neurodivergent.
-If I didn’t have depression, we would be happy.
-If I didn’t have anxiety, we wouldn’t fight.
-If I was just normal, my relationships would be good.

These thoughts don’t just come from me.

They have come from parents, doctors, counselors, friends, family.

Sometimes explicitly: “That’s probably just the depression talking. It’s all in your head.”

Sometimes more implied: “Are you sure that’s what happened?” Then they go into how I might be looking at things in a negative light.

WHICH TOTALLY HAPPENS

But that doesn’t mean I’m making up my feelings…

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

My feelings are valid. The way that I feel comes from somewhere.

For my neurotypical readers, I’d like to put this into perspective.

Saying it’s probably just my depression, that it’s not really like that, is like saying “Oh, you’re just on your period.”

First of all, I’m triggered as heck just thinking about this statement.

Second, my period may influence my mood, but that doesn’t mean I’m not feeling those feelings. They may not seem all that important to you, but they feel very big to me.

If that doesn’t resonate with you, it could be like when you’re at work and you suggest something, but get dismissed because “You should leave it to the higher-ups.” Your position at work doesn’t make your opinion any less valid. People who dismiss you for that reason are disrespecting you.

Everyone deserves to be heard.

I have a hard time with this in my interpersonal relationships. Family and friends may do something or say something, and I’m left reeling.

But they just say I shouldn’t feel that way.

If you weren’t depressed you wouldn’t think that.”

Maybe…

But it doesn’t matter.

Why?

Because I am feeling it. This is very real to me. And as someone who claims to care for me, that should matter to you.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The worst part about this scenario?

I have heard these messages for so long, the words don’t even have to be spoken. I can hear them in my head. I see it in your eyes, your body language. The way you laugh and shake your head when I finish speaking. The way you turn away and leave me to deal with these feelings on my own.

Sometimes it’s not even other people…

The messages spiral out of control in my brain and I find myself shaming my brain chemistry, something I don’t have much control over.

There are drugs. Therapy. Doctors. Essential oil crazy ladies coming out of the woodwork.

But the thing about brain chemistry is that it’s unique to everyone.

Some people benefit so much from drugs. They find balance in life and finally get to feel healthy again.

That’s not what happened for me.

But I found that out by trying, not by simply saying they wouldn’t work. So if you’re struggling, please talk to a doctor. There are so many avenues you can take. Find what works for you.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The ugly self-depreciating messages became so ingrained in my mind that, even when people were listening to me, I would assume they were going to disregard me.

I would interpret body language and facial expressions for what they had sometimes meant in the past, instead of learning what they mean now.

After a while, I stopped reaching out.

Why would I, when no one will validate me anyway? When my feelings will be dismissed?

Why would I reach out when I don’t know if you’ll catch me?

Photo by Andres Ayrton on Pexels.com

When I retreated inward, I started to blame myself.

Maybe if I wasn’t like this, my relationships would be better. Easier.

Maybe if I wasn’t depressed, my relationships would be happy.

Maybe if I didn’t have anxiety, we would fight less.

Maybe all the problems, with my friends, my family, etc… Maybe it’s because of me.

After all, what’s the common denominator here?

That’s what I would tell myself. And the funny thing about the human brain is, the more you say something, the more you’ll start to believe it.

This is something I’ve had to work on.

It took a lot of self-reflection. A lot of comparing facts and feelings, finding the truth that lies beneath. A lot of talk therapy. A lot of my DBT Skills book.

A lot of forcing myself to be vulnerable and reach out, even though that’s the scariest thing in the world to me.

And if they don’t… you’re strong enough to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and say next time will be better.

Because, eventually, it will be.

That’s just math, folks. Statistically, if you reach out out to people, someone will eventually reach back.

If you keep letting the cycle of ugly messages get you down, you are letting them win. You are shrinking inwards when you could be growing.

I won’t lie to you, it’s not always easy.

I’ve really struggled with it.

I still struggle with it.

It’s scary.

But when you find someone who meets you where you are, who takes your hand and walks with you through the dark, there’s nothing like that feeling.

It’s ok to lean on someone.

It’s ok to ask for help.

It’s ok not to be ok.

Photo by Yogii Surya Pangestu on Pexels.com

You are learning to live with your unique brain chemistry.

I am too.

We’re not experts. Sometimes we mess up.

But we will never have the chance to grow, to get better, if we’re not willing to take the risk of putting ourselves out there.

That’s what life is all about.

Testing your limits.

Getting out of your comfort zone.

