I have experienced great excitement in my life on several different occasions, but each of those events doesn’t even seem to come close to the level of excitement that I have for bringing my baby Ada into this world with my husband. Our lives are about to drastically change, and we are ready. Although there is also great anxiety!
At this point we are waiting in anticipation to lay eyes on our little girl for the first time. The house has been filling up with things for her and her room is finally finished. To see the bassinette in the bedroom, to sit in the new rocking chair, and to wash and fold her tiny cloths are all things that fuel this excitement.
I picture her sleeping, crying, smiling, crawling, and the laughter of each of us as we enjoy these moments. I even picture the messy house, sleepless nights, and the dirty diapers. We are ready! I love each of these thoughts as they come up and I feel an immense amount of gratitude. I even feel gratitude for the hard moments that are about to come as well because it is all part of the process.
But to go along with all this excitement there is plenty of worry and anxiety. When I first learned that I was pregnant I had to quickly wean off a certain medication that I was on. It helped me with depression and anxiety symptoms. This has been difficult for me at certain points throughout my pregnancy.
I work a customer service job and I have noticed a significant increase in anxiety when it comes to talking with people. When it comes to any type of confrontation I feel like I am ready to crawl out of my own skin. And now that we are down to the last few weeks everything physically and mentally seems so hard. One thought that helps is knowing that this will not last forever.
This is all completely uncharted territory for both my husband and I and new experiences can be scary. From time to time I wonder whether I will be a good enough mom or worry about the birthing process. It’s ok, even normal to feel some amount of anxiety for what’s coming.
Right now it is so important for me to take care of myself so that I can be in the best spot mentally when Ada is born!
This means that I need to continue the practice of feeling grateful, keep talking about these feelings of anxiety so that i am not harboring them all to myself, and continuing to maintain a healthy daily routine no matter how uncomfortable I am emotionally.
When I am practicing gratitude in all my affairs I start to feel better. Thoughts like “I can’t do this, or I am not good enough,” turn into thoughts of loving myself and knowing that I can accomplish what I set out to do. Gratitude has the ability to turn my mood around.
This has been one area that I have been lacking in at work and I can see the impact that it has on how I am interacting with people. It makes for a long and hard day when I fail to focus on why I am grateful.
The reason that I find it so important to continue to talk about my feeling of anxiety is because it seems to lessen those feelings. I am able to listen to feedback from others and keep myself accountable to what is going on.
Maintaining a healthy daily routine will help keep balance in my life especially when everything feels so hectic. This will take stress off my shoulders and allow me to feel somewhat normal right now.
As long as I am focusing on these things I know that I will be ok. I WILL be in the best place I can be. In fact, I already am!
Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my article. If you like what you read today please feel free to share on social media. You can also click to be put on the email list as well. Until next time.
Today I have been thinking about some of the gifts that recovery has given me. Many of the things that recovery has blessed me with are more tangible things, things like being in a happy marriage, a very soon to be father, owning a nice house, and having a decent job.
But many of the gifts of recovery are what have actually made those more tangible gifts possible.
Recovery has helped me develop sanity by finding a principled way of living. Helping me learn, Honesty, Open-Mindedness, Willingness, Patience, just to name a few. Without practicing these in my life, I don’t stand a chance at staying sane, and staying clean.
There was a thought I had today that spurred me writing on this topic. The thought was “what is the most important thing I have learned from recovery?”
Although it is difficult for me to pick a most important thing I have learned. The self-knowledge and self-awareness I have learned seem to be a clear stand outs for the most important!
Most of my life before recovery I spent bouncing off one experience to another without really any clarity of why I was doing it. If there was “clarity,” the logic came from a very foggy mind, and I could convince myself of some crazy stuff..
What is very interesting is that I didn’t happen to bounce from one healthy experience to the next healthy experience. No, it was quite the opposite!
The actions I took seemed to be led by two puzzle pieces:
1. The easiest action I could take. 2. The most exciting action I could take.
Now I realize I am staring at another question here. Was it easy to deal with the consequences of committing crimes, or to create so many more problems for myself and others? Hell no, it wasn’t but those were not things that I thought through before tearing off into the next, probably not so good decision!
Of course, I felt remorse and regret when I caused problems. And when I felt those things, I desired to change my behavior. Sometimes I would change them, for a little while. But eventually I would find myself sliding back into old behavior.
Sure, through my life I have caused a lot of problems, but to me there is one main problem. I had no clue who in the hell I was. I lacked self-knowledge and self-awareness!
