I Interview Self-Help Author, Life Coach, & Speaker, Laura Juntunen – Self-Sabotage, Me Time, Her New Book & more

Interviews, Self-Help

Hello! And welcome back to Lost Online Blog!

I’m incredibly excited to share this week’s blog post with you because this week I’m interviewing life coach, speaker, and new self-help author of “Happiless Chokelist,” Laura Juntunen!

I met Laura one weekend while attending a mastermind event in Tampa organized by my business coach, Jessica Stadler. I was super nervous going into it and showed up not knowing what this weekend had in store for me. Laura was one of the first people to talk to me and make me feel welcome. I had heard in passing that she was a new author, but didn’t know much about her besides that.

Then, once all the girls arrived and the mastermind began, we all went around in a circle and talked about ourselves – what we do, what type of business we have OR want to have, what our dreams are for the future, etc. Laura was the first person to introduce herself.

She shared with all of us that she was a new self-help author, blogger, speaker, health coach turned life coach, and that her dream was to travel around America with her boyfriend in an RV and see all of the national parks and landmarks. She also shared that not too long ago she left her job to pursue blogging, speaking, writing, and coaching.

If you’re a reader of mine and know me well, you could imagine that I was in complete shock! My biggest dream in life is to become a self-help author, speaker, and blogger; I left my job this year to hopefully make that a reality; I’m a new health coach; and at the very top of my bucket list is to travel around America in an RV to see all the national parks and landmarks. It was like I could hear the Twilight Zone music playing in my head.

There I was sitting three feet away from another woman who was just like me! AND she lives in the Tampa area!!! What?

Laura was one of the reasons why I left that mastermind event in the best headspace I had been in for all of 2019. I no longer felt like I was this super weird person for pursuing health coaching, writing, and speaking or because one of my dreams is to travel around America. I now had a completely new perspective on life and those “dreams” that I always had finally felt possible. 

Before the mastermind, I didn’t know anyone who was like me, so I thought that I was strange and “unrealistic” for wanting those things. It felt very isolating and lonely. Not many people leave their job to write self-help content for a living or coach people. You know what I mean?

Since meeting Laura, I’ve officially launched my business, created my new Health Coaching page for you, created a new program that I’ll be offering to clients, developed a coaching challenge to kick off the start of my business, and started working on my first ebook. I can say confidently it was because of her. Knowing that there’s a normal person out there (not a celebrity or New York Times Best-Selling Author) who’s just like me and living her dream is what gave me the courage and the motivation I needed to get back to work.

Laura’s presence alone is inspiring to me, and I hope that today, her words will inspire you too.

So without further ado, here is my latest girl crush –

life coach, speaker, and author,

Laura Juntunen.

Happiless Chokelist

Heather: First of all, I just wanted to say thank you so much for coming onto Lost Online and doing an interview! As someone who is also a coach and a self-help writer I literally could not be more thrilled to be able to interview you (:

Laura: Thank you so much for asking me to do this interview – super exciting!

Q: Of course, we have to start out talking about your new book! You just published your very first book “Happiless Chokelist” in November. I know a lot about your book from from reading it and hearing you talk about it. But for those people who are just learning about Happiless Chokelist for the first time, can you share a little bit about the book? 

A: Happiless Chokelist is a self-help book which leads you to break through barriers, gain the clarity that you lack, and move forward in life. All of this is done in the hopes that you find your true happiness. In the book, I lay out a five step process which leads you to learn about the situations in your life in a way that makes them manageable and lets you move past them.

Q: Can you share a little bit about your story and what ended up planting the seed for the Happiless Chokelist in your mind?

A: The Happiless Chokelist is a process that actually came up by accident. I had a lot of barriers in my way that I did not know how to navigate. Slowly, I started to get rid of the negative issues in my life, one by one, and years later, I found a distinct pattern. I had eliminated negative issues by trial and error; however, there were five distinct steps that I had taken over and over again. I tried out the process with some clients and it worked for them too, so I developed a coaching process and eventually this book, so that I could help more people. The name is a play off of how I would feel like I was “choking” when I was facing obstacles, along with the idea that instead of a happiness checklist, we are diving into eliminating the “Chokes,” or the negative; hence, HappiLess ChOKElist. I love punny titles. 😉

Q: How has this material you discuss in your book, like creating your own Happiless Chokelist and working through each Choke, benefited you in your own life? How is your life different now?

A: I use the Chokelist every single day. The process is so simple and efficient, that when you get the hang of it, it becomes a way of life rather than a burden or a “job,” like many other processes can feel. Through using this process I have been able to quit my full-time job to pursue life coaching full-time, I wrote a book in four months, and I am working on a journal to accompany the book (which will be coming out early 2020). On top of my business development, I also have made great strides in my personal life.

Q: What do you think is unique about your message and book that stands out among the others? I’ve noticed that most people who don’t believe in self-help material often tend to think that it’s all the same message.

A: What stands out the most with the Happiless Chokelist process is that it not only tells you how to get through your barriers, but it also tells you how to maintain that forward momentum. One of the reasons people “fail” when it comes to self-help is that they read a book or try out a process and they don’t continue using it; they start and stop, start and stop, etc. If you have a way to make it a continuous evolution, it will not only help you resolve any issues you have, but it will make sure you continue to do so. The Happiless Chokelist process does this.

Q: I recently wrote a blog post all about my experience with people telling me what I was “supposed to” do, so I was super interested when you talked about this concept in your book. Can you explain what a “supposed to” kid is like and how being a “supposed to” kid affects us?

A: A “supposed to” kid is someone who was brought up believing that they had to do certain things in order to be happy and/or successful. It is something that can be ingrained in your subconscious without you even realizing it. These beliefs can be placed on you by your parents, teachers, mentors, and, most commonly, society and/or the idea that you have to “fit in.” When we are told that we have to do certain things to be successful, we think that there is no other way to gain that success. Here’s a common example: My high school teachers said I have to go to college to get a high-paying job, so if I don’t go to college, I won’t make any money. Not only does this person believe that they have to go to college, but they also believe that if they don’t go to college they won’t make any money. College = High paying job = No other career avenue will bring wealth. Little ideas that we hear as a child can make huge consequences. It is essential that you reevaluate your beliefs and make sure that they are legitimate. Isn’t it true that people can make plenty of money and find success without going to college? Yes. That belief system could be keeping you from creating something extraordinary. 

Q: What would you suggest to Lost Online readers for breaking free from societal pressures about what we’re “supposed to” do?

A: Understand that in most cases it is fear that is holding you back. We do what we’re “supposed to” do because we “know” that it will bring us success. We “know” that we can succeed like everyone else which means we are safe. However, there are plenty of people who have lived the “supposed to” life since they were born and are kicking themselves because they didn’t take risks, go on the adventure, or pursue the dream, all because they were “supposed to” do the safe, responsible thing. They ended up living in regret of what they wished they had pursued. So, if you have a choice to pursue life, why not do it? I’m not saying to quit your day job to travel the world, but I am saying to start working towards that dream. Start pursuing the things that you love, bring you joy, and bring you happiness. Tell society that you are stronger and more capable than it gives you credit for. Take the leap or, at least, that first step.

Following Your Passion

Q: So I’m super curious, most people don’t just fall into being a self-help author! How did you know that you were passionate about writing and self-help?

A: I have always wanted to be an author. As a kid I would write and tell stories, and I loved the idea of reading and writing for a living. I am a bookworm. However, as I was growing up I was told that I would not be able to make a living as an author. I was told that I was “supposed to” get a safe job in this economy and world that we live in, and writing was not “safe.” I went all through high school and college believing that I was not supposed to be a writer because it wasn’t safe. Well, I then realized this limiting belief inside myself and said, screw it, I am going to pursue this passion. If it works, it works; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m glad I decided to pursue this dream because those limiting beliefs were definitely wrong!

Q: I’m sure leaving your job to become a life coach, speaker, and author had to be scary! What gave you the courage to leave the 9-5 life behind and pursue your dream career?

A: It was terrifying. Going from a steady job with a safe income to the completely unknown was one of the scariest things I have ever done. However, I gained the courage I needed through a simple practice, which you can do right now: Imagine your life ten years down the road. Visualizing that future self, will you regret not pursuing your dream? When I thought about my life ten years down the road, I knew that I needed to pursue my life coaching business full-time. If I didn’t pursue it now, I would regret it later on. I made the decision quickly, but it took a full year to finally make the transition. Being prepared for the transition was essential. I would not change anything.

Q: What keeps you motivated even on the days when you feel like things are moving slower than you want it to and you’re having doubts?

A: Every day I struggle with something; I’m human. So are you! I think that’s the biggest issues; people think that it’s easy for everyone but themselves. But it’s difficult for everyone. When I feel like things are moving too slowly in my business or when doubts spring up, because they do often, I take myself out of the work zone. I do something completely off of my schedule; I go rollerblading or to the gym, I read a fun book or I play with my pet bunnies. I get out of my own head and step away from the doubt and fears. Taking myself out of that mindset creates space for me to see what the reality is: I’m running a business, it is not going to be easy all the time, and all I have to do is trust that what I am doing is enough.

Self-Help

Q: I know that even as a coach and self-help help writer, you’re not immune to limiting beliefs, self-doubt, and personal challenges – we’re all human! Do you have practices that you put in place to make sure that those “Chokes” as you call them, don’t come back around. Maybe a routine or practice that helps you stay aligned?

A: I think it’s very ironic that you wrote “we’re all human” and I also used that phrase in the answer to my your last question – great minds think alike! Haha! But yes, there are things that you can do to make sure you are staying aligned with your goals. Through the Happiless Chokelist process I have a strategy I use for all of my Chokes in order to keep them from resurfacing and I teach this strategy to the reader. However, something I also do that is not in the book is my daily #metime. In order to stay on top of my life, business, relationships, etc. I make sure to spend quality time with ME, every single day. I have a morning routine that I do not skip, I also make sure to spend time doing the things that bring me joy and happiness, again, daily! No matter what the world is throwing at you, if you actively pursue doing something for your happiness every single day, you will be able to stay on top of the Chokes that want to sneak back into your life.

Q: The last time we met, you shared with me that you also struggle with self-sabotage, which is something my readers struggle with too. What ways do you self-sabotage and how have you managed them?

A: Self-sabotage is a struggle that many people deal with and it can be difficult to overcome this Choke because your internal dialogue is usually the culprit. I self-sabotage in the form of procrastination due to fear. When I find my fears creeping up, I stop all productivity. It’s kind of like I freeze and become paralyzed by fear. I manage this fear by talking it out with a coach, my boyfriend, another entrepreneur, or a friend. Many people hold these fears inside and psych themselves out, thinking that the fears are real. By speaking to people about it I am able to realize that the fears are not usually realistic and I can move past them. 

Q: During the Mastermind that we went to, we talked a lot about self-care and the importance of taking the time to fill yourself. And I know my readers have expressed to be their interested in learning more about self-care. Do you have any rituals or self-care practices that you like to incorporate in your life?

A: Like I mentioned before, I like to spend quality time with ME. My #metime is very important. Another self-care practice I incorporate in my life is to wake up before the sun. Yes, I know that sounds terrible to some; however, my early morning is Mine and I love it. My morning routine creates peace and quiet for me and grounds me. It causes my day to start on the right foot.

Q: Speaking of self-care, I’ve heard that your readers and clients call you the “Me Time Girl!” How did you become such a “Me Time” advocate?

A: I should read all of the questions before answering them haha! However, that just goes to show that this is SO TRUE! I am a huge advocate for #metime! When in doubt, do something for yourself. When you’re struggling, spend time in the quiet. When you are confused, pursue something for your soul. I’m not sure what initially prompted me to dedicate a huge part of my life to Me, but it could be partially because I was raised in a home with six kids. I felt like I didn’t have time to myself very often and would strive to find it – I guess I never stopped pursuing the quiet!

Q: Why do you feel like “Me Time” is so important for our daily routine?

A: Without #metime I am distracted, indecisive, and I tend to self-sabotage much more frequently. I take the time to ground myself so that I can move forward in all other areas of life. Some things I hear a lot: “I don’t have time for me time,” “I could never wake up earlier than I already do,” and “I don’t need that.” Okay, rethink this one: If you aren’t taking time for yourself, you will never be able to be the best you for anyone else. If you want to be there for your kids, spouse, family, and friends, then you should be taking time to reset, recharge, and recalibrate. You need to dedicate time to yourself in order to give time to others. You can make the time, you can wake up 5-10 minutes earlier, and you do need to start making time for you. Give it a try! 

Q: Were there any books, blogs, or podcasts that inspired change in your life and helped you become the person you are today?

A: I am a bookworm and I started my entire personal development and self-help career because of the books that I read. Some of my favorites: “Unshakeable” by Tony Robbins, “Grit” by Angela Duckworth, “High Performance Habits” by Brendon Burchard, “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek, and anything by Erwin McManus, Jen Sincero, or Rachel Hollis. Here are two of my favorite books that aren’t exactly self-help genre, but left an impression: “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed and “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I am also in love with autobiographies! I read any and all autobiographies because you can learn something from everyone. Everyone has a story and knowledge to share. Hint: listen to these books! Most autobiographies are voiced by the author and make a much bigger impact because you can visualize them speaking to you. This is my go-to when going running or taking a long walk.

Q: If you could give any piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

A: I would tell the younger me: Stop worrying so much. It’ll work out. The more you fret, the more distress you cause yourself. Go with your gut and stop thinking about all of the possible ways that you can fail – you won’t!

Manifestation

Q: After talking with you in our book club and at the Mastermind we went to, I learned that you’re also a believer in the Law of Attraction! You even had your own experience where your visualization from the last Mastermind event came true! Could you share your visualization story with Lost Online readers?

A: Yes, I have had success with visualization! I will say that I am still new to manifestation and meditation, but since I have seen what it can do, I have started practicing much more frequently, in all areas of life. My greatest success started when I went to a mastermind event in Tampa in July 2019. When we went through the visualization practice I had a “vision” that blew my mind. I had gone to the event thinking that it would help me with my business but I didn’t really know what to expect and I was open to all possibilities. Through this visualization practice I saw myself as a public speaker, specifically speaking about the book I had just written. When we finished the visualization practice I sat up and got so confused. Yes, I had wanted to write a book, but I had never known what I wanted it to be about. Plus, I had never thought about speaking about this future book in a public setting. My brain whirled and I realized the potential. I went home after that mastermind determined to make this happen. Four months later, my book was written, self-edited, and self-published. I then started booking speaking events. It is all very surreal to me, but I am definitely a believer in the law of attraction now!

Q: From reading your blog, I was able to learn about this new visualization from this Mastermind that you have for your life. Can you share about that epic adventure you want to take?

A: Yes! Four months after I went to the first mastermind event I had accomplished so much that I knew that I needed to attend the event again. Early this November 2019, I went back to this event without expectation and I knew that if I pressured my mind it wouldn’t give me what I wanted, which was another vision of what my life would become, of course. I went into the visualization with an open mind and no agenda. To my horror, I did not see a future filled with speaking events and networking, but I saw a season of relaxation and restoration. The meditation practice ended and I got so upset – I had not seen my business-building future than I wanted. After speaking with some fellow attendees, I realized that my visualization was not what I expected, but it was exactly what I needed. I had been going 200% for four months getting my book done and my body was ready for rest. My body and mind were telling me that I needed to pursue a long held dream of mine: to live in an RV and travel across the country. I saw myself pursuing my speaking career while living in an RV with my family. What’s crazy is that this has been a goal of ours for the last few years, but now, after the whole book-writing visualization, I now know that this is entirely possible, even within the next four months! What?! So cool!

Q: What does your visualization and manifestation practice look like at home?

A: Currently I am implementing daily meditation in my morning routine. I practice with scripted meditations which are centered around visualizations and manifesting your dreams. I try and do at least 10 minutes in the morning and then again in the evening, but I frequently do more than 10 minutes in the morning. Once I get started, I enjoy staying in that zone / mindset. I have also always journaled and I am starting to use journaling as a part of my manifestation practice.

Online

Q: At the very end of my interviews, I like to touch a bit on technology and social media since it’s such a big part of our lives and something that the vast majority of us struggle with. With our heavy social media and technology use today, have you ever felt pressure for likes, engagement, or recognition online? What has your experience been with social media?

A: I am on social media, but I do not enjoy it all the time. I do not necessarily feel pressured to gain likes and comments, rather I feel pressure to stay present on social media. Society tells us that we are “supposed to” be interactive on social media all the time, especially if you run an online business; however, that is not a requirement. I have had a positive experience on social media overall; I have learned how to balance social media in my life and business, which has been helpful.

Q: As a writer, blogger, virtual coach, YouTuber, and new author trying to build an influence, I’m sure most of your work has to be done in front of a screen. What do you do to create balance in your life when we spend so much time online now?

A: Balance takes time and commitment. I have learned how to take time away from social media every day and I make sure to take a whole day away from my phone once a week. Detaching from my phone and from social media is so rejuvenating. It takes time and commitment because we have been programmed to mindlessly scroll on social media. To avoid scrolling while working, I set a timer to get tasks done quickly. I like to chunk my tasks into small time frames to ensure I get them done quickly, especially when it comes to social media tasks.

Q: Before we head out, where can people find you? (IG, website, youtube, Amazon, etc.)

A: My book, Happiless Chokelist, can be found on Amazon. I am most active on Instagram @LauraJayLive; that’s where you’ll see me and my fur-babies most often! All of my social media links are in my Instagram bio! You can subscribe to my newsletters through my website, LauraJayLive.com! As well a YouTube, Facebook, or my Facebook Group.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thanks for coming to Lost Online and I hope you enjoyed this interview with Laura Juntunen, author of “Happliess Chokelist“! If you’re considering reading it yourself, I highly recommend it. I started reading it and found it super straight forward, entertaining, and easy to read.

Don’t forget to comment your thoughts below! What part of this interview stuck out the most to you? Did you resonate with anything Laura shared? Can you think of some “Chokes” that you already notice in your life that’s preventing you from following a dream or being happy? What are they? 

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online! 

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

I Want To Start a Blog But… 14 Limiting Beliefs of New Bloggers + How to Overcome Them

Digital Dilemma, Self-Help

If you’re reading this blog post today, I take it that you would also like to be a blogger yourself. But you can’t bring yourself to do it for whatever reason. Trust me, I’m not a stranger to the number of excuses you create for yourself when you’re afraid to take the leap and follow your dream, especially when part of your dream involves blogging. I wanted to be a blogger every single day for over FIVE YEARS before I finally launched this website. And in those five years, I think I came up with every excuse in the world as to why I couldn’t do it.

While blogging may look like tons of fun as a reader, it can be SUPER intimidating at first to start your own blog. Part of the reason is that there’s so much that you have to learn if you want to be a “successful” blogger. But the main reason why I think it’s so intimidating to take it up is that you have to be vulnerable in a very public way. You’re not just sharing a photo of yourself online with a quick caption. You have to write from the heart and share details of yourself that maybe no one even knows about you (at least if you want to be a personal blogger). 

Maybe you’re in that same place right now, that place I was in for five years coming up with every excuse I could think of to prevent me from embarrassing myself in front of everyone I knew by creating a site and sharing the real me. So this blog is for you: the person out there who desperately wants to be a blogger or even a YouTuber and is scared out of their mind to take the leap and just do it. These are the top 14 limiting beliefs of first-time bloggers, followed by my advice at the end on how to overcome them. Let’s get into it!

1. I’m too late

If you’re like me, one of the top excuses for holding yourself back could be, “But I’m too late!” I get it, it’s almost 2020 and it seems like everyone and their mother has a blog at this point. So how could we possibly be successful when we’re just starting, right? Here’s the thing, I do believe that content creators who started blogs and YouTube Channels YEARS ago, did have such an advantage. Not many people were doing it back then. There wasn’t this crazy amount of content like there is now. It was far easier to stand out, get noticed, get engagement, and attract followers and subscribers. The people who started blogging back when no one understood it were smart.

However, just because you didn’t start back then, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful if you’re just starting now. That’s like saying you can’t possibly open up a successful business NOW because you’re too late. Why start a restaurant or a coffee shop now when McDonalds and Starbucks already exists, right? No. You would never say that.

Here’s the thing: yes there are super successful bloggers out there who have gone on to create podcasts, books, and businesses left and right, but being a new blogger has one major advantage that those big-time bloggers don’t have. Have you noticed that in the last couple of years there’s this disgust and animosity towards influencers? People everywhere went from LOVING influencers to HATING them almost instantly and blaming them for body image issues, pressure for likes, and low self-esteem. I think part of this is because of jealousy: people wish they were one of the lucky few who get to live a cushy life just for posting about themselves online. But the main reason I think this happened is because people lost touch with influencers and bloggers. They grew too big, developed a perfect brand, and posted ads online weekly. Not to mention their life always looks SO freaking perfect. The average person doesn’t connect with that anymore.

People are sick of “influencers” and big-time bloggers. They want something real, authentic, and fresh. That’s where you come in. Starting a blog NOW isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually good because you’ve been on social media for several years at this point. Your friends and followers know you, they like you, and they see you as a REAL person. Just because you’re not a popular blogger right now, doesn’t mean that people won’t be attracted to what you have to say. You’ll be starting in a new wave of influencers that people trust and connect with more.

2. I don’t know ___(fill in the blank)___

“But Heather! I don’t know jack sh*t about SEO, or designing graphics, or getting readers, or utilizing Pinterest, or building an email list!”

I always say that building a website is very much like starting a business. You have to learn all of these odd things that you never even thought you would have to do. You have to learn how to write, design graphics, create new web pages, get more readers, build a social media following, learn to code, learn SEO (search engine optimization), create automated emails, and so much more. It’s a whole thing. But guess what? No one knew any of that crap before starting a blog. It’s impossible to know how to do any of those things without ever having done them before! You can’t possibly know how to do SEO or code when you’ve never done it or been taught it before. 

Let me fill you in on a secret, I don’t know most of that crap either. It’s embarrassing how little I know about that side of blogging. I’m two years into this and I still have SO much to learn and master. I just write because I want to! I finally stopped telling myself that I had to know everything there was to know about blogging before I created my website because that mindset is bullsh*t. It’s beyond ridiculous that we tell ourselves we have to be a genius at something before we’ve even begun. You learn those things as you go. You learn them on the job. 

I actually just connected with two different women last week who are going to teach me SEO, automated emails, and how to create ebooks. I’m still learning! But the fact that I’m HERE, showing up, and writing every week proves to people that I want to learn and makes them want to help me! These things take time, but you will find help and learn these things eventually. 

3. I don’t have a photographer 

One of the big reasons why I wouldn’t let myself start a blog for so long is because I didn’t have a photographer. All of the “successful” bloggers have FLAWLESS photos that seem never-ending. The concepts are incredible, they have tons of props and outfits, and they regularly stage photos for things like holidays. For that reason, the photography aspect of blogging could be the most intimidating. People like photos and they expect high-quality now.

But this is another limiting belief of new bloggers because we expect that of ourselves right off the bat. We expect the website to look incredible, even when it’s brand spanking new and we have no experience. But I can say with absolute certainty that you will find a photographer eventually. 

