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.

there is always hope
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How being yourself changes everything (includes 3 journaling prompts)

What if we started each day telling ourselves, “have fun and be yourself”. Or “trust yourself. You’re going to do the right thing”?

Or be yourself and the rest will follow.

Or be yourself and everything will fall into place.

Or everything you need is already inside of you.

How different would your days be if you stopped focusing on all the things you think you do wrong and instead chose to focus on all the things you already are?

Notice I ended the sentence at are. Not all the things you are doing. All the things you are. All the things that make you who who are. Because while it’s great to feel a sense of accomplishment, if you need that to love yourself then you’re not doing it for the right reason.

It’s so easy to put conditions on love – especially when it comes to loving ourselves.

“I’ll only like myself when I complete this task or I’ll only give myself a break once I’ve reached xyz goal.”

While I absolutely believe in setting and accomplishing goals, I believe loving ourselves despite our accomplishments or perceived lack thereof is by far the most important (and difficult) skill to master.

This conditional love all started when we were very young. People (especially our parents) attempted to fix or control us so they didn’t have to feel bad. It was easier. And it was all they knew.

But by diligently practicing something new we can create new patterns that serve the greater good for all.

One person changing can positively impact the entire family. This became evident to me a few days ago when I had a conversation with my mom I never thought I’d have.

I felt like all the work I’ve done on myself throughout the years – though lonely and seemingly futile at times – actually made a difference.

She talked to me the way I always wished she would have. She let me speak. She listened. And while we have had many conversations like this in the past several years, this one felt much more powerful.

Because I stopped fighting and surrendered.

She was herself.

And I was just me.

If someone would have told me this were possible when I was a teenager I would have probably rolled my eyes and said, “yeah right.”

Which might be what you’re thinking too. Because when you’re in it, it’s much harder to see a way out of it.

But keep the faith.

And if you only take one thing away from this, let it be this:

The greatest thing you can ever do for you is to tell yourself who you are is okay.

Even if no one else ever sees it, you have to know it.

And when you do, miracles will happen.

 

I will leave you with a few journaling prompts that’ll help you peer into how you’ve been treating yourself and what you can do to start being kinder to you. Remember: be honest with yourself.

1. In what ways are you not treating yourself the way you’d like others to treat you?

2. In what ways do you deny who you are for the sake of other people?

3. What is one thing you can do right now to be kind to yourself?

 

As always, I welcome your questions and comments below.

bullying quotes
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Is fighting bullying creating more bullying?

bullying quotes

Bullying has been a huge issue and has been on my mind a lot recently as I have been doing research for a chapter I’m writing. What strikes me as odd is how there are more laws in place than ever before and yet kids are only getting meaner, the bullying more intense.

Why is that?

Well, as we’ve seen in the past, fighting something or someone only makes it grow stronger. With all the focus on the problem and all the negative emotion it stirs up, the issue has no choice, but to expand. We have to pay attention.

But what if these young people are presenting us with an opportunity? What if they are a mere reflection of the hatred and social injustice that has plagued this planet for centuries? How can we expect kids to respect each other when as a whole our society preaches to us that anyone who is different is to be rejected?

We learn to judge ourselves first, then we start to judge others. These kids are showing us what we do to ourselves and each other on a daily basis, only it has become magnified and they are suffering greatly because of it. The anti-bullying movement, for the most part, is just another way to reject what is, rather than getting to the root of the issue.

Yes, all forms of abuse are unacceptable and should not be tolerated. But by saying the bully is wrong and the kids being bullied are just victims, we are setting them up to believe those things about themselves for the rest of their lives.

Now the bully believes “I’m wrong and everyone knows it so why should I even try” which feeds his or her every action.

The bullied believes “I’m just a victim and I need other people to take care of me” which means he or she will almost always let his or her fear run the show.

No one wins. The bullying has stopped temporarily, but will most likely appear again and again in a different form for the rest of their lives.

Unless we start teaching something different.

So what is the root cause of this epidemic? Or at least a major contributing factor?

Disconnection.

Many young people do not have a strong connection to who they really are. It’s no wonder so many feel lost and alone.