To me, without self-knowledge there is no self-awareness. And without self-awareness, there is no maintaining the required actions to hold my best possible life together. There is also no keeping me from destroying my life with the tendencies I resort to on default.
A huge piece of self-knowledge I didn’t have for many years, is that I am an addict. That there is something in my brain that, when triggered, begins a downward spiral of negative thinking and negative actions.
Getting control of this spiral, keeping myself out of it, and learning how to move myself in the other direction has been what recovery is all about.
So today I know that I am an addict, and I am aware of what I need to do to recover. I am more aware of what thoughts and actions, bring me closer to starting my downward spiral, even subtly.
I have also learned how to separate my feelings about myself from the negative behaviors I habitually engaged the world with! And the troublesome thoughts that lead me to feel like acting on those behaviors are mostly nipped in the bud, as soon as the arrive in my mind.
Over the years I have come to learn more about who I truly am. I know that if I am seeking excitement by something that is illegal or destructive, that there is a bigger issue. Up above I mentioned two puzzle pieces that guided my addict behavior.
Here are the puzzle pieces that primarily guide my actions today:
1. What is best for my family? 2. Does this fit positive direction I have? 3. Do I really want to behave like this? 4. Am I going to regret this behavior later?
I notice that the above puzzle pieces were not based on questions, but these ones are. That is because I have a good relationship with my conscience today. When I ask it questions I get answers back that are more in tune with who I am!
For many years I didn’t have a good relationship with my conscience, I didn’t ask many questions about what was best for me. Like I said I seemed to just bounce from each experience to the next, basically lost. Unaware of the conscience I had, and the possibilities that existed on the other side of the insanity I lived within.
Gaining self-knowledge and self-awareness are beautiful things. I don’t necessarily like everything I am learning about myself, but at least my thoughts and behavior are not such a horrible waste of my time and energy! On the flip side of the bad, I am growing quickly into the kind of life I adore living.
Now, I don’t claim to have full knowledge and awareness of who I am today. I would be a damn fool to believe I had that. If My Life Experiment has taught me anything up to this point, it has taught me that there is much more to be discovered about life. There is also much more to be discovered about myself!
Thank you for stopping in to My Life Experiment. We will definitely have more to say on the subject of self-knowledge and self-awareness in the future. But that is all I have to say today!
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Much love everybody and take care!
“Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual.
I do believe that human beings are naturally led to be socially engaged. And that too much seclusion from other human beings is a practice that is detrimental for the individual who secludes themselves as such.
What I have an issue with is about what Aristotle says about those who are naturally unsocial. Aristotle mentions being naturally unsocial is “beneath our notice.” Which I take to mean “less than human.”
In society I truly do believe that an individual that is not so social, is perceived, and in a sense, is generally treated as less than human. When someone spends just a little bit too much time alone and speaks in ways that are outside the bounds of social acceptability even slightly, most people already begin wondering what’s wrong with this person.
I would classify myself on the socially awkward side of the spectrum. And sometimes socially isolative (yes, I made that word up). Now It isn’t that I don’t like people, I actually do like people. But I like people within a certain amount of human interaction, and over that amount (which isn’t a whole lot), I lose my interest rapidly.
I simply enjoy being at home, reading, writing, looking at YouTube or just hanging out with my wife more than hanging out with people!
I enjoy socializing at times, only that most of the time it feels more natural for me to spend time processing things in my mind away from people, instead of with others.
Many people around me seem to process their lives with other people so naturally. For me though It seems exhausting to think about talking to other people as much as I perceive the average human being does.
It seems exhausting to have as many lunches, parties, outings as I perceive the average human being partaking in as well!
With all of that being said, I go back to the knowing that human beings (which I know I am) do need social contact. And in My Life Experiment, periods of social isolation have had horrible consequences for my mental and emotional health.
Throughout my recovery from active addiction I have had to rely on other people for my well-being more than I realized I could handle. I have made strides in allowing more people into my world, which has kept me sustained and incredibly healthy over the last 9 years.
Though today, even though I am a healthy, responsible, and productive individual, I still find that it is simply part of my personality to shy away from much socialization.
Thankfully I have found acceptance with my style. Also, I have gained acceptance of the fact that I don’t need to socialize as much as others believe I should be socializing, or how much I perceive other people socialize!
I have come to accept that my personal style is my own. That it is no better, or no worse than anybody else’s. And it feels awesome to be cool with it! I don’t need to be something that I am not, in order to seem that I socialize just like all the others!
As for Aristotle, maybe I have him all wrong. But there is something within the “beneath our notice” comment that disturbs me.
