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Finding Our Genius Through Social Comparison.

“Everyone is a genius. But If you judge a fish by Its ability to climb a tree, it will live Its whole life believing that it is stupid,”

Albert Einstein

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I immediately enjoyed this quote when I first found it some years back. I enjoy it because it has deep truth for me. On some level it seems like it would have to have some meaning for everybody.

I was lost for many years, judging where I was in my life compared the people around me. With the years I spent getting my butt handed to me dealing with addiction, I watched a lot of people “grow up.” All the while, my life was backsliding into oblivion.

I remember clearly, wondering how people could get up and go to work every day! It blew my mind that people continually just went on with there lives day after day after day. All the while these people were not needing to use chemicals the way I did. I couldn’t fathom how they did this.

Today it isn’t as much of a mystery to me how people show up their lives day after day. I have been doing this quite well for the last 9 years in recovery. But when I couldn’t fathom it, I felt very stupid for not being able.

In the last 9 years I have had a great deal of success, accomplishing many things. I am not left wondering how people get up and go to work day after day, because now I do this!

Social Comparison

Even though I have had more success than I could have imagined before I made it to recovery, this social comparison piece of my brain is still busy, often!

It is way too easy to focus on people around me, see what they are up to in their lives, and judge my situation accordingly. If I envy what they are doing, I may get the feeling of being inferior to them. And if I don’t envy them, I may get the feeling that I am superior.

This tendency to compare can get excruciatingly annoying, especially when I see someone’s coming out in an area that mine does not. But I also don’t feel good when I get the feeling of being better than someone.

Letting Social Comparisons go to my head really is a double-edged sword. It is difficult to win either way!

I don’t feel that either of these conclusions are ACTUALLY correct. It is pure habit. I am no better or worse than anyone else. And it is possible to not get stuck in the feelings of superiority or inferiority.

From Social Comparison to Learning New Skills

There is something good to be taken out of the act of comparing ourselves to others. I just have to be more mindful of how I interpret the data!

What I mean by this is that when I am seeing someone as better than me, that doesn’t actually mean they are better than me. It just may be an area where they shine, and I do not.

I think envy has a way of showing me what I desire though. If I didn’t have an interest in an activity, I wouldn’t have envy and I wouldn’t care if someone shines more than me. Getting over my self, I can actually see if this person will teach me what they know!

In recovery I have been taught that if I want something that someone has, then I better be willing to make the effort to get it.

Go get it ,or drop it and move on to something else, since resentment is a go nowhere proposition for me.

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So, if I want to learn how to be a great leader or run a successful online business, or whatever else I desire to learn, then I better seek out information from those whose genius shows in these areas! I better do the research, follow directions, do the work, then rinse and repeat until the desire is manifested.

We all Have our Own Abilities

If after all that time and effort the dream doesn’t manifest, then it is possible that I was chasing the wrong dream. Maybe that is me being a fish that is trying to climb a tree!

I don’t think it is likely that we are all going to jump right into the activities that puts our genius on display. Though some people do!

If you are anything like me, finding the outlets for personal genius is a process of elimination. Meaning that I make attempts at multiple areas to succeed in, and through the process I wean out what is not for me. I also narrow down where my genius is likely to shine!

Either way, even though my genius doesn’t show in an area doesn’t mean that any extra skills I pick up won’t be useful!

 

In Conclusion

Everyone has their genius level areas! I tell myself this when I catch myself thinking I am superior to others skills. Also reminding myself of my own genius when I am feeling inferior to the skill of others.

On my good days, I am able to give others and myself the benefit of the doubt. Meaning that I choose to say that just because I am not seeing others or my own genius in action, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. I am just not seeing it!

I know that there is always more to the story. There is always more potential genius laying in wait in all the people I surrounded by. And there is always more potential genius in myself!

Today I am even closer to recognizing my genius areas than yesterday, mainly because I have taken the time to investigate it in front of all of you! 

Thank you for stopping in to be reminded of the genius that exists in the world and in yourselves! If you enjoyed what you read, please give this post a share on your social media!