How am I so sure? Well, there’s this magical thing called synchronicity! It’s when the universe lines people, places, and things up that appear as simple coincidences but are all happening for a reason. I just so happened to meet my friend and photographer, Ray Reyes, through a photographer that I used to work with in St. Augustine who simply wanted to see Ray and I work together. Ray was looking to get out of a creative funk, and I was looking for help with my website. When we met up for coffee, neither one of us knew how close we would become or how much we would end up helping each other out over the last year. And as you might know by now, I’m a believer in the Law of Attraction. I believe that if you’re working on your passion, thinking about it, and dreaming about it, the universe will draw exactly what you need to you like a magnet. That’s exactly what I believe happened with Ray and me. Neither one of us went searching for the other, we ending up connecting accidentally and it’s been a creative match made in heaven. (I’m picturing him reading this right now and laughing at me).

If you’re not into a spiritual explanation, think about it like this. When you’re a creative person who is working on projects like blogs and talking about them with other people, you will start to meet people who share the same interests as you or want to help you. Creatives LOVE collaborating and helping each other. After all, no one follows their artistic passions to make money. Hell no. Any creator will tell you that they do it just because they love it. I’m just now starting to build up a network of other creatives and entrepreneurs so that we can support each other, collaborate, and help each other grow. It didn’t happen overnight, but it will happen for you in time. So don’t panic if you don’t have someone like a photographer to help you before you’ve even built a website. Build the site, start writing, keep an open mind, and network with people. You’ll have help soon. 

In the meantime, use things like Canva to create graphics or use websites that allow you to use photos for free. Whatever you do don’t EVER pick some random image off Google to slap on your blog. There are actually people that post photos of Google and wait for bloggers to steal them and use on their own websites, JUST so they could sue them. I recently read a story about a woman who was sued $9,000 because she used a random photo of a pepper on her blog post.

4. It’s scary! What will people think of me?

If you’re reading this blog post today, there’s a good chance that one of the reasons you’re holding yourself back from creating your blog (or even YouTube Channel) is because you’re scared about what other people will think of you. I understand this fear more than you could know. This is a very real and reasonable fear. When you’re first starting a blog, it’s awkward as all hell. You create this website for the first time and all of your friends, family, and followers go look at it and wonder, “What the hell is this? Why do they have a blog all of the sudden?” Or “Oh God, not ANOTHER blogger.”

Not only is blogging something that is blasting you out of your comfort zone but if it’s a personal blog, then it also forces you to open up and be vulnerable on a very public platform. A platform that any co-worker, friend, neighbor, or acquaintance can find. After the first several personal, introspective blog posts, you might even be left with a vulnerability hangover – that rush of shame and regret after opening up and sharing your weaknesses with others. But just like anything else in the world, it gets easier the more you do it.

Hell, I shared pictures of my face after a chemical peel where I was shedding my skin like a snake! Check out my blog post, The Jessner Chemical Peel, if you’re interested in learning about my chemical peel experience, results, and recommendations. Or hey! Remember that time when I opened up about how I’d been experiencing depression for all of 2019 even WHILE being a self-help blogger. Make sure to check out that blog, “I’m Seeing a Therapist + How I Discovered I Had Depression & Why I’m Thankful For It,” If you’d like to learn about that.

When I first started Lost Online, I used to only share posts about social media and was scared to open up and show the real, unfiltered ME. I was so afraid of people knowing the real me – The real Heather who struggles with self-sabotage, lost my hair at 19 from birth control, and believes in things like universal signs and the Law of Attraction. Now, look how far I’ve come! I would have never in a million years imagined that I could talk about those things so publicly. I was so scared that people would learn all of this information about me and end up thinking, “This girl is f*cking weird.” But you know, if they do think that, they don’t tell me. The only messages I receive are positive ones.

The point is, anything is new and scary, foreign, and uncomfortable in the beginning, but with each post, you gain more and more confidence. You find your voice, you discover what you’re passionate about, and you even start to get messages from people sharing how inspiring you are to them! As I’m writing this, I just got an email from someone who wanted to reach out and tell me that my blog is “amazeballs.” So don’t be scared of what other people think! There are millions of people out there who share the same beliefs, interests, and hobbies as you do. THOSE people will become your readers. And if your blog is not someone’s cup of tea, they won’t read it! 

5. I can’t make money blogging

Another major limiting belief that holds people back from starting a blog is that they have NO idea how to make money doing it. I’m sure you’re familiar with that recurring thought that pops up into your head saying, “Why should I start a blog now? I have no idea how I’m going to earn an income from this.” I have a few points I want you to takeaway to stop this thought from eating away at you.

First things first, you don’t have to. You don’t have to make money doing this. You can simply start a blog just because you want to and just because it’s fun. It doesn’t have to be anything more than that. It’s important to understand that this can just be a hobby. You shouldn’t feel pressure to be the next Jenna Kutcher because you’re starting a blog. The important thing is that you like it and it brings you joy. Just as the book “Big Magic” taught me, our creative projects don’t have to pay our bills.

The second point you should take away is that there are several ways to make money as a blogger, you’ll just have to discover which ones you want to do. You can email companies asking for sponsored posts, you could partner with brands and create campaigns, you could create a product line, you could sell ebooks, you could earn money through advertisements on your website, or you could use your website to attract clients (depending on what you write about or what business you have). And if you’re struggling with the financial side of it like I am, hire a business coach to help you take the next steps and earn some money! Because if you do want to earn a living doing this work, it’s more than possible. 

6. I don’t know what I would write about 

One common limiting belief that I hear from other women who want to start blogging is one that I also struggled with for those five years before I started Lost Online: “I have no idea what to write about.” That belief is what made me start several blogs that went nowhere because I was trying to be someone else. 

I was trying to write posts that I thought people expected of young women, which were the beauty-related posts. I remember the first blog I ever wrote back in my sophomore year of college was a teeth whitening recipe! At the time I only knew of beauty bloggers and YouTubers, there wasn’t this big self-help and spirituality wave of bloggers that I see now… or maybe I just didn’t know there was. This belief of mine that I had to be a beauty blogger in order to blog kept me from discovering what I really cared to write about. 

Until one day walking around my college campus, I finally had enough. I was sick of wasting time telling myself that I couldn’t do something I had dreamed about for five years, that I asked myself one simple question: “What could I write about for a year straight and never get bored?” Instantly I answered, “Digital media and the effects it has on the developing mind.” I had gotten “Lost Online” and wanted to help other people navigate the challenges that come from spending most of our time scrolling online.

I started writing about that, and before I knew it, I was starting to write more personal posts and get into the self-help realm. Now my blog has become about self-help and wellness to help people navigate all of the challenges that come with our modern-day lifestyle. But that wouldn’t have happened unless I had started writing about SOMETHING that I cared about, even if that wasn’t going to be the concept I stuck with forever. And guess what? You won’t stick with that concept forever! Your blog is a reflection of you and it’s going to change as you grow. So don’t get too focused on what you think you should be writing about, and just write. Write about what you care about right now, and it will all come together.

7. I don’t know where to learn about blogging

The most stressful thing about blogging is that there’s no blogging and content creation school to go to where people teach your SEO, coding, graphic design, how to make online ads, how to build an email list, how to create a sales funnel, a trailer for yourself, products, a podcast, ebooks, how to network with other other creatives, etc. It can feel like you’re all alone. You’re surrounded by this sea of questions and meanwhile, every blogger that you know of is getting brand sponsorships, clients, and creating massive amounts of content. Let me know in the comments if you agree!

I went to school for advertising, public relations, and communications and I was never taught ANY of those things. Sure I was taught about the IMPORTANCE of SEO, email lists, social media ads, and newsletters, but did any of my classes teach me how to do those things? Nope. It can be a lot to learn on your own. But don’t freak out. (We can’t have both of us freaking out at the same time.)

There are a couple of ways I’ve learned to help me through all of the confusion and stress that comes up when trying to start a blog and a business. One thing that I started doing was listening to podcasts. Yes, videos and articles can help you learn about blogging, but podcasts are BETTER. The reason being is that there are podcasts where the hosts do nothing but interview bloggers on how they found success and made money doing what they love. In one podcast you can learn all about how someone found success, hear about the technical side of blogging, and get step by step breakdown of how that person became a full-time blogger. 

The next thing that’s been incredibly helpful with this limiting belief is networking. I recently went to a Mastermind in Tampa where I met about a dozen women who are all entrepreneurs, authors, bloggers, health coaches, etc. I was surrounded by these women who all wanted to create a career for themselves doing what they love and be their own boss. They were incredible women and of course, they all had their own limiting beliefs, struggles, weaknesses, etc. And what we all realized that weekend was how much we could all help each other. We all have skills that someone else needs help in. I ended up connecting with all of them on Instagram and now I have coffee dates with a few of the girls to learn more about how we can support each other in our dreams and help each other with the tasks that we struggle with. I HIGHLY encourage you to go to events like this and meet people. You’ll find so much support and connection and be able to learn about things in person and ask in-depth questions. 

The last thing that’s helped me with this limiting belief is hiring a business coach. By hiring a coach, I now have someone to teach me how to do things like create ebooks or automated emails AND to break these things into baby steps so that it all gets done and doesn’t seem so scary and intimidating. My business coach also has a network of women who she can turn to ask questions and get resources that I need if we’re ever stumped.

8. I don’t know what to call it

Isn’t it funny how when you want to do something like start a blog, you can spend weeks obsessing about a name when in reality there are FAR more important things you should focus on? It’s kind of like whenever I had a test while I was growing up, I would suddenly get the urge to work out or clean my room whenever it was time to study. Obsessing over the name is just another fun way that our brains discover as a way to procrastinate. It’s something that we can blame for having not started when the real thing that’s holding us back is fear. 

Yes, the blog name is important, but it’s not THAT important. I drove myself crazy trying to come up with names for years. I was so caught up on it without realizing that the name could be changed at any time. The blog name is NOT set in stone, especially if you’re brand new! So don’t let that small detail prevent you from moving forward. If you know what you want to write about, spend a day (ONE day) brainstorming ideas. And if it’s a personal blog, don’t be afraid to have your name be the name of your website! It’s your personal brand and personal blog, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. 

9. I’m not a good writer

I’ve heard several different women share with me at this point that they fear they’re not good enough of a writer to have their own blog. They find their writing embarrassing and usually think back to their high school English paper grades which instilled this belief that they don’t know how to write. But to those people I always say, “I don’t think I’m a good writer either!”

Sure, I got A’s and B’s on papers when I was growing up, but I wouldn’t consider myself particularly GOOD at writing, especially when it comes to creative writing. I’d say my writing is “decent” or “ok.” Yet anyone who reads my blog tells me that I’m a great writer. I always find it funny when I get that feedback from people because I’m pretty sure my old English teachers would cry if they read my blog. I don’t always use correct grammar, I have no idea how to do AP style, I curse frequently, I write “lol” in posts, and I often start sentences with words like “and,” “but,” or “because.” 

So there you have it, I don’t think I’m a good writer and I don’t think you have to be a “good” writer either. To write a blog, you just have to be able to write conversationally. That’s why people like my writing. It’s not because I’m JK Rowling. It’s because my writing is real, it’s easy to read, and it’s the same words that would come out of my mouth if you and I were talking about this over coffee instead of you reading this. You don’t have to be a fabulous writer to pursue this, you only have to be able to write conversationally and ENJOY writing.

10. I’m not interesting enough

One thing that really held me back from pursuing any form of content creation is that I thought that I wasn’t interesting enough. And if you haven’t started a blog yet, there’s a good chance that you might feel this way too. That you’re somehow boring or ordinary and that people won’t want to hear what you have to say. So let’s shut this limiting belief done immediately. YOU ARE INTERESTING. I promise.

It doesn’t matter if rude people called you basic, or boring, or lame while you were growing up. It doesn’t matter what that one person who’s just too cool for you has to say. You are interesting. To readers out there, you’re one of the most interesting people on the planet. You may not have a solid group around you who cares about the same topics you do or is as excited about them as you are, but your future readers will be. And they’ll think you’re amazing for having started a blog and written about a topic that they care about too. 

I used to think that I had to look a certain way for people to be interested in me or care about what I had to say. I thought I’d have to have bright colored hair, tons of tattoos and piercings, and a hipster wardrobe for people to think I was interesting and want to read something I had written. These are all limiting beliefs. None of it is true. No one is going to be thinking, “This girl (or guy) isn’t interesting enough to write a blog.” People will connect with you because of your personality and passions. What matters is that you write about what you care about, create helpful content, and come up with interesting concepts. 

11. There’s already people who blog about the same thing

I think there’s a good chance that this could be the number one limiting belief of new bloggers. Because if you want to start a blog, I bet you can think of several other bloggers who write about the exact same things that you want to write about.

Yes, everything has already been done before, BUT it hasn’t been done by you. Everything has already been said before, BUT it hasn’t been said by you. While other people may be writing the same thing as you and have found success and subscribers, the way that you relay your message and share your story will resonate with people differently. You’re going to attract people that resonate with you as a person, who may not connect with the other bloggers who are out there now.

If you’re still not convinced, think about it this way: There are thousands, if not millions of self-help and wellness bloggers out there, and yet here you are on MY website. You could have gone anywhere, but at this point, you probably subscribe to my blog, relate to me and my story, and enjoy the way that I write. Something about my blog resonates with YOU. But I’m sure you could find similar blogs out there about this same topic. There are plenty of readers to go around.

12. I have to take a course first 

I’ve noticed that with people who want to be in wellness or content creation there’s this limiting belief that we never know enough information to start. We undervalue ourselves so much and think that we just need one more class, one more certificate, or one more program to finally start. Before I started Lost Online, I got into my head that I had to take an SEO course, a coding course, a writing course, and a photography course to start blogging – Which is all 110% FALSE. 

You are smart. You have everything you need right now to create a WordPress website and start writing about what you care about. You don’t need another certificate or program to try to prove your worth to you. It’s just a fancy and expensive way that we self-sabotage, undervalue ourselves, and procrastinate. If you’re waiting to start a blog until you finish an extra course or program, know that it’s not going to suddenly give you the courage to spread your wings and do what you want to do.

If there’s a program that you’re dying to be in and you genuinely want to do like the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) was for me, then do it. But if you’re telling yourself that you can’t start blogging because you need a certificate first, you’re mistaken. That certificate is just a way to put off starting today. 

13. What if it never amounts to anything?

Of course, no list of limiting beliefs is complete without the fear of crashing and burning, right? Another top limiting belief that new bloggers have is the overwhelming feeling that they’re going to be unsuccessful and that the entire blog would be nothing but a humiliating waste of time if you can’t generate enough traffic or make money eventually.

Let me tell you, I would rather pursue my dream and “fail” by not making money at it than to not pursue it at all. Sure it seems trendy and cool to be “a blogger” and make money off of your own website and social media platforms, but it doesn’t HAVE to amount to anything. Your blog doesn’t have to reach 20 million readers and generate enough income to pay your bills. What’s important is that you like it and you have a good time doing it!

No one will judge you if you don’t become an incredibly popular, full-time blogger. Why? Because you’re the only one who’s setting those expectations for yourself. And if I’m being completely honest, people will have no idea whether it’s considered to be “successful” or not. They’ll assume that as long as the blog is going, you’re kicking *ss at it! So who cares if nothing big ever comes out of it as long as it makes you happy and you like doing it?

14. I need a huge readership to earn money as a blogger

And last but not least, the ever so popular myth that you have to have a giant readership to make money as a blogger. Not true. Remember what I said before about how people don’t connect with mega-influencers anymore? People are attracted to PEOPLE! They’re going to buy products and read posts from someone they like, resonate with, and admire now more-so than the established influencers. And in 2019 and 2020, BRANDS KNOW THIS. More companies are shifting their focus and working with “micro-influencers.” Micro-influencers are people with a following of several hundred or several thousand followers. The reason being that these followers know and trust the influencer more. It’s a carefully curated group of followers with similar interests as you. 

You no longer need a huge following to earn money as a blogger. You need a small, loyal fanbase. These people are far more likely to listen to what you have to say, care about you, trust you, and want to support you. They’re more likely to buy your products, become your clients, read your posts, etc. So let go of this belief that you have to be a super famous blogger to make a living!

My Top Advice for Beginner Bloggers: 

I hope you enjoyed my top 14 limiting beliefs of new bloggers, and learned how to work through each belief to finally move forward and built the website you’ve been wanting to for so long. I created this post today because I’ve heard so many girls say to me, “I wish I could start a blog, but…” followed by their limiting belief. It makes me sad whenever I hear girls share their beliefs with me that it’s too late, or they don’t know something, or they don’t know how to make money. Because I don’t have all the answers either, but here I am writing a blog. And I want so badly to help them gain the confidence that they need to finally take the leap and start their own blog. I’m hoping that the advice I shared above helped get rid of those beliefs that keep us paralyzed from even starting on our dreams.

Now that you have some more confidence back and don’t feel so intimidated about blogging, I wanted to leave you with my TOP pieces of advice for starting your blog. This advice is designed for the person who is ready to take the leap and create their website so you can go into it with the right mindset. 

1. Just start and get used to it

If you really want to start a blog but keep holding yourself back, I encourage you to go to WordPress, or Squarespace, or Wix right now, and just START a website. Because oftentimes just starting the website and picking a domain and template is the hardest part. Kind of like how getting dressed for the gym is harder than actually going to the gym. It seems like a bigger deal than it is, but once you get started it’s fun and you don’t mind it!

Just start the website now, for yourself (not for anyone else). Start it without any expectations and without any plan to share it with people. Just build the website and start writing in it FOR YOU so you can at least get used to it. That’s the best piece of advice I could give you. Why? Because you don’t know if you even like blogging yet! You haven’t even played around with it, found your tone, or uncovered your core concept. Just build the site without any expectations, write something, and see what you think. Get used to having a blog and get used to writing. Don’t try to go full steam ahead and try to be the best blogger in the world immediately. Because the truth is that you might hate doing it. The first blog I started smacked me with the realization that blogging was a lot of work and required a lot of time to write, and I wasn’t ready for it. I didn’t want to do extra writing at that point in my life and I didn’t even know who I was enough to write to an audience. By the time I started Lost Online I felt ready and was super excited to sit down and write regular blog posts. So just start the blog and see what happens. Because you may enjoy it, or honestly you may hate it. But you won’t know until you try.

2. Don’t share it right away!

I see this same mistake again and again and again in my Instagram feed. So often people start a blog, write the “About Me” page, share it ALL OVER social media, write ONE blog post, and never touch it again. It makes me cringe when people do that. 

There was a time when I counted eight different girls from my school who all started a blog in the same semester, none of whom published more than two blogs. And that’s fine! They didn’t like it! But why blast it out to everyone you know on social media when you don’t even know if you really want to have a blog and put in the work? 

Just because you created a website, doesn’t mean you have to share it with everyone immediately. I built several websites before this one and they went nowhere because I wasn’t committed to them and hadn’t found my voice or my core concept. I’m so glad that I didn’t subject everyone to all of my trial run blogs before I made this one. Because if I did, I don’t think people would have taken this website seriously. Even when I had Lost Online, I didn’t share it publicly until I had the blog for nine months and published over a dozen blog posts on it. 

I highly recommend doing this same thing and waiting until you have about 10 posts up before you share it with everyone you know online. It makes it FAR less awkward. When you share a blog with a good amount of content on it for the first time, it actually impresses people. It shows that you cared and you put a lot of thought and work into it and your followers will be excited and interested in it.

Taking that time to put some thought into it, find your voice, practice writing, and put some touches on the website is what will set you apart from the girls who get eye rolls for starting a blog and makes you a girl who gets subscribers.

3. View your blog as a hobby and/or portfolio

As I mentioned before, I wanted to start a blog for years before I started this one. My big issue with starting it was I had no idea how to become “successful” and I was putting WAY too much pressure on my blogs from the beginning. I was expecting my websites to be flawless and look like Jenna Kutcher’s. I was expecting myself to have massive engagement right away and brand sponsors left and right.

Then I ended up taking a digital media class in college where my professor felt so strongly about the importance of having a blog as a communication major. She told us that employers love to see that communications students have a blog for many different reasons. It helps them get to know YOU, what you care about, and what kind of person you are beyond a LinkedIn Profile, it also acts as a portfolio, and best of all it shows that you’re a hard worker. She told us over and over again that semester that having a blog is the best thing you can to do help you get a job after graduation. For employers, it shows that you’re somebody who come backs every single week to write an article without anyone telling you to. That one habit proves that you’re committed, that you’re a hard worker, and that you have a project to do in your free time (you’re not just another college student who spends all their free time drinking).

When my professor shared that piece of knowledge with me, that was the exact advice I needed. It was the perfect logic so that I could trick my brain and get out of this mindset that I had to be successful at blogging. Instead, I started to approach blogging as a portfolio and a hobby. I was working on a project that would make me hirable after graduation and I discovered that I loved writing for pleasure and hitting that gorgeous blue “Publish” button whenever I could. 

So if you’re brand new to blogging, my advice to you is the same that my professor gave me back in college. Create a blog as a portfolio and a hobby, not as a way to become the next superstar blogger. It’ll take the pressure off you and allow you to have fun in the beginning and get into the habit of writing.

Side Note: I also don’t want to forget that my digital media professor was right! My blog did help me land jobs after college. I put my blog on my resume, LinkedIn, and Indeed and every interview that I went to the interviewer told me that they read my blog and that they were impressed with it. They also would always say, “Oh I loved that blog that you wrote about…” It was a great conversation starter and they were obviously impressed. It also helped me connect with employers on personal topics like spirituality, self-help, and social media use so I’ve had deeper conversations during job interviews because of it.

4. Give yourself some grace

My next piece of advice to you, and probably the most important piece of advice, is to give yourself some grace. Know that no one has ever known how to do this work right off the bat. Blogging is a completely unique and brand new career path, and sadly there’s no blogger school that you can attend to learn everything that you need to know. 

So before you get yourself in a frenzy and try to do it all at once (before you pull a Heather) understand that starting a blog is one massive learning process. You have to learn how to design graphics, get readers, utilize SEO, get engagement on social media, create automated emails, create a downloadable freebie, etc. It’s no small task. So give yourself some grace and know that it’s going to take a LONG time before you figure it all out. The best thing you can do is relax about it, take your time, and know that it will all get done eventually.

5. Wherever you are in the process, that’s completely fine

Whether you haven’t started your blog yet, started a blog and didn’t do anything with it, or have had a blog going for years – that’s completely fine. Don’t get wrapped up in where someone else is at with their website or where you think you should be with it. Be proud of whatever stage you’re at! 

Maybe you just figured out your name for the site, or just created a WordPress or Squarespace account, or started building your site, or if you just posted your first blog or your 100th blog – be proud of where you are in your blogging journey. Because I promise you, someone is looking at you right now wishing that they were as far ahead as you. So celebrate every single one of those tiny milestones because each one of them is amazing and is progress towards your long-term goals.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

My last final piece of advice before I wrap up this post today is to not be afraid to ask for help with your website. The longer you have a blog the more work you’ll realize that it is. It’s like starting up a business. No one can do it on their own. That’s why all of the “successful,” full-time bloggers have an entire team of people behind them. So when the time comes, don’t be afraid to ask someone for help. 

You can do this by hiring an intern or a business coach, hiring a creative from Upwork, hiring a social media strategist, networking with other content creators and learning how you can help each other, and attending masterminds and conferences. You won’t be able to do this all on your own forever, so don’t be afraid to ask for help ESPECIALLY if you find yourself getting burnt out or really loathing one part of blogging. For example, I can’t stand creating Pinterest graphics, so my coach and I are working on finding someone to create Pinterest graphics and captions for me. You want to make sure that this type of work is fun, exciting, and energizing for you because if you’re hating parts of it and getting burnt out, you’re going to either give up or lose readers because they’ll be able to tell when you’re not enjoying the process.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you so much for coming to Lost Online. I know exactly what it’s to be on the other side of starting a blog and having your mind filled with limiting beliefs as to why you can’t do it. My only wish is that someone out there read this and finally broke through that fear-based mindset and started their very own blog. Let me know if you do! I would LOVE to hear from you. 