I realize that this is a dog eat dog world, of sorts. And those that fit in, may end up more likely to not get eaten up as quickly. But I believe that those that end up accepting their more introverted social styles, will not get eaten up so quickly either. And they will also find their vital roles in society.
To believe that anyone that doesn’t socialize like the average human being is less than human, is crude and ignorant thinking.
Well, that is all I have for today on My Life Experiment! In my next article I will dig into a little more of the positives of the socially awkward, and more introverted styles of socializing!
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My last couple of articles have been about developing a better relationship with the expectations other people have for me.
Now I want to talk a little about the expectations that I have for others!
Over the last 9 years I have come to terms that I am and probably always will be a leader.
Leaders inspire. Leaders push for movement towards shared goals. Leaders also make sure their expectations for what needs to be done are expressed to everyone involved with the relationship!
In order to make expectations for relationships I am a leader for healthy, I can clearly see some things that need to be in place:
1. Relationship Development- When I have managed at my job, people have needed to do what was expected in order to receive a paycheck and receive good reports. But most of the areas I lead in do not have a monetary reward for meeting expectation. To get people on board with my expectations, I need to develop rapport with them. And I need to give them a damn good reason to want to build something with me. Just berating people with my expectations without a mutual and enjoyable relationship, means that these people will probably tell me where to go (and for good reason)!
2. Reasonable Expectation- What I mean by this is that I need to get a gauge for what people can perform. I believe that this requires me to study people’s behavior, also setting a high bar for initial performance. Setting the bar higher at first can give me a gauge for how much someone can do and cannot. If I set the bar too low I may never get to know what someone is capable of doing.
3. Effective Communication- I know that if expectations are to be healthy, they need to be communicated. People need to know what I need from them. If I don’t communicate the expectations, I am probably going to assume these people know what I want. Then I will be frustrated when these people are not meeting my expectations. Even though these people never even knew what I was expecting in the first place!
4. Consistent Evaluation- When individuals have accepted my expectations for their performance, for whatever reason, I need to let them know what I think about their performance. I need to show them my gratitude for meeting expectation, I need to show my dissatisfaction for performance not being met. I have also found that when I am expressing my frustration, I need to do it in a way that respects the individual.
5. Continued Support- To me it is not enough to simply express what the expectations are and to give reports on whether they have been met or not. I also need to let people know that I have their backs. People that I am in a leadership role with need to know that I am willing to do whatever it is that I expect from them. And if I am not skilled enough to do what needs to be done, I need to be willing to help find someone who can.
Now BELIEVE ME… Being able to write this list has come from plenty of struggle. I have pushed on people too hard without having a solid relationship in place and pissed them off too much. I have expected too little from people and watched them get bored. I have assumed too much, I have expressed too little. I have neglected to practice what I preach.
I don’t say this to guilt myself, I say this because this is My Life Experiment! It is only by experimenting with life, and examining the results of my actions thoroughly, that I have learned the skills I have.
In the article about Hustling to Maintain my Sanity I talked about all the things I need to do to maintain my sanity so that I don’t fall into my old way of life. Being a leader is just another one of these things I must do.
I have also found that when this leader does not lead, stress builds, and so do the tendencies toward depression and anxiety. But when this leader does lead, I find that a natural skill comes out that has positive effects for helping any relationship I am a part of, find consistent growth.
I know a lot of people may argue that leaders are simply born, they are not grown. I believe that line of thinking is pure rubbish. I believe that if individuals truly desire to learn the skills that are involved with being a successful leader, that they can do so!
Sure, I do believe that some people may be more geared toward being leaders than others. I also don’t know where this tendency came from for me. Was I born with it? Or was it something I developed when I was navigating a world as an insane man that could not stop using mind altering substances?
Whatever the case may be, this trait is a part of my personality now. And as much as I would like to remove the leadership trait at times, I cannot.
I don’t always appreciate that one of my first tendencies is to nudge people into new territory and place expectations on them. But I at least have been learning how to get the most out of the leadership quality, and have been honing how to have, communicate, and get positive growth out of the expectations I am developing for people today.
So that is all I have for this article! I appreciate that you spent your valuable time to read what I have had to say. If you have enjoyed what you have read here, I would deeply appreciate giving me a share on your social media!
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In the last article on My Life Experiment I laid out some ideas to think through to help me take responsibility for expectations I am feeling.
While I was laying out the ideas, I began to think about how important expectations are for building the kind of life I desire.
I desire a mental and emotional life that is both stable and creative. I desire quality, healthy relationships. I desire finances that will allow me and my family to continually and rapidly increase our quality of living. These are what I would call my core desires.