Also to stay connected to My Life Experiment through your email, and to receive a copy of our Free Therapeutic Writing Guide, then sign up for our email list on the sidebar. 🙂

Also, check us out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MyLifeExperimentblog/

Much Love,

Travis H

 

 

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Game Plan for Avoiding Postpartum Depression.

Postpartum depression is something that affects from 1 to 7 of women after childbirth according to the American Psychological Association. 

One of the best moments of my life was when I held my little girl for the first time! At first, I was in shock and the next moment I fell in love. Also, when I looked into my husband’s eyes, I feel even more in love with him.

This has been one of the biggest transitional periods of my life but, it is worth every second!

In a way I feel as though I am going through a grieving process. I am letting go of the life of just my husband and me. Now we share our world with our new little girl, Ada.

I have gone through a lot in my life, which means several transitions.

-I left my old unhealthy life of using, to getting clean and finding a new way to live.

-I learned how to step out of physical and emotional isolation and went from hating myself to loving myself.

-I learned how to develop healthy relationships with others and maintain a life that I enjoy living.

These are all examples of significant transitions that I went through. But, none of these seem as big as the one that I am currently experiencing. Don’t get me wrong, I am so in love with this little girl that we brought into the world, and motherhood is simply amazing.

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My husband and I have waited a long time to meet her and she is everything that I could have ever dreamed of! That being said, our lives completely changed the moment she was born.

Now I am going through strong emotions and almost everything makes me cry. I have been able to laugh through most of these moments, which is extremely important. This lets me know that everything is truly okay and that I don’t need to let these feelings take over. With all of this there is definitely some fear that I feel.

I knew this event would change a lot of things for us. The other night I cried as I told my husband that I missed going to bed at the same time, as we take shifts so that we can both get some sleep.

Later I was able to laugh at myself! It is such a small thing in the grand scheme of everything.

I confessed that I was scared for when he goes back to work. I feel fear of course that things might be too hard by myself. Keeping myself accountable for my feelings and sharing them with him has helped me a tremendous amount.

Deep down I know that I can do this, that I am a great mother. I know that everything will be just fine when I am home alone with Ada. Sure, there are going to be some rough days but, I have more support than I could ever ask for.

So now I feel that it is important for me to have a plan in place so that I do not fall into postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is something that affects from 1 to 7 of women after childbirth according to the American Psychological Association. And this is not a state that I will be falling into!

Without a game plan I will lack structure, balance, and accountability. These three things have always been important for me to maintain a healthy balance in life. I have come up with a few things so far to help me obtain this goal.

1. Keep talking to others- because this gets the fear and anxiety out of my head. This allows me to receive feedback from others. It also allows other people to know how to be there for me. I need to let others know what I need right now so that they know I need their help.

2. Believe in myself- because this helps to eliminate self-doubt. I know that I can do this and that I am not alone. I am a good mother and that Ada has all that she needs. When things get tough, believing in myself will help me to see the other side.

3. Getting to meetings- because this has always been one thing that helps me to maintain consistent balance in my life. I can go there and share how I am feeling and I always leave feeling better than I did when I got there. I cannot use Ada as an excuse for not being able to get to a meeting!

4. Keep breathing- because this is something that helps me to relax. When I forget to breath I become wound up and I have no release of negative energy. Taking deep breaths keeps me in the moment, which is exactly where I need to be.

5. Enjoy the current moment for exactly what it is– because this allows me to stay away from falling into depression. When I focus on the current moment I am not worrying about everything else.

6. Making time for Travis and myself- because it is important for us to have our time together. Although every moment we spend with Ada is wonderful, we still need to have our moments together as well. Our date nights will still exist!

So far, I feel that I have come up with a great plan for myself. Making a practice out of it is the next step and positive results will come because of this, without a doubt.

If you are finding yourself in a similar position, first of all please find your supports. Don’t try to deal with this process alone. If that means professional support and finding the right medication, then go that route as well!

Well, that is all I have for today. I hope you enjoyed what you read. Please feel free to share this post with others. Have a good day!

This Fortunate Individual in Recovery

Today I am feeling deeply fortunate.

The time finally arrived for my wife to bring our first child into the world at 4:27 a.m. on April 6th!