Before you head out, remember to let me know your thoughts in the comments! Do you want to start a blog? How long have you been wanting to start a blog? What do you want your blog to be about? Did any of these limiting beliefs sound familiar to you? Are there any limiting beliefs that you have that I didn’t mention above? Which piece of advice helped you the most? If you could come up with your own advice for new bloggers, what would it be?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto

Put it in the Suggestion Box: I Need an Advice Detox

Self-Help, Spirituality

Hold onto your seats guys! This one’s a doozy. Pull up a chair, grab your blue light glasses, and pour yourself a cup of coffee.

This is a blog post I’ve been wanting to write for some time now, but have always stopped myself from writing out of fear that it may come across too pessimistic. But after careful consideration, I decided to do it anyway. Partially because I was lucky enough to meet someone who has had a strikingly similar experience as me. And since then I started to think, maybe I’m not the only one who struggles with this issue… Maybe this is something that’s brewing inside of many of us, but we don’t talk about it out of fear that other people will think we’re too negative, overly angry, or overly sensitive. So here it is. 

This is a post that I’ve created to share my life-long struggle with other people’s opinions about how I “should” live my life. I’ll be sharing my experience with overly opinionated people pushing me to live my life according to their values and opinions leading up to WHY this matters. NOT just for me, but for everyone. I dive into this social issue and explore why I believe this is so prevalent in our interactions, how age and gender play into it, and end with a spiritual reason for this tense energy we’re finding in the 21st century. I also share the important takeaways that I believe we need to hear NOW more than ever so that we can all finally live in a world where we’re allowed to break away from the mold and be different! Where we’re allowed to choose a different path, pursue our interests without judgment, and live according to our personal values. Let’s get into it!

My Story 

I’ve been a bit unfortunate to have figures in my life who are extremely opinionated about virtually every aspect of my life – from the food I eat, the house I buy and to the fact that I want a dog! I’ve had unwarranted opinions thrown at me to the point where it’s become the most talked-about issue during my therapy sessions. And according to my therapist, I’m not the only woman who has had an experience like this (but we’ll get to that later).

Because after 24 years of every important figure in my life having an opinion about how I should live and what I “should” and “shouldn’t” do, I’ve reached max capacity for other people’s “advice.” I’ve been forced again and again to live according to other people’s standards that I can’t take any more input.

Here’s what I mean…

The earliest piece of “advice” or rather opinions that I remember getting as a child about how I “should” live was when an estranged family member told me that I shouldn’t study cosmetology and open up a salon someday, even though that was my life-long dream. Instead, he told me that I should marry a rich man from the country club to take care of me. True story. “You’re not going to CUT HAIR!” he said to me. “How are you going to take care of yourself!? How are you going to buy groceries!?”

Fast forward to my most recent example which happened today (the day I started writing this post). I went to Home Goods to make several big purchases like an office chair and a chair for our living room. I must have told the woman at the register 10 times that I DIDN’T want to open up a credit card, but she wouldn’t listen to me. She felt that I needed to have a Home Goods credit card SO BADLY because SHE loves HER Home Goods credit card. Therefore, I should have one too!

She kept calling me “crazy” over and over again for not wanting to open up the credit card and actually wouldn’t let me buy my furniture any other way! Can you believe that?! Never has someone turned away my money at a cash register before! I was trapped at the register and then ganged up on by two female cashiers who refused to run my card to pay for my purchases. For whatever reason, they felt that I needed to have this credit card and wouldn’t listen to me no matter how much I said that I didn’t want one. Finally, I choked back tears at the cash register as I was forced to open up a card I never wanted (without even hearing the “rewards” or “benefits” of a Home Goods card).

For as long as I can remember I’ve been pressured into making certain decisions and hearing people’s so-called “advice” without being respected at all. From the color that I choose to paint my walls, to the dog I get, to the credit cards I open, to the college degree I chose to pursue, I’ve been bulldozed by others. Sometimes it’s the people who are closest to me, and sometimes it’s strangers. 

This is an issue that has plagued me for as long as I can remember. From the time when I was a child, to even today as I go about purchasing my furniture or home.

I’m not talking about friendly advice that one person passes onto another. I’m talking about someone inserting themselves into my life decisions and refusing to respect my opinion. I’m talking about having to full-on defend myself for months over a choice that I made that doesn’t impact the other person. I’m referring to “advice” like this:

  • “You shouldn’t get a dog. You’ll regret it. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have my dog.”
  • “You shouldn’t get a Samoyed.” (Even though that’s the breed I’ve wanted for a decade)
  • “You shouldn’t move to St. Pete. You should live in Hyde Park instead. That’s where I would live.”
  • “You should buy a house.”
  • “You shouldn’t buy a house.”
  • “You shouldn’t buy THAT mattress, you should get the ______ mattress instead.”
  • “You shouldn’t get your Apple Watch at the Apple store, you should get it at Best Buy.”
  • “You shouldn’t paint your walls white, that’s boring. It’ll just look washed out.” (Even though that’s MY style)
  • “You shouldn’t quit your job. You should wait a year until you get a promotion.”
  • “You shouldn’t go to Europe, you might land a six-figure job at Louis Vuitton.” (This one still confuses me)
  • “You shouldn’t study cosmetology.” (Even though that was my life-long dream since I was 4-years-old)
  • “You should go to business school.”
  • “You shouldn’t move to Florida, you should stay in Wisconsin and finish your degree.” (Even though I have severe seasonal affective disorder)
  • “You should break up with your boyfriend, he seems TOO into you.” (Ummmm it’s called love, and isn’t that a good thing?)
  • “You should eat dairy.” (Even though I’m lactose intolerant) 
  • “You should at least eat butter.” (Yep, still lactose intolerant over here)
  • “You should be on birth control.” (Even though it made me lactose intolerant, severely depressed, and made me lose my hair!) “It doesn’t matter, you should still be on a low dose of birth control.”

These are just a few examples of the opinions I’m talking about. Maybe you can relate?

“Why do you care, Heather?”

From talking with other people about this issue, I’m starting to notice a pattern in how men and women respond to this problem. When I voice this struggle with women, they tend to agree with my frustration. They may or may not have the same experience as me, but they understand how someone blatantly disrespecting my life’s choices is infuriating. When I talk about this with men, their response is, “Why do you care?”

For example, one night when I was venting to a friend about opinions someone said to me about what my family “should” and “shouldn’t” be doing during the most difficult year of their lives (apparently we’re making all of our life decisions wrong) he looked at me, turned his head to the side, furrowed his eyebrows and said, “My question to you is, why do you care? What does it matter to you what someone else thinks?”

And I’m willing to bet there’s someone else reading this post now, thinking the same insensitive thought. “Why do you even care, Heather?” 

Here’s why I care: I’m tired of living my life having to defend every single decision that I make. Who I choose to date, what dog I’m getting, where I get the dog, what house I want to live in, what TV I put in my own damn living room, or what podcast I listen to. I’m only 24 years old and I. am. exhausted. I’m so, completely, 100% exhausted. I’m tired of having arguments with people where I defend the choices I make that don’t even affect them. It’s too frustrating. 

There comes a point where you can only be disrespected by so many people. There comes a point where you can’t take having to argue your life decisions anymore. I hit my limit about two years ago.

Secondly, you and I are human beings. And you know what that means? We all have our own tastes; our own opinions; and our own values. And one person’s tastes, opinions, and values are not BETTER than another’s. This is why we choose to live differently. Some of us choose to not get married or have kids. Some of us decide that we need a big house and a high paying job, while other people decide they want a more simple life. Some of us like the color white for a living room and some like it beige. And guess what? That’s ok. We are all very different people. If we were all clones of each other and made all of the exact same decisions, life would be SO BORING! It wouldn’t even be worth living in the first place. We would all be clones who ate the same food, went to the same school, vacationed in the same spots, decorated our homes the same, etc. There would be no such thing as color, art, or diversity.

Life would be like that movie “Pleasantville” with Reese Witherspoon and Tobey Maguire. In the movie, Pleasantville is a television program and is a “place where life is simple, people are perfect, and everything is black and white.” A place where all the citizens are simple-minded and the world has absolutely no problems, worries, or violence. And NOTHING exists outside of Pleasantville. 

One night, while Pleasantville plays in the background, the brother and sister start fighting over the remote (apparently a magic remote) which ends up transporting them into the world of “Pleasantville” forcing them to live in this black and white, 50s lifestyle where everyone’s desires are repressed and everyone is exactly the same as each other! Do we really want real life to be like that? I’m thinking no.

Why does this matter?

So at this point, you might be wondering, “Ok, why does this matter, Heather?” Well, it turns out that my theory was correct: I’m not the only person who struggles with this issue! In fact, this is something that countless people struggle with, but we just don’t talk about it.

During one of my therapy sessions, my therapist shared with me that my experience seemed more extreme than most of her patients, BUT not abnormal. This is actually a very common complaint among women in particular. Most of her patients that she sees struggle with being bulldozed by other people’s opinions about what they should and shouldn’t be doing. According to my therapist, the difference between me and the other patients she sees is that at least I still fight back.

The patients that she sees who struggle with this challenge have completely given up on asserting themselves altogether. After years of this happening, they reached the point where they have lost their voice. Instead, they’ve become so convinced that their opinion is invaluable and wrong that they don’t make choices for themselves or speak up when they feel uncomfortable.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear that I feel so sad. It’s heartbreaking to me to know that there are girls who have completely given up altogether. Who have accepted that society doesn’t respect them enough that they find it easier to let other people sit in the driver’s seat of their own life. If you ask me, I think this needs to stop.

The reason why this matters is that it’s about time that we all learn an important lesson. A lesson that history should have taught us over and over and over again by now. We have to learn to RESPECT each other. To COEXIST. To live in harmony with the other people in our lives without feeling the need to fix them or shape them into how we want them to be.

Because A) It’s not nice. We’re adults and we should know this is freaking rude. Right? AND B) I bet 99% of people would say that living in a Pleasantville would be extremely boring and not fun at all.

So, why do we try so hard to control another person when we know these things to be true?

Why do we do this? 

After putting much thought into this over the last year, I have a few theories as to why we do this to each other.

1. We tend to think we know more than everyone else

I noticed this in people, regardless of age and gender. The vast majority of us think that we know more than everybody else. That we have the correct tastes, opinions, values, and perspective and everyone else is batsh*t crazy. It’s why whenever election time comes around the entire country’s population ends up dividing into two groups and HATING each other. Come election time in every cocktail party, class discussion, and neighborhood conversation you could cut the tension with a knife.

2. We can look at each other’s lives with clarity

Isn’t it interesting how when you look at another person’s life you can tell exactly what they have to do to better themselves? For example, you can look at your friend’s toxic relationship and think, “If she would just break up with him she would be SO much happier.” But when it comes to our own lives it’s a mystery! We’re so emotionally involved in our own lives that we can’t look at it clearly. Yet, we can look at someone else’s life and see what WE feel they need to do to improve because we’re not as invested in it. 

However, it comes across as treating the other person like they are our project. As if we have some sort of authority over another person’s life when in reality NONE of us have it figured out. And also none of us REALLY know for sure what another person “should” or “shouldn’t” do because we’re taking an outside perspective of their life and placing our life experiences on it.

3. We like having a sense of control over others

Playing off of what I said in #2, our own lives are a mystery to us. We all have problems, we all have issues, and health concerns and life crises, that we honestly don’t know how to fix. It’s stressful and overwhelming, isn’t it? Which is why New Year’s Resolutions fail over and over again. It’s hard! Life is hard! Which is why having a sense of control over someone else makes us feel good. It makes us feel better that even though our lives are FAR from perfect if we could just insert ourselves into a conversation and share with someone all of the opinions we have about improving their lives, it makes us feel better. In some cases, it gives us a little power trip because we are asserting ourselves over another person and putting them down. 

But it also makes us feel in control in a good way. It makes us feel valuable, powerful, helpful, smart, and capable. Our own life might be a mess, but at least we were able to fix someone else’s problem. For many people, even if their opinion was not invited or appreciated by the other person, we still feel as if we helped out. A classic example of this would be the relationship between mothers and their children. Moms LOVE that feeling of swooping in and telling their children what to do because it makes them feel happy and helpful regardless of if it actually helped.

This does not mean that we like controlling other people like puppets (although let’s be honest some people do) it just means that we like having control in general because many people lack that control in their own lives.

4. Gender plays a huge role in this issue 

I’m a young woman. Therefore society tends to view me as someone who is weak and needs assistance. As someone who can’t possibly know what she wants out of life and have her own valid opinion. People feel the need to swoop in and “assist” young women by telling them what to do. But it’s not just MEN who do this. In my own experience, most of the time it’s actually women doing this to other women. Society views young women in particular as if they were children who need to be guided and assisted through every decision.

This is also why when I talk to men about this issue they have NO idea what I’m referring to. Men aren’t typically bulldozed in conversations. When they say “NO” to someone, people hear the word “no.” When women say “NO” to someone, people hear the phrase, “I don’t know, convince me.”

And lastly, I think it’s safe to say that gender plays a huge role in this issue because of how men respond to this topic. I’m referring to the question, “Why do you care?” It seems to me that men don’t have to care about someone inserting themselves into their business, but women do. Because when women say no to something or voice their opinions it’s often followed by a long lecture from the other person trying to convince them to choose differently. Men’s opinions and decisions are often respected in society whereas women have to struggle with this issue for decades. If someone doesn’t respect a man’s opinion, they can just go on with their day, but for women, this is an issue that comes up every day for years. We have to constantly defend our opinions so we HAVE to care about this topic, simply because it’s something that affects us more.

I believe that if I was a man, I wouldn’t have people arguing with me about my paint color for TWO YEARS. And I certainly don’t think that I would have been forced to open up a credit card after saying that I didn’t want one.

Disclaimer: I’m NOT at all shaming men in this post and not saying that this experience is the same for all men and women everywhere. I’m simply saying that throughout history and even now, men have been allowed to assert themselves and make their own decisions without needing to defend them. Again, I want to acknowledge that I know this is not 100% the case for everyone.

How do we fix this if we’re on the receiving end?

Of course, you know that I’m not going to leave you hanging with this problem fresh on your mind without addressing HOW to fix it and my takeaways. If you are struggling with this same problem, here are 5 tips that I put together to help you hold your own in a world that just won’t listen.

1. Trust your intuition 

Trusting your intuition is something that I’ve talked about many times in my blog by now. If you want to learn more about intuition, make sure to check out my blog post “How to Recognize Universal Signs.” But I’m bringing it up again now because I know first-hand that it’s extremely difficult to trust your intuition about your own life’s decisions when you have people SCREAMING at you to make another choice. Even if you’ve had a knowingness your entire life about what you should be doing, when it’s you against everyone in your family or every professor at your school, that internal compass is so difficult to trust. It’s much more subtle than a room full of people drinking red wine and criticizing your decisions. 

You look at these people in your life being so vocal about what you “should” be doing, that eventually, you trust them over your own instinct. Even though your internal compass, gut feelings, interests, and skills are all pushing you towards one thing, all of that can be immediately replaced with someone else’s voice, closed-mindedness, and fear-based mentality. Because your intuition doesn’t have a physical voice. You have to really want to listen to it.

But deep down, only YOU know what’s right for you. Only you can tell what’s the right decision for you to make for your own well-being and happiness. As loud as people may scream, as rude as they may get, as nosey as they may be – you have to trust in yourself. Your intuition can give you all the answers that you need and only by having that faith in yourself can you be happy and reach your highest potential and evolvement.

2. Keep it a secret

In a previous blog post that I wrote, “How I Freed Myself From the Opinions of Others,” I wrote about how I learned that if I kept secrets about my life’s decisions from the people who are unsupportive of me I saved myself countless arguments and passive-aggressive comments. 

The people who are supportive of my lifestyle, my dreams, and my interests I share everything with. But the people who aren’t supportive of me, I’m very selective about what I tell them. At first, when I made this decision to keep secrets from people, I remember feeling very sad about it. I was sad that I wouldn’t be able to open up and talk about myself with family, friends, and other important people in my life. But then I realized that with unsupportive people, I’ve never been able to open up to anyways! Keeping secrets about myself has been a lifesaver! 

But I don’t mean keeping secrets in a sketchy or negative way. I just mean that if someone I know is extremely against a choice I make, I’m not going to bring it up and invite an argument. If someone you know has very strong opinions about plastic surgery, then why tell them you’re getting it done if you know it’ll lead to a fight? If someone you know is against a gluten-free or vegan lifestyle, then why mention that you’re going vegan or gluten-free? It’s unfortunate that we have to omit details about ourselves from conversation to avoid being talked down to, but it works.

3. Surround yourself with supportive people

The next thing that I recommend doing if you’re on the receiving end of criticism is to make it a point to surround yourself with positive people. This took me a while to do, and I’m still trying to work on it. But I made it a point in the last year to connect with people who have the same interests as me and are supportive of my lifestyle and my decisions rather than surrounding myself with the same types of people I used to and hoping to earn their approval and acceptance. 

What I’ve learned from that experience is that your mindset is very influenced by the people around you. I went from having an extremely fear-based mentality thinking that I was never going to amount to anything to having faith in myself and seeing my own potential. Whether you realize it or not, you are very influenced by the people around you, and if you want to become the best version of yourself you have to connect to people who lift you up.

I will admit this is something that takes a while to do. You can’t just change your entire network automatically, but you do it one day at a time. My favorite way to do this is by getting someone’s number and scheduling a call or meeting them for coffee. It takes a while, but by slowly building that one relationship at a time, you’ll look back at your experience over the last few months and realize what a profound change your new circle has had on your mindset.

4. Practice what to say

I’ve been talking about this in therapy for weeks and I’ve analyzed this issue for the last year trying to figure out why people do this to me and how to stop it. But still, all that analyzing didn’t help me when someone made me open up a credit card that I didn’t want. It didn’t make all of the opinions from others come to a halt. If you’re on the receiving end of this, the best thing that you can do is spend some time alone and PLAN OUT what to say when something like this happens.

Because I know that when I’m actually in a place where someone is disrespecting me, I’m so shocked that I don’t even know how to respond. For that reason, the situation gets out of hand and before you know it you’re stuck talking with someone who’s being extremely forceful about their opinions or you have multiple people ganging up on you at the same time. To prevent this from happening, I recommend writing and practicing ready-made phrases to say when you’re in the situation. These phrases should be short and sweet, not some long drawn out explanation as to why your opinion matters (like I did in this post lol). They should be short phrases that you have ready so you can use them when you notice this happening.

For example, Matt came up with one once where he said: “Thank you for the suggestion, we will take it into consideration.” It was great, and certainly got the point across, but it was a tad formal! But don’t just choose the phrase and hope that you’ll remember it or be able to use it in real life, it’s important to visualize it and practice. Practice saying this to yourself (maybe in the mirror) so you can practice how assertive you want to come across as well as your tone or facial expressions. This will allow you to practice the phrase so you can use it easily in real-time.

The other reason why it’s important to practice is that by playing around with the way you say it you’ll practice a way of saying the phrase that doesn’t come across as being rude. If it does it will only cause the person to get defensive. 

5. Remember that change starts with you

There are people like me who are more-so on the receiving end of this behavior, but because of this, it’s often behavior that they eventually learn and do to others even if we don’t realize it. For example, have you ever been going about your day having a conversation with someone and say something and immediately think, “Oh my gosh. My mother just came out of my mouth!” That happens to me all the time. We don’t just pick up on someone’s physical habits, we also learn how to interact with others.

Because I’ve become so hyper-aware of people disrespecting my decisions I’ve caught myself passing my opinions and “advice” onto others. The most important thing to take away if you notice that this has happened to you is self-awareness. Don’t just play victim, but notice what has happened to you and recognize that urge to react the same way to others. It’s surprising how much passing our opinions onto other people has become a knee-jerk reaction. Become self-aware so that you can resist the urge to do it to someone else because change starts with you.

Important lessons for all of us. My takeaways:

As much as I felt that it was important to share advice for people like me on the receiving end of opinions, this is a topic that’s not just up to people like me to change. This is a challenging social issue that’s going to take everyone to change. So I wanted to include important lessons and takeaways for all of us to embody. Because it’s not fair for certain people to be steamrolled in life just because of their gender or demeanor.

I think that it’s vital that we all learn these basic lessons and carry them into our interactions with others so that we can all live in harmony regardless of having different opinions, styles, or values. It’s completely ok to have a close relationship with someone (whether it be a family member, friend, co-workers, or neighbor) and have different opinions or disagree. If we all embodied these lessons today, I know for a fact that we would live in a much better world. 

1. Understand there’s a difference between advice and opinions

Over the last several years where I became extremely frustrated with people trying to control me, I gained a reputation for hating ADVICE. But the truth is, I LOVE advice. I appreciate advice and I regularly ask people for advice about health concerns, business, blogging, etc. It’s why I network with other female entrepreneurs, have a business coach, see a therapist, see a wellness ambassador, etc. I love talking with other people about life and hearing their advice.

What I don’t love is someone offering me their opinion and being extremely disrespectful towards me about my choices, style, and life decisions and arguing with me in an attempt to try to pressure me to do something else. Such as live in a city that I don’t want to live in. That is not advice, that’s someone shoving their opinion at me and then trying to pass it off as “helpful advice.” Advice and opinions are two entirely different things. Advice is usually given when someone needs help with something. You give advice when there is a problem that someone is having or if they need help making a decision.

If I said that I was unsure of which town to move to after graduation, and you suggested that I drive through the different towns around Tampa, Jacksonville, and Miami to help me decide which area I saw myself living in, THAT’S giving someone helpful advice. Now, if I were to say that I’ve made up my mind that I want to live in St. Pete and have wanted to live there for a year and you were to respond by spending months trying to get me to live anywhere else and disrespecting a choice that I have made, that’s NOT helpful advice. That’s just projecting your opinions and feelings onto me while disrespecting a life-choice that I have already made. See what I mean? Advice and opinions are two entirely different things.

2. Know that everyone’s path in life is different 

If there’s one thing that I really want to become common sense is that everyone’s path in life is different. What tends to happen is that older generations tend to persuade younger generations to live the way that they did and make the exact same choices. But the problem is that every person’s path in life is different, as it should be. Every soul comes to this planet with their own mission, with a purpose, with unique skills and traits that nobody else has. And once we are in these walking, talking, breathing, monkey suits we have our own unique life experience, and as a result, we will choose a different path in life. Choosing to follow your own path, trust your intuition, and make your own choices is what we are all meant to do. Which is why it’s important that we all respect we’re each on our own journey.

3. Remember that times have changed

We’ve all heard that phrase “times have changed” but let’s take a minute to reflect on just HOW MUCH has changed in the last few decades. The world that I grew up in was extremely different than the one my parents and grandparents grew up in. Of course, it was because of the internet. As one adult in my life put it, “your world was much larger than the world we grew up in.” And I think that’s the perfect way to describe it. 