So what if your comfort zone is a bit smaller than the average bear?

You’re doing the best you can, and in that, we are the same.

I understand you.

And I’m really freakin’ proud of how far you’ve come, and how far you will go.

Sending love,

MK

Mah boi here says he hears you and thinks your feelings are valid. And if you reach out, he will most definitely lick your face. Right after he finishes licking his butt.

6 Tricks For Better Instagram Photos

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Hi there! Are you doing well? I’m sending love & positive vibes your way! Life can be tough. Make it a little easier by being kind to yourself ❤

I thought I’d share a few tricks for Instagram photos that I’ve learned through trial and error so that maybe you don’t have to learn the hard way! I’m no expert, and I just do Insta for fun, so this is a pretty basic tutorial.

I joined Bookstagram a few months ago and absolutely LOVE IT! It is so fun to indulge my creative side and see what I can do with the books I love. I shared some tips & tricks for Reels in another post, so check that out if you’re interested.

Without further ado, here are my 6 tricks for better Instagram photos:

1 Lighting – I can’t stress this enough. Not only will it help with the sharpness and clarity of your photos, but people love bright photos on Instagram! Some of my older stuff is not very bright, and it looks a bid dingy to be honest. I tend to get more likes on brighter photos, and people on IG just really like the bright look. This looks like a pretty good photo light, if you need one.

Photography lights for a studio.
Photo by tyler hendy on Pexels.com

2 Stick with a vibe. A flavor. An aesthetic, if you will. My photos have a bit of an airy, classic vibe. Lots of cream colors, muted tones, flowers, and fur. I also have been using the same backdrop (it’s actually a table cloth) for a while and it gives my my wall a really cohesive feel. I started getting more traffic once I started to stick with the same vibe throughout my pictures. This way, my followers know what to expect from me. If you scroll down further in my account, you can see that my earlier photos were a bit all over the place. We grow, we learn. That’s why you’re here, right?

Happy woman with a colorful aesthetic. Flashing her loud vibe.
Photo by Karley Saagi on Pexels.com

3 Photos have are more visually pleasing when they’re a little off-center. Now, this isn’t always the case, but it usually is. For book stacks (I’m a Bookstagrammer) I will usually keep them pretty on-center, but for one book or a collection of books laid out on a backdrop, it’s good to make the focus point off-center.
Turn on your grid while taking a photo. Try to make your focus point line up with one of the intersections. This can be a book, or a picture or word on the book (if you’re taking a picture of books). It’s also best if they are not straight up & down. Keep in mind that your camera typically takes a rectangular photo, while Instagram will crop to square, so the situating may be done after the fact.

4 Knick-knacks and other random items can add depth and interest to your photos. I have some pebbles, candles, flowers, decorative balls, rings, and bookmarks that can all be mixed & matched to create the look I’m going for. Adding things that pertain to the subject of your photo is always good as well. Placement should be done with your focal points in mind, but also with a bit of randomness. Working too hard on placement can sometimes add stiffness to a photo. Below, you can see 3 different placements of items. I kept rearranging until it felt right.

5 Filters – I actually edit my photos in the IG app. I know a lot of people use other softwares, but frankly I’m just too lazy to do that. When editing, I will pick a filter first. This way, the little touch-ups I do will look good with the filter I’ve chosen. As I mentioned before, I’m trying to stick with a certain vibe, so I only use like 3 of the filters. I pick the one I like best for the photo I’m editing based on lighting, subject, and the feel of the photo.

Woman using a filter. She is wearing red and the photographer has captured her serious mood.
Photo by RF._.studio on Pexels.com

6 After you’ve chosen a filter, select Edit to adjust other aspects of your photo. I usually crop and move my photo around until the focal point is right where I want it. If there’s only one book, I like it to be a bit off-center. Adds some dimension. I’ll also play with the other toggles until I get the look I’m going for. Usually upping the brightness, saturation, and warmth, and lowering contrast. It depends on the photo, and the vibe you’re going for, but this just fits for me. I also really like the sharpness and structure options. It pulls out the shiny little details like the glitter in the table cloth or the shine on the book without overdoing the brightness. Don’t be afraid to play around with it until you get the look you’re going for. You can always press and hold on the image to compare to the original.

I’ve included the before and after below so you can see the results!

I hope you found these tips helpful! I’d love to see some of your photos or hear any other tricks you’d like to share, so feel free to add you account or pointers in the comments below!

Check out my Bookstagram account if you’re interested in seeing my work.

Sending love,

MK

What is Radical Acceptance?

