Do you journal? It is my absolute favorite thing in the world. I love words and when I can’t vocalize them, I write them. As a teen and even now that I’m a mom too, I use journaling every day. Join me every Friday for JOURNAL TIME where we explore a new journaling prompt every week.

Mindfulness for teenagers
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Be mindful

Mindfulness for teenagers

Ive been practicing more mindfulness lately. To me its a necessity.

Its easy to get overtaken by thoughts and emotions, but with practice it can be just as easy and automatic to be present with each task.

Just for today, notice your thoughts and how they make you feel. Thoughts can just be thoughts if we allow them to be. It’s when emotions kick in and we start telling ourselves the old familiar story that things start to get tricky.

If and when you find yourself in a panicked state, ask yourself, what am I believing about myself or this situation? Is it really true? Even if it is, will focusing on it resolve the problem?

Write down your findings or share them below. 🙂

carrie leigh sandoval manifesto
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Manifesto Magnifico

Manifesto

man·i·fes·to/ˌmanəˈfestō/
noun
a public declaration of policy and aims.

Magnifico

mag·nif·i·co/maɡˈnifəˌkō/
noun
an eminent, powerful, or illustrious person.

carrie leigh sandoval manifesto

I had so much fun creating this manifesto as part of Amethyst Mahoney’s connect challenge. 

Here’s a template (from Amethyst) to create your own: 

Life is like _______________________________________________.
It is perfectly reasonable to ______________________________.
When I wake up in the morning, I want to feel ______________________________.
My most important purpose is to ______________________________.
My fantasy is _______________________________________________.
______________________________ is a “Yes!”
No is ______________________________.
I value ______________________________.

Having your own manifesto around you will help remind you what makes you you and what you will and won’t stand for. It’s so easy to get lost in others’ opinions, beliefs and values, so…

Have this on hand in case you forget. 🙂

Redefining family
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[Day 20] Redefining Family

Redefining family

It’s Day 20 of the 30 Day Blog Challenge. Here are my two topic choices:

1) Family of Origin vs Family of Choice. How has this affected your life? Do you still speak to your family of origin, or do you just “put up with them” when you have to?” How does this fit on your Spiritual Path? Who do you consider to be your family?

OR

2) Forgiveness and Reconciliation. How has this affected your choices about the people you surround yourself with, especially your family of origin?

Redefining family

Sometimes I forget it’s possible to be in a healthy, happy and fulfilling family.

There’s this part of me that wants to fight it.

Sometimes out of fear. Sometimes for the sake of familiarity. And sometimes I’m so stressed out I simply forget.

“Family” when I was growing up, meant constant screaming battles, fighting over who was right, possessiveness, control, manipulation, fear, blame, shame and judgment.

I literally cannot recall one moment of peace from my entire childhood. I was frozen in fear. I hoped and prayed I wouldn’t screw up or displease anyone. Everyone’s happiness depended on it. On me.

So I suppressed my emotions, my thoughts, my opinions. I believed what others needed me to believe. I spoke how others needed me to speak. I lost myself. Or more accurately was never given a safe space to find myself.

My time and energy were consumed by being forced to side with one parent or the other. It was “your mother this” or “your father did that.”

I felt invisible.

I grew to despise my family. I pushed everyone away to survive. In my mind, family wasn’t a source of joy, laughter and good times described in books and movies, it was the origin of my pain and deepest wounds.

And yet I longed for family, for connection, for belonging. It is, after all, a basic human need. So I spent years seeking out approval, validation and wholeness from outside sources.

I call it “looking for love in all the wrong places.”

Looking for someone to rescue me, love me. Someone who could save me from myself. My relationships were short-lived. And the ones that weren’t, I sabotaged.

I’ll spare you the horrific details of these lost years of my life because they don’t matter all that much. I simply wanted to paint a picture of my starting point and give you an idea about the way I was programmed to interpret family.

But most importantly, I wanted to let you know…

It’s never too late to forgive.

It’s never too late for a fresh start.

You are not your wounds.

You can:

  • Create a new family dynamic
  • Have healthy communication
  • Be respected and heard
  • Have your needs met without sacrificing who you are
  • Have supportive relationships

These shitty situations showed me all the things I didn’t want, which gave me the gift of knowing exactly what I did want instead.

