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

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.

How To Recognize Universal Signs

Spirituality

I came across a funny meme the other day on social media that said: “When you’re waiting to hear back from the universe about that big request you just made…” With a bunch of pictures of a guy not doing anything and staring blankly into the distance while sitting at his kitchen table, on a bench, or standing on the street. I’m not really one for memes anymore, but this one had me dying of laughter the moment I saw it. I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve prayed and asked for something and sat around twirling my thumbs waiting for the universe to bless me instantaneously. But of course, it doesn’t work like that!

As you already know from my recent blog post, “How I Transformed my Life with the Law of Attraction: My 8 Powerful Manifestation Techniques and What I Learned From It,” I’m a HUGE believer in the Law of Attraction. I’ve used it to manifest trips, money, material possessions, my partner and the work that I’m doing now.

However, many people have NOT had this same experience. Why? Because we live in a time of instant gratification. We can heat up our food in 45 seconds, summon our favorite TV show with the click of a button, tweet our thoughts out to the entire world whenever the mood strikes. We’ve become so freaking spoiled and so used to getting WHATEVER we want IMMEDIATELY when we want it. Which means that when many people are trying to manifest their dream life with prayers and visualization, they expect even those things to happen immediately too. (Trust me, I’m not above this myself.)

We expect our magical and mysterious universe to have “freaky fast delivery” as if it’s a damn Jimmy Johns restaurant chain. The biggest mistake that people make is they give up on their dreams before they even have a chance to manifest because we’ve become so ridiculously impatient – and that is where recognizing universal signs comes into play.

If you’re a spiritual person just like I am, and you’re trying to manifest something or have a prayer answered, you’re going to want to get used to noticing the signs that the universe is giving you. Not only will it give you hope that everything you ask for is coming your way so you don’t lose faith, but it also helps you find peace in the meantime. That way, you won’t end up like that meme.

Even though the universe might not answer our prayers in 45 seconds, it does always stay in touch with us. In fact, universal signs, synchronicities and coincidences are around us everywhere we look. They’re surrounding us constantly, to the point that we don’t even notice them. Because we’re surrounded by the magic of the universe throughout our entire lives that you could say we’re like fish in water. A fish doesn’t know that it’s in water, because water is ALL that it knows. 

Although it’s impossible to recognize every single sign, and every single action the universe is putting into motion to help us evolve, it is possible to exercise your ability to recognize signs and get better at it. I will say that I’m no expert on the universe because I don’t believe that any of us are. However, I have exercised that muscle over the last six years and have learned to spot little moments in the day that show me that the universe is on my side and everything is working out in my favor. 

Here are the top TEN universal signs that I’ve learned to spot and how you can recognize them in your life too! And if you have any signs that you’ve discovered in your life be sure to comment below and let me know what they are!

1. Meaningful coincidences

The number one universal sign that I’ve learned to spot is meaningful coincidences.

Psychologist Carl Jung was the first person who introduced this concept calling these occurrences “synchronicities,” “meaningful coincidences,” or “a-causal parallelism.” However, this phenomenon has actually been known for thousands of years by our ancestors before modern science came around and we all became skeptics who couldn’t believe something unless we could see it, feel it, study it and prove it. 

Jung introduced this concept in the 1920’s and then went on to write books and papers about the subject, describing it as “the underlying cosmic intelligence that synchronizes people, places and events into a meaningful order,” and “the coming together of inner and outer events in a way that cannot be explained by cause and effect and that is meaningful to the observer.”

This concept also gained popularity thanks to one of my all-time favorite books, “The Celestine Prophecy.” This book is a New Age spirituality book, where the main character goes through an epic adventure and journey through Peru to discover and understand nine spiritual insights required to reach enlightenment which all stems from a moment in his life when he starts to recognize instances of synchronicity. 

“Have you ever had a hunch or intuition concerning something you wanted to do? Some course you wanted to take in your life? And wondered how it might happen? And then, after you had half forgotten about it and focused on other things, you suddenly met someone or read something or went somewhere that led to the very opportunity you envisioned?”

-James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy

Everyone has these experiences. However, highly sensitive people are more likely to experience such coincidences since we are more tuned to and aware of what’s going on around us. I’ve been noticing this happen to me ever since I was in middle school. I’ll be thinking of someone when suddenly they’ll call me, or I’ll be thinking of a movie and then turn to the TV and it’s on, or I’ll be going around working through the day to suddenly realize that someone else has been making the same stops to all the businesses that I have. 