We connected with people online, we grew up as our technology evolved drastically, we watched people’s lives online, and we learned of more opportunities. In fact, it was other bloggers, YouTubers, and podcasters I found on the internet that inspired me to pursue a career in this. For our older family members, their world was a big as the community and the neighborhood they lived in. There weren’t travel bloggers and YouTubers that they followed that exposed them to new things. Now, the world that we live in is extremely different than the one that our parents and grandparents did. This is not to discount anyone’s life experience, it’s just to say that some of the opinions and “advice” that I’ve received doesn’t exactly apply anymore. For that reason, an ideology, opinion, or piece of advice that worked wonderfully several decades ago, is not going to work in 2019 and 2020. 

Which is why when I’m on the receiving end of getting so-called “advice” or opinions from people, it’s not always correct. Their minds are not open to the lifestyle and the career that I want for myself. They’re projecting their ideas on to me, without considering how different my values and ideas are having grown up in the 2000s. It’s important to remember this now and for many years to come, the world is changing quickly, and the advice we give doesn’t always apply for future generations. 

4. Know that people will ASK for your advice if they need it 

As I’m writing this takeaway, it sounds ridiculous to me. Saying that people will ask for advice when they need it, sounds like it should be common sense. But in reality, it’s not. I’m shocked by how willing people are to offer opinions about what I’m doing with my life when I haven’t even asked for them. So I feel the need to pass on this one simple lesson: people will ask you for advice when they need it. 

If someone presents you with a problem or says something along the lines of “what do I do?” THAT’S when you chime in. You don’t chime in when someone has already decided that their lifelong dream was to study cosmetology and argue with them until they change their mind and finally study business. Advice should serve a purpose, and it should be invited at least to some extent. 

5. Know that advice only needs to be shared one time or two times TOPS

Real advice should be given one or two times TOPS. It’s no longer advice when it’s repeated for months, when it comes up at every family dinner, when it’s morphed into one of the top things you discuss with that person. A good way to give someone REAL advice respectfully is to share it once. Once. 

If the person liked that advice and appreciated it, they will listen to you or they will reach out and ask to hear your thoughts again. But repeating it over and over and over does neither party any good. It only creates a source of tension. For example, repeating the same piece of advice “you shouldn’t paint your walls white” for two years to somebody only comes across as you being confrontational, picky, or scolding that other person. Sharing that opinion ONCE is plenty.

When a piece of “advice” is discussed in length for years or months to persuade someone to make a different decision or take a different path in life, it’s not true advice. That’s just trying to control another person and openly disrespecting the other person’s choices. 

6. Understand that old age doesn’t automatically make someone wise

Over the last two years, I’ve started to understand that old age doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is wise (even if they think they are). I used to believe that the adults in my life knew everything. I might have not liked them or agreed with them, but I thought that they were WISE. I thought that they were these authority figures that just knew everything. That they knew what was the exact right and wrong thing to do.

I mean they obviously looked older than me, they have more life experience, they certainly acted like they knew WAY more than I could fathom. But then something interesting happened. I graduated from college, I moved out of the house, and I became an “adult.” And I realized… HOLY SH*T I KNOW NOTHING. I wasn’t suddenly enlightened the moment that I became an adult. I realized that there was really no difference between me and adult figures in my life who were so vocal about how I should be living it. We’re all just basically kids with cars! And some extra money. So why did I have people in my life who were trying to be in the driver’s seat of my life? And why do WE also try to control other people? None of us have it figured out.

Old age doesn’t mean that you automatically know better than a younger person. But we tend to think it does, which makes us closed-minded. It also doesn’t mean that the older people in our lives know all the answers and that we should blindly trust them. None of us were gifted a book when we grew up called “How To Do Life.” Or “Everything You Should Know About Life.” We’re all trying to figure this sh*t out! Which is why we can’t just look toward someone else and think they have the answers for us. It also doesn’t mean that just because WE may be older than another person that we know what they “should” or “shouldn’t” be doing.

With this realization, I was able to understand that it’s not AGE that makes someone wise. There are women I have met in their 40’s and 50’s that act like they’re 13 and have no emotional intelligence (turn on “The Real Housewives” if you want to see what I mean). And there are 20-year-olds who amaze me with their wisdom. It’s traits like being open-minded, non-judgmental, and self-aware that make someone wise, so let’s carry those traits into our conversations with people!

7. Understand that another person’s life is not your project

I think that it’s worth mentioning that many people insert themselves into someone else’s lives out of a place of love. When you care deeply about someone you want the best for them. However, in doing that sometimes it comes across as trying to fix another person and make them a project. A classic example that comedians love to joke about would be the women who are attracted to certain types of men because they like the idea of helping them. But we all know how that plays out. 

For healthy, happy, supportive relationships, it’s important to understand that one person’s life is not ours to makeover (with the acceptation of the Fab Five from Queer Eye). You can’t project- manage someone’s life no matter what your relationship is. 

8. Know that there’s a paradigm shift 

I want to end this on a spiritual note because I know that this post focuses on a topic that’s not as pleasant to discuss. If you read Lost Online you’re probably aware of my New Age spirituality and philosophies that I like to sprinkle into my posts. I like to take an approach that encompasses self-help, wellness and lifestyle practices, and spirituality because I think they are all equally important.

That being said, in the time that we’re in right now, there is a massive change in consciousness occurring. More people are starting to have spiritual awakenings, question the old ways of doing things, and ask questions like, “What is my purpose in life?” The old paradigm is being replaced with the new one to take us all into our next stage of human evolvement. 

One of my all-time favorite books that talk about this topic is “The Celestine Prophecy,” by James Redfield. In the second chapter of the book, it discusses how “history is not just the evolution of technology; it is the evolution of thought.” Throughout each stage in history, we can see the physical advancements we have made as well as changes in how we view the world. “The Celestine Prophecy” discusses how there is this massive awakening happening and why. That in itself could require it’s own blog post, but the reason why I’m mentioning it here is that this paradigm shift is a major cause of the tension that we see in our interpersonal relationships. There’s friction between younger generations and enlightened individuals with those who are still ingrained in the old paradigm. It’s not just a disconnect that happens because of age, but a disconnect caused by different individuals embracing old and new ways of viewing the world and our purpose on earth.

When I look at this topic from that spiritual perspective, I can find so much peace and contentment. I don’t feel as if I’ve been bullied, I don’t feel like a victim. Instead, I feel kind of honored. I feel happy that I’m one of the individuals who can raise the vibration of the world and be a part of this incredible transformation. If you’re going through a similar struggle as I am, I encourage you to adopt that same change in mindset. Know that it’s not you against your family or friends or co-workers. We’re just at a point in time where people who are embracing the new paradigm are living in the same space as the old one, which is ingrained more in logic, fear, and routine. We can see this change happening everywhere we look today. It can be tense or stressful at times, but we’re living in the most incredible and beautiful period of time. We’re living during a time when everything is shifting. We’ve concurred the physical world, the scientific world, infrastructure, and industry and now it’s time to take the lessons that we learned throughout all of history and evolve. So if you find yourself being bullied by people into making different choices in life, stay true to yourself and understand that the tension your experience is just because you’re on a higher frequency than most.

Thank you for coming to Lost Online!

Wow! So this was a very loaded blog post this week. I went through my experience, I explored WHY I think we have this problem, how to deal with it through self-help practices, and lessons that I feel like everyone must embody if we want to change moving forward.

This was one of those blog posts that I created very much for myself, but also for other people out there who encounter this problem too. It took me several weeks to complete because I knew that by writing about this struggle I will be able to reframe it in my mind. Also because I wanted to fully comprehend every aspect of this social dynamic including how gender, age, and spiritually play into it. For that reason, I kept getting new insights that I originally haven’t discovered. I hope that I did the topic justice and relayed the message as positively as I could. Lastly, if you also struggle with external pressure from others stay true to yourself and what you know is right and know that there is NOTHING wrong with you. Your opinions, preferences, values, and style are valid.

Now, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts! Let me know in the comments what insights you have about this topic! Have you had a similar experience as me? How has this affected you? How do you cope with it? How do you recommend that we fix this on a global scale?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

The Broken Window Theory & How to Create Massive Change in Your Life

Self-Help

Can you believe that it’s already the end of summer? How freaking quickly is the year flying by? It seems like just yesterday I was writing down my New Year’s resolutions and determined to create a better me in 2019. Well, if you’re anything like me, then you’re probably nowhere near checking off those resolutions and wondering “Who the hell did I think I would be in 2019? Superwoman?”

I’m not the only one who’s made this mistake over and over, and it doesn’t just happen during the new year. We’re all interested in improving ourselves in some way, whether it’s getting in shape, learning a language, learning how to cook, deepening our yoga practice, reading more, etc. But in our good intentions and excitement from a sudden wave of inspiration, we try to do too much and we set ourselves up for failure. We want to change, but often try to create a drastic change in such a short period of time which inevitably only leaves us feeling guilty and disappointed.

This happens with both the bad habits we’re trying to break and the good ones that we want to adopt. A very popular example would be trying to quit smoking cold-turkey. We all know someone (or maybe we are that someone) who’s always “trying to quit.” Don’t worry, there’s no judgment from me!

One of my latest examples was that I wanted to start keeping my apartment cleaner so Matt would be happier to come home to a clean space and our home would look lovely all the time. I decided that each and every day I would have the dishes done, the laundry done, the counters spotless, fresh flowers in the kitchen, the floors vacuumed, the bed made, and the bathroom cleaned – 24/7. I decided this randomly one evening after a surge of inspiration to tidy up the house. Well, it’s now weeks later, and how beautiful do you think the apartment is looking right now? It’s NOT.

My clothes and piles of laundry are scattered all over the apartment, and there’s no sign of my resolution to keep the house clean. The clothes have taken over yet again. If I ever go missing, you just might find me trapped under a pile of clothes in our bedroom. 

As a self-help and self-improvement junkie, I understand more than anyone that desire to improve oneself and feel that sense of personal accomplishment when your goals are met, the house is cleaned, you’ve eaten healthy, and you’ve worked out that day. There’s nothing better than that feeling of being proud of yourself. But too often, we get so excited about that potential to create drastic change and become a better person, that we try to create massive change in our lives overnight. We try to lose 20 pounds immediately, we try to read five books in a month, or we try to go vegan in a weekend. But ultimately those changes don’t last. Changing one’s lifestyle and behaviors takes time and learning.

The Broken Window Theory

This blog post was inspired by a podcast by The Minimalists who I’ve referenced many times before. If you haven’t heard of The Minimalists, they’re best friends Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus who became popular after releasing their documentary “Minimalism” on Netflix. They’re authors, podcasters, filmmakers, and public speakers who spend their lives sharing how living with less helped them find happiness, freedom, and fulfillment that money and possessions can’t give us.

In one of their “Quickie” podcast episodes, called “How Small Changes Make Big Progress,”Joshua and Ryan discussed how small everyday changes in our lives helps us move toward sustainability because those radical changes just don’t stick. Radical changes are like crash diets – it’s not feasible to keep that going all the time. However, making small healthy changes, one meal or snack at a time is what gives people the results that they want. Over time, those small changes eventually start to multiply. 

In this podcast episode, Ryan talked about an example of this that he witnessed when he was visiting Tokyo. He noticed that the city was so immaculate and clean that whenever he would see a piece of trash on the ground, it motivated him to pick it up! The city looked so clean and perfect that he felt the need to keep it that way. I think that’s really saying something, because how often do we go out of our way to pick up trash when we’re walking around? 

Joshua gave his example that resonated with me so much that it was the part that inspired this post today. He shared that this phenomenon is often called “The Wildfire Theory,” but he thinks of it as “The Broken Window Theory.”

He explains how in the 1990s in New York City, people were trying to make the city nicer and over time the urban planners realized something interesting in their efforts to turn the city around. They noticed that if there was ever a broken window in one building and they FIXED it, other buildings nearby start fixing their broken windows too. However, the areas that they didn’t fix ended up getting more broken windows and eventually would attract graffiti and other vandalism. Of course, they also noticed that whenever there was a little bit of graffiti, this lead to MORE graffiti. This realization prompted urban planners to not only fix windows all over the city but to create a 24-hour graffiti removal service. All you had to do was call the hotline, and someone would be there to remove the graffiti within 24 hours!

I love this example that Joshua gives because it’s safe to say that the majority of us have noticed this with our own eyes, and I think that it’s much easier to grasp the broken window theory than to picturing a wildfire. The other reason why I love this example is that the same is true for our everyday lives. As Joshua says, “We all have our own broken windows.” They take the form of past traumas, household clutter, toxic relationships, financial stress, smoking cigarettes, unhealthy eating, and weight gain. They’re the things in life that we want so badly to fix, but we can’t. Why? Because that’s A LOT of freaking changes.

And the broken windows are often so subtle that we don’t notice them as the start of a much bigger issue. They show up as the pajamas we throw on the ground in the morning; the laundry that piles that we don’t put away; the “to-do” list that keeps growing; the appointments that have to be made; the dishes that stack up in the sink; the Oreos that we ate last night; the toxic emotions we’ve bottled up since childhood. We don’t make the effort to fix the problem soon enough, or maybe even notice it happening, so it creates more and more chaos.

Then when we decide to make a change, we try to take on too much at once. We try to turn over the entire city of New York in one week; we try to clean our entire apartment in one night; and we try to knock out a to-do list that’s been growing since we rang in the New Year. The reality is that these broken windows have to be fixed the same way they were created: gradually. 

The added challenge that we have to take into consideration is that those “broken windows” are years of habits that have become so ingrained in us that we don’t even realize that we’re doing it. It all becomes automatic. We get up in the morning and we throw our pajamas on the ground; we eat dinner and we leave the dish in the sink; we do laundry but we never put it away. So how on earth could we change all of those things at once? I don’t know this for sure, but I’m pretty sure it’s impossible.

How to Create Massive Change in Your Life?

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna leave you on THAT note – by saying it’s impossible, that nothing can be done. So I put together a list of seven ways that you can fix your broken windows in a way that’s gradual AND reasonable, and that have the potential to actually stick long-term. I recommend trying all of them and then picking the one that you find the easiest to incorporate in your life. 

1. Fix one broken window at a time

My first piece of advice is to fix one broken window at a time. If you want to get in shape and focus on your health, maybe don’t declare to the world that you’re going to do P90X every day for the next 90 days, give up all the foods that you love, and stop drinking. Side note: I saw someone do this before and he looked MISERABLE… and also went back to his bad habits once he was done. Just as quickly as he got a six-pack, he lost it. 

Instead make the decision to exercise for an hour 3-4 days a week, or to run a 5k, or get 10,000 steps in. Then, after you’ve made one change and adapted to it, make one dietary change every couple of weeks. Maybe give up that one thing you eat WAY too much of. I met a woman once who lost 25 pounds because she gave up Pepsi! PEPSI! That’s all she did!She didn’t throw in an entire exercise regime and dietary changes all at once. She worked on ONE broken window: her soda addiction. I met her after she had lost all that weight and she talked to me about what her next healthy change would be. She was in the process of trying to decide how she would incorporate exercise next.

So pick one “broken window” and do something that is actually going to work for you in your everyday life. Fixing that window will help you gradually fix the other windows, and in the end, it will last.

2. Set the bar low 

If you find yourself not being able to accomplish those big things you set out to do, set goals that are so ridiculously small, that it would be impossible to NOT do them. Set the bar extremely low! Don’t put pressure on yourself to quit smoking immediately, instead, say I’m not going to smoke after ___ pm. Or I’m not going to smoke more than ___ amount of cigarettes a day. Or I’m only going to get ___ packs a week. Set the bar low and give yourself a chance to adjust.

Here’s another example: You know how much it sucks to unpack after a trip? You know how you have to unpack that suitcase, but it sits there on the freaking floor for days, sometimes weeks, overflowing with clothes that you never want to put away? Ok, maybe it’s just me. I REALLY hate laundry in case you couldn’t tell. Whenever I catch myself doing this… which is anytime I go anywhere, I make the decision to put away ONE item in the suitcase every time I walk by it. Once I decide that I’m able to tackle the suitcase in no time, but if I tried to do it all at once, it wouldn’t happen. 

Set the bar so stupidly low, that you have no reason and no excuse to not follow through. If you want to accomplish something BIGGER, like a bigger goal or lifelong dream, not just unpacking a suitcase, plan out each of the steps that you’re going to be taking. Decide each low bar that you would have to set for yourself in order to finally actualize that dream. Decide to enroll in a course tomorrow, or research your target market, or write one page of your business plan, or finally register as a business, or write ONE page of your book. Write down each low bar you have to set for yourself and accomplishing the bigger things in life. It will make it far less scary, far more reasonable, and it will finally get you moving in the right direction.

3. Gretchen Rubin’s One Minute Rule

If it’s a matter of the little things accumulating and getting out of hand, try using a trick that I learned from happiness expert, author, blogger, and podcaster Gretchen Rubin. She came up with this “One Minute Rule” that’s become incredibly popular with her audience. The idea is that if you can do something in one minute or less, you should do it right away.

This trick helps to tackle countless broken windows throughout the day and prevent them from spiraling into a bigger issue. For example, a plate can be rinsed off and put in the dishwasher in about 5-10 seconds, so you should do it right away. It gets little tasks out of the way and keeps them from boiling up. For that reason, it takes you a few seconds to do something, rather than letting dozens of simple tasks get out of hand. At that point, it would take you an hour, or even several hours of running around trying to do so many things at once. We’ve all been there when we’re trying to clean up a room that we let get messier and messier for the last month, which means that we have to spend the next half a day cleaning to get everything done. It takes so much more time and energy to tackle all of it than it would to chip away one task at a time.

It’s a great trick to adopt as far cleaning and putting clothes away if you’re like me, but it could also be used in everyday life. Because I’m writing this post right now and was reminded of this rule, it finally prompted me to call someone back that I’ve been putting off for two days, even though I knew it would only take me 60 seconds. If you have to do anything that takes a minute or less, like write a quick email, then write the damn email! Otherwise, all it does is add to the collection of broken windows you have going and weigh on your mind. 

4. Set a power hour

This next tip is also one that I learned from Gretchen Rubin. (I really love her in case you couldn’t tell). The idea is that if you have a lot of tasks stacking up – maybe they take a minute or maybe they require a little bit more time and energy – you should set an hour aside each week to tackle them.

You know those tasks that aren’t necessarily hard or difficult, but it requires you to do a few steps, or make a couple of calls, or research something first, or dig through your filing cabinet, so you just keep not doing it? The thought of spending those next 10-15 minutes working on this random annoying task that you don’t want to have to do, keeps you procrastinating and not doing this thing for weeks. I do this to myself whenever I have to go looking for a new doctor. For example, when I decided that I wanted to see a therapist, it took me several weeks to finally start making calls and searching for someone because I knew I’d have to spend at least 20 minutes, researching places in the area, calling people, repeating my insurance information, setting up appointments, and then going to consultations with different therapists.

This task wasn’t hard, but it felt annoying and inconvenient. It took more time and mental energy than putting away some dirty dishes, so I continued to put it off. I’m sure you have some task like that you really don’t want to do! For things like these, it’s a good idea to select a day of the week and set aside one hour to power through these random tasks that you’ve been setting aside. It forces you to finally get it done and make some progress, and it finally eliminates that task that’s been weighing on you and making you unhappy and anxious.

5. Decide 1-3 things you want to focus on the next day

One way to tackle your broken windows, eliminate bad habits, or even accomplish larger goals, is to decide the night before what you will focus your energy on tomorrow. I like to incorporate this whenever I feel myself losing focus on my work and getting stressed out. Each night before bed, get out a notebook or a post-it note and reflect on what you would like to focus your energy on the next day. Remember to only pick one to three items.

I find that this works because otherwise, it’s easy to look at the mountain of tasks that you need to get done in order to be successful or reach a goal, and think to yourself, “Where the f*ck do I even start?” For example, sometimes my list looks something like: 1) Create welcome email 2) Edit new video 3) Start ____ post. Or 1) Publish post 2) Choose quotes for Pinterest graphics 3) Brainstorm ebook ideas. It’s a short list of goals that you know you can reasonably get done the next day and provide some direction and support so you stay on track.

You can use this trick with work, with getting in shape, or with breaking bad habits. It’s even been helpful for me in the areas of spirituality and self-improvement. If you’re trying to lose weight, your list might look something like: 1) Go to the gym for 20 minutes 2) Make dinner at home 3) No snacking after 9 pm. Or maybe 1) Look up ab workout ideas 2) Get some healthy snacks at the grocery store 3) No chips. The beauty of this list is that it varies every day, so you don’t make the same mistake of making a drastic decision or lifestyle changes at once. 

6. Say no

I felt the need to mention saying no on this list as well because too many people try to take on more than they can handle. Not only is it a way that we self-sabotage, but it’s also a reflection of our culture now. It’s a culture where we treat each other like computers that are meant to be productive, to perform, and to function all day long, rather than connect, love, and LIVE.

It’s a culture where high school students feel as if their self-worth is defined by how many AP classes they’re in and if we’re not making six figures, we’re not good enough. I believe that we won’t be able to create massive change in our lives and fix our broken windows unless we learn to first slow down and cut back. Otherwise, our physical and mental energy is drained, while more windows break in an effort to keep all the balls in the air. But here’s the thing, while we desperately need to learn to say no to other people, we especially need to learn to say no to OURSELVES.

We’re our own worst critic and nobody expects more from ourselves than we do. Which is when I get 10 new ideas for blog posts, I expect myself to be able to do all of them. When I have an idea for a video, an email, a graphic, a book, I think that every idea I have to say yes to in order to be the superhero version of myself I want to be. I do this with collabs, with my website, with challenges I make up for myself, and with classes and programs that I learn about. It’s the reason why Matt is always having to have an intervention with me at our kitchen counter and say, “You’re trying to do too much. You’re gonna stress yourself out. You can’t do it all.” While we may have thousands of epic and wonderful ideas, it’s impossible to say yes to all of them. By saying yes to every idea, you’re not even able to see one through completely. So learn to slow down, and say no. Say no to family members who demand too much from you, say no to friends who treat you more like an assistant than a friend, say no to coworkers that try to pass off their responsibilities onto you, and above all, say no to yourself. You can’t do it all. 

7. Remind yourself that it’s going to take time

Last but not least, when it comes to creating massive change in our lives, it’s important to remind yourself that it’s going to take time. I’m so guilty of this because I want everything done, perfect, and completed right away. I’ve very impatient when it comes to my progress and I have to remind myself of this almost daily. And I know I’m not the one human being in the world who does this to themselves. I see it in my friends and family too.

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves and create expectations that we would never expect from anyone else. And we expect that we should be able to get things done immediately. We go to one CrossFit class and immediately think we’re weak and bad at it because we can’t deadlift 200 lbs. Or we take one yoga class a year and get frustrated with ourselves because we can’t do a headstand right away. When it comes to ourselves, we think we should make progress far faster than is reasonable, which is why it’s so important to remind yourself that things take time. All you can do is to try your best, and eventually, you’ll get there. 

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

I hope this post was helpful for you by highlighting the biggest pitfall that millions of us make every January – we expect to make a massive change in our lives overnight. When it comes to accomplishing lifelong goals, breaking bad habits, or creating healthy change in our lives, for some reason, we feel as if we should do it instantaneously. The problem is that many of us have our own little “broken windows” that have to be fixed before we can do that. Like sleeping in too late, eating unhealthy, holding ourselves back, or staying in toxic relationships. But if you take small steps, and make one change at the time, that effort begins to spread like wildfire.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Have you noticed that you’ve made this mistake before? Or maybe are making it right now? What are some examples where you’ve done this to yourself? Have you thought of any of your own broken windows? How do you think you could create massive changes by using some of these tips I mentioned? Do you have any other suggestions that you think might help people create massive change in their lives? Let me know in the comments!