They are longing to feel a real connection to themselves and to each other, but have no idea how to express this in a healthy way.

So they act out.

With a life full of shoulds…

  • “I should be skinnier.”
  • “I should be more outgoing.”
  • “I should be better grades.”
  • “I should go to college.”
  • “I should be more like so and so.”

They feel trapped.

There is no perfect human being.

But we teach young people to tie their worth to how they look, what grades they get, how much money they have, etc.

And if we don’t teach them it’s okay to feel what they feel, they will deny an essential part of who they are.

I see it all the time.

Young people denying their feelings for the sake of others.

Automatic disconnect.

Quick tip to help kids reconnect to their feelings:
  1. Acknowledge – Ask them to identify the feeling
  2. Accept – Validate the feeling saying things like “you have every right to feel this way”
  3. Change – Let them know they have the power to now decide how they’d like to feel instead

Many people try to jump right to changing it because it’s uncomfortable to feel bad, but in truth the only way for the feeling to be released is to actually feel it.

Additional possibilities for schools to consider:
  • Make emotional intelligence courses part of the school curriculum
  • Teach empathy and acceptance
  • Teach resiliency
  • Teach self-respect
  • Teach self-defense to increase confidence
  • Teach kids how to stand up for themselves
  • Encourage self-expression – help kids discover the best way for them to get it out
  • Encourage positive self-talk to fuel self-worth
  • Don’t encourage helplessness
  • Help young people find and acknowledge their strengths
  • Create a safe environment for self-expression
  • Bring more programs designed to do all of the above to schools (i.e. Challenge Day)

These things are all easier said than done. And in a perfect world this would not only be taught in schools, but at home too.

But it’s not. Which is why it is up to as as individuals to commit to “being the change.”

And not just do everything we can, but be all of who we are.

Next time: Helping kids connect to who they really are

Some questions to ponder until then:

What part of this can we take responsibility for? In what areas are we not modeling the kindness we wish to see?

How has “fighting” bullying created more bullying?

How will knowing ourselves better impact those around us?

Journaling saved my life
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Journaling saved my life (includes journal writing prompts)

Journaling saved my life

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.

Journaling saved my life.

When I couldn’t speak my truth, I wrote it.

I always had trouble talking. Some would call it being “shy.” Many thought I didn’t have anything to say.

But I did.

I was just so overwhelmed by my surroundings and my thoughts and emotions were so strong that my mind felt constantly bombarded.

My journal then became the place to process all this stuff going on.

When I was having panic attacks on the regular writing helped me get through it.

When my addictions got the best of me, I found my way back to myself by way of my journal.

How?

Because it allowed me to identify what was going on within and around me. Self-awareness is the key to changing anything about ourselves. If we don’t have a clue why we’re feeling the way we are, there isn’t any (healthy) way to release it.

Some people can talk to others, but because I was (and am) so sensitive I had trouble telling the difference between my own thoughts and feelings and those from the people around me. I had to process everything in solitude.

For a long time I thought there was something wrong with me, but I’m just an introvert.

Some might also call it being an empath.

Whatever you want to call it, it was unbearable during my younger years because I didn’t know how to manage it.

Which you would soon discover if you were to read any of the 20+ journals I have stacked in my closet.

But I digress…

The reason I’m sharing this with you is because I want to encourage you to find your “thing.”

You know, the thing that keeps you going.

The place you feel you can be unapologetically you.

Where you don’t have to censor your thoughts or your feelings or emotions. A place where you can say screw the filter, THIS IS WHAT I HAVE TO SAY.

We get so caught up in what other people think about us or what we believe others think of us that we lose pieces of ourselves.

This quote comes to mind:

“What other people think of me is none of my business.” -Wayne Dyer

But what you think of you is completely your business and it’s up to you to decide how you feel about yourself.

You have the right to feel how you feel.

More importantly, you have the right to be who you are.

It’s up to you to find the “you” you want to be.

Some questions to ask yourself:

When do I feel I am most myself?

How do I really feel about this situation vs. what I would say if someone asked me?