I do slip back into default. I do get reactive sometimes. But I don’t  beat myself up about it. I just have to look to see where I’m not taking care of me. Or acknowledge I’m not coping.

That’s when I know it’s time to reach out to my other family: my friends, coaches, mentors, books, my journal.

family

This is a post-it note pasted to one of our kitchen cabinets. I do need reminders to act consciously and from love. Because like I said, sometimes I forget. And it’s okay. The concept is still relatively new and I have to recommit to what I want consistently.

Clarity, commitment and compassion (for yourself and others) are the three most important factors.

  1. Know what you want.
  2. Commit to doing whatever it takes to make it happen (don’t be afraid to ask for support).
  3. Be compassionate and forgiving if and when you get off track.

Repeat. Come back. Make it a habit.

Families love each other no matter what.
They take responsibility for their own feelings.
They support each other’s decisions.
They honor each other’s personalities.
They don’t try to change the other person.
They listen.

When I started digging deep into my healing and the work I do, my dad moved away. It wasn’t a conscious choice to not talk to him. He just wasn’t in alignment with my new picture of family. I still love him with all my heart, but I believe everything that happens is for the highest good of all.

I have a great relationship with my mom – she’s made so many positive changes over the years.

My relationship with my new little family changes and grows more beautiful every day. Just yesterday my son said with all of his heart “You’re a nice parent.” And I received it.

When you start doing the work, people will either change with you or the relationship will fall away. I’m now surrounded by people who love and accept me for who I am. Just as I love and accept them for who they are. If something isn’t working, we talk about it. We don’t stay upset. We sort it out.

Your concept of family has its roots in the past, but starting today it can be whatever you want and need it to be.

Family to me is connection, acceptance, appreciation and of course love. It’s not limited to blood relatives, or even the human race (my kitty is family). It’s the idea that we’re all connected and we all play a role in each other’s lives and on this planet.

Journaling prompts
  1. How has my idea of family changed over the years?
  2. Who do I need to forgive to move forward?
  3. What are my top 5 favorite moments with my family? Why?
  4. What are my 5 least favorite moments? How have they helped me grow?

What does family mean to you? Leave me a comment down below.

Would you like to improve your relationship with yourself and your family? If you’ve  been looking for this kind of support and know you don’t want to go at it alone, I’d love to help you. Go here to sign up to chat with me for free.

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7 Gifts I Give to Others and Our World

7 gifts

Day 17. Here are the topics:

1) How do your Gifts heal others and our World?

OR

2) How do you use your spiritual Gifts to change lives and make a difference?

Here are the 7 Gifts I Give to Others and Our World…

#1 The gift of awareness

Because I am so sensitive, I’ve had to hone my awareness. When I first got clean, I started working with my coach with whom I learned all the “stuff” I was carrying around. She helped me clear all that so I could be conscious and aware of energies of people and places, blocks within myself and others, planetary gobbledygook, etc. This awareness, along with the necessary boundaries (physical and energetic) allows me to see, feel, know and appreciate things that can be easily overlooked by the untrained eye.

How this helps others: When I’m talking to someone or am in a session with a client, my awareness/intuition is my guide. It helps me ask questions that get people to the root of the problem, know what cues to listen for, when to speak and when to listen.

#2 The gift of empathy

The gift that nearly killed me might just be my greatest gift to humanity. When I was younger, my empathy was so strong I couldn’t tell where others ended and I began. I had no clear energetic boundaries so I absorbed the weight of the world. Without knowing what was happening, I turned to drugs to numb me. But when I decided to stop I also decided to face everything. In doing so I learned to honor this gift because I remembered, in my darkest moments all I wanted was for someone to understand.

How this helps others: The teens I work with tell me all the time. “I feel so alone. I just want someone to understand.” Because I’ve learned when and where to use my empathic abilities, I can give these young people the gift of someone who truly understands. Not only because I’ve been there, but because they can feel, in the moments we’re talking, that I’m tapped into their feelings at a deep level.

#3 The gift of knowing

With awareness comes knowing. I don’t know how I know things, I just do. It still surprises my husband sometimes. A few days ago he said, “you know what I would have liked to have done for a couple of years?” Before he finished asking the question, I heard loud and clear, “peace corps.” He asked how I knew that. To which I replied, “I just did.” And it happens a lot. When you’re aware you just know.