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

My Holistic Approach to Treating Depression with Herbology & Self Love

Health & Wellness, Self-Help

I made an appointment. I filled out the forms. I was asked personal questions. The health professionals checked my pulse and tongue. By the end of my appointment, the herbalists all reached the same diagnosis: my heart was broken.

Seeing a Western Herbalist?

Years ago if you would have told me that whenever I got sick I would be seeking out the help of an herbalist over a doctor, I don’t think I would have believed you. But sometimes we surprise ourselves like that.

It all started several months back when I ended up getting really sick. I was suffering from tonsillitis that wouldn’t go away, chronic stomach aches every night that lasted hours, and what I thought was my fourth or fifth breast infection. So of course, I went to the doctor. And then another doctor, and then another doctor, and then another and another and another. I had so many appointments, but they always ended up going the same way. The doctor would shoo me out as fast as possible, give me a prescription, and say that they didn’t know what was wrong with me.

After experiencing that for many months in a row, I finally decided to change my methods. I decided to instead go to Traditions Herbal Clinic in St. Petersburg, Fla. I enjoyed my experience and their holistic approach at Traditions so much that when I started to experience depression, getting in for an appointment was my top priority. No way was I going to take random depression pills. Nope. I had already tried that once before when I was a teenager.

I am not at all saying that taking pills is wrong and I know that for some people it is extremely helpful, especially for those who suffer from clinical depression. But pills don’t work for me and I’ve found that they tend to only create weird side effects for me. Plus, being so involved in self-help, health, and wellness, seeing a traditional doctor and going on pills was not at all what I wanted to do. Instead, I was going to go to the Herbal Clinic and go about healthily treating depression by trying to heal from the inside out, not cover up the depression with a band-aid.

My Holistic Approach to Treating Depression

If you’ve never been to an herbal clinic before, it’s the exact opposite experience of seeing a traditional doctor. The approach at herbal clinics is to get to the root of the problem, rather than treat a symptom. The herbalist will sit with you for an hour or more discussing EVERYTHING from your mental health to digestion. They also use very traditional methods that have been used for centuries before we had people in lab coats with medical degrees throwing pills around like candy on Halloween. At the Traditions Herbal Clinic in St. Pete, they specifically use a mixture of Western and Chinese Herbalism. In each visit, they will examine your pulse in nine different places on each wrist to get an idea of how the organs are functioning, and they do a tongue examination. 

The way the appointment works when you go to the student clinic is you sit with them for about an hour and go over everything with them. They write down their thoughts and theories on what’s going on with your body, then one of the owners comes in to make sure it’s correct and to see if they have any other recommendations or additions. The owners include Dr. Bob Linde, AP, DOM, RH(AHG) and Renee Crozier, RH(AHG). (You could choose to see the owners themselves, however, it does cost more money.) I saw Allison for my appointment and then Renee who specializes in cancer care and traditional healing.

After you see both the student and the owner and discuss your health history, systems, diet, lifestyle, digestion, etc., they put together a very specific herbal formula for you and create a wellness plan. The formula and wellness plan that they put together have very specific recommendations that are supposed to help you to heal physically, spiritually, AND mentally. This is exactly the approach that I wanted to take to treating depression. I wanted to sit with someone who talked to me rather than shooed me out of the office and I wanted to be put on a holistic formula rather than with pharmaceutical drugs that only address a symptom. I also decided to begin regular therapy. Which, if you’re interested in hearing about that, make sure to read my last post, “I’m Seeing a Therapist + How I Discovered I Had Depression & Why I’m Thankful For It.”

My Appointment

Disclaimer: I just want to say that the people at Tradition’s Herbal Clinic are extremely knowledgeable in traditional healing and herbalism, so I know I’m not doing their hypothesis justice by trying to explain it myself. But I will try the best I can!

The day I went in for my appointment I filled out all the paperwork and health history information. After that, Allison took my paperwork with her to review for a few minutes and then we started. She asked me all sorts of questions related to what I wrote down, discussed my symptoms with me, checked my pulse and tongue, and even asked me very personal questions about my lifestyle and relationships. Renee then joined us about mid-way through the appointment. 

About an hour and fifteen minutes, both Renee and Allison had come to a conclusion that I’ve never heard before from any kind of doctor or health appointment I’ve had: they concluded that I was suffering from a broken heart.

They shared with me that just as we have PHYSICAL organs like the heart and the brain, we also have SPIRITUAL ones. We have a physical heart just as we have a spiritual heart and they’re both connected. Meaning that when we’re having problems in the body they can manifest as mental issues and vice versa.

In my case, they believed that I have a broken heart, and because of outside influences and comments that I had stored in my memory and internalized, I had also developed awful self-talk. All of this sadness and negativity was building up in my heart and my mind creating depression and symptoms in my physical body. They believed that if I didn’t get a hold on it and heal myself that those mental issues could later manifest in the body and create serious diseases as I age, such as coronary artery disease.

Herbalist Recommendations & Wellness Plan

To heal my body and my heart, Renee and Allison recommended I drink loose leaf tea twice a day that they made for me later that night. The tea is made from a mixture of eight different herbs including schizandra berry, tulsi, eose, hawthorn berry, hibiscus, and passion flower. They also wanted me to take a flower essence tincture three times a day by placing four drops of the essence under my tongue. Aside from their formula they would create for me, Renee and Allison wanted me to be taking Probiotics REGULARLY (not just when the mood strikes) as well as magnesium and vitamin D supplements.

Above all, they wanted me to work on my mindset, my self-talk, and learn to love myself. (Easier said than done, right?) Their suggestions for this were to get three different books that they felt could help me the most, but they wanted me to listen to audiobooks because I remember better when I hear something rather than read it. Two of the three audiobooks they recommended included, “The Four Agreements,” and “The Fifth Agreement,” both by Miguel Ruiz. They believed that I would benefit if I learned to adopt the agreements: be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and do your best.

They also believed that I could gain some insight from these books by learning about HOW we make agreements with ourselves and internalize beliefs. They also thought that it would help me learn about how humans spew emotional poison onto others creating more unhappiness on an individual scale which has a ripple effect out into the rest of the world.

The last audiobook they wanted me to listen to is “You Can Heal Your Life,” by Louise Hay. This one is about how our limiting beliefs and ideas are often the cause of illness and how we can change our thinking to improve the quality of our lives. 

Lastly, Renee and Allison wanted me to talk to myself. Also not something I was expecting to hear! They wanted me to talk to myself out loud and in my mind giving myself compliments or saying affirmations. The hope this that though me doing this regularly, my mindset will start to shift and become more loving and compassionate towards myself rather than being an invisible bully that follows me all day.

Those are my herbalist’s recommendations for helping with the depression that I’ve been experiencing from all the stress and big life changes over the last year. From here on I’m supposed to follow their recommendations for the next month until my second appointment. Then I’ll have a follow-up appointment where I’ll go back to meet with Allison and Renee and they’ll examine me again to provide new recommendations to incorporate and to discuss my next round of healing with a second herbal formula. 

My Self-Love Challenge

Because I have an entire month left of taking their advice before the next appointment, I thought it would be nice to make this month a time of serious self-love. Because not only do I want to go into that next appointment having made progress and taking their suggestions seriously, but I also want to see if shifting your mindset is even possible in the first place. I know it must be possible because all the books and blogs talk about it, but I’ve always been so skeptical about whether I could do it myself. Could I REALLY shift my mindset and get rid of my negative self-talk? I hope so. 

So I decided to layout a month-long self-love routine for myself that will help me heal in more ways that one. Here’s my month-long self-love practice!

Morning and Nighttime Skincare Routine – This one may seem very random, but when I got stuck in my rut I was extremely lazy and unmotivated. Throughout all my life I have always had a pretty involved skincare routine complete with oil, a cleansing, a toner, a serum, moisturizer, eye cream, and SPF. But when I felt so low, I could hardly bring myself to wash my face. Now, I’m making it a point to focus on my skin again first thing in the morning and at the end of the day as well. 

Moisturize – I recently came back with all of these gorgeous lotions and body products from my super spontaneous trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake. So as part of my self-love practice, I will also make it a point to moisturize after a shower. As much as I hate the idea that people think self-love and self-care is PAMPERING because it’s NOT, I’ve been completely neglecting those things after I started to feel low. Adopting this simple act of pampering is just one way that I’m showing love and appreciation for myself by taking those few moments just to make myself feel good on the outside, which I believe can also make you feel good on the inside. 

Self Love Reflection – Next I’m incorporating a self-love reflection into the day whether it’s through stream of consciousness journaling or quietly reflecting on something that I love about myself or that I’m proud of. The point is to help me get rid of the negative self-talk by slowly replacing it with happier and more pleasant thoughts that lift me up. 

Affirmations – I’ll admit I’m super new to affirmations. I hadn’t come across any affirmations that spoke to me and I NEVER remembered to do them. But to me, it seemed too weird walking around my apartment throughout the day telling myself compliments as Allison recommended. I decided that as my way of “talking to myself” as she suggested, I would find a list of affirmations and I would say them aloud to myself and meditate on them. This way has been working well for me because I don’t have to think up what I want to say. I instead pick an affirmation for the day and repeat that affirmation until I feel like it’s sinking in. If I’m feeling extra motivated I will read through a list of affirmations or pick several. But either way I pick one affirmation for the day, repeat it for several minutes in the morning, and then make it a point to remind myself the affirmation throughout the day by writing it down in the morning and keeping it close by.

My absolute favorite list of affirmations that I discovered came from Peaceful Banyan Tree in an article titled, “20 Powerful Affirmations of All Time.” I LOVE this list because it covers positive thinking, health, confidence, self-worth, happiness, letting go, money, success, stress, and today. It hits on all of the areas that bring us full-body health and wellness. For that reason, this list has resonated with me and helped me choose my morning affirmation with ease.

  • I am able to find positivity in every situation.
  • I create only positive thoughts and radiate positivity.
  • I am getting stronger and healthier every day.
  • I am taking good care of my mental and physical health.
  • I am becoming a better version of myself every day.
  • I am confident to overcome any hurdles.
  • I know my self-worth and I am worthy of the best.
  • I believe in myself.
  • I am overflowing with happiness, joy, and satisfaction.
  • I choose happiness over doubt and fear.
  • I forgive myself and everyone else for all the mistakes.
  • I choose to release hurt and resentment.
  • I am a money magnet and attract money easily.
  • The universe is creating opportunities for me to earn more and more money.
  • I see success and abundance everywhere.
  • I am becoming more and more successful every day.
  • Every breath I take fills my soul with calmness and ease.
  • I am at peace now.
  • Today is the most beautiful day.
  • Today I lay the foundation for a wonderful future.

If you’d like some more ideas, make sure to check out my “Mantras” board on Pinterest @LostOnlineBlog.

Pray – After doing my morning affirmation, I decided that I would end with a prayer. I ask the universe to help me take the affirmation into the day, and for help in healing and becoming my highest self. I don’t have a script and what I say tends to vary each day. I always speak from the heart and say whatever feels good at the moment. This is my favorite part of my daily ritual because it makes me feel so at peace.

Supplements and Herbs – For the longest time I completely stopped taking my supplements or I would take them very randomly. But the thing is with supplements you have to take them for an extended period to actually receive and notice the benefit of it. For example, when I started taking biotin for my hair and nails, I didn’t notice how much it helped until at least three months later. Now, as part of my self-love practice, I’m making my supplements and my herbs one of my top priorities along with my formula from Tradition’s Herbal Clinic.

Audio Books – In the afternoon or evening that’s when I’ll be incorporating the audiobooks that were recommended to me. Whether it’s at the gym, in the afternoon when I’m done working, or as I’m getting ready for bed, this is where I’ll take the time to absorb all of that knowledge that my herbalists believe will help. So far I’ve listened to “The Four Agreements” and part of “The Fifth Agreement.” I like them so far because the advice is so simple, but I can see how if you adopt The Four Agreements you could be free from all of the dramas that cause us so much pain, and also have greater self-love. 

Gratitude – At this point, you all are very familiar with how much I believe in my gratitude practice, so I won’t rehash all the benefits again. You can check out my blog post, “My Daily Gratitude Practice,” or “Stream of Consciousness Journaling: The Benefits & How to Practice It.” But it should come as no surprise that when I started to feel so low that I could hardly get myself moving for the day, so of course I didn’t end up sticking to this ritual either. So I’m making it a point to reinstate gratitude in my day. 

Read – Whenever I fall into a funk, I always tend to start numbing with Netflix, which always makes me feel so much worse in the end. I feel as if I’m unproductive and lazy and like I didn’t accomplish anything important. I decided that as part of my self-love ritual I would stop watching shows and instead read in bed every night, not just when the mood strikes. I’m so happy that I’ve adopted this one because I already had so many great conversations with people over our shared love for the book that I’m reading right now: “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”

Meditate – Last but not least is meditation. I’ve been following along with the happiness series on the Headspace app lately and it’s helped me to find some peace and serenity right before I go to bed and fall asleep. I’m such a night owl that usually the moment my head hits the pillow I’m 100% awake, but whenever I meditate before bed that’s not the case. I’ve adopted this last habit because not only will it help me feel a sense of calmness in my mind, but it will also help me to take care of myself by falling asleep at a reasonable hour and be able to wake up earlier than usual. 

How is it going?

It’s now been two weeks since I went to the herbal clinic and got my formula. I’ve been taking it every day aside from the days when I was in Pennsylvania and Ontario because I didn’t want to lose it or be questioned about my brown paper bag of herbs at the airport. I don’t know if the formula is what’s helping or if it’s a combination of self-love practices, supplements, herbs, and books.

I do feel much better than I did before though. I have finally pulled myself out of my latest funk and I’m hoping I’ll keep feeling this way for at least a few weeks. I think what is actually helping me the most is that I LOVE trying out wellness practices and products, so I don’t know if it’s their suggestions exactly, or if I’m just so excited to now be going to therapy and to get to test out all of these recommendations and share my experience. 

I have been feeling incredibly proud of myself though because I didn’t think I would be able to take so many recommendations from someone and incorporate it into my life with such ease. I mean really, I have a hard enough following my dentists one simple piece of advice – floss. But I really want to get better, so I’ve been doing everything! 

Lastly, I just wanted to share that this is how I’m treating my depression right now. I’m seeing a therapist, seeing an herbalist, and adopting self-love. I hope that you find some nuggets of wisdom in here that might help you, however, I’m not suggesting that EVERYONE treat depression by repeating affirmations or taking probiotics. Some people do need medication and some people have serious clinical depression and suicidal thoughts that an herbalist is not equipped to fix. If you’re suffering from depression I HIGHLY suggest that you see a doctor and a therapist. Just keep in mind that these things like rituals, books, and supplements can serve a purpose too, and I believe that trying a mixture of traditional and holistic recommendations will help you heal the fastest. 

Thank you for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you for reading and make sure to let me know you’re thoughts in the comments! I’m particularly interested to hear what people think about this post and how I’m going about healing myself. 

What are your thoughts about this post? Did you get any ideas from it? Have you had depression before? How did you go about treating it? What worked for you? Do you believe in going using a mixture of traditional and herbal treatments or do you believe one is better than the other?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Announcement: I’m Seeing a Therapist + How I Discovered I Had Depression & Why I’m THANKFUL For It

Announcements, Self-Help

This week’s blog post is a bit different for me. If you’ve read Lost Online for a while, then you’re probably familiar with the fact that’ll I’ll occasionally write about announcements in my life like starting at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition – but never have I shared an announcement THIS personal. 

I’ve debated about sharing this so many times with mental illness being such a sensitive and personal topic but finally decided that keeping this a secret wouldn’t feel authentic. Because I am so passionate about self-help and wellness I really feel called to share my decision with you about seeing a therapist. Keeping such a big decision private (as someone who preaches self-help and wellness each and every week) just isn’t me. I like being honest on my website, even if it’s not always the cool thing to do. 

Very recently, after realizing that I had depression which wasn’t planning on leaving my side anytime soon, I decided to start seeing a therapist. For the first time in my life, I didn’t just entertain the idea or talk about it. I finally picked up my phone, actually made a call, and booked my first ever therapy appointment – a huge step that I wasn’t sure I would ever take. Since that day I keep giving myself mental praise, “Hell yeah, I actually f*cking did it. I took the first freaking step!” It’s not very often I feel proud of myself, but today I am. Up until this point, the idea of seeing a therapist seemed as terrifying to me as much as swimming with a Great White shark. 

So I wanted to come here today, as I normally do, to talk about what prompted me to finally start seeing a therapist NOW in hopes that it will inspire someone else who may be going through something similar and just needs to hear that they’re not alone.

The Build-Up

It’s been nine months since I first moved to St. Petersburg, Fla. with my boyfriend Matt. I could still remember how excited and thrilled I was that I finally graduated from college and was about to start a life with my partner. It was such an exciting time, picking out the decor, signing a lease, grocery shopping together! I was finally growing up and I could not wait. My entire life I looked forward to the day when all this would happen – when my life would start, when I’d have someone to come home to, when I’d finally be FREE to live as I please. I know it sounds crazy, but I honestly thought that once I moved out and had my own place life would be WONDERFUL. It would be perfect. It would be filled with travel, love, beauty, money, friends, adventure, rainbows, and unicorns. LOL. That’s not what happened. 

Here’s what actually happened: Since I first moved to this coast to sunny St. Pete, nothing happened as I expected. There’s been so many big life changes, decisions, and challenges that I didn’t see coming for the life of me. For the first time ever I was in a new town trying to make a life for myself without family or school providing some structure and support. I was alone having to make friends as an adult (which is surprisingly difficult). I’ve tried so many times to make friends with people only to be canceled on and stood up again and again.

I had to get used to a whole other family that’s now in my life with their own opinions and oh so many expectations. I’ve had to deal with WAY more family drama than you would expect both in my family and Matt’s. I’ve been pressured into buying a house before I was ready, with NO ONE around me respecting my feelings. I then fell in love with a house and had that dream taken away after we discovered a disturbing termite infestation and had to resend our offer. 

I felt real financial stress for the first time. I’ve felt the pressure to find a job while being asked every single day, “So did you find a job yet? How’s the job hunt going?” (Apparently, when you are job hunting, it’s the only thing you’re allowed to discuss with people.) I’ve been spewed so much unwarranted advice about job hunting from people who haven’t looked for a job in 20 years. 

I then had months of sleepless nights struggling with the decision to leave my full-time job to pursue what I wanted. Then, I got let go from another job, followed by months of working at home from my kitchen counter leading to a very isolated lifestyle because there’s no “blogger office” you can go into to hang out with people.

That’s not even including the health problems, friend drama, and family issues that are way too private to share online. But the biggest challenge of all – I can’t make one decision in life without someone feeling the need to intervene and share their two cents with me. Wherever I want to live, whichever house I live in, whichever dog I get, SOMEONE has an issue with it. I really believed that once I was on my own that I would be magically liberated from the opinions and judgment of others.

If this is what everyone meant by, “Wait until you get into the real world,” I finally understand what they mean.

That transition period from college to adulthood is extremely overwhelming, and then you throw in health problems, a new city, a new family, and financial stress and it’s no wonder I’ve been so anxious and depressed over the last nine months. There’s been A LOT going on, and those are just the bullet points. 

It reminds me of a quote I just saw on Instagram today that said, “Being an adult is just saying, ‘But things will slow down a bit again’ to yourself until you die.” I think that sentence wraps up the last nine months of my life perfectly. 

How I Discovered That I Had Depression 

All of that brings me to these past few months when I’ve felt so low, so defeated, so disrespected, so helpless that I just felt like, “What’s the point?” “Why even get up early, get a bunch of work done when life keeps handing me one shit sandwich after another?”

My depression stayed while the excitement, motivation, and inspiration fell away. I ended up spending way too many days over the last few months in sweat pants, greasy hair, exhausted for no apparent reason, not feeling like myself at all. So many days I felt lazy, unmotivated with overwhelming sadness or sometimes not feeling anything at all. Sometimes even just getting out of bed in the morning felt like going to war. It seemed impossible. What’s worse is that staying in bed turned into a vicious cycle where I felt guilty and disgusted with myself for not working and getting more done.

Once I was up, I couldn’t even bring myself to take care of myself, do work, eat well, or go to the gym. Some days I would binge on junk food for comfort, other days I wouldn’t eat a thing. Because of how low I felt, I isolated myself more and would hardly leave the apartment. 

It was about nine months of lead up and slowly feeling worse and worse until one day I realized: I don’t think this is normal. This doesn’t seem to be one of my typical “ruts” that might last a few days. It seems more serious than that. 

But I still wasn’t 100% convinced that I was experiencing depression. I thought that in order to be depressed you had to have suicidal thoughts or actions, which I don’t. I still want to live and continue to grow, I still have hopes, dreams, and aspirations, but I still felt terrible and sad most days. So, I became more and more curious about whether or not that’s what I’ve been experiencing. 

This eventually led me to into a google-searching black hole one night. I started looking up articles about how to tell if you have depression and found a long collection of articles that all had similar titles. Most of them said, “30 symptoms of depression,” “20 ways to tell if you have depression,” “12 secret symptoms of depression,” “15 little known side effects of depression.” You get the idea. Well, it turns out, I had ALL of the symptoms and “secret” side effects of depression, aside from one – bed sores.

It turns out that I had depression all along, and just didn’t realize it. It wasn’t until I had every symptom and checked with Google before I finally realized that’s what was going on. It was difficult to finally admit to myself that that’s what I’m going through, especially being someone who’s so immersed in self-help and wellness. I would love nothing more than to “fix” myself and be a perfect, shiny, glimmering example of health, happiness, self-love, and positivity for you. It also was somewhat of a relief though, because there have been too many times when Matt asks me for the third time in one night, “What’s wrong?” Followed by me saying, “I’m tired,” because I honestly don’t know what to say. 

Finally Seeking Help

There have been many times I should have seen a therapist throughout my life, but I never went through with it. I was way too scared to finally take the leap and I had so many irrational fears about what might happen if I actually DID see a therapist. I was afraid of being labeled or being viewed as a freak who couldn’t get their life together. I was scared that I might hear people say to me, “What the f*ck would you have to be depressed about?” Especially if it was my family saying those things. It would make me feel so guilty when they’ve worked so hard to give me the life that I have now. Seeing a therapist seemed almost unfair or even wrong. However, what terrified me the most was the thought of sitting across from a stranger and crying for an hour about my deepest and most personal issues. The thought of that still makes me cringe.

Even though I know SO many people who see therapists and talk about how much it’s helped them through depression, anxiety, family problems, and trauma, I couldn’t bring myself to do it for the longest time. Which only meant that the longer I put it off, the more I built it up in my mind and the scarier it seemed. 

But now here I am, a self-help and wellness blogger that spends days experiencing overwhelming sadness and not being able to get out of bed. I’ve read all the books, listened to all the podcasts, tried all the supplements, adopted all of the self-care rituals, and here I am – experiencing depression. It was that thought that FINALLY made me pick up my phone one day and seek out a therapist. There comes a point when if you experience depression, you can’t leave it up to random authors to play the role of your therapist for you, you need to actually talk with someone. 