Where am I not being true to myself?

My favorite journaling people & their websites:

Nathan Ohren @ Write4Life

Mari McCarthy @ CreateWriteNow

Lynda Monk @ Creative Wellness Works

 

So tell me…

What’s your thing? Let’s get the conversation going!

helping someone who self-harms
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Helping someone who self-harms (part two)

helping someone who self-harms

This is part two of helping someone who self-harms. The first post can be found here.

Despite what many think, most teens who self-harm don’t really want to hurt themselves. They just want to stop feeling the immense pressure and loneliness that comes from not feeling safe to express who they are. The most common reason anyone self-injures is as a last resort. There is literally no other option available in the moment someone makes this decision.

When they feel like they need to be okay so you’ll be okay this creates increased pressure and anxiety and makes the urge to cut even stronger.

As a parent or someone who is working with a teenager who is self-injuring, of course you want them to stop. But here’s the thing: they want to stop too. It just becomes such a natural response to stress – the go-to thing and in fact the only thing that brings relief.

Yes, it’s a bad decision. Yes you want them to stop. But the cutting is here to show you something. Where is your child not feeling safe to express his/her feelings?

Be willing to explore this. And be willing to go through your own feelings about the situation.

Do you feel like you’ve done everything and start to question your parenting and wonder what went wrong? When did this happen? Why did this happen? These questions and the thoughts that follow generally bring you to a place of needing to fix it right now, but let me tell you something:

It’s less about what you do and more about who you are when you’re with your son or daughter. They want you to see them for who they are not what’s happening to them. The more you can do this and the more things you can find to appreciate about your teen, the faster his or her recovery will be.

You have to accept and surrender to the fact that he or she is not okay. And you also have to know it’s not your fault. Absolutely create a plan to keep your teen safe, but when it comes to talking about it, don’t press.

Here are three things to do instead:
1. Acknowledge

Say something like, “it’s good to see you,” or “how was your day?” (don’t ask “did you have a good day?” – keep the questions open ended), or “You look upset. Would you like to talk about it?” Be okay if they say no and make sure to say this out loud. Possibly even say something like “Well that makes me feel ________, but I understand and respect your decisions. You make good decisions and I know you’ll find a positive way to express it if you need to. I’m here if you need anything.”

2. Listen

Be willing to hear what your teen has to say without offering advice or trying to fix. Make sure to try to make eye contact. If they don’t want to look at you, let that be okay.

3. Appreciate

Deliberately look for things to appreciate about your teenager. Find and focus on all the little things your teen does well. It could be anything from the way they handled a situation to doing the dishes without you having to ask a thousand times. Even if it was 999 times, focus on the improvement.

Ultimately this is a collaborative effort where all parties must learn how to cope, communicate with and appreciate one another. You’re in this together and can start to change the family dynamic. I know you’re going to get through this.

Journal prompts to explore
For parents: What fears do you have as a parent? Where are you taking responsibility for these fears? In what areas aren’t you?
For teens: What is the feeling that most often leads to you cutting? 
How can you allow yourself to experience this feeling without needing to cut? i.e. Write about it, talk to someone about it, scream into a pillow, etc. In other words how can you express this feeling in a way that doesn’t hurt you?
Would you like additional support from me? Sign up for a free consultation below.

Teens go here.

Parents/Teachers/Counselors go here.

Space is limited so please take advantage of this offer as soon as possible.

 

Questions or comments? Submit them using the form below.

 

Tell an adult
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About this “tell an adult” stigma that drives teens crazy

Tell an adult

This post is for teenagers! My intention is to help you better understand where the adults in your life are coming from. And to help them better understand you too.

Recently I had the opportunity to speak to a group of High School students (shout out to the Veteran’s Tribute Career and Technical Academy [VTCTA]!) who are helping me with a county-wide project which will bring suicide prevention posters to schools. The posters are to be created by students – for students.

This is quite different and quite brilliant which is why I am so excited to be part of it. I’d also like to thank the Clark County Children’s Mental Health Consortium and the Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention (of which I am a member) for bringing me in.