How this helps others: It shows others what’s possible and what they are capable of. It helps me know which direction to take a session, how to handle a situation and guide my clients out of stuckness gracefully.

#4 The gift of listening

I’m not much of a talker, but people love talking to me. Which is great because I love to listen. And not just with my ears, but with my whole being. When I’m listening, I’m also feeling and radiating love and acceptance. When I’m listening, I can hear what someone is really saying, beyond what their words are conveying.

How this helps others: My clients and people in general feel safe talking to me. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said, “I’ve never told this to anyone before…” Because they know I will listen without judgment and offer genuine feedback, support and guidance.

#5 The gift of communication

I have a way with words. I have been in love with language since I was a young girl and know how to clearly articulate exactly what I mean – especially through writing. As a small child exposed to constant fighting I learned that the words we use and the place from which we speak can either separate us or connect us. So often when people speak, they are unaware of themselves and can therefore not be aware of others. I can recognize this in a heartbeat.

How this helps others: I can tell when someone is not in alignment with what they are saying. By first helping them identify their true feelings, I can then help them speak from a place of openness and authenticity rather than judgement and blame. This in turn allows the lines of conversation to be open and the heart of the issue to be easily addressed.

#6 The gift of feeling

What I mean by this is I help other people feel. Whenever I am with someone I make sure they know they have the right to feel what they feel. As someone who has struggled with BPD, I know the importance of acknowledging, honoring and truly feeling the feelings. When we deny our feelings, we add another layer on top of them and never get to experience the true feeling – which is the only way to move past it.

How this helps others: If you work with me – I will make you cry (in a good way). I will get you to feel whatever has been eating away at you. I can call BS like no other and get someone into the deep stuff they don’t want to feel, but must in order to make real and lasting changes.

#7 The gift of light

Because of all the energy work I have done in the last seven years and how much I have cleared out, I can transmit A LOT of healing energy. I can feel it running through me, energizing me and helping me create miracles and awakening others to what is possible.

How this helps others: The love and light I emanate supports not just my clients, but everyone I meet. With this light comes safety, serenity, peace and courage for others to be all of who they are.

Journaling prompts

Write down and answer the following:

  1. How can I turn my biggest challenges into my greatest gifts to the planet?
  2. How have I used these gifts today?
  3. How will I use them in the future?

I would love to hear from you. What do you feel your greatest gift to humanity is? Why? Leave me a comment!

Mutant and proud
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[Day 16] Mutant and Proud

Mutant and proud

See hefnatron.com for more incredible art by Blain Hefner.

It’s day 16 of the blog challenge. My topics to choose from are:

1) Favorite movie

OR

2) Favorite TV show

I love movies and comic books. Especially where the main character(s) must learn to accept they will never be “normal” and learn to embrace what the majority of people see as something negative.

I’m kind of obsessed with X-men for this reason.

My whole life I’ve felt like an outcast. I’ve see things that other people don’t. I feel EVERYTHING. And I feel guided to lead others who feel the same way and inspired to help two worlds co-exist.

I’m a mutant.

A lightworker who is fascinated with the darkness of the human psyche.

A hippie who loves playing video games.

Misanthropic one day.

Full of hope for humanity the next.

A loner, but never alone.

Mutant: an organism (usually otherwise human) who possesses a genetic trait called an X-gene that allows the mutant to naturally develop superhuman powers and abilities.

To the world, a freak of nature.

Born different.

Misunderstood.

Feared for being different.

“Mankind has always feared what it does not understand.” -Magneto.

What’s a mutie to do? When every person you meet and place you go tells you to conform. When all you hear is:

“Stop being so weird.”
“You shouldn’t feel that way.”
“Get a real job.”
“You can’t change the world.”
“You’re crazy.”

If it’s crazy to think all the fighting in the world is stupid, yes I’m crazy.
If it’s crazy to want to talk about dreams instead of the weather, yes I’m crazy.
If it’s crazy to believe I can make a difference without a college education (gasp!) then YES.

I am batsh*t crazy.

And for so long, I thought I had to apologize for it. I thought I had to hide it. I thought I had to deny it.

Screw that.

Mutant and proud.

Charles Xavier quotes

This is my favorite quote from the most recent X-Men movie. Future professor x goes back to talk to a previous version of himself – the one who had given up his gift because he had lost hope.