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Hi there, I hope you did something just for you today ❤ Practicing self care is important, even if others like to call it selfishness. It’s not, you’re just taking care of you. So read a book. Watch a move. Eat ice cream. Do something that brings you joy. You deserve it!

Today I’d like to share about the technique called Radical Acceptance. I learned about it in the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills Workbook. I’ve mentioned this book a few times now, so if you’ve been following along, you can probably tell I like it. A lot.

In truth, I’ve been dealing with some big things. Mental health has always been a struggle for me, and as an adult I’m having to learn things children are usually taught. Emotion regulation. Coping mechanisms. The fact that it’s ok to feel my feelings. Being vulnerable. Self Care. The list goes on.

Woman teaching her child. Learning.
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

One thing that has been really helpful in cultivating inner peace is the technique Radical Acceptance. I touched briefly on this technique in my post How to Stop Letting Others Control Your Mood, but I think it warrants its own post.

So what is Radical Acceptance? Basically, it’s when you accept a situation for what it is.

One thing that throws a wrench in this is judgement.

Judgement can have a negative connotation, but it’s actually just coming to a conclusion or making a decision about something.

That person is rude.
That sweater is pretty.
That man is ugly.
That woman is attractive.

The main piece of Radical Acceptance is letting go of these judgements. Letting go of labeling a situation as good or bad, and instead accepting that it just is.

Our examples from before could evolve in our mind to leave either a negative or positive imprint.

That person is rude, and that’s bad.
That sweater is pretty, and that’s good.
That man is ugly, and that’s bad.
That woman is attractive, and that’s good.

Radical Acceptance encourages you to let go of these judgements. To see situations for what they are, then let go of any feelings that crop up. To not seek out whether something is negative or positive, but to simply give it a nod, and move on with our day.

Sounds great, right? But you’ve been making judgements for as long as you could form coherent thought. So where the heck do you start?

Thought, exploration. Judgement. Where do I start?
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

One way to start is to take note of how many judgements you make in a day. I actually wrote my judgements down for two days, then went back to see what I had written.

I realized I spent a lot of time labeling things as good or bad, positive or negative. That time, when I could have been living my life, was totally wasted to judgement!

And the worst part? Once I started down a path of judgement, I tended to keep on judging.

I don’t like this sweater.
I don’t like any of my clothes.
I’ve gained a lot of weight recently.
I’m not attractive.
I’m worthless.

See how it can spiral?

What if when I made the judgement “I don’t like this sweater” I simply gave it a nod and moved on?

Yep, I don’t like this sweater. That’s true.

Moving on…

How much more peaceful does that sound?

But sometimes it’s harder to stop that spiral than to simply smile and nod. Sometimes you need to employ a coping mechanism.

What does this look like?

You’re running late for an event. You are feeling stressed. You say to yourself “My partner always makes us late”.

By doing this, you are labeling your partner as a tardy person, possibly implying a lack of respect for the time of others. This stirs up feelings of anger, then old wounds start cropping up.

My partner made us late today.
My partner was also late to that dinner with my family.
My partner doesn’t care about other people’s time.
My partner is just a disrespectful person.
My partner doesn’t care how I feel.

Wow, that escalated quickly…

What can you do when the emotions are intense and you’ve already fallen down the rabbit hole of judgement?

Well, you can choose to crawl back out.

It’s honestly that simple.

My partner does care how I feel.
My partner is not a disrespectful person.
Yes, my partner was late to dinner with my family, but there’s not much you can do when work runs late. And they were pretty stressed that day.
My partner was not the only person running late today, I could have helped them get ready or reminded them of the time sooner.

See how we climbed back out? You’ve reversed the negativity and reminded yourself of reality.

Now, you can accept it.

You’re late. You’re never going to be not late because you were pissed about it. So why not show up late holding your partner’s hand, as opposed to slamming doors and glaring at them across the room?

Accept the situation for what it is, and move on.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Inner peace. Radical Acceptance. Meditation. Happiness.
Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

That brings us to another key piece of Radical Acceptence: accepting the role you played in the situation.

I know, I know. It’s not fun to think about. Trust me, it’s my least favorite part too. But bear with me, because it’s important.

Let’s circle back to the situation where you and your partner were running late to an event.

Heckin’ frustrating.

I hate being late. I get so stressed out. My anxiety goes through the roof and steam practically shoots out of my ears. It’s not fun – for me or the people around me.

So I employ my coping mechanisms. Some deep breathing, some balloons full of stress and frustration floating away on the breeze. Then I get to Radical Acceptance.