Anyway, while at the school, I asked the students why they felt this project is so important and asked them to share any comments they had.

It is so amazing what happens when you just ask.

Initially very few said anything, but luckily I had a backup plan. I had created an online form for them to fill out. Why? Because I know it’s much easier to write about these things than talk about them. Hence my fascination with journaling.

A concern that came up was the “tell an adult” stigma that surrounds any young person who is having a challenge. The feedback was:

“It doesn’t really seem like counselors, teachers, parents, etc. act like they want to help depressed/suicidal teens and then are horrible at helping and giving advice.”

It is not uncommon for young people to feel this way. And often times it is true. You can tell when someone really cares about you. I know you can. I also know most adults get angry when you bring this up to them.

But don’t stop speaking up for fear of upsetting someone.

If you’ve got something to say, say it. Your opinion does matter.

And you deserve to voice it.

But guys, it’s not their fault. They have a lot going on too. Trust me when I say, being a parent is really challenging to say the least.

Many adults have not yet realized that you are here to teach them just as much as they are to teach you.

Do you know this? It is absolutely 100% true.

Your parents were brought up the same way they’re bringing you up – probably even worse and I’m sure they make this known, but I can guarantee they are making the best choices they have available to them.

I know what you mean though when you say you don’t want to tell an adult.

When I was hospitalized (for drugs and cutting), it was one of the worst experiences of my life for that reason. I didn’t feel anyone there had my best interest in mind. I didn’t even feel like a human being when I was there. It was as if no one saw me – just my bi-polar disorder and my ADD and the cuts on my arms.

You don’t want to be ridiculed.

You don’t want to be fixed.

But you have to know not everyone is as you think they are. Just as you are not as they think you are. There is a lot of misunderstanding that takes place and it took me a long time to forgive and learn to understand that the adults that were around me were just doing their job.

I didn’t come with a manual.

And unfortunately learning how to treat ourselves with love and respect is not a huge part of the high school curriculum (though it should be).

Fortunately, however there are very bold and courageous people out there who are doing things differently. Who are advocating for you. My husband (who is finishing up his masters in social work) is one of these people.

He and I (and so many others I have been meeting and connecting with) are vouching for you because we know and believe with all of our hearts:

You are highly intelligent, sensitive, brilliant and so much more.

And yes it would be really nice and really awesome if everyone saw you this way.

But not everyone will.

The thing is though, you still have to tell an adult about what’s going on. Your parents love you and worry about it. This will make a lot more sense when you get older, but for now just take my word for it.

Find someone who feels safe and you feel you can trust.

Allow them to be a bridge between you and your parents. If it’s your friend they will likely side with you and if it’s another adult like a teacher or counselor, they’re likely to side with your parents.

So find someone who is neutral.

It is SO IMPORTANT to find some middle ground so both parties can feel safe and be heard.

As a teen, you do know what you need and who can help you – much more than most people give you credit for. And you also have the right to choose which adults you want in your life (not your parents, you’re stuck with them :)).

So YES, absolutely talk to the person who feels best to you (like your friend or a girlfriend or boyfriend), but know that “telling an adult” will have to happen eventually. Your parents have the right to know what’s going on with you.

And believe it or not they really do love you.

 

Pointer for adults: The main reason kids don’t want to open up to you is because they feel you aren’t empathizing with what they are going through. All they want is for you to be real.

How did this article land for you? Please share your comments below.

Carrie's vision board
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How to Create a Vision Board

Have you ever wondered how to create a vision board?

Or why someone would?

Creating and utilizing vision boards is a highly effective way to keep you in alignment with your dreams and goals. They are a visual representation of you and your life. It doesn’t matter what age you are or what your circumstances are – we all have the ability to dream and imagine.

And we all have the right to do so.

