You are Who You think You Are

Featuring Erin Schindler

“Whether you think you can or can’t, you are right”.

~Henry Ford

Greetings, and welcome to the darkness!

The months of November and December can be particularly hard on those of us with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Even those of those of us that don’t suffer from it can be affected by the lack of daylight. There are things we can do to feel better. We can take vitamin D3, exercise, eat right, and get outside as much as we can during the daylight hours when the sun is out. Another thing we can do is give ourselves some grace. 

That is what we are going to talk about today.

We are what we think we are. Meaning, if you are constantly telling yourself you are not good enough, you are too old, you don’t have what it takes, you are depressed..….then you are right!

My parents divorced when I was a baby. I grew up with an addict and an alcoholic, and there was a lot of trauma and neglect in my early life. I grew up feeling that I wasn’t good enough and that somehow, everything was my fault. Into my teens and early twenties, I realized that my view of life was negative, and I often played the victim. I was constantly judging others, I was envious of others, and I was comparing my insides to their outsides. I thought that if I got “things”, my life would improve. The right job, the right clothes, money, etcetera. When I got those things, life didn’t get better. I was looking outward instead of inward. Happiness as we know, comes from within. 

So, what is a girl to do?

I realized that life is hard. Life is not a journey to get to an “easy place”. There are hills and valleys and most of my growth has been in the valleys. I have learned to give praise and to give thanks when times are hard. I have learned that hard times don’t last. Just having this knowledge early on that life wasn’t a destination, helped to me really chill out and accept life on life’s terms. I always tell people that my favorite book was the one I didn’t read. It was “The Road Less Traveled” by M. Scott Peck. I read just the prologue, and what it says is that “Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it- then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters”. This was just an epiphany for me in my early 20’s.

I make gratitude lists every day. I write down three things I am grateful for. Some days it is as simple as “I am grateful for the sunshine, the air in my lungs and a roof over my head”. I have done this for over twenty years. It absolutely helps! I have an alert on my phone every day at noon, that asks me what I am grateful for. It helps me to focus on what I have, as opposed to what I lack. It fills me with positive emotions and a thankful heart. I have lists from over the years in the notes section on my phone and they are wonderful to go back and read. If I look for the good, I always find it. 

Today I see that despite some hardships, there is a lot of beauty in this world when I have an attitude of gratitude. There is power and true change that comes from telling myself who I am. I have created lists on  post-it notes in my cars and my mirrors at home. My messages are always “I AM” statements. 

I am beautiful. I am strong. I am capable. I am worthy. I am loved. 

Figure out the negative words that you associate with yourself, and turn them around! I even have an app on my phone that gives me “I Am” statements several times a day. Why do this? Mostly because we are the biggest critics in our own lives. Or perhaps there is someone in your life who has made you not feel good about yourself. Doing this changes our inner dialogue and can completely change the way we feel about ourselves. When we believe in ourselves, we can do anything! This absolutely does work, but we need to work it. I would have my list and say it out loud into a mirror several times a day. I did this for months! Now, it is second nature. The change in my life has been profound. Do I still have negative thoughts about myself? Of course. But now I have a tool to combat those thoughts immediately.

Maybe your life is different. Maybe you had an ideal childhood. Even if you think you have it all, we can all benefit from thinking about the negative messages that we are telling ourselves. We can all benefit from positive self-talk. We talk to ourselves more than anyone else. Our mind is a powerful thing, and we have the power to change it. How exciting is that?! 

Accepting that there are hard things in life, making gratitude lists and telling yourself “I Am” statements can be life-changing! I hope you will join me in these upcoming dark months to challenge yourself to gratitude and “I Am” lists. I promise after a month, you WILL notice a difference. And please, let me know your successes and please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Blessings and Love, Erin


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