Now I am relaxing on paternity leave with my new family, soaking up the reality of my new life.

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Today, as I was laying down to take a nap after rocking in the chair with Ada Ray, I began thinking about how fortunate I am.

I feel fortunate for a couple of reasons.

I am ridiculously grateful to be able to have the pleasure of hanging out with my baby. Another thing I have been thinking about is how crazy it is that I have ended up at this place in life.

Something I have made clear on My Life Experiment, is that I am an addict in recovery.

There was a time in my life when I was at an extreme bottom, my liver and pancreas were very sick. And my mental, emotional and spiritual health were virtually decimated.

I was a 26 year old little boy, very scared, and hopelessly lost. My chance at any sort of better life was quickly fading way.

Fortunately, the state of being I knew then, is a state of being that is distant in the past. Though also close to my heart so that I don’t forget where I’ve come from.

Today I am living in the manifested possibilities that I could have never imagined possible in 2008!

My new live has all been made possible because of the recovery program I follow. It has helped me keep my mind in reality and have healthier, mutually enjoyable relationships.

Over the last TWO YEARS ALONE I have been able to.

1. Graduate from College.

A lot of money was spent on multiple attempts at college years 19-23. I simply could not stop using long enough to get my head straight.

The failed attempts did a great deal to fuel my shame and convince myself that I was not a very smart dude. But December 2015, I received Bachelors’ Degrees, in Philosophy and Psychology, earning a 3.75 GPA. Not bad for someone who received 45 days of suspension his senior year of High School, and a D- average throughout his high school career!

It felt amazing to rewrite the history of my past failed attempts and wasted resources!

2. Got Married.

The history of romantic relationships throughout my life was a complete mess before recovery. I put myself in dangerous situations to maintain them.

I also spent many years isolating myself from potential relationships, after an early heartbreak that I used to amplify my using. But October 2016, I married a wonderful woman and the cowriter of My Life Experiment!

3. Bought a House.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever believe I would be able to live in my own house!

My life before recovery was mainly about cramming multiple people into single bedroom apartments, basement dwelling, and running back to my parents place after another failed attempt at living somewhere else.

On December 15th of 2017, my wife and I moved into our new house!

4. Became a Father.

As I said above Ada Ray came into the world just 6 days ago in the wee hours of the morning. Of all the other beautiful developments that have arrived in my life, I don’t know if any of them can top her arrival.

I was pretty much convinced that with the way I treated my body for so many years, that I wasn’t going to be able to become a dad. But here she is now, crazy beautiful and has my heart forever.

Why the Fortunate List?

I put this list together to reflect on the crazy journey my life has been from active addiction and into recovery.

Reflecting on these life victories, has me feeling very fortunate that I didn’t die and that I found this new way to live!

This list also represents lost hopes and dreams that reawakened in the course of my journey!

I didn’t create this list to brag about getting my way in life to all of you. But, definitely to attempt to inspire a little hope into some that may feel hopeless about potentially recovering their lives. And thus, even more hope for myself.

I know that feeling of hopelessness very well. But now know that it need never return at that level.

Hope for Becoming One of the fortunate.

Whether in recovery from active addiction or other mental illness, there is hope! There is a path back to sanity. I found mine in a program for addicts!

But there are mutual support groups for all sorts of personalities, disorders, and traumatized individuals.

There are resources available. If you are struggling please reach out and find them. You are worth it 😊

I know that reality can seemed stacked against us when it comes to thinking of the lost time and all the family members we might have hurt. But there is no time to waste, get help as soon as possible, and get on the path to wake up your lost hopes and dreams!

Recovery support

Here are few a web pages set up to help individuals get hooked up with support!

www.samhsa.gov/find-help This website is a national resource with links to help find the nearest treatment centers to you, the Suicide Prevention line and other great mental health support resources.

www.NA.org Website for Narcotics Anonymous. Despite the name, NA is not just for users of Narcotics, but all sorts of substance use disorders (whether diagnosed or not). If you are looking to stop using any type of drug (including alcohol), and recovering your life, then check it out.

www.AA.org Website for Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous focuses on recovery from alcoholism. If you are looking to stop drinking and recovering your life, then check it out.