Yep, I’m late. That is a fact.

Now I need to accept that my partner is not the only one who is late today. Yeesh, I know. IT’S ALL THEIR FAULT THOUGH!

But is it?

We had to leave by noon to be on time. I started getting ready at 11 am, which would have been enough time for me. I noticed my partner was still scrolling through the black hole of YouTube, but I decided not to remind them of the time because I’m not their mother. They started getting ready with 10 minutes to spare, and I began to seethe.
They always do this, I say to myself.
We left 20 minutes later than we should have, and I felt angry and like my partner did not care about our plans.

Now, using Radical Acceptance, I will take a look at both of our behaviors.

My partner made an irresponsible decision with time management.
I failed to communicate with my partner that we were getting short on time.
I failed to communicate how I felt when they were late.

Now, let’s take a breath here. This is not to say that you are responsible for your partner’s behavior. You’re not. You are only responsible for your behavior. But, at the end of the day, there are things you could have done differently in order to avoid tardiness, or maybe to avoid bitter feelings between the two of you.

It takes two to have an argument. It also takes two to avoid one.

Radical Acceptance says not to dwell on the what-ifs, but lets just take a detour here…

What if you had told your partner they were running short on time?

Well, they may have thanked you for the reminder and started getting ready. You might have been on time…

Or they may have gotten annoyed at your “mothering” and you would have still been late.

Either way, you did your due diligence. You behaved the best you could.

Now let’s look at the other piece: you lack of communication about your feelings. It is your responsibility as a romantic partner to communicate your feelings. Whether you feel comfortable or not is another story, and one you should broach with your partner or with a trained counselor or therapist.

Your job as a partner is to communicate your feelings, because how else will your partner know when you’re upset?

They’re not psychic, no matter how much you wish them to be.

So, what if you had said, “Hey babe, when you are late, I tend to feel stressed, and sometimes I get angry with you because I feel like you don’t care about my feelings on timeliness.”

Maybe your partner would have heard you, and would have apologized about their tardiness, and for hurting your feelings. Maybe you would have been late, but walked into that event hand-in-hand.

Or maybe they would not have validated your feelings. Which would suck. But then you would use Radical Acceptance to think, yep they didn’t validate my feelings, and that makes me feel sad.

You can then use that knowledge to make informed decisions about the longevity of your relationship.

I suggest counseling if this is the norm. An outside perspective can really work wonders when you’re in the thick of it.

Love. Bonding. Getting along. Couple. Fighting. Coming together. Accepting responsibility. Letting go.
Photo by Jasmine Carter on Pexels.com

So now that you’ve learned to accept your responsibility in a situation, as well as your partners, you can accept reality for what it is.

You’re late. Nothing’s going to change that now.

Radical Acceptance allows you to separate your feelings from fact.

Feelings are real, and you should not ignore them. But sometimes they paint a different picture than reality.

Think back to the sweater example. Feelings spiraled out of control and you ended up having some serious hate for your body, when it all started out as not liking a sweater.

So I encourage you to weigh your feelings against fact. Is what you’re feeling really an accurate depiction of reality?

And when you’re in a situation, good or bad, just give it a nod.

Enjoy the feelings of happiness and satisfaction that come along with some situations.

Understand the feelings of sadness or frustration that come along with other situations.

Acknowledge them, and move on with your life.

Seek contentment within yourself, like I mention in this article.

I’d like to mention that part of Radical Acceptance and learning to let go of judgement also means not judging yourself.

You are going to fail sometimes, especially when you first start trying this technique. Judging yourself for making a judgement is the opposite of helpful.

So be kind to yourself.

Acknowledge when you’ve made a judgement, and move on.

If you feel frustrated with your progress or disappointed when you make a judgement of someone, give that feeling a nod, and let it go.

Dwelling on judgements of yourself is no more healthy than dwelling on your judgements of others (or situations). Actually, it kinda defeats the purpose of the whole exercise.

Whatever you do, try not to let your emotions consume you. Feelings come and go like a tide. Make sure that when the tide passes, you have behaved in a way you can feel proud of.

Do your best. That’s all anyone can do.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and learn about situations where you practiced Radical Acceptance in the comments below. Even situations where you totally failed! This is a learning process and we’re here to support each other.

Sending love,

MK

This good boi thinks you’re awesome and is proud of how far you’ve come. He also acknowledges that is technically a judgement, and lets the feeling go so he can go sniff things and lick his butt with inner peace.