If you’re hoping to start picking up on universal signs, start with this one. Become more aware of your environment, the people, the conversations you have. Then, begin by opening up a note on your phone or carrying a small notebook with you and jotting down the coincidences you see happening. Devoting your attention to that moment enough to write about it and remember it will strengthen your ability to notice synchronicity wherever you go. 

2. Familiar faces and names 

This next one is also mentioned in “The Celestine Prophecy” as well and is considered to be another meaningful coincidence. Have you ever been walking around and noticed someone that looked extremely familiar to you or had the same name as a close friend? When the universe is sending you signs, you might start to notice that everyone walking around in public has a familiarity to them, even if you’ve never seen them before in your entire life.

When I started picking up universal signs I saw this constantly. Walking around, everyone seemed to resemble someone that I knew. There were countless times where I would meet someone new and they seemed so familiar to me as if I had met them before. It was a feeling of deja vu, but it was always with other people. I wouldn’t experience deja vu at any other point, but when I would see random people walking around, I would feel it. At one point, I even went to a book club meeting to discover that three of the women there were named Kelly (my mom’s name), Penny (my grandma’s name on my mother’s side), and Joanne (my grandma’s name on my father’s side). 

If you’re waiting for a “sign” from the universe, you’re trying to manifest something, or you’re in a transition period of your life, you’ll most likely notice this in the people in your environment. You’ll hear the same names, see the same faces and recognize people with the same body language of someone you love.

I personally believe that this happens because when you’re in the right vibrational frequency to manifest and you’re connected to the higher power (whatever that is for you) you start to pick up on the fact that we are all one. We are all connected on a cosmic level and everywhere you go, people will feel like a long-lost friend. 

3. Messages through song

If you’re super lucky, you’ll experience messages through song, which is one of my favorite universal signs because it’s so clear and unambiguous. You’ll be thinking about something that you want to do or maybe something that’s worrying you, and suddenly a song will come on with the exact messages you needed to hear. 

I will never forget one day in the car when I was thinking about something that I wanted to do, and a song came on that answered every doubt and every worry that I had, and was so accurate to my situation that it was like I was having a conversation with someone about what I was thinking.

Many people would choose to ignore when this is happening, but when you’re waiting for something to happen or asking for a sign from the universe, it will answer you through your environment and music is one of the easiest ways to communicate that to you because you’re already listening. If this does happen to you, make sure to listen carefully to the lyrics and replay the song to make sure you clearly comprehended the message. 

4. Your inner dialog

The next way the universe will send you signs and try to guide you is through your own voice. You know that voice inside your head that tells you you have to do laundry, or go to the bank, or pick up more toothpaste, or talks non stop when you’re trying to figure out what to wear in the morning? That’s the voice I’m talking about. We all have that inner voice and that inner monologue, BUT sometimes it’s not exactly ours.

If you take the time to meditate, get still, and silence your mind, you may be lucky enough to hear a message in your voice. Some people call this their higher self, the universe, God, or spirit guides. It’s how we channel messages from a higher power when we need a sense of direction. Many people have experienced this voice tell them to take some action and some have even said that it’s predicted their future.

When this happens, we’re simply channeling information from something outside of ourselves. If you’re new to this, I wouldn’t think too much about it though. Come into meditation for several minutes and ask a question out loud or in your head that you want the answer to. If you’re like me, your brain might want to start thinking about the answer or the solution, but don’t allow your thoughts to wander. Focus on your breath or do a full-body scan, and eventually, you may notice little words of wisdom, advice, or insights suddenly popping into your mind. They’re different for everyone, but I find that the messages are often very short, maybe only a few words in length, and they won’t be thought out. There will be no reasoning behind them, and they will simply appear in your head. 

You may also notice this happening even when you’re not trying to channel it through meditation. Sometimes that voice pops in your head as you’re going about your day, or maybe when you’re going through a difficult time, or in a state of flow. It’s often hard to recognize as a download because it comes to you in your own voice, but those messages are important to pay attention to. 