The beauty of Living a Fortunate Life.

Life is a beautiful thing. I have not always been able to see that life is beautiful, but now I consistently live in this reality.

And now, because of the fortune I have had in recovery, I have great hope to know that only more amazing opportunities and experience is possible.

I have no idea what my life is going to look like over the next 5 years, but what I do know is that the path I am on will ensure that it will be amazing!

Thank you for checking out My Life Experiment today, it was my pleasure to fill you in on my experience.

As well as the resources above, Therapeutic Writing has been a tremendously helpful habit to keep. If you join My Life Experiments email list on the sidebar, you will receive a printable copy of our Therapeutic Writing Guide. You will also receive our articles directly to your email.

Much Love,
Travis Hagen

Pushing positive energy through the negative.

 

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I am a strong believer in the law of attraction! I have also experienced how it works in my life.

When I put out positive energy I am met back with that same energy. Just the same as if I am putting out negative energy that is what I receive back. This has been a great thing for me to implement in my life and it ALWAYS works.

Lately even though I know it works, I have had an extremely difficult time putting out that positive energy, which is not something that you do just once at the beginning of the day. Rather, it is something that you continue to do throughout your entire day. That, or it simply will not be effective!

It has been very difficult to follow through on staying positive, as of late. I begin my day by thinking positively and feeling love for what’s to come, but when that first negative thought or feeling comes it can be easy to let it hijack my whole day.

One area that is hugely impacted is at work. I work at Costco, which I normally love, and I interact with people my entire shift.

I am sure everyone can relate to shopping and ending up with that crabby cashier which can put a damper on your whole experience! I never thought that I was the crabby cashier. Well, it turns out that I am more that person lately than I thought.

When one unreasonable customer begins pushing my buttons they no doubt are feeling my “stabby eyes”, as my husband calls them. If just one of these customers comes around I can have a drastic personality change! And it will make it more likely that others after them will feel my wrath.

I am generally an upbeat and friendly person who never minds striking up conversation with those who come through my line. I smile and laugh with others and love to help cheer people up. Currently I am none of those things which has got me a bit down.

It’s not that I don’t want to be grateful, because trust me I do. I think that with all the changes that have come with being pregnant and being off one of my medications, that it has become a lot harder to manifest the positivity that I once had. This only increases fear and anxiety in my life.

I find it important to see exactly how this is affecting my everyday life. Gaining perspective on this is what drives me to make changes. What I know is that this issue has stopped me from fully being myself, leaving me feeling irritated and angry.

I am done hindering myself from having a great day. I am also done preventing myself from seeing all the positive things that are going on around me!

Although I am not trying to do it intentionally, I am making things harder for those I am working with. Ultimately, I am making it hard for anyone who encounters the negative energy I am fostering. This includes my family, friends, and even my cats!

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In my last post I mentioned how I would focus on bringing more gratitude into my life. This is something that can help me to attract positive energy, and not keep my day hijacked by the negative in my own head! Here are a few ways I have been able to do this!

1. Stop and list things I am grateful for in my head- This acts like a timeout if you will. Doing this at work helps to turn my mood around, even if for a few minutes.

2. I have a symbol to help remind me to be grateful- I picked this up from “The Power by: Rhonda Byrne.” I picked something that I love. Every time I see a turtle I stop and really invoke feeling of gratitude and love in my life. I see it in jewelry,on t-shirts, kid’s toys, and more. “Affiliate Link Below”

3. I take a moment to breathe- This allows me to slow down and relax a little. When this happens, I can focus on feelings of gratitude, and get back to my friendlier personality.

4. Putting myself in others shoes- At work I have found it helpful to think about how coworkers might be affected by my energy. I know that when I work with someone who is constantly negative it can take a toll on my mood and sometimes I find myself feeling negative right along with them.

5. Thinking helpful thoughts- When I can get outside of my head and think of helping others, that can keep me from treating them badly. Thinking of helping others has helped me to stop the negative thoughts and start thinking positive thoughts. Then I am able to laugh with and not criticize, to smile at and not scowl, and to love and not hate.