I feel this way often.

“Why should I even bother trying to help people who do the things they do?”
“Why would they listen to me?”
“I can’t watch the world do this to itself.”

This mutation called empathy, hypersensitivity, crazy – nearly killed me.

But I made a choice.

To stay on this planet. To be a leader. To help humankind evolve.

 

What’s your “mutation”? How do you embrace it when everything tells you to just “be normal”?

Journaling prompts for teens
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[Day 15] 5 Journaling Prompts to Enhance Emotional Intelligence in Teenagers

 

Journaling prompts for teens

Today is the half-way mark of the blog challenge. Woohoo! The goal: repurpose a previous post. So here’s one from a while back that I’ve enhanced.

This article is for teenagers and/or anyone who wants to increase their self awareness and ability to process and express their feelings in a more calm and balanced way.

The teenage years are an especially tumultuous period (as you know) and a critical time to focus on emotional intelligence (if you can start sooner, by all means, do so. My son is 3 and he labels his feelings and always feels better after doing so). Though challenging, these years can be seen as a series of beautiful opportunities for learning and growth for the entire family.

Many issues teens face are due to lack of self awareness and/or emotional intelligence. It’s not something that’s taught in schools – but it should be. When we feel out of control, we lose our power of choice. It becomes increasingly harder to decide upon what we want because our emotions have taken over. And when they run our lives, we no longer have a say.

So often we want something better – we talk about it, dream about it and long for change, but our emotions won’t allow us. They say “whoa whoa whoa wait stop.” But the magic happens when we listen and actively seek the gift within each moment of emotional turmoil – not by staying stuck in it and not by ignoring it, but by choosing to send our deepest love and compassion to ourselves. That’s when everything changes.

Here are 5 journaling prompts (to be used in this order) to help you do just that.

First, recognize your triggers. Ask yourself questions like…

What makes me angry?

What am I afraid of?

When someone said this I felt ______________.

This emotion feels like ____________.

I feel it in my _____________. (throat, chest, stomach, etc)

Anything that will allow you to connect with the feeling so you can release it.

Accept it. Don’t make anyone right or wrong and don’t believe you deserve to feel bad.

Ask yourself “What can I learn from this?”

Forgive yourself.

Write down everything you need to forgive yourself for. And everything you need to forgive others for.

Empathize.

Know you aren’t the only person who feels bad. Others handle things differently and it doesn’t make them wrong.

Write down what you think the other person (or people) are experiencing.

Choose something new.

Get creative with what you want. Write down how you want to feel and why.

For example: I want to feel empowered because when I do I feel like I can conquer the world and I can be who I really am.

As you take the time to go through these prompts on a regular basis, you open yourself up to new possibilities and interactions with others that weren’t previously available. When you are able to connect with and accept all of who you are, you will no longer need to dance between the extremes. You’ll feel more in control of your experience and will therefore feel calm and confident in your ability to handle whatever comes your way.

I’d love to hear how it goes. Please share your comments and insights in the comments box below.

Journals have feelings too
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[Day 6] My Books!

Journals have feelings too

Hello from beautiful Denver, Colorado! I’m here to learn more about an addictions counselor certification program I’m interested in. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Wash Park

Last night my sister took me to Washington park and I was able to capture this beautiful sunset.

Today is day 6 of Amethyst Mahoney’s 30 day magic up your blog challenge. My topics to choose from are:

1) Your favorite book, and why it’s your fave. If you can’t choose just one (and who can?) then give us a run-down of your top 5 or 10 Favorite books.

OR

2) Let us know about a book you’ve written.

I’m going to do a little bit of both. What’s cool is as I was laying in bed wondering what I was going to write about, I was thinking about how many people have shared with me how much they love my writing (thank you). And so I was planning on dropping a line about the books I’ve written in today’s post.

Impeccable timing as always, Universe.

There’s my first book, Journals Have Feelings Too which has been read and loved by teens and adults alike. It’s a quick, but highly impactful and practical guide to journaling, why it works and what to write about.

Every chapter includes several journaling prompts (aptly named “JOURNAL TIME”) where readers are encouraged to put the book down and do some inward exploration.