5. Your visualizations appearing

Another universal sign to look out for is your visualizations appearing in front of you. This one is really similar to manifestation, which we associate with getting something that you want in life. However, for this universal sign, you will notice visualizations that you’ve been thinking about appearing in your surrounding environment. Maybe you keep having this vivid visualization of a park, or the sky, or a tree, or a body of water and suddenly, you’ll notice that exact same image you’ve been seeing in your head actually show up in your environment.

The first time this has ever happened to me it was so surprising because I was thinking about this same image for weeks and thinking that I wanted to make it a book cover someday. Suddenly, I saw the image I’d been holding in my mind in real life. Also at this exact same moment, that’s when I was receiving a message through song that I’ve mentioned before.

If you’re looking for comfort and universal signs, make sure to look beyond yourself and pay close attention to the nature that surrounds you. 

6. A feeling of home

Another universal sign that you’ll find when you’re in alignment is a feeling of being home, being complete, being content, or at peace. It’s so incredibly comforting and relaxing because it’s a feeling of being exactly where you need to be. Your mind isn’t racing, you’re not anxious and you feel relaxed. You may feel this way when walking through nature, or walking through the halls of a business you’re interviewing at, or on a plane going somewhere, or after you’ve done your spiritual practice. That feeling of being at home, even when you’re NOT actually at home, is the feeling of being in alignment and being at the right vibrational frequency to receive.

When you do have this feeling, it’s often accompanied by coincidence and synchronicities surrounding you. Let’s say you have this feeling when you first walk into a coffee shop. You may start to notice that someone else in that coffee shop has the same breed of dog that you do, there’s a picture on the wall of something that relates to your childhood, and the barista has the same name as your mom. Or maybe your favorite song will come on or the person sitting at a table is reading a book that you’re read before or have been meaning to read.

Whenever that happens to me, I always feel so at peace and happy and overwhelmed with the possibilities and the mystery of the universe. Make sure to savor each of those feelings that you’re having and each one of those coincidences and use that as an opportunity to practice gratitude or visualization. At that moment, you are in the exact right frequency you need to be in and the universe is showing you through every aspect of your environment that you’re in alignment and you’re exactly where you need to be.

7. Timing

Timing is one universal sign that we all LOVE given how impatient we’ve become because it’s when things are happening to us in a way that’s so convenient. It’s when things are flowing so effortlessly and naturally without us trying to make it happen. It’s just like when you get in your car to go to an appointment and magically catch every single green light between your house and your doctor’s office. This could happen to you throughout the day in a bunch of little ways, or it could happen to you around big life events.

Let’s say you meet someone at a coffee shop who’s looking for a person just like you to fill an open position, you two get to talking, and by the following week, you’ve landed a position at a dream job. It wasn’t forced in any way. You didn’t have to fight for the employer’s attention. You simply met someone, acted like yourself, went on an interview and found that there was such compatibility between you and the employer. It all worked out flawlessly. Even people who don’t believe in universal signs and a magical universe that has our backs will find themselves chatting everyone up about how “everything happens for a reason.” You’ll notice the universal sign of timing when everything is flowing naturally without resistance. Even if you don’t exactly have what you want YET, the universe is clearly setting things up in your favor.

8. Your personal signs

Once you have strengthened your ability to recognize universal signs, you’ll start to see signs that are unique to you. We all have own very own symbols that keep showing up especially when we are more enlightened and connected to the higher power. That’s the universe sending you your very own message.

It took me a few years before I figured out what my signs are and before that, I didn’t even notice that we could have signs unique to us that continue to show up throughout our lives. Eventually, after years of practicing the law of attraction and spirituality, I started to notice that I would always see yellow butterflies, hawks, shooting stars, and cardinals whenever I was in alignment and before I started to receive the things that I wanted. I would notice this especially after I did my spiritual practice and visualization. When I was outside, or even if I just looked out my window, I would see all of these things. I also noticed that if I put myself in a state of flow and used my creativity more than normal, I see shooting stars constantly. 

You may also notice difference animals appearing in front of you regularly. Maybe you’ve never seen a woodpecker and now you see one all the time. Whenever you see something in your environment out of the ordinary that sticks out to you, take the time to reflect on it, and maybe even look up the meaning of certain symbols that you’re seeing. 

9. Repeating numbers 

The most common universal sign that people talk about is repeating numbers, particularly sets of three repeating numbers. Many people call these angel numbers and believe it’s their guardian angels trying to communicate with them. I like to think that it’s the universe or my higher self. Whatever you call it, seeing repeating numbers follow you around is a good thing. It’s how a higher power that often sends us warnings, comfort, and hope. 