I’ve been creating them for years and I always:

1. Really enjoy it

2. Am amazed/excited/delighted when something I put on the board happens

3. Feel really clear on what my purpose is and why I’m doing what I’m doing

 

Some other benefits of creating a vision board include:

  • A more positive outlook
  • Tapping into your creativity
  • Greater awareness and self-esteem
  • Proof that the law of attraction works (so you’ll want to use it more often!)
  • If you look at it daily, your mind will begin to bring the images up when you need them most (i.e. if you’re in crisis your brain will bring the image up and bring you comfort because it’s attached to the feeling the image brings)
Here’s what you’ll need:
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Poster board
  • Magazines (I went to Savers [a local thrift store] and they were 29 cents each I believe)
  • An open mind and heart

*You can even create different boards for different categories (I have a “me” board, family board and biz board for this year)

*Or if you prefer to do your vision board all digital, go to DreamItAlive (I have one on there too. Go here to view my profile and you can add and share yours with me :)).

Decide ahead of time if this is something you would like to do with by yourself or with friends. Everyone is different – some prefer to create in solitude while others are more likely to create and enjoy the process in the company of others. Honor the decision that feels best to you.

Also, get clear on how you would like to experience to go. What would you like to get out of the process? How do you want to feel as you do this? I always ask to be guided to the images that will be the most powerful for me and I also ask my analytical mind to take the backseat so I can be in an open and creative space.

Here are some questions to ponder prior to choosing your images:

What experiences would I like to welcome into my life?

What are 5 words that instantly uplift me? (then look for those in the magazines)

What is the essence of my desires? (for example: Say you would like more friends. Ask: Why do I want this? What will it bring me? A sense of community and belonging? More laughter?)

My finished product that is now taped on the ceiling above my bed:

Carrie's vision board

Remember:
  • It’s not about perfection and there isn’t a right or wrong way to do this.
  • The 30 minutes before bed and the first 30 when you wake up are when you are most receptive. That being said, be sure to put your vision board in a place where you’ll see it during those times!
  • Don’t create your board from a place of needing these things to happen.
  • You draw your dreams closer by first accepting and giving thanks to what is.
  • Trust that if whatever you are asking for is indeed for you highest and best, it will come.
Bonus:

For extra manifesting power, write a love letter to yourself describing why you so deserve to have everything you want!

In conclusion:

Dreaming, imagining and believing are WAY better for you than worrying.

And also way more fun.

 

How’d it go? Let me know!

What not to say to someone who self-injures.
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How to REALLY Help Someone Who Struggles with Self-Harm

Recently, I’ve had a lot of people (therapists, counselors, support group facilitators, parents, etc.) ask me about how to help someone who self-harms.

So, here are some things you should know.

  • Most cutters are highly intelligent and extremely sensitive.
  • Many don’t do it in an effort to end their life, but rather, to end their pain.
  • There are, unfortunately, people and websites that are pro self-harm (this is NOT one of those websites and I am NOT one of those people).
  • Self-mutilation is an addiction, and should be treated as such.

And here are some materials to use. Starting with, the top 5 things to never say to someone who self-injures:

What not to say to someone who self-injures.

Next, 5 things you should say instead:

What to say to someone who self-injures.

Take time to know and understand what the person who is cutting is going through.

And listen.

See this person as whole and send your love and compassion. I promise, he or she will be able to feel it.

If you are the one who is self-mutilating, I made this for you to print out (therapists and support group facilitators you can print these out to use in your sessions):

Self-harm worksheet

It’s okay to ask for help. In fact, please do so. Don’t keep it to yourself. I know you feel like no one understands you, but they never will if you’re not willing to let them. Believe it or not, the people around you are just as scared as you are.

Here’s mine as an example:

Tell me you love me.

Here’s another one for you to print out and use:

Things to do instead of cutting

It’s important to know what to do when you feel the urge to cut. When you’re in that state you’re not always rational so having something physical to have on you or in a place where you can see it will remind you that you have other options available.

Here’s mine (feel free to steal some ideas from it):

My list of things to do instead of cutting.

That’s it for now. I hope this is useful!

As always I welcome your comments and suggestions.

A raw, real morning rant by Carrie Leigh Sandoval
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A Raw, REAL, Unedited Morning Rant + Two Journaling Prompts

A raw, real morning rant by Carrie Leigh Sandoval

This morning (actually yesterday morning), I decided to do some free writing journaling. Or is it free-writing?