It includes topics like “The Blabbering Brain” and “Finding Your Voice.” For someone like me, who had so many thoughts in her head she couldn’t formulate the words to speak, journaling became my go-to tool to unveil what was really going on in there, how I really felt and it allowed me to find and accept ALL who I am.

For highly sensitive people, alone time is essential. And I firmly believe journaling (alongside meditating and walking in nature) is one of the most therapeutic and necessary practices for such people.

Through the exercises in the book you learn:

  • How to differentiate between thoughts of the past and your truth – no one else’s
  • How to use journaling to create a new dialogue between you and the various parts of you in a non-invasive way
  • How to establish a regular writing practice that works for you
  • And a lot more

Journaling brings me the freedom I often used to look outside for. It helped me beat my addictions, stop taking responsibility for other people’s feelings and rebuild my identity so I could finally be who I wanted to be.

I love being able to share this with others. Here’s what people are saying:

“I also have really enjoyed reading her book, Journals Have Feelings Too and highly recommend it for both teens and parents alike. I applaud Carrie for her bravery and transparency in sharing her life trials and insights to help others in such a positive fashion. Thank you Carrie for all you do!!!” -Amy

“Using specific examples from her own struggles in life, Carrie makes quick connections to the reader and provides examples of the usefulness of journaling. Her openness and willingness to share her experiences throughout Journals Have Feelings Too helps readers to see the direct results of the journaling practices she puts forward. This concise writing leaves the reader with a surprisingly deep toolkit in a short period of time.” -Glenn

Fun fact: the entire book was written in a journal before being typed out

Onto book two.

Just last month I finished writing a chapter for my second book Behind the Mask: The Many Faces of Bullying which I co-authored among 24 other women. I’ll be receiving physical copies soon and it will be up on amazon by the end of the month.

My chapter is called “Bullying: Our Youth’s Cry for Connection.” I talk about how young people are acting out an inner battle they don’t know how to express and how their behaviors are just a side effect of the connection they are so craving – connection to themselves and others. And with all the technology and distractions they’ve lost the awareness they need make positive choices.

This chapter teaches adults how to connect and communicate with young people and be the strong and steady influencers they need to make healthy decisions and walk with their heads held high. It discourages the use of blame and shame and instead encourages exploration and resolution of the true problem.

I’m excited to see the whole book when it comes out and will update this post when I have the link.

Now, my favorite book.

As much as I love learning, I am a slow reader. Maybe slow isn’t the best word. I’m a very deliberate reader. I like to soak the words into my cells instead of just getting them into my head so I spend a lot of time reading one book at a time.

My favorite book to reference is The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz. It gets right to the point.

I like books which help me simplify and calm my very over active mind. This puts me right into a heart space along with the book I’m currently reading, Soul Love by Sanaya Roman.

Other good ones:

The Power of Now

The Gifts of Imperfection

Loving What Is

Wise Mind Living

What about you? What’s your favorite book and why? Leave me a comment below!

Adolescence and individuality
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[Day 4] My Unique Awesomeness

Adolescence and individuality

Today is Day 4 of the blog challenge. Still haven’t signed up? Go here and then come back to read this.

Here are the two topics I have to choose from:

1) What is the greatest thing you’ve accomplished in life so far?

OR

2) What are you grateful for? What are the Top 10 things that make your heart sing?

Because I already wrote a post very similar to the number two topic (check it out here), I’m going to challenge myself to write about my accomplishments.

I’ll have to admit, I had to do this at a seminar once (face to face with someone I had to talk about how great I am) and I almost barfed.

I remember being so concerned with how I sounded, how the other person would interpret it, if my accomplishments were even good enough

My thought process was something like this:

What if I sound like I’m full of myself?
What if I offend her?
What if it’s not what she wants to hear?
Does any of this matter?
Am I really great?

From a very young age I was extremely competitive. I had to be the best or I was nothing. I’m not exaggerating. So the fact that I’m here writing and out in the world being seen and heard is a huge accomplishment.

I have so many filters. My 10,000 simultaneous thoughts travel through my fears and beliefs about what I should say and who I should be and all that’s left is a smile or a blank stare.

No people, I’m not shy. I just think too much.

I spend a tremendous amount of energy trying to say the “right” thing.
To do the “right” thing.
To make everyone else happy.

Again, something I learned at a young age.