Each of these things helps me to incorporate more positive energy into my day, which is something that I really need right now. Actively practicing this is what makes for a good day and I become someone that others want to be around.

Well that is all I have for now! Thanks for taking a moment of your day to read this! Feel free to share if you found this to be helpful.

Also, look over to the sidebar and sign up to My Life Experiment’s email list to receive our free Therapeutic Writing Guide, and to receive My Life Experiment blog directly to you email!

I hope you have a great day!

 

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Relationships are About Contribution, Not Management!

By: Travis Hagen

Hey everybody, thank you for stopping in to My Life Experiment.

As you may have noticed there will be a new author making contribution to My Life Experiment, my wife Casey Hagen! When first starting My Life Experiment I wasn’t aware that this would be a thing that would come to be. Though when the idea came to try and get Casey on board with contributing, I immediately knew it was a solid gold idea!

Casey and I come from similar life paths, in that we have lived through the pain of addiction, have rocked it in recovery, and way more often than not have been strongly supportive contribution to the fulfillment of each other’s ambitions.

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What has worked so well in Casey and I’s relationship is that we have our own personalities, our own friends, and our own recoveries. I don’t feel the need to attempt to micromanage Casey’s life, and Casey has been able to do the same for me. Thank god!

We are able to have all of these things be separate, but still come together on enough things so that our relationship isn’t left to be too needy.

I don’t know about you, but I can get the feeling of suffocation quickly in any relationship! Without necessary space I am likely to freak out. I tend to be a bit of an introvert as I discussed a couple of posts back. That and I have had ample problems with other people’s expectations, and with those I perceive to be authority figures.

I remember one time when I was cleaning the fridge back at our old apartment. As I was cleaning, Casey walked by and said “Great job babe” or something similar. My immediate response was “you’re not my manager.” It was pretty funny to me, but I think it took Casey a little for bit for her to have the same sentiment for the comment.

Just so you know, I don’t believe my wife is my manager.

I have given ample thought to this situation and here is what I am concluding. Some unresolved stuff in me thought that she was trying to condition my behavior… So, I revolted!

I imagine this feeling is common place in relationships that require this amount of time to be spent together. Or maybe I am just justifying my behavior 🙂

Despite occasional revolts from feelings of being controlled, thankfully Casey and I have worked well together! But it isn’t controlling each other that has helped our lives together grow so rapidly.

We certainly push each other, encourage each other, and compliment each other! We understand that in order to have a happy relationship, we need to change, grow, and find success in new territories.

Casey knows that my success is her success, and my clean fridge is her clean fridge. And most of the time, I stay reminded of the very same thing!

Team Players!

We understand that we are a team. We realize that the team needs the fridge to be cleaned, the litter boxes to be emptied, the dishes to be done, and so on and so forth with the never ending list of responsibilities there are to take care of.

Even though sometimes innocent comments about my cleaning performance can be viewed as attempts to condition my behavior, it doesn’t really matter because that is all part of the process.

To be in a healthy, intimate relationship, we must allow the other person to leave their mark on us. They need to know that their needs, are needs that not only they care about.

Now does it really matter that compliments may be a great way to make it more likely that someone will behave the way I would like them to? When it comes to having a healthy relationship, of course not!

Casey isn’t making me be in my marriage, nobody is making me show up to weekly baby appointments, and cleaning the litter box. Nobody is forcing Casey to make any contribution to My Life Experiment blog, or any of the thousand contributions she has made to my life.

We choose to be in this relationship. And we choose to make it a healthy one. Both individually and mutually making contributions to each other!

A big reason I have been able to keep my end of this relationship healthy is because I have kept my own mental and emotional health in check. This has come from me showing up for my personal recovery.

Another great tool I have is the Therapeutic Writing Guidelines we have developed. This writing process has made huge contribution after huge contribution to my recovery. If you would like to obtain a printable copy, go ahead and join My Life Experiment’s email list on the side bar! You will get a printable Therapeutic Writing Guide, as well as receive our new blog posts directly to your email.

Thank you very much for stopping in to My Life Experiment once again or for the first time. We appreciate you all for supporting this family endeavor!

 

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