Growth During Isolation

Growth During Isolation

It’s been a few months since I last posted on my blog, but these are not normal times we are living in. This pandemic and accompanied isolation has given each of us more time with our thoughts and how we are living our lives. In this space I’ve been taking time to learn, grow, and do a lot of inner work.

I have been slowly but surely working toward my truth, seeing the most impact in the last few years. I have talked a little bit about my journey but to recap I went to therapy, read books, did a lot of journaling, and started using thought work.

Each habit, each choice leading me to this version of myself. In the past my mind was too focused on making myself smaller, being everything to everyone, and surviving that I had very little room for anything else. Because I was able to remove the dust of expectations I was able to finally start to see the picture for the first time.

In this quarantine I have been working on becoming anti-racist, learning to love my body with chronic illness, having an active social life again, and improving my marriage. I plan on going into further detail with each topic but for now I want to address self love.

self-love/ˈˌself ˈləv/noun

  1. regard for one’s own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic characteristic).

I am not sure you can get the dust off of the full picture of yourself until you start focusing on self love. Self love seems so elusive and confusing. We have been told it’s about treating ourselves, and I won’t deny that baths are amazing. But the self love we all really need and are being given the opportunity for is quiet, internal, and inquisitive self love.

I know that being alone with our own thoughts can be frightening. It can be deafening, and it can be a minefield. It can also be enlightening, fascinating, and incredibly helpful. When we fill our lives with activities and noise we drown out our own voice. When we forget to listen or we distract ourselves from being alone with our thoughts we may feel lonely. In the past when I felt that loneliness creep in I immediately thought of something to fill the void. I used social media, chores, alcohol, and my Fitbit Step Counter to suppress those feelings. Not surprisingly I ended up in a vicious cycle of buffering.

I didn’t know the kind of self love I needed was more about getting to know who I was without the titles and manuals. When I learned to get really quiet with myself and start to listen to my inner voice I found thoughts I didn’t even know I had. The loneliness had a voice, and it was asking me to really see it for the first time. I realized that I felt lonely with myself. I didn’t know who I was without the titles, without the constant buffering.

So I decided to eliminate my buffers by removing each item from my life for 1-2 weeks. I started with alcohol because it became evident that I was using it as crutch to avoid parts of my life. (Specifically my brother’s part in it) Life without alcohol wasn’t as bad as I thought once I realized that I could feel the feeling I got from alcohol without it. My reason to drink was to not feel like I had to be responsible for everyone in my life. But with thought work I learned I could think that already, I could release my responsibility anytime I wanted. So alcohol became unnecessary, and I went much longer than 2 weeks. I have been alcohol free 7 months.

I then tackled the Fitbit step counter. To say that I was fixated on getting 10,000 steps each day would be an understatement. I would kick my legs obsessively throughout the day to make sure I got 10,000 steps by noon. I would calculate every calorie and “earn” my food with my steps leading to disordered eating. I made the number mean I was worthy and healthy. After doing a course on body image I decided to ditch my step counter and exercise to connect with my body. I discovered exercises that worked for me and I now try to get 30 minutes of movement in each day. I will say that this journey has not be easy, and if this resonates with you please seek help by talking to a health care provider or learn about it yourself by enrolling in Rock Your Body Bootcamp created by KaRonna Lynn. This program introduced me to unlearning diet culture and learning about intuitive eating. This change made a huge difference in my mental space, but I had more room to grown.

I then did a social media cleanse for 2 weeks. This was much harder to let go of because I thought it made me disconnected from the world around me. But it made me realize I didn’t need to be on social media to feel connected to others. I could instead be present with the people around me and if needed I could message or call someone instead. I started to realize living for the “likes” was not helpful. The external validation was only a millisecond of dopamine and then an immediate wonder why a post didn’t get more “likes”. It is so easy to sink back into that mindset, so I now have timers on my social media, 20 minutes a day for Facebook and Instagram.

The next step was adjusting my chores. I had to write down my necessities of my home and I came up with a manageable cleaning routine that allows unexpected visitors at any time. This was done through decluttering and removing all necessary items, and creating a 2 week chore chart in my google calendar. I must admit that I do still buffer with random chores, but it has gotten significantly better.

Removing the distractions from my life allowed me to ask what I actually care about. I learned to ask myself tough questions and learning to listen to myself was the self love I needed in order to evolve during this quarantine.

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