To have all these things I desire most, means hard work. It also means putting myself in the position to have other people help me! As well as allowing them to increase the amount of expectation they have for my performance.
Let’s face it, if people around me aren’t expecting much of me, this is a life snuffing ordeal. If people are not expecting much, then what kind of motivation will I get from them? Probably not much!
But I suppose this is only for the type of life I desire to live. Some may appreciate a life with as few expectations on them as possible. I have before as well, and still do often. I have also found out that the ambition coursing through my veins will not allow me to be comfortable with a life of low expectations!
Don’t get me wrong though, most of the time when realizing someone is expecting something challenging of me, I do have that initial thought of “who in the hell do you think you are.” It is too easy of a reaction on my part, and one that I seek to improve.
My reactions tend to keep me engaged in a mindset and behaviors that resist change. So, when someone recommends I do something that challenges my mindset, I usually go to some form of defense mechanism.
I tend to resort defenses like over-intellectualizing or sarcastic humor to try to avoid allowing the advice they may be trying to impart into my skull. I get the feeling I reactively avoid the advice because if I allow them to see it make sense to me, then they may EXPECT me to follow through!
I don’t know about you, but I am not about to allow this person to control me! LOL
I laugh there because there is nothing about allowing the other persons advice to be logical, that says I need to do what they said, let alone have it “Control” me. But I might need to do what they preach if I am going to receive the results in life that I desire!
I don’t know what it is in my brain that has me believing that if other people expect something from me, that they have some sort of control over me. But I am guessing that I am not alone!
The truth is that there are so many people that know a ton more about every subject available, than myself. And if I want what they have to offer, I am going to be able to allow them to influence me.
I need to allow them to expect some things of me and allow them to let me know when I am not meeting those expectations. This can be a very hard pill to swallow!
Let’s look at some ways that we can help this pill go down a little more smoothly!
9 Habits for Allowing my Relationships to Have Healthy Expectations for me:
1.Stay on top of my decision making- I find that it is easier to allow people to help me when I am consistently making the decisions I need to make. I tend to feel people are trying to control me more, when I am not feeling in control of my daily affairs.
2. Find Challenging People- I find it important to have people around me that will help push me to be my most productive self. By having people that will help me actualize my goals instead of push their own on me, has taught me to have healthy relationships.
3. Find out Which challenge style works best for me- Some people may push their expectations for me like drill instructors, and others as gentle as can be. I tend to like a mixture of these, although I get annoyed at both. But if it seems like someone is trying to mother me, that is what I am looking for, the least.
4. Make sure the expectations are healthy- I desire a healthy life so if the expectations people are having for me are not healthy, then I cannot meet them. I also will not be able to continue the relationship.
5. Follow people that care for me- When I know that people have my best interests in mind, it definitely makes it easier to let them have expectations for me. Though sometimes these might be the ones I fight back against the most. But also, who’s advice I will likely end up following.
6. Choose credibility- I find it easier to allow people to have expectations for me if I know they practice what they preach. If someone isn’t willing to follow their own advice they give me, it makes it much more difficult to follow their advice.
7. Stay Reminded of Rewards- If I am having a hard time allowing someone to have expectation, I can keep myself reminded of why I am seeking advice from them in the first place. I am seeking because I desire something. Whether I am desiring the rewards I will receive from emotional support, business advice, parenting advice or whatever other advice I may seek.
8. Do My Own Research- Just because I trust someone doesn’t mean I should just be blindly following their advice. If I have extra questions for them, I ask them. If I need to do further research, then I do that too. If I don’t do my own research, I tend to blame the person I sought to help guide me.
9. Remind myself that its ultimately my decision- No one makes my decisions for me. Even when I feel like they are. Reminding myself that I am not a victim to other people’s guidance, and that I ultimately make the decision helps a lot.
As I have been writing this list, it has come to my attention that I tend to have a bit of a problem with authority!
I have had to do a lot of work on myself to feel like an autonomous human being (meaning that I make my own decisions and take my own actions). But there is clearly more work to be done. Which I am okay with, because My Life Experiment is all about learning new ways to live!
I don’t have all the answers, but other people can help me get at least some more answers. But I need to allow them to challenge my current thinking and allow them to have some expectations for my growth.
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That’s all I have for today. Thank you for stopping into My Life Experiment once again or for the first time! I appreciate you all very much for supporting the growth of My Life Experiment. I couldn’t keep doing this with out you!
In an article a couple weeks ago, I wrote about some methods I use for dealing with disappointment. Now let’s talk a little about what makes disappointment a thing, in the first place.