And by decided I mean I woke up and the words started pouring out of me.

That hadn’t happened in a while and I was really grateful it did.

I love journaling prompts, but sometimes I just need to write, you know?

Here goes my rant (sloppily hand-written in my journal and lovingly transferred to the blog for your reading pleasure):

I woke up from strange dreams of different planets and things I’d never seen. I woke up with these words in my mind:

“The world around me is in chaos, but I am at peace.”

I’ve been writing “how to” articles and all about the keys to this and that, but those mean nothing if you can’t connect with me.

I don’t want to be another person in your life who talks at you. I don’t want to be someone who you feel less than or better than.

I want us to be equals.

I don’t want to feel like I have to follow all the rules to be accepted.

And I don’t want “being accepted” to be the goal of anything. For anyone.

I don’t want censorship to dictate my way of speaking.

I don’t want to be a robot.

I don’t want to be perfect.

I just want to be me.

The me that knows I’m still in tact when I make mistakes.

The me that doesn’t follow all the rules.

The me that doesn’t strive to fit in.

The goal of life is not to blend in, it’s to stand out.

It’s to become more of who we are, not anyone else.

This is how I feel right now.

This is who I am right now.

This is my truth RIGHT NOW.

And I want to know yours.

I want to hear it.

I want to read it.

And I know there’s a part of you saying, “no you don’t.”

“No one cares about me.”

“I’m not that important.”

But you are important.

You do matter.

Your words, your actions, but most importantly your way of being – matters.

Despite your circumstances, your diagnoses, your past, whatever it may be. Despite whatever voice plays in your mind like a broken record.

I wish I could convey this so you’d never forget it.

You are worthy of ALL the GOOD this world has to offer.

You are worthy of connection to the highest part of you.

You are worthy of connection to other people.

You are enough.

And as I write this, I cry because I feel it too.

I don’t think you need any more “tips” or advice.

I have this feeling all you really need to know is, you’re not alone.

You’re not alone.

 

 

Feel like journaling today? Here are two journaling prompts to get you started.

What do I need to express today?

What do I want to experience more of in my life?

What is the best advice you've ever received?
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What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

What words of wisdom do you hear that bring you comfort during times when you need it most?

How else has this advice become part of your life?

If you don’t mind, I’d love for today’s “journal time!” to be more of a public sharing time, by having you answer the 3 questions above (in the comments section below).

Because when you do?

You inspire others.

And we can all use a little inspiration every once in a while.

I don’t know where I would be without all the amazing mentors and coaches (and their brilliant advice and wisdom) who have helped me throughout the years, so I wanted to dedicate this post to them.

Here’s a photo of a painting I did recently which includes a favorite piece of wisdom shared with me by two of my mentors Jesse and Sharla (an amazing husband and wife team and the creators of Thrive Academy).

What is the best advice you've ever received?

So tell me, what advice has helped you become who you are today? Please share your answers in the comments section below.

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3 Journaling Prompts to Encourage Self-Discovery

Self-discovery is one of the main goals of journaling. When I first began writing it was because I felt lost and had no idea who I was or who I wanted to be. It helped me connect back to the part of me that was greater, wiser and more confident than my thoughts and circumstances.

There is one constant in your life.

It’s you.

Other people will come and go, but you remain.

Which is why taking time to truly know yourself is one of the best things you can do. When you know how you operate, you’re less affected by what’s going on outside of you. You become more of a deliberate creator and conscious choice-maker.

Some people say journaling and other forms of self-care are selfish. I disagree. When we take care of ourselves and take time to know what makes us smile, laugh and cry we have more to give.

Which reminds me of this quote:

“The greatest gift you can ever give another person is your own happiness”
― Esther Hicks

So, do yourself a solid (you deserve it!) and take 30 minutes to journal today. Here are a few prompts to get you started.

Journal Time!

Write down and answer the following questions:

What makes me laugh?

What opens my heart?

What makes me want to be alive?

What did you learn about yourself today? How will you use this information to help others? Please leave your comments below!