For survival.
For self-preservation.
Because if I wasn’t that girl, it would cause another fight.
And I didn’t want to be in the middle of it – again.

So I learned to carefully plan every word or keep my mouth shut.

That was then and this is now and I have to remind myself of that often.

I have to remind myself that:

  • It’s okay to be wrong.
  • It’s okay to make mistakes.
  • I’m not responsible for how other people feel.
  • I’m allowed to cry.
  • I’m allowed to feel.
  • I’m allowed to speak.
  • I’m allowed to be quiet.
  • I’m allowed to be me (even if “me” changes her mind constantly).

Every single thing about me is okay.

Knowing this, believing this, feeling this, becoming this…

Is my greatest accomplishment.

Giving birth to an incredible human being who is growing up to be kind, generous, loving, sensitive, in tune and absolutely brilliant would have to be my second.

Not how many gold medals I received as a gymnast
Not how many people are subscribed to my list
Not how many friends I have
Not the car I drive
Not how much money I have
Not all the blog posts I’ve written
Not all the books I’ve published
Not all the certifications

You get the point.

Because none of those mean anything if I can’t accept who I am without the accomplishments.

I don’t need anyone to tell me my worth.

And neither do you.

 

What makes you uniquely awesome? How will you celebrate your individuality today? Leave me a comment below.

Panic attack help
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How to successfully release worry, anxiety and other sucktastic emotions (includes 3 journaling prompts)

Your thoughts are happening non-stop. And if you think something long enough you’ll start to believe its true. This is how beliefs are formed.

Those of us prone to depression and anxiety tend to dwell and obsess about anything and everything – especially the negative. It’s not usually a conscious choice, but something that became default when we were small children.

Negative thoughts and beliefs are therefor louder and more burdensome because:

1. We are acutely aware of them
2. We think we shouldn’t have them (perfectionism and unreasonable expectations)
3. We think too much in general

For those diagnosed with anxiety disorders and a plethora of other mental illnesses, the mind chatter is incessant, overwhelming and really really annoying. And we make the mistake of believing this is all there is.

Because it blinds us if we let it.

Folks who experience a lot of anxiety are incredibly intelligent, usually perfectionists and almost always highly sensitive people. They feel things (everything) down to the core of their being. So it’s easier to stay in a head space because it feels safer.

But it’s a trap.

Self-created.

Sometimes intentionally, usually unconsciously.

There is, however, always a choice.

Even when something better seems unobtainable, exhausting, impossible. You do have options.

You know how to make yourself feel better, but you forget how when you’re trapped in the infinite thought loop of impending doom.

And I’m not kidding. It can get that bad. Very quickly. You know this.

But if you can remember and demonstrate your power of choice the moment you notice what is happening, you can (lovingly) hijack your thought process and start a new one.

For example, start telling yourself, either in your head or out loud, things that bring you even the slightest bit of relief. Nothing is going to get resolved by you freaking out about it. And the longer you hold yourself in that place, the worse it’s going to get. So try saying something like:

“It’s just an illusion. It’s not going to last forever. I’m just freaking out about nothing. I made a mistake. It’s just my mind. Even though my thoughts feel very real, very scary and true, I love myself anyway. They might be true. Even if they were true, I’d be okay. I always land on my feet. I always get through this…”

And keep going until breathing becomes easier and you start to feel lighter.

Always keep a list on you, that has at least ten things you can do instead of freaking out, or being depressed or whatever it is you struggle with the most.

For me it’s anxiety. So much like the list here, you can create one that says:

“My go-to list of things to do when I’m ______________ (insert poison here).”

Here’s mine:

Panic attack help

And here’s a blank one for you to fill out and keep on you:

image

Don’t be afraid to question the accuracy of your thoughts and fears. Your fear thinks it knows everything, but there is a part of you that knows better. Listen to that part, no matter how faint it is.

And the more you do, the better you’ll feel.

You deserve that.

You deserve to feel good. For absolutely no reason. Even when you make mistakes. Even when everything seems wrong.

Here are some journaling prompts for you to explore. These are also questions that can stop negative thoughts in their tracks, so keep them nearby.

1. My fear – is it a legitimate fear? If yes, why? If no, why?

2. What can I do to accept myself even if the worry stays?

3. What am a believing about myself? Is it true?

Let me know how it goes in the comments section below.