Expectations, are unavoidable. Whether they are placed on me by my family, the company I work for, or any other relationship I have, they are still mine to deal with.
As I look back on my life before recovery, I didn’t think I had very high expectations for myself. But I remember one time when I was talking to a buddy about having such a hard time with depression, he told me “Dude you are way too hard on yourself.”
Those words rattled through my brain for many years and still come around today. Honestly, I didn’t even know what in the hell my friend meant by being “too hard on myself.” It sounded right but It has taken years to figure out what he meant.
To me, being too hard on myself means that I am punishing myself for not meeting expectations. Expectations that for some reason or another, my mind and body feel like they should be meeting.
The words my friend spoke to me was in the middle of one of my hardest times battling addiction. For many years the only expectation I could commit to, was finding the ways and means to use more chemicals. This of course wasn’t the only expectation I desired to meet, not in the slightest! I wanted to hold down a job, be a part of my family, and create my own family. I was simply stuck, trapped even.
I got clean and made my way into recovery in November of 2008. And holy hell, talk about getting reacquainted with the past expectations I was never able to meet!
It showed up as anxiety, and I had a ton of it! All the things I “should” have been doing had stacked up, waiting for their turn to get some attention. I get the picture of an open door and 1000 people attempting to struggle their way through at the same time. Pure chaos.
Throughout my recovery the relationship I have with expectations has changed quite a bit. I have gone through periods where I was trying to meet every expectation possible. There have also been times where I have pushed back hard on any expectation that others may be trying to place on me.
Trying to be superman for people has helped me to get in touch with many emotions from the past and has helped me to learn many new skills! It also helped keep me clean as I did service for my recovery community. But with all the ambition I have for growing a family and a business of my own, on top of maintaining a job, I found myself burning out from too many responsibilities.
There have also been times where I have pulled back too far and tried to
convince myself that I didn’t care to meet hardly anybody’s expectations. This has led me to avoid places that keep me healthy. And would you believe it? I found my attitude getting crappier and crappier, and built up my anxiety to an unwanted level.
I have found that I don’t really have a choice about needing to meet certain expectations if I want desire to have a healthy life, and healthy relationships. For example, if I don’t meet the expectations of my boss for too long, I won’t have a job anymore. Neglect my wife too long, and you better believe that’s going to strain our relationship.
The fact of the matter is, that if I refuse to meet enough “reasonable” expectations that are placed on me, there is no way in hell that my relationships are going to grow and stay healthy. And if I don’t place enough expectations on myself for building a healthy life, then complacency and depression will rear their ugly heads.
Of course, I don’t have to meet every expectation that comes my way. And over the years I have developed some ways to decide what expectations I allow myself to take on, and here they are.
My Thoughts for Deciding Which Expectations to Make My Own:
1.Decide if I care to have a healthy life or not– If i care to have a healthy life, then I will be needing to create enough healthy expectations for myself. I may not like it, but it is a necessary “evil.”
2. Decide if I want this expectation on me- If I am feeling this expectation to get something done, I can ask myself a question. Do I really want to take care of this expectation? If I do, then I will commit to doing so. If not, then I will likely turn it down.
3. Decide if I want the possible rewards from meeting the expectation– In any healthy relationship, there should be potential rewards for being in the relationship. And I better be willing to put in the possibly hard work to meet the expectation, to receive them. For instance, when I started the My Life Experiment website! I knew that to get what I want out of this website, that a whole new world of expectations would erupt for myself. I decided that I was ready to take them on, because I sense great potential for future gains!
4.Decide If I am willing to deal with the risks of not meeting the expectation– If I am at work, I may not always want to meet all the expectations that are placed on me, but I need to if I want a paycheck! Or if I don’t want to meet the expectations at home I am going receive dirty looks. Sure, I could always not meet these necessary expectations for healthy relationships, but I better stay aware that there are consequences for deciding not to meet them.
5.Decide if it is my Responsibility in the first place– First of all I need to know if the expectation I am feeling is from a responsibility that is even mine. If I am feeling an expectation that I should be taking care of is someone else’s responsibility, then I probably need to drop the expectation. Because I am probably wandering into the overly codependent piece of my personality.
This list represents many moments of frustration and disappointment, and my learning what my experiences had available to teach me.
For My Life Experiment, I generally end up going from extreme to the other extreme, to find healthier ways of behaving. If you find yourself struggling with balance in this area, then hopefully this post is able to help you out!
The topic of expectations is a big one, so for next time I will be talking about finding ways to ease attachment to needing expectations to go our own way. Letting our relationships expect more from us. So stop back in and check that out!
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