So here I am at the start of my own therapy journey and I just had my consultation appointment today (as I’m writing this). After making that initial phone call and setting up my appointment, my fears surprisingly went away and were replaced with an emotion that I was NOT at all expecting: excitement. It appears that all of the overthinking that I did about whether I should or shouldn’t see a therapist for years made that initial phone call scarier than actually sitting down with someone. 

“The problem is not the problem. The problem is the incredible amount of overthinking you’re doing with the problem. Let it go and be free.” – unknown

Viewing Depression in a Positive Light 

Now that I’m finally taking a leap of faith and moving forward with a therapist I’m feeling very hopeful about what’s to come. It’s allowed me to reflect on the last 9 months without being so triggered by it and think about the advice that I wish I could give myself when I first moved to St. Petersburg. I put together three main takeaways that I want to share with you today so that it may reach someone else who needs need to hear this too.

1. Life goes in phases

There will be moments when you feel on top of the world and there will be moments when you’re feeling down. You’ll have the best days of your life, but there will still be the worst days. But as much as it sucks when you’re hurting and life keeps kicking you when you’re down, those times are necessary. It would be impossible to feel on top of the world all the time or else you wouldn’t appreciate it. If everything went your way you wouldn’t realize how special it was and would take it for granted. 

That’s why it’s important to honor the highs and the lows equally. To feel happy and grateful when things are going well and to trust that everything is working in your greatest favor when they are not. 

2. It’s always darkest before dawn

Just as I shared in my latest blog post, “How to Recognize Universal Signs, things falling apart of “bad” things happening is a good thing. A lot of the time, it’s actually the universe working in your favor. I believe that many of the good things that happen to us would be brought into fruition without something falling apart. Just like how you wouldn’t have met your soulmate unless you broke up with that douchebag you used to date in college!

I’m going to go ahead and quote myself for a minute, in case you haven’t read the last blog post yet.

“We can’t expand, fulfill our purpose, or become our highest selves if everything is going well and if everything was EASY. We can’t continue to improve and learn important lessons if everything is rainbows and unicorns all the time. We’d be way too comfortable. And if there’s one thing that I know in this world, it’s that you can’t grow inside your comfort zone…Challenges happen because it’s the universe pushing you to level up.” – Heather Ione Clark

It reminds me of one of my absolute favorite quotes in the world, from author J.K. Rowling: “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” If it wasn’t for her challenges, the world would have never been blessed with the magical, wizarding world of Harry Potter!

But just as much as I believe that challenging times happen to us so that we can reach our soul’s purpose, I also believe that the rough periods are happening to us for another reason. We all have lessons that we’re meant to learn in this lifetime so that we can evolve and become our highest selves. Even though it’s much easier to take the victim mentality, instead look at it from the perspective of, “What can I learn from this?”

When I take this healthier and more positive perspective, I’m able to understand that this depression I’ve been experiencing is happening for a greater purpose – it will help me to grow, finally address traumas that I haven’t let go of, and it will help me to inspire others to seek help too. 

3. It’s ok to not be ok

It’s ok if you’re not always feeling “#blessed” like how you are in your Instagram captions. Let’s be honest, we all have crap days and years that don’t quite go how we imagined they would. And that’s ok. I don’t think I’ve met one person who didn’t struggle with some trauma, whether it be a broken relationship with a parent, a sexual assault, or an eating disorder. We all have our things.

When I first decided to see a therapist, I debated not sharing this with you. I didn’t want to admit that even I feel the need to see a therapist. Because I’m a self-help and wellness writer, I should be 100% ok, right? False. Even your super hot personal trainer eats cake sometimes. We’re all human here. 

But I’m sharing this because although this blog is all about self-help, health, and wellness, I’m not claiming to be PERFECT. I’m not claiming to have it all figured out. This is about my journey, my advice that I learn along the way, and above all – transparency. Sharing the not so gram-able moments about my life in hopes to help someone else. Because I know other young women just like me share the same challenges, and I want them to know that it’s ok to NOT be ok. 

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

I really hope you enjoyed this week’s post and it helped you to reflect on your own experience. Lastly, I just want to say that if you’re having a similar experience as me, don’t be afraid to make the call. Those few minutes it takes to call someone are scarier than actually sitting down and talking things out. Trust me, you will be so happy and so proud of yourself that you took the first step. 

“At any given moment we have two choices: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” – Abraham Maslow

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Have you recently taken the first step to see a therapist? Do you currently see a therapist? Looking back at the time of your life when you decided to seek help, what are some of your own takeaways? What advice would you give to others who are going through a hard time? Do you believe that “bad” things happen for a reason? Do you believe that we’re meant to learn something from moments like this? Even if you don’t AND even if you haven’t seen a therapist, let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Why We Self Sabotage & How to Recognize The Signs

Self-Help

Take a good, long look at the main image for this post. It’s definitely visually interesting and catches your eye for sure, but it’s more than just a cool picture. If you look closely in the background, you will be able to see some of the examples of how I personally self-sabotage. Like the crumpled and empty bag of chips: the go-to food that I binge on when I really want to feel like garbage. Or the Apple Watch left on the charger when I’ve given up on working out. Or the Amazon boxes representing how I often online shop to make myself feel better (even though I always end up feeling guilty afterwards).

I write about self-sabotage because I have become so familiar with it. I’ve walked through life hand and hand with self-sabotage for a VERY long time without even realizing it. It wasn’t until the last two years when I really started to understand what self-sabotage was and the impact that it had on my life. Since then, I’ve become much more aware of how to recognize the signs of self-sabotage before it starts to control me.

So, what is self-sabotage?

Self-sabotage is deciding what you want and then doing everything that you can to make sure that it doesn’t happen for you. It’s knowing exactly what you need to improve yourself and make yourself happier, but not doing it. It’s staying in your comfort zone because it’s safe and familiar even though you want to change your life. Self-sabotage is always VERY sneaky and can easily go unnoticed as it often takes the shape of prostration or perfectionism, which means that most of the time we don’t even realize that we’re doing it.

Although it might be hard to spot, it’s the absolute worst place you could be in. Self-sabotage is like putting yourself in a prison and taking away your opportunity to grow and explore in virtually every way. It interferes with every aspect of your life and as a result, it keeps you from accomplishing life-long goals. 

Self-sabotage is pretty straight forward: you want one thing, but you do the exact opposite in efforts to keep yourself from making progress. It could be binge-watching Netflix and eating junk food even though you want more than anything to be in shape. Or it could be waiting years for the “perfect” moment to start a blog or a business.

It’s something that you do subconsciously every day to the point where it becomes automatic. But the problem isn’t just that one night you decided to reach for ice cream and cookies out of comfort. The problem is that slowly those little moments build up over time and drastically change your life. Those hundreds of days of unhealthy eating and bingeing become an extra 50 pounds. That choosing to never leave your job and start a business means never being the entrepreneur you’ve always dreamed you’d be. The very real danger of self-sabotage is that someday you could look back on your life disappointed and discontent. You’ll look back and know that you never did get in shape, write that book, build that business, travel the world, or learn another language and wonder why.

So, why then? Why would we sabotage our OWN efforts throughout our lives and prevent the very things from happening that we want most? Well, it’s not that we’re masochists that want to see ourselves suffer for the joy of it.

What causes self-sabotage?

I recently started reading the book The Four Agreements,” by Don Miguel Ruiz which helped to give me some insight about what causes self-sabotage in the first place. Bare with me until the end, because I swear this comes full circle. 

In the earlier parts of “The Four Agreements,” Ruiz discusses how we as children, from the moment we are born, we are domesticated just like animals. We don’t grow up having the opportunity to choose what we want to believe. We are told what to believe. We are taken under the wing of our parents, teachers, neighbors, or church, and taught the beliefs of the adults around us. We are taught the beliefs, the stories, and the opinions of our community and how we should view the world.

We were taught the names of everything based on the language of the adults in our lives; we were taught what we should believe about history; how we should dress; what we should eat; what holidays we should celebrate and how we should celebrate them; how we should connect with a higher power; what political party to affiliate with; and above all – how to behave. Then we were rewarded or punished based on how “good” we were. The reward is the attention that we receive from other people when we make them happy. We are rewarded many times throughout the day and punished many times throughout the day. But the reward feels good so we keep doing what’s expected of us.

For example, if you were a good girl or boy all year round, you got a stocking at Christmas filled with toys. If you played baseball and got home runs, your parents clapped excitedly with pride in their eyes. But just as you were rewarded for being “good,” you were also punished for being “bad.” The punishment was receiving anger and disappointment or even worse – being ignored. Like if you told your devoted Catholic parents that you didn’t want to go to church. This happened at any time, for any reason, in countless little moments throughout our upbringing. 

As children, we try to please mom and dad, our teaches, our peers, or the church and so we start acting out of fear of being punished which usually manifests as rejection. Eventually, we become a copy of mom’s beliefs, dad’s beliefs, teacher’s beliefs, society’s beliefs, and friends’ beliefs. And we believe things like: women are supposed to be caretakers, men are supposed to be breadwinners, you have to be successful in life by making a six-figure income, you have to be beautiful and grow your hair out for boys to like you, you must go to college, travel is a waste of money, etc. 

As children we couldn’t choose our values, morals, and beliefs, we could only agree with the information that was passed on to us – we could only make an agreement. We agree with that information, we store it, we embody it and that information slowly becomes a belief system that controls our entire lives. Eventually, the domestication is so successful that we don’t need anyone to domesticate us. We do it ourselves. It becomes automatic that we do certain things in life, behave a certain way, dress a certain way because that’s what makes other people approve.

As Ruiz puts it, “The human mind is like a fertile ground where seeds are continually being planted. The seeds are opinions, ideas, and concepts. You plant a seed, a thought, and it grows.”

During this domestication process as children, our family and the people around us gave their opinions about us without even thinking or understanding the impact that their words could have. They planted a seed in our minds and it grew. We believed theses opinions and lived in fear of the opinions because they meant that we were not good enough. If you don’t believe me, talk to any woman who was told as a 13-year-old-girl by some boy at school that she was hideous and unattractive. Ask her how that impacted her. Ask any therapist if what people say to us as we’re growing up causes us to develop an opinion about ourselves. Of course, it does.

Words are powerful. They have the ability to drastically change a person’s opinion about the world and about themselves, especially when that person is a child or a teenager. They internalize everything that happens to them – their entire perspective and life story is based on it. 

But it’s not just what children hear about them that plants seeds. We also are affected by the negative thoughts that parents or other adults have about themselves or others as we are growing up. For example, if the women in your family are self-conscious about their looks and their weight and talk about it around you a lot, this will give you ideas about what makes a person’s body perfect or ugly. Hearing negative things about how people look or how they should look better creates an idea about what YOU should look like to be accepted.

Why do we self-sabotage?

This is how self-sabotage starts to come into play. Ruiz put it so well in “The Four Agreements” when he wrote…

“During the process of domestication, we form an image of what perfection is in order to try to be good enough. We create an image of how we should be in order to be accepted by everybody. We especially try to please the ones who love us, like Mom and Dad, big brothers and sisters, the priests and the teacher. Trying to be good enough for them, we create an image of perception, but we don’t fit this image. We create this image, but this image is not real. We are never going to be perfect from this point of view…Not being perfect, we reject ourselves. And the level of self-rejection depends upon how effective the adults were in breaking our integrity. After domestication is no longer about being good enough for anyone else. We are not good enough for ourselves because we don’t fit with our image of perfection. We cannot forgive ourselves for not being what we wish to be, or rather what we believe we should be. We cannot forgive ourselves for not being perfect.”

That is why we self-sabotage. Through our environment, we heard hundreds of thousands of other people’s ideas, standards, conversations, comments, and compliments and we develop our own idea about how we should be to be perfect. We got lost in all of the outside beliefs and we got the idea that we were NOT that. That we are flawed and unworthy. And that as much as we want to be happy, healthy, vibrant, loved, fulfilled – we don’t deserve it.

For that reason, we sabotage our own efforts. Who are we to deserve to be healthy and happy? Who are we to have all of our dreams come true? We don’t deserve it. We’re not ___(fill in the blank)___ enough. So we get in our own way. We prevent ourselves from growing, improving, and moving forward because we don’t see ourselves as the perfect person who is truly deserving of those accomplishments. We self sabotage slowly over many years, and sometimes even a lifetime, preventing the very things from happening that we want the most.

However, as toxic as self-sabotage can be, it’s also 100% preventable. It’s never too late to realize what we’re doing and make changes. It’s never too late to become a better version of ourselves and get out of our own way. The other great thing about self-sabotage is that once you realize that you’re doing it, it’s easy to stop. You realize how your subconscious mind is controlling your life and you become aware enough to make better choices. Suddenly it seems ridiculous that you would ever consider doing those things to yourself.

Recognizing Self Sabotage 

With that in mind, I put together a list of 11 ways that we self-sabotage so that next time you’re doing these things without thinking you can catch yourself in the act and make a change. You can decide at that moment to avoid the self-destructive and sabotaging behavior and instead choose to operate from a place of self-worth and self-respect. Take a look …

1. Procrastination

Of course, I had to mention procrastination first because it’s something that we are all incredibly guilty of. It’s also something that you can do disguised as something productive. I remember whenever I had to work on a super important project in school, suddenly THAT was the time I felt motivated to spend an hour and a half at the gym or to remove EVERYTHING from my closet Marie Kondo style, donate half my clothes, and then reorganize. But no way would I want to do those things at any other point. One of my absolute favorite parts of the book You Are A Badass,” by Jen Sincero is from her chapter “Procrastination, Perfection, and a Polish Beer Garden,” where she writes… 

“Procrastination is one of the most popular forms of self-sabotage because it’s so easy. There are so many fun things you can do in order to procrastinate, and there’s no lack of other people who are totally psyched to procrastinate with you. And while it can be super fun in the moment, eventually the naughtiness buzz wears off and you’re sitting there a few years later, feeling like a loser, wondering why the hell you still haven’t gotten your act together. And why other people you know are getting big fat promotions at their jobs or taking trips around the world or talking about the latest orphanage they’ve opened in Cambodia on NPR.”

Remember that next time you find yourself putting off something that you have to do for your number one dream in life and suddenly that naughtiness buzz won’t feel so good anymore. 

2. Hesitation

The second most popular way that we self-sabotage is by something that seems 100% harmless, and it’s hesitation. Like hesitating to start the business that you want and thinking it over for months, if not years, weighing the risks in your head again and again. Hesitating to book that two-month trip to Southeast Asia you’ve been saying you were going to do since you were 14. Hesitating to pay for that program that you know will help you level up in your career. Hesitating to create that Match.com profile when you’ve been single for years and all you want is to find someone you could spend your life with.

In a way, hesitation is very similar to procrastination but it’s your brain’s way of trying to protect you because that thing that you want to do for your own growth, expansion, and happiness is foreign. And your brain HATES anything unfamiliar. It’s much easier and appears much more pleasant to stay in your comfort zone and not do that thing, but you know that the only person it’s hurting is you. Anyone who has grown mentally, physically, or spiritually will tell you that it wasn’t comfortable, but it was worth it. 

3. Perfectionism 

Perfectionism, my number one favorite way to self-sabotage. I’m so guilty of needing everything to be flawless in order to move forward, especially when it comes to my website and my brand. If something is not completely perfect in my mind, it’s garbage. Like right now, it kills me that my website is not absolutely professional and flawless in my eyes.

But the truth is, “perfect” is a made-up concept, and every single person’s idea of perfect is entirely different based on their own experiences, opinions, and preferences. I know this because I once showed my resume to over 20 people before I sent it off to employers and not a single one of them agreed on what makes a “perfect” resume. They all had entirely different opinions on wording, formatting, or content. After months of showing it to each one of my professors, several women at the career center, my peers, and professionals in the industry, I finally understood for the first time that perfect is bullsh*t. Every single person has a different idea about what perfect is and that made-up idea of our own concept of perfection is completely unattainable. Needing something to be flawless does nothing at the end of the day but keep you in place and prevent you from moving forward because there will always be something that you need to improve.

DONE is far better than perfect. By getting something DONE rather than trying to make it perfect you are getting out of your own way and taking the first step towards accomplishing your bigger goals in life. Twenty YouTube videos published is far better than spending months creating one “perfect” video. A month of showing up to the gym but not having your “best” workouts is far better than killing it in the gym once. It’s far better to focus on getting things done and on making incremental improvements over time.

4. Setting unrealistic goals 

Another way that we sabotage ourselves is by setting goals and deadlines that are nearly impossible to achieve. Like setting a goal to build your entire website in one weekend, apply to 25 jobs, finish the book you just started last night, finish a project, and go vegan. We set goals that are so difficult to accomplish in such a short time period that we are bound to fail – further proving to ourselves that we do in fact suck and don’t deserve the things that would make us happy.

I do this one to myself so often, it should be called pulling a Heather. I love to put so much on my plate that it’s impossible to keep up with. But this one can easily go unnoticed too because it can be disguised as being motivated. It can appear that we’re just “go-getters” that want to be successful. Maybe some people can accomplish all of those things in a short period of time. Some people do in fact work well under pressure. But it’s a clear sign of self-sabotage if you find yourself setting big goals for yourself left and right and then being unable to follow through with any of them. 

5. Negative self-talk

Do you know that little voice in your head that tells you terrible things about yourself and is hypercritical of everything you do? That’s your negative self-talk. And while it may seem harmless because it lives inside your head and isn’t noticed by anyone else, it is truly harmful. Negative self-talk will subtly undermine everything that you’re trying to do. It convinces you that you’re not talented enough, smart enough and pretty enough, and prevents you from reaching your potential by convincing yourself that you’re not good enough to do it. That you might as well not even try. This form of self-sabotage is especially sneaky because it could cause all of the other forms on this list: hesitation, perfectionism, comparison, EVERYTHING.

My favorite writer and number one girl crush, Elizabeth Gilbert, wrote in her book “Eat Pray Love,” “You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select what clothes you’re gonna wear every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control. Drop everything else but that. Because if you can’t learn to master your thinking, you’re in deep trouble forever.”

6. Self-comparison 

Self-comparison is one form of self-sabotage that is SUPER hard for anyone to avoid when we live in a time where we have social media and have access to everyone else’s highlights and accomplishments 24/7. Comparing yourself to someone else is allowing yourself to get so wrapped up in someone else’s life that it makes you blind to your own progress, accomplishments, or highlights.

I do this to myself all the time. I compare myself to the women that I admire the most in the world who all have created successful blogs, books, and podcasts. Many of them even became millionaires simply making a career for themselves sharing what they’re passionate about. For example, I’ll catch myself comparing my own journey with my blog to the life of Jenna Kutcher (one of the most successful bloggers in the world). I’ll compare how many posts I’ve written, how my website looks, or how big of a following I have, while completely becoming blind to the fact that I’m improving as a content creator EVERY WEEK. 

The problem with self-comparison is that someone else’s perfection is an illusion and we have no clue about the challenges or rejection that person had to face to get where they are or what they have today. So focusing on someone else’s comparison is nothing but a big waste of time. Because not only do people not share their hardships but comparing yourself to someone else does nothing but drain you and fuel the negative self-talk. That energy would be spent so much better by working on yourself.

Next time you catch yourself comparing yourself to another person, refocus your energy to how you can improve yourself. Catch yourself comparing your body to someone else’s body? Put your sneakers on and your AirPods in and go to the gym. Find yourself comparing yourself to someone who just published a book? Start writing YOURS or brainstorm ideas or start learning how to self publish. Stop sabotaging and start DOING. 

7. Not trusting yourself 

This form of self-sabotage stems from the fact that we’ve all been consuming information since the day we were born and hearing other people’s opinions and beliefs whether we want to or not. So it can be the most difficult thing in the world to trust YOURSELF. It’s so easy to trust your parents, neighbors, co-workers, and friends opinions about how you should live but it’s not easy to trust ourselves. 

It’s unfortunate that we are the one person who understands our values, needs, and beliefs more than anyone else, yet we’ve been programmed to distrust our own abilities and our own instincts. Our own thoughts are useless while we get hung up on others. This is extremely self-sabotaging because even though you may know that college is not the right path for you, or that your dream is to move across the world, or that you’ve found your soul mate, you don’t trust that instinct and do the exact opposite. You end up living in a house that’s not right for you, but your parents approve of it. You end up going to college when you’ve always wanted to go to cosmetology school. Or you end up living in the middle of nowhere when you’ve known your entire life you want to live in a big city. Not trusting yourself and your own feelings, you end up creating your life for other people. And while they may be pleased and you have to listen to fewer passive-aggressive comments around the holidays, you’ll end up being miserable.

The biggest regret that people have on their deathbed is that they lived for other people and did what they were “supposed” to do rather than what they wanted to do. They didn’t trust in their own feelings, opinions, and beliefs enough to create the life that they imagined for themselves. 

8. Not doing it 

Playing off of number seven, the next big way that people sabotage themselves is by just not doing it. By not doing it, I mean giving up altogether because you’re afraid of the outcome if you really were to go for it – whatever “it” is. It’s being so worried about what could happen, doubting your own abilities, or comparing yourself to others to the point where you throw your hands in the air and say, “F*ck it! I might as well not even try.” “I might as well not even try to open up my own massage studio because it will be terrible and no one will come and I don’t know how to start my own business anyways.”

Instead, you hold yourself back all together. This one is incredibly sad because whenever someone adopts this mindset, it’s so obvious that they don’t believe in themselves enough and they fear and comparison control their life. Their faith in themselves is so low that they don’t even bother chasing their biggest dream, or getting in shape, or trying to improve themselves. When I think of this form of self-sabotage I keep hearing Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh in my head saying, “Why bother?”

9. Not creating time

Another very subtle way that people sabotage themselves is simply not creating time for something. You may expect yourself to succeed in making life changes but you don’t designate any time or mental space to accomplish them. You say you want to write a book, but you NEVER set time aside for writing days. Or you say that you’re going to learn a new skill but you never create time in the day to practice. That’s why one of the easiest ways to get yourself to do something is not by making a to-do list or setting a goal, it’s by putting it on your calendar. We all know that one person who’s been saying that they were going to learn __(fill in the blank)___ for years, but they never actually do it. Or that one person who always says they’re going to run a half marathon, but never trains. By not creating any time to actually accomplish goals, you become that person who’s all talk and no action. 

10. Self-generating stress

This next one is very similar to setting unrealistic goals, but in this one, we purposefully stress ourselves out. It’s where you turn into a bit of a masochist and intentionally put tons of stress on yourself. Growing up, I knew plenty of people who did this. I went to schools where virtually everyone was an overachiever who took mostly AP classes, popped Adderall like candy, and wanted to get into Ivy League schools. I knew so many people who had to be taking all AP classes, and play Varsity sports and be in multiple school clubs (which they had to be the president of). I watched so many of my peers put so much stress and pressure on themselves that they lived on the edge of a nervous breakdown at all times.

The difficult thing about this form of self-sabotage is that it also can be disguised as being motivated and hard working. But the problem with this form of self-sabotage is that you’re always living in a state of stress, unhappiness and being overwhelmed. You can’t even relax and be proud of yourself for accomplishing one thing because you immediately have something else to focus on that stresses you out. It’s similar to whenever it was finals week in school and you have 6 or 7 exams to take. You get incredibly stressed out about your math exam and focus all of your energy on it the night before, but once it’s over all you have is a temporary moment of relief before you begin stressing out and panicking about your AP Psych final the next day.