Seeing repeating numbers could have a unique meaning to you, but generally, meanings already apply to each number. The more repeating numbers you see in your environment, the more the universe wants you to hear the message. Similarly, the more numbers you see repeating together means the stronger it is. For example, seeing the number 7777777, is a stronger and more powerful message than 77 or 777. Also, seeing two numbers that repeat together, such as 4141, also have their own unique meaning. You can often look at the meaning behind each of the two numbers and combine them to determine what the larger message is. Here are the general meanings of repeating numbers below:

  • 111 – Your intentions are manifesting quickly.
  • 222 – Relax and trust that you’re on the right path. This number also represents partnerships or connections and could mean that you’ve found your soulmate. 
  • 333 – You’re being helped with something that you’re working on.
  • 444 – You’re being guided through whatever you’re focusing on. You’re protected.
  • 555 – Huge changes are coming your way. A major transition is coming, the more 5’s the more impactful it is.
  • 666 – Your thoughts need refocusing. Don’t be dragged too far into the worldly illusion and focusing too much on material things.
  • 777 – Luck is on your side. The universe is congratulating you for your right choices. 
  • 888 – Financial abundance is coming. You’re progressing well. You’re coming into your power.
  • 999 – You’re being nudged to finish something that you have yet to complete.
  • 1111 – You’re on the right path. Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re becoming enlightened
  • 000 – Represents a fresh start and new beginnings. It’s also a reminder that you create your own destiny.

Looking at the meaning of different numbers now makes a lot of sense. I remember when I decided to leave my full-time job to pursue content creation, I was seeing 11:11, 222, 7777, and 555 everywhere I went, even though I didn’t understand what those numbers meant. Now, I can see that I was receiving the message that I was on the right path, I should relax and trust that path. The universe was also congratulating me on taking that step and letting me know that major changes awaited me. 

Pay close attention too if you’re driving around or going about your day and suddenly you start to see 1111 or 222 everywhere you go. Seeing a number regularly means that you have to pay attention to it. It’s not a coincidence seeing your bill at a cafe was $5.55, you looked at your clock when it was 5:55 pm, you have to take exit 55, and you go to a friends house where the address is 55. 

You’re meant to infer a message from it. Different numbers also mean different things to everyone, so 222 might be something different for me than it does for you, and that’s ok. The important thing is that you’re paying attention. 

10. Things falling apart

This last one is a little bit bigger and not nearly as comforting as the other signs, but I absolutely HAD to mention this one because it’s so important – things falling apart or “bad” things happening to you. I saved this one for last because it’s the one universal sign that I’ve noticed that isn’t fun at all, however, it’s so necessary and it mustn’t be passed off as a sh*tty day. 

If you’re a spiritual person, then you probably react the same way that I do when something bad happens to me. I think, “How on earth could THIS be happening to ME? I’m a good person, I’m spiritual, I try my best, I’m pursuing a dream even though it’s hard as all hell. Why would this terrible thing be happening to ME? I listen to the universe and follow my dharma and THIS is how it repays me?” I immediately fall into a victim mentality. But after this happened to me for pretty much all of 2019, I’ve finally learned to understand that even the sh*tty things that happen to us are universal signs. They’re the universe playing tough love on us and working in our favor.

Why? Because 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. This happened to me a few different times this year. Something really bad had to happen to me to push me to do something that I’ve been talking about since I was a teenager! I kept talking and talking and talking about how I was going to do these THREE different things for a very long time. And it took something “bad” happening to me and something falling apart in my life to finally push me to take action. It showed me that things fall apart to make room for something better. 

Think about it, hasn’t there been a time when you felt so horrible and devastated that something happened (like breaking up with an ex, but years later you look back on it and think “Thank God that happened to me! I needed that to happen in order to __(fill in the blank)__.” Things have to dissolve, breakaway, and fall apart in order for something new to come into fruition. Just like how there couldn’t be life without death. So while those other nine signs might be easy and fun to spot, remember to keep this last one in mind. 

Thank you for coming to Lost Online!

I really hope this post was helpful and allows you to spot universal signs in your life with a little bit more ease. Don’t get too distracted by spotting the signs or spend all day waiting for them to show up