The major issues that I see with this form of self-sabotage are that it makes you unhappy and sucks all of the joy and contentment out of life. You become so consumed with filling up your life with the stress that there’s no time or moment of quiet reflection and pride for your accomplishments, there’s only room for being overwhelmed. The other problem that these so-called “overachievers” fail to realize is that by constantly piling on more stress, more projects, more goals, and more meetings, it prevents you from actually doing something WELL. You may get things done, usually in a panic and in a hurry, but was it really your best work? Sure you read 10 books this week, but did you really comprehend them? 

11. Focusing on low priority tasks

The final way that we sabotage our own efforts is by working on low priority tasks and avoiding high priority tasks leaving them undone. This is another way that I personally self-sabotage. It’s kind of like when you write an entire to-do list and then do all the super easy ones first that only take two minutes, but days later you still didn’t do the most important things.

This form of self-sabotage prevents you from leveling up and doing the things that really set you apart and make you happy. The things that might not have been easy or comfortable, but create the most growth. Those items are the things that make the difference between being the person that you want to be and the person who held themselves back through self-sabotage and settled for a life that was comfortable but mediocre. 

How do you put an end to self-sabotaging behaviors? 

At this point, I’m willing to bet you found several examples of self-sabotage that you do. You might have even realized that you self-sabotage more than you realized. However, the good thing about self-sabotage is that it’s a bad habit that CAN be broken. All it takes is awareness and a little bit of time. 

You’ve read through many common examples of self-sabotage and now understand where those destructive behaviors come from, so you’ll be able to catch yourself doing them and make a change. You can decide at that moment to avoid the self-destructive and sabotaging behaviors and instead choose to operate from a place of self-love.

It won’t happen right away, and this process could take several weeks or even months to break, but I believe it can be done. It just takes making SMALL changes in behaviors. It takes noticing that you’re procrastinating filling up your gas tank and making the decision to do it right now. Or realizing that you haven’t given yourself time to finish a project and clearing up a few weekends to make it happen. You’ll start to recognize those behaviors and over time those bad habits will be replaced with ones that HELP you rather than HURT you. 

To start, I recommend identifying the areas of self-sabotage that you do and pick one thing at a time that you want to work on. Because trying to make massive changes all at once isn’t realistic and will only lead to failure. You can’t possibly break every single self-sabotaging behavior that you’ve accumulated throughout your life all at once. 

Instead, pick one small thing to work on at a time and that will help you to create larger transformations in your life. It could be any one of the things that I’ve mentioned above – like procrastination or setting unrealistic goals or perfectionism, or it could be another form of self-sabotage that you discovered about yourself like disorganization. 

Although it may be difficult to work on banishing self-sabotage over the next few months, imagine how much your life would improve if you did. Imagine how much it could help you to get the body of your dreams, build your business, learn something new, or perform better at work all because you learn to let go of those behaviors that weren’t serving you. You may not be able to go back in time and change the past and all of that information you absorbed during domestication or your self-proclaimed idea of perfection, but you could change your future.

Lastly, I recommend telling yourself that you’re worthy. We are bombarded with so many ideas about how we SHOULD be that it can be so easy to believe that we aren’t good enough. In order to completely get rid of self-sabotage, you have to address the root of the problem, otherwise, your subconscious may just get more creative with how to sabotage you. Remind yourself each and every day that you are worthy of everything that you’ve ever wanted: health, happiness, success, and love. I personally do this by picking one mantra in the morning that I repeat to myself throughout the day and that helps me to work on my self-talk and self-worth. You can choose to work on it however you want, as long as you DO address it. Your bad *ss future self will thank you.

Thank you for coming to Lost Online!

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Did you realize find any of these forms of self-sabotage that spoke to you? Were you more guilty of self-sabotaging behaviors than you realize? Share ONE way you self-sabotage and how you’re planning on working on it over the next few weeks! Also, have you ever read, “The Four Agreements?” What are you thoughts on the book? Or was there any particular part of this post that helped you? I would love nothing more than to hear from you!

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

I Interview Top Hair Stylist & Blogger Kourtnee Jinright (The Colour Chemist) – Hair Care, Managing Anxiety & Depression, and Following Your Passion

Beauty, Interviews, Self-Help

I’m super excited about this blog post today because I’m interviewing one of my absolute favorite people, and the HIGHLY talented hair stylist, Kourtnee Jinright.

If you know of Kourtnee already then you probably know her at “The Colour Chemist.” Three years ago I sat in her salon chair as she took me from my natural reddish-brown hair to full-blown platinum blonde. (I was going through something back then!) Since then, she’s grown so much both personally and professionally and it’s been so exciting to watch her journey!

Kourtnee is now the top stylist at a brand new salon in St. Augustine, Florida, ZA Salon, she’s a Kerastase Ambassador, and most importantly she makes a living following her passion. She’s built a following on social media channels by educating other women about hair, inspiring other women to chase their dreams and opening up about her struggle with anxiety and depression.

In a world of filters and pretend online relationships, Kourtnee is so authentic. She’s not afraid to be goofy, or vulnerable, or to share her experience. But what I love about Kourtnee more than anything is how supportive she is – how she fiercely encourages the women in her life as they try to follow their passion too. Not only is she someone I look up to, but she’s also a Lost Online reader and a friend. And when I asked her to do this interview she was over the moon!

Here are Kourtnee’s answers to my burning questions about everything from following your passion, to hair, to self-growth, and conscious technology use! I hope you enjoy!

Hair & Beauty

Q: I’ve been following you for many years now and I’ve also sat in your salon chair, so I know how you absolutely adore Kerastase and that you’re also an ambassador for Kerastase! What is it about the brand that you love? What makes you believe in the brand enough to use on your own hair and your clients?

A: I am so in love with Kerastase and its ability to transform the hair. Kerastase is known for taking your hair and giving you your goal hair. My hair was destroyed about 1 ½ years ago and I can’t even begin to tell you how much it changed my hair. It’s unbelievable. I ventured out and used other brands for 8 months on my clients’ hair and their hair drastically changed. When I told some of my clients that I was going back to Kerastase, they about died of happiness inside. It is worth every penny. I cannot sell you anything I don’t believe in, it’s not in my blood to do so.. I am an awful liar so if I’m in love with something, I really, truly mean it. I love the education Kerastase gives and how luxurious it is. It’s based in Paris, France. They are always changing the technology and revamping their brand to be the best of the best at ALL times. My goal is to teach with Kerastase. What a dream! 🙂

Q: Most women I know would kill to have long, thick, gorgeous hair – BUT most of us have also made the mistake of damaging it through improper hair care and dying. What’s your advice for people trying to grow hair out and improve the health of their hair?

A: The best advice I can give you is to be on a proper hair care regiment. I cannot stress enough how important this is for everyone. While a lot of products may feel great on the outside, it can actually cause buildup on the inside and you’ll remain stagnant. If you are trying to grow out your hair, I recommend the Kerastase’ Extensioniste line to improve the health and length. If you’re in need to seek more information, please DM me through Instagram at @thecolourchemist.

Q: How do you keep your hair healthy? Do you use any special products, supplements, or care practices? 

A: Keeping your hair healthy is the same as keeping your skin or body healthy. I have found that Kerastase products help almost every issue. Vitamins are always a go-to, however eating healthy/staying active ensures that your hair is growing at the appropriate rate. One thing I have clients say is, “I know I need a haircut, but I want it to grow longer so I’ll pass on it today.” Did you know by doing that your split ends will grow up the shaft and create more damage to your hair? In the long run, you’ll have to cut off more hair because of this. I understand no one WANTS to cut their hair when they’re growing it out, but trust me that this method WORKS.

Q: What do you suggest for split end remedies?

A: Split ends are a nightmare, right? We all have them after a while. I recommend getting a haircut every 4-8 weeks depending on the haircut you have now. If you put any heat on your hair, I would suggest on getting my favorite heat protection from Kerastase which is Serum Therapiste. This dual pump not only give you 450 degree heat protection, but also is a repair serum. It has plant stem cells to resurrect the hair back to its natural state over time. If you do not put heat on your hair, try using the Ciment Thermique from Kerastase. Say goodbye to spit ends with their number one product! 

Q: What hair trends do you think we’ll be seeing this coming season?

A: The shag is in as of right now, a lot of ‘lived in’ looks are coming back. People are wanting more of a natural look with low maintenance. Texture is another thing that everyone is searching for. Extensions are also HUGE right now. It’s a vibe, let me tell you. 😉

Following Your Passion

Q: I wanted to say congratulations on becoming the TOP STYLIST at Za Salon! I’ve seen you come so far over the last few years and grow so much in your career! I’ve been watching all of your videos about the salon opening and it’s been really cool to be able to see the process of setting up the space and promoting it. I can tell you’re incredibly passionate about it. I’m curious, what makes Za Salon special? What sets it apart from the experience you’d have at another salon?

A: Thank you so much! I appreciate the kind words. 🙂 When you walk into Za Salon you will enter a luxurious space. You will be offered champagne, wine, french press Kookaburra coffee, tea, water, or beer. We go above and beyond to make sure that your experience is like nothing you’ve ever had. We also have snacks followed along with a cold hand towel with essential oils to cool you off with this Florida heat. While our associates are giving you a nice massage on your scalp, you will also be offered a complimentary hand massage. This salon has a lot of great energy and it is very calm. The owner of Za Salon is Patty Meradith and I can confidently say hands down say she has built the number 1 salon in St. Augustine. The opportunity that she gives us on education to expand our horizons is out of this world. I am so thankful that Patty offered me the position as well as giving me windows of growth. She is also a barber which is badass!

Q: Did you always know you wanted to be a hairstylist?

A: I NEVER thought in a million years that I would be a hairstylist. I got out of high school and knew that college wasn’t for me. I needed to do something that didn’t require too much schooling. My dad made the suggestion and I remember looking at him with an appalled look. My answer was, ‘I REFUSE to work at hair cuttery!’ My dad looked at me and chuckled. He was like, ‘Kourtnee, you can work in a salon…’ My dad raised me and I was LUCKY if I got conditioner. I would receive suave and get a haircut twice a year so I didn’t know what else was out there. I went to cosmetology school knowing that this is a smart backup plan if I didn’t love it. Turns out it’s my passion! I’m so grateful that my dad had said something to me when he did or I wouldn’t have found an interest in it. The universe works in mysterious ways. 

Q: Did you receive support from friends and family in the beginning? Or did you feel pressure to prove that you could be successful in a creative industry?

A: When I first started, I didn’t want to practice on any of my friends because I knew their cuts/color wouldn’t be perfect. I didn’t want to ruin my reputation. It took me an hour just to shave my father’s hair. I was so nervous and insecure at the time. St. Augustine is a small town and I was always worried/felt pressure that people would write bad reviews about me. However, I am human and still to this day I make mistakes. Every day is another day full of growth and opportunity. If you make a mistake, take that as a lesson and try harder next time. 

Q: What was the biggest challenge that you faced pursuing this career?

A: My biggest challenge in this career was figuring out where my route was. I knew with being a hairstylist, this would come with a lot of fear and growth. About a year ago, I was in a dark place. I was in a situation where I wasn’t being heard, and I was at a standstill with my growth. I was being held back while being taken advantage of. I made the decision to go from a salon that was commission to booth rental. Being in a salon, you’re an employee and the owner is in control of color, products, your schedule, pricing,  etc. Being in booth rental, you are your own boss. While this might seem super cool, this was actually TERRIFYING. I had NO idea what direction to go to but I had no other choice but to think quick, make moves, and do what was best for not only my clients, but for ME. I was my own boss for about 8 months and even though it was GREAT, I found that I lost motivation. I recommend that if you’re someone who needs accountability, then being in a salon is meant for you. If you are okay being solo, then booth rental is a great option. Either way there is no wrong route. It’s just finding what brings out the best in you. I am finally at a point in my career where I have all the growth that I could ask for. This challenge made me the stylist I am today. 

Photos by Autumn Dozier @autumn.dozier.

Q: What’s your advice for women/men who want to go into hair?

A: My advice going into hair school would be to go in with an open mind. Focus solely on JUST what you went to school for. Do not feed into the drama, do not take things personally, you WILL mess up but just focus. You can get so wrapped up in what others say and think of you and it’s NOT worth it. Have patience and know that you will learn everything you need to know when you are finished with cosmetology school. I had girls that were very rude to me and  I look back at it now and laugh. They aren’t even in the industry anymore. So just remember if something like that comes around, go back to the mindset of why you are there. 

Q: I saw that this past year you started a blog as well! What inspired you to start your blog and put your knowledge and experience about hair and fashion into writing?

A: I started a blog because I wanted to reach out to other people around the world than just St. Augustine. Once I feel myself getting bored, I’m onto another idea. This was so great, however I am at a pause with blogging at the moment because I’m transitioning into a new salon and moving forward with Kerastase. My girlfriend is an amazing writer and speaker. She motivated me to write out all the things that I am passionate about. She gave me great advice on how to move forward with it. She has always told me that I would reach so many other stylists/guests if I wrote it down and she was right. I am not the best writer, but every day I am trying my best for it to become a strength. I wanted the blog to not only be about hair, but to include fashion and lifestyle. 

Q: How do you stay inspired to create almost every single day? Creating every single day seems like it could get overwhelming from time to time. 

A: Being a hairdresser has its pros and cons for sure. I work four full days a week now because I found that if decompress in those three days, I can give my 100% to each and every client that comes through the door. It’s not easy when you have 4-12 clients a day coming in with different energy while still trying to maintain your own. I can for the most part leave work at work, but sometimes when your clients go through tough times you feel for them. Sometimes it comes home with you. I balance all of this out with self care. I go to therapy, I do yoga, I read, write, eat healthy, spend time alone, rest, spend time with loved ones, and meditate. This isn’t just a job where you do hair. This requires every ounce of energy that you have. Once your tank is on empty, you have to fill it back up with your self care. Some stylists can go and work 6 days a week and that’s great! For me, being an introvert/extrovert… I have to decompress a little more than others and that is OKAY! I’m perfectly okay knowing that my mental health is more important than the money. 

Q: One of the reasons why I absolutely love to follow you is because all of the hilarious memes you share about the perspective of hair stylists! It’s actually been very eye opening and showed me some of the dumb things that we say to stylists without even realizing it. If there’s anything that you wish you could tell your clients completely unfiltered, what would it be?

A: I love memes! Meme culture can reach all different age groups which I love! It’s a good way to have content and it’s totally relatable. I wanted to post memes on the regular because I feel that it’s not all serious. We want you to know that we understand your struggles too! There are a few things that us hairstylists wish we could say, but sometimes people might take it the wrong way. When we don’t talk, it’s not because we don’t want to… it’s because your head naturally moves a lot while talking. This makes it harder for us to foil/cut/ install extensions. 

Self-Growth

Q: As a fellow self-growth and self-improvement junkie (: what practices have you incorporated in your life that have helped you with personal development and accomplishing your goals?

A: I noticed that I cut out all the people who didn’t help me grow. It was a really tough thing to do and it may sound harsh but the people I cut out, didn’t do anything for me. They were in my way and taking time out of my life that I just didn’t want to entertain anymore. I had to overcome some fears. Another couple of things that I have done are waking up earlier in the morning to clean a little and get a fresh start to my day. I have weekly workout routines, I got a planner, I go outside my comfort zone, always challenging myself, I have been listening more, doing the hobbies that I love to do. I talk and write to myself A LOT.

Q: What got you interested in self-growth and self-improvement?

A: I knew that I couldn’t love someone else until I loved myself. That struck me instantly and made me change as an individual. I loved my partner so much that I had to let go and grow. So I started to incorporate yoga into my self growth. My yoga teacher told me to bring my hands into a lotus pose. She told me that lotus flowers start off in a dark place. They live in murky water but they eventually blossom from the muddy waters. Now, I am at a place that I can confidently say that I love myself. I feel like a lotus flower is a perfect example of self growth. Everyday we grow and improve. We are all evolving and changing and that’s the most beautiful thing. 

Q: Do you have any books, blogs, or podcasts that inspired change in your life?

A: I love the book, ‘The Secret’. This is also on Netflix and I highly suggest for everyone to read/watch it. It’s about the law of attraction. I watched it over and over again. I was so impressed by these professors and what they had to say. They really know the secret of life. 

Managing Anxiety & Depression

Q: I’ve noticed through following you for several years now that you’ve been very vocal on social media about your experience with anxiety and depression. What made you want to share your experience with your followers?

A: I didn’t want to be open about my anxiety/depression for a long time because I didn’t want people to ‘pity’ me. I decided to move forward and take this anxiety and turn it into a positive outlook. I understand the struggle of not wanting to get out bed, not knowing where to start, feeling like you can’t breathe or feeling alone. You’re not alone. That is why I wanted to reach out to people. I am not a therapist, but I am an individual telling you that you are capable of doing anything you want to do. Your anxiety will not take that away from you. You can change your life and it is NEVER too late. 

Q: What have you learned throughout your struggles with depression and anxiety that you wish you could tell your younger self?

A: I was medicated for a long time. I wish I could have told myself to try out yoga before I hit the age of 21. Life would have been maybe easier but then again, I can look back on everything and say that I made it through the worst and came out stronger. 

Q: I know that you’ve talked about this on your own platforms, but could you share for Lost Online readers how you’ve managed to treat your anxiety and depression? 

A: I actually wrote a blog post about this on thecolourchemist.com! The truth is, you can never get rid of anxiety completely, but what you can do is CONTROL it. Our minds really do play a huge role in this. For me, I noticed my anxiety wasn’t at its highest peak when I started to eat healthier. I started to juice, go to therapy, do yoga, focus on my breathing, read, journal, scrapbook, go to the beach, and cut out all the people who didn’t bring me joy. I do all the things that I love to do with a mix of being the best version of myself.

Q: You’ve spoken a lot about yoga and how it’s helped you with mental and physical health. What got you started practicing yoga and what benefits have you seen with regular practice?

A: I took about 8 classes and I found the ONE teacher whose energy stuck out to me. I feel so comfortable with her that I now take private lessons in my own home. She is always challenging me and pushes me to be better. Doing yoga has not only helped me release mentally, but also physically. With being a hairdresser, you stand on your feet in the same position for hours. I have noticed a difference in my concentration being sharper, creating calmness, and being more aware of my surroundings. Yoga has also helped my balance TREMENDOUSLY, helps you sleep deeper, it helps falls with elderly people, increases blood flow, helps posture, helps your hips to create better alignment, makes you a better person, etc. The list can go on about how amazing yoga is for you. 

Online 

Q: At the very end of my interviews, I like to touch a bit on technology and social media since it’s such a big part of our lives and something that the vast majority of us struggle with today. With our heavy social media and technology use today, have you ever felt pressure for likes, engagement, or recognition online? What has your experience been? 

A: In the beginning I was like, “Oh my god, I don’t have 10k. How will I ever have someone notice me?” All it takes is one post, one person to notice you. The rest is history. Have faith and speak everything into existence. You can have 200 followers and if you have a great engagement with those 200 followers, you’re doing it right. The amount of followers does not define you. However, I do put in some serious work with social media. If someone finds me one day, my page has to look clean, professional, and have character. I’m constantly trying new techniques with hair, posting new trends, taking pictures in different areas to switch it up the look, talking about product, taking videos and making them stand out. I’m always hashtagging each post and sometimes I will write about topics that people have questions about. When I am off the clock at work, I am working on social media. Social media is WORK but it is free advertising so use it wisely. 

Q: A major theme throughout my blog is how we stay sane during a time when we spend half of our time consumed with technology. What do you do to create balance in your life when we spend so much time online now?

A: Social media can take up a huge chunk of time in your everyday life. People see me on my phone and half the time I am working and not really socializing. I sometimes have to step back and give myself a break with this. It can consume your life really fast. I started to not use my phone the first 30 minutes when I wake up and the last 30 minutes before I go to bed. These times are when you are the most creative. It doesn’t always happen but I try my best to stick to this routine. 

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photo Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Do you see why I love Kourtnee now? I have to admit, this interview was more for me than it was for my readers. I wanted nothing more than to interview someone who inspired me each and every day.

I’ve loved being Kourtnee’s friend and follower because she’s such an inspiration and is always so positive despite anything that she may be going through. She opens up about the challenges in her life and always takes a positive and healthy approach, viewing every roadblock or rough period as an opportunity for growth. And above all, Kourtnee goes after what makes her passionate in life and continues to flourish as a hairstylist. 

I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did! Make sure to check out Kourtnee on her personal Instagram @kourtneemichelle or her professional Instagram account @thecolourchemist. You can also find her on her website thecolourchemist.com where she share’s blogs about hair care, lifestyle, and another passion of hers, fashion.

Lastly, if you’re in Saint Augustine, Florida area and would like Kourtnee to work her magic on your hair, make sure to give Za Salon at call and book your appointment!

As always remember to comment your thoughts below. I LOVE hearing what my readers think about the content. What stood out the most to you about the interview? Did you resonate with anything Kourtnee said? If you could ask her anything, what would you ask?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Several of Kourtnee’s photos shown in this post were taken by Autumn Dozier @autumn.dozier. Hair photos are taken by Kourtnee herself. If I forgot to mention any other photographer, please contact me so I can give you credit!

An Old Soul Trapped in a Young Body

Lifestyle, Self-Help

Do you have a few moments from your childhood that stick out the most? Small moments that maybe only lasted a few seconds, but are ingrained in your head so perfectly and permanently? I have two moments just like.

I vividly remember being dropped off by my mother at a daycare when I was very young and again on my first day of elementary school. During both of those moments, I stood still after my mom left looking at all the other children run around the room. I remember standing there watching them shouting, playing, and having fun. On the first day of elementary school, I distinctly remember a boy running across the room with a huge smile on his face and chasing someone. Both of those times, I was taking in everything around me. Seeing the other kids, not knowing what to do, and wondering how long I would have to stay. I remember these two moments so perfectly because of how I felt. I remember looking at the children my age and feeling so out of place and so awkward, but more than anything I had this overwhelming feeling that I didn’t belong.

Those two separate days being dropped off at school stand out the most in my memory because they were the first times in my life that I realized I didn’t fit in with my age group. Although those may have been the first times, they certainly were not the last.

The reason why I’m writing this post today is because not too long ago I had an entire weekend where I felt this way. I experienced three full days of feeling awkward and alone and like I didn’t fit in. But I’m glad I did. It helped me become more comfortable with myself after that weekend. Those three days made me deeply self-reflective and overwhelmed me with flashbacks from countless moments where I felt like an alien among my peers. I was reminded of how hard it had been to fit in and how stressful it was spending my 24 years of life fighting with who I was. As uncomfortable and emotional as it was, that weekend helped me to finally let go and accept myself for who I am – an old soul trapped in a young body. A person who’s oddly mature for their age and who’s tired of pretending to be something that I’m not. And just like that I learned to finally love and accept that part of my personality.

That experience also gave me the inspiration to create this post to share a glimpse of what it’s like growing up as an old soul in a young body. This week’s post is a bit different from what I typically write about. It’s much more introspective and gives you a bit of a peak behind the curtain about what shaped me to become the person I am now – someone who’s not comfortable with the mainstream standards of doing things and wants to share my own story and advice to help others who share a similar experience.

Growing up as an Old Soul

I’ve always been an old soul ever since I could remember and before I even knew what being an “old soul” meant.

As I was growing up, Nancy was like a second grandma to me. She’s my grandmother’s best friend of many years and she was always around whenever the family got together for holidays or reunions. I was very close to her growing up, and she would always tell me that I was an old soul. That there was something in my eyes that told her I was “well beyond my years.”

Teachers, neighbors and my parent’s friends would describe me as being “mature for my age.” Friends and peers would describe me as being “a mom.” And my family would make jokes about how old I was and call me the names of my great-grandma or my grandmothers: Virginia, Penny, and Joanne. 

I didn’t understand what all of that meant as I was growing up. All I knew was that I would have rather spent my time talking with the adults in my life or playing cards with my grandpa than playing with other kids at a children’s birthday party. As a child and even a teenager, I really enjoyed the company of adults and the conversations I would have with them. That’s when I felt comfortable. That’s where I felt like I fit in and I was myself.

I didn’t like sports, or large groups, or birthday parties. I followed the rules, listened to adults, and didn’t rebel. I was also very introverted and very much a homebody (maybe because I’m a textbook Cancer). I liked being at home doing my own thing and I would tend to ask myself big questions like, “Why are we here? What do I want to do when I grow up? What kind of life do I want? What do I believe in spiritually?” I was a very introspective person which made having small talk about the weather or what classes I was taking seem excruciating. 

As a teenager, I spent almost every moment that I was at home drinking tea, wearing cardigans, reading. Whenever I was invited to do something where I knew everyone would be making bad decisions, I made up excuses to get myself out of it and told people that I was grounded. Lol. And now when I share that fun fact with friends today, I get a lot of laughs and end up being called a nerd for the rest of the night.

My point is, I’ve always been an old soul since before I could even spell my own name. This was my childhood, my young adulthood, and now my twenties. 

The Plus Side 

Part of me really loved being an old soul, especially when I was very young. I felt like I understood the world in a different way than my peers. I already felt like a bit of a grown up even before I matured. For that reason, adults liked me very much. I could hold a meaningful conversation with teachers and neighbors without being short or uncomfortable like most of my friends told me they felt. And I also kept to myself, didn’t talk back, and followed the rules. I wasn’t one to give the babysitters or a substitute teacher a hard time. 

As I got older I wasn’t a trouble maker. I had no desire to party or experiment with drugs or sneak out of the house. I had no desire to smoke cigarettes as a minor or steal alcohol or become one of the “popular” aka slutty girls. There was no pent up feeling in me that would only be happy by rebelling and making bad decisions. 

For that reason, I felt like being an old soul was a blessing. I’m sure it saved me from many arguments, and fights, and groundings. It kept me out of trouble and it kept me safe because I was content with the simple things. I wasn’t trying to tell my parents that I was going to a sleepover at some girl’s house when really I was going to a party. I felt fulfilled just having a conversation with my mom, spending the weekend with my grandparents, watching a documentary, or writing a paper. I was happy just relaxing at home and I enjoyed my own company.

The Pressure to Fit In

However, being an old soul as a child and teenager made growing up very challenging. I felt like I was the only old soul and introvert around. I wasn’t “cool” by any means and I’m pretty sure the “popular” kids didn’t even know my name. I was also called boring A LOT. Because I didn’t fit in, and I wasn’t rebellious, or outgoing, or immature I naturally had fewer friends. My demeanor in school and in groups of people my age was described to me by everyone that I eventually became friends with as “intimidating.”

For most of my life, I absolutely hated the way that I was. Growing up, all you want is to be accepted, to be liked, to fit in at school, and to have close friends. But for most of my life, I was the odd one out and never really felt like I belonged. I got called lame, boring, mom, nerd – all of the things. I could give countless examples from when I was 4 years old to 24 of times when people put me down and made me feel bad about myself because I was acting too mature or reserved for their liking.

I seemed to be so different than everyone else and all I wanted to be like them. Even when I did meet people who I really wanted to spend time with, a lot of times they wouldn’t invite me to hang out because something about me was just different. I also noticed that I missed out on bonding with certain people because I didn’t have those memories of making bad decisions that bring people together. I just wasn’t interested in “blowing off steam” and “getting it out of my system,” whatever IT is.

I wasn’t interested in the same things as everyone my age or behaved the same way as them. It seemed like I either had to say or do things to fit in and impress my peers or get ridiculed. It was a double edged sword – no matter what choice I made I was unhappy. Connecting with people my age never came natural or easy. 

A few times growing up I would end up being liked by one of the “popular” girls, and when that happened I learned to not get close to them or accept their invitation. It wouldn’t take long before they realized that I didn’t fit in. That I wasn’t cool enough, or slutty enough, or spontaneous enough, or fun enough or whatever it was about me that made me a misfit. 

My nature also impacted my first romantic relationship and caused so many fights. Neither one of us could understand the other person. We fought because I apparently never wanted to have fun and because all he wanted to do was party. I couldn’t understand the desire to spend every moment of your life getting high and drinking Miller Lite, and he couldn’t understand the desire to stay home, watch movies, and talk about life. 

The other big challenge was that even though I felt more like a grown-up, I wasn’t actually viewed as one. I was still just a kid or “a stupid teenager” as my mom loved to say. I was still lumped into the category of immature young people who “just don’t get it.” There were times when I fit right in the adults, but there were times when I was viewed as too immature and I would be left out of conversations because things were too grown up for me to hear or understand. This created another big challenge for me as an old soul trapped in a young body, because I was never fully accepted by any age group growing up and for that reason, I’ve always believed that there was something really wrong with me.

After 24 years now, I’ve also learned from experience that being an old soul and by being myself, I can also have a very strange effect on others – particularly the people who are the opposite of me. I’ve learned that by being an old soul it tends to make the.. shall we say “younger” souls uncomfortable, which has made me a target and further made me unhappy with who I was. 

When I was in a group or at a party, for instance, people would become bothered by the fact that my personality wasn’t mirroring everyone else. In their minds it means there’s something wrong with me, that I’m not having fun, that I’m uptight, or that I need someone to swoop in and help me enjoy the party. They would try to get to me “relax” by trying to pressure me into taking shots, or doing drugs, or dancing no matter how much I said, “No thanks.” It seems that my maturity tended to make some people become self-conscious and as a result, they would single me out until I got fed up and decided to go home.

Think about it, whenever everyone is standing in a circle doing shots, and you’re the one person who doesn’t feel like drinking, there’s always that one a**hole who’s really bothered by it. That one person who’s uncomfortable by someone who’s not drinking and decides to make it their personal mission to get you to “loosen up,” get drunk, and “have some fun.” Meanwhile, they’re completely unaware that you were having a perfectly good time before they tried to step in and force feed you tequila. And it’s always that same person who keeps asking, “Why aren’t you having fun?” I’ve had more moments like this in my life than I can count.

I could go on and on with examples of how being an old soul in a young body has made my experience growing up a weird one. As much as I wanted to change though, it just wasn’t possible. You can’t make yourself become something that you’re not. There are some things about yourself that you just cannot change. You can’t make yourself an extrovert or an introvert, or taller or shorter, or gay or straight. There comes a point in time when you realize that no matter how much the world wants you to change and how different you might be from the majority, that you just have to accept yourself the way that you are.

Self Acceptance 

Even as a 24-year-old, I still have moments that are strikingly similar to those childhood memories where I was surrounded by people my age and all I can think about is how out of place I am. That one particular weekend was the most recent and the most eye opening.

For the first time in a long time I was so uncomfortable and felt so out of place for such an extended period of time that it occurred to me that I’ve felt this way my entire life. When I’m not being made fun of and ridiculed for being the way that I am, I’m punishing myself for it. If other people aren’t making me feel bad, then I’m putting myself down for not trying hard enough, or fitting in better, or for being so different than everyone else. In that moment, I realized that I simply didn’t want to do it anymore. Being an old soul is just my nature. 

I love small groups, and books, and deep, meaningful conversations. I’m the type of person who prefers red wine and conversation over going to a club. It doesn’t matter how many pushy people try to get me to dance or how many people call me grandma, I can’t change myself to fit in with what the people my age consider to be acceptable.

I decided for the first time in my 24 years of life to embrace my nature and fully accept myself for who I am. I decided to surrender and stop fighting my personality and be okay “fitting out” in the crowd. From that moment on I was putting an end to the idea that there’s something wrong with me and that I need to change my personality and everything about myself for acceptance. Because if changing who I am and being fake is the only way to be accepted by the people my age, I don’t even want their acceptance or their social media likes and stamps of approval. I don’t care how many rude comments I get about how “old” or serious I am.

The week after I had three straight days of feeling out of place and hating myself for being different, I came back to St. Petersburg and joined a book club. I ended up spending an hour one day surrounded by women twice my age discussing a very thought-provoking book about managing life’s challenges and I LOVED it. I’m done trying to be something that I’m not to make someone else happy. I’m letting go of the people who make me feel bad about who I am and I’m letting go of the comparison. The comparison game that I always do in my head when I see other people who fit in so effortlessly. I’m letting go of all of that and learning to love, accept, and embrace who I am.

Even though being an old soul often makes me stand out and not fit in as well with the people my age, I know I’ll be happier just by being myself. Because you can’t flourish completely and reach your potential if you’re constantly at war with yourself. You spend too much mental energy trying to change that could be spent working on something to help you grow as a person or meeting the right kinds of people who align with you. That energy could be put towards something constructive like your side hustle, a new hobby, a project, or new relationships. And in the end you’ll be so much happier because you’re allowing yourself to be authentic.

Although this post is much more personal and introspective than most, I’m sharing this with you because self-help and wellness are major themes throughout my writing. I preach about the benefits of self-discovery and why I believe that self-reflection, journaling, and self-love is so important. Even though I write about self-help and wellbeing, just like you I’m also a work in progress. I’m still discovering different parts of myself each year and still learning to love and accept my so-called “flaws.” 

I usually always end my posts with pieces of advice for my readers, but for this one, I have no special advice. Instead, I wanted to leave you with a few takeaways.

Takeaways

1. My experience

The main takeaway that I want people to get from this post if nothing else is the experience of growing up as an old soul. Because it’s not very common, being mature as a child and teenager can be viewed as a bad thing. When children are very young, it could be viewed as being shy, or closed off, or considered that they’re a problem child – as if their maturity is somehow going to make them fall behind in school. Then as these kids mature as teenagers, being an old soul becomes an even bigger problem as it’s not as easy to fit in. I could name dozens of instances in my life where I’ve received subtle (and not so subtle) messages that there was something wrong with me, that me being reserved or mature wasn’t socially acceptable. I know I’m not the only person who grew up with this experience. What I want people to understand more than anything is that it’s not a bad thing. There’s nothing that needs to be changed about these children, and that their maturity should be seen as a blessing and should be nurtured not suppressed. 

2. Be kind to old souls 

Being an old soul has impacted me in the majority of my relationships and social activities throughout my life. It’s caused arguments with people who wanted me to be different and I’ve been put down by countless peers, many of whom I didn’t even know personally. I’m hoping that by sharing my experiences it will teach people to have compassion for old souls. Subtle messages and jokes that children hear throughout their lives DO impact their mental and emotional health and make them believe that they’re unlikeable just because they might not be exactly like the majority. Even though some children may be unusually mature for their age, they shouldn’t be put down for it. And remember there are much worse personality traits to have then being mature!

3. Embrace who you are

If you are an old soul yourself, there’s no point in trying to make yourself something that you’re not. It’s takes too much time, energy, and work and in the end all it does is make you unhappy. You can’t change your personality no matter how much fight who you are. Instead, embrace who are. Once you stop fighting your inherent nature and learn to embrace it, you realize that it’s not as big of a deal as you once thought. I used to constantly fight who I was and do or say things in an effort to fit in, but the moment I accepted my personality and spent my time doing what fulfilled me in the moment I started to feel happier and less like an outsider. I signed up for courses and classes, I read more, I learned about spirituality, and I started to feed that side of me that I tried to suppress for so long because it wasn’t cool. I stopped putting myself in situations where I wasn’t comfortable and did what felt right for me. And if that meant passing up a party and staying in on the weekends to watch documentaries then I would do that. If that meant joining a book club then I would do that. Interestingly, what I’ve learned from embracing who I am and staying true to me is that the more confident you are about yourself, the less people give you a hard time. 

4. Self-ассерtаnсе is a process

My fourth takeaway if you’re an old soul yourself is to accept who you are and to love and respect yourself. As you grow up, you start to realize that there’s parts of you that don’t match the majority or that people don’t think are cool, and there comes a time when you have to let it go and learn to accept that although you might be different there’s nothing wrong with you. This self-acceptance lеаdѕ tо соntеntmеnt bесаuѕе уоu’rе nо lоngеr fighting with уоurѕеlf and playing this internal tug of war but instead finding peace with who you are.

Now trust me, I understand how hard self-acceptance can be. When you’ve had messages throughout your entire life that there’s something wrong with you it can be really difficult to make the switch towards self-love and acceptance. It’s also much easier said than done. I understand that you can’t tell someone else to accept themselves and then it magically happens, it’s something that people have to learn on their own. And even then, it’s a process. There are the days when you slip up and start feeling upset with yourself again and have to remember to be compassionate. But remember, everyone has things that they don’t adore about themselves and we all have our own things that we have to make peace with, you’re not the only one. At the very least, start the process of self-love and acceptance in any way that it feels comfortable to you. Maybe it’s therapy, or yoga, or journaling, or affirmations. It is a process, but it’s worth it. 

5. It gets better 

My last takeaway that I want to leave my fellow old souls with, is that it gets better. The good thing about being an old soul is that you slowly start growing into your age and your peers start to grow up as well. Once you get out of school there are fewer moments where you feel like a misfit and you’re free to live your life however you want without the pressure of trying to find social acceptance among hundreds of teenagers. Year by year it gets better. Truthfully, growing up can be slightly awkward as an old soul, but when you think about it growing up is awkward for everyone! Each person has their own unique challenges and issues that they have to work through, this one was just mine. But if you’re an old soul just like me, know that you’re not alone, you’re not weird, and you’re not lame. And also, I’m down to get tea any day.

As always, thank you for coming to Lost Online and let me know what you think in the comments! Are you an old soul or do you know someone who is? If you are an old soul, what was your experience growing up? Did you find social acceptance or did you find yourself being put down? How do you suggest we nurture children and teenagers who are old souls to help them thrive? If you are an old soul have you learned to love and accept that aspect of your personality? Is there many another personality trait that you’re working on loving and embracing about yourself? I would LOVE to hear from you. 

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

How I Transformed My Life with the Law of Attraction: My 8 Powerful Manifestation Techniques & What I’ve Learned From It

Lifestyle, Self-Help, Spirituality

But First… A Message to the Skeptics

I am a huge believer in the Law of Attraction, and I’ve seen it completely transform my life over the course of the last four years. And what I’ve learned from talking to others about my experience is that people fall into one of two viewpoints when it comes to this topic… Either they are a believer just like me who have witnessed the magic of manifestation in their own lives OR they’re skeptics – They don’t believe it, they think it’s a load of crap, and they think that the people who preach about it just “got lucky.”

So what do I know about the Law of Attraction?

Four years ago I was the most unhappy I’ve ever been. I was in a town that I hated living in, I was in a toxic and co-dependent relationship, I was losing my hair from birth control, I was depressed, I was broke, I had been betrayed by several of my closest friends, and my job was terrible in every way. That rock bottom time in my life when I felt that I had nothing else to lose, that’s when I committed to using the Law of Attraction.

If you’re just hearing about The Law of Attraction for the first time, it’s among the most popular of Universal Laws, made popular by the documentary The Secret which came out in 2006. Simply put, it’s the idea that like attracts like. It’s the belief that positive or negative thoughts bring about positive or negative experiences into our lives. The Law of Attraction is based on the idea that people and their thoughts are made up of energy and because like energy attracts like energy, a person can improve their health, happiness, wealth, career, relationships and more. It uses cognitive reframing techniques and visualization to replace negative thought patterns and bring about positive improvements, material possessions, opportunities etc. into a person’s existence.

I had been familiar with the movie “The Secret” and had started to finally use the Law of Attraction out of comfort. I had NOTHING that was bringing me joy and happiness in my life, and spending my time visualizing what I wanted and convincing myself that everything that I wanted was being drawn to me like a magnet, was something that I did because it made me feel better. It took the pain away, it made me smile, and it gave me something else to think about instead of just how miserable I was.

What I actually wanted more than anything was to live in Florida. I was sick of the seasonal depression, the snow, and the bitter negative 55-degree weather. I didn’t want to be in the middle of Nowhere, Wisconsin for the rest of my life finishing college and getting a corporate job where I had to wake up at 6 a.m. and sit in front of my special lamp that gave me vitamin D in the winter. No. My dream was to live in Florida. To model. To be a blogger. To visit Costa Rica. To swim under the La Fortuna waterfall. To tour Europe. To drive my dream car – a hard top Jeep Wrangler through palm trees. To be in a loving, happy and supportive relationship with someone who actually had things in common with me. To start a YouTube Channel. To receive an unexpected and large sum of money. To spend my days doing what I loved. To have a little bohemian bungalow to come home to. To have a puppy. As well as several smaller, material possessions.

I had a very, very specific dream back then of what I wanted my life to look like. Today, four years later, this is my life:

This is not bullsh*t. This is not me getting “lucky.” I manifested my dream. My home, my partner, my travels, my large and unexpected sum of money. I manifested my dream life. The life that I prayed for and visualized a hundred times over and over again during that most difficult time in my life. I’ve received 99% of the things that I wanted back then, and the things that I haven’t received are literally just around the corner. Matt and I are hunting for our perfect home right now and we plan on bringing a little fur baby into our lives as soon as we move in. This sh*t is real.

If you still don’t believe me, that’s totally fine, but the Law of Attraction is operational whether you’re a believer or a skeptic. Our thoughts shape our reality. So today, I wanted to share with you my eight powerful manifestation techniques that I’ve used to bring about the life that I have now in hopes that it will help YOU. In hopes that it will help you manifest your dream and live each and every day in a state of happiness, abundance, and gratitude. So without further ado, these are the 8 manifestation techniques that helped me create the life that I had now:

1. Heightened Visualization

Hear me out. I know that you were expecting to see this on the list and it may not be anything new, but I want to tell you HOW I practiced this every day and how I made the most of my visualization practice. The #1 way that I manifested my life is through what I can only describe as intense or heightened visualization. (Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous).

Each and every night for at least an hour a night I would practice visualization. And I wouldn’t just practice it the way you would think – I wouldn’t just imagine something. I would close my eyes and make myself feel as if what I wanted was actually happening. I would feel each and every detail of that moment. For example, with the car that I wanted, I would visualize driving down a street that was lined with palm trees. I would visualize a ring on my hand; how beautiful the palm trees looked against the sky; how the steering wheel felt against my hand; how excited and grateful that I was to be driving it. I would visualize each and every detail as best I could. I made myself feel so happy in the moment that I didn’t even really need the car because I felt like it was already happening. I did this with everything. I visualized swimming under La Fortuna and seeing it for the first time. I visualized being in love with the most perfect person for me. Each and every detail I visualized so strongly and with such happiness that I felt as if I already had it.

2. Overwhelming Gratitude

At the very end of each visualization practice, I would have myself feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I would thank the universe – because that’s what I call the higher power. You can call the universe God, or Source, or Source Energy, or Creation, or Love – whatever word resonates with you. But I would thank the universe and feel an overwhelming rush of gratitude that was so strong that I couldn’t help but cry. I would also say “thank you,” “thank you,” “thank you,” over and over again. It wasn’t just a subtle feeling of gratitude, it was so strong and I felt in my heart and in every cell of my body. I felt gratitude like I’ve never experienced before. And I would do this after each and every visualization practice.

3. A Daily Gratitude Practice

The third thing that I started to do was introducing a daily gratitude practice. If you’ve read my post, “Stream of Consciousness Journaling: The Benefits & How to Practice It,” or “My Daily Gratitude Practice,” then you’ve already heard me talk about my gratitude practice a bit. But I can’t talk about this enough because it’s been the one part of my daily routine that has added so much happiness and peace to my life that no amount of meditation or no self-help book has been able to bring me. For that reason, I swear by it.

Each and every night before I go to bed I practice gratitude by opening up a document on my computer and writing IN DETAIL about ONE THING that I’m grateful for. I want to highlight “in detail” and “one thing” the most because SO many gratitude practices stress a specific number of things you should feel grateful for which makes it feel like a chore and makes it more about hitting a number than about the feeling of gratitude. I also say in detail because people say that a gratitude practice should just be one word like “health” or maybe a quick sentence each day like, “today I feel grateful for my health.” However, I believe that those simple and quick practices don’t raise your vibration enough and radiate enough gratitude into the universe to truly transform your life.

For that reason, I pick one thing each day that I am the most grateful for and I write about why I feel grateful about it. It could be an opportunity, a person, an event. I don’t make myself hit a set number of sentences, I write whatever amount feels natural in the moment and I write until I feel like I’ve finished describing it. (It’s usually about two paragraphs, just in case you really need an idea of how much I write each day.)

This practice has helped me reflect deeply on something that brings me true happiness and gratitude. It always shifts my mind away from the stressors in life and puts me in a super happy, and high vibe mood that helps me to visualize what I want. Over time I noticed that I started to feel less anxious, happier, and more peaceful even throughout the day, not just at night. Feeling like this each and every day really sets you up for success with your manifestation and puts you in the right frequency to attract what you want.

4. Creating a Vision Board

Again, hear me out. If you’re really interested in the Law of Attraction, you’ve heard this method a thousand times by now. But, you haven’t heard about my method. I’ve tried creating vision boards for my bedroom many times and found that they just never worked for me. I would always get too critical about whether it looked good and how artistic my board was so it would prevent me from really resonating with it. Instead, I created my vision board the way us millennials do anything else – on my phone.

I created a private board on Pinterest and found beautiful photos that I connected to. Photos that I felt truly reflected the life that I wanted and dreamed of. I created the most beautiful board and whenever I woke up in the morning, or was on a break from work, or was scrolling through my phone, I would pull up that board. It made me feel so happy and would constantly remind me of what I was hoping to attract. I loved it because I already take my phone everywhere, so that way I was able to bring my vision board with me as well.

Whenever I opened the board, I would take my time and look at each photo and imagine what it would feel like to actually have that item or accomplishment. There were photos of Costa Rica, Europe, happy couples in their home together, beautiful bungalows, Jeep Wranglers, and more. I posted pictures that reflected each area of my life like my home, my relationship, and my finances. This technique helped me get back into that manifestation mindset even when something stressful would come up.

5. Commitment

The reason why I believe that I transformed my life and created this much change is because I committed to it and I became pretty much obsessed with it for several months. I think the biggest mistake that people make is that they get really motivated and excited to use the Law of Attraction and manifest their dream life, but then they give up after just a few days. I made this manifestation process my entire life for several months. Every single moment when I wasn’t working or in class or busy, I was visualizing, practicing gratitude, and looking at my vision board. Just like anything else, if you want it to really work or turn out, you have to devote your time and energy to it. You can’t just do it for five minutes right after you saw “The Secret,” you have to make it a daily practice. The universe responds to you if you continue to show up, raise your vibration, and practice manifestation each day.

6. Sparking Joy

One thing that I did throughout this process was I surrounded myself with things that would spark joy and removed the things in my environment that were triggers. (I use the phrase  “sparking joy” to describe this because I’ve been binge-watching “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” this week. However, I didn’t know I was following her method four years ago.) I made it a point to surround myself with things in my environment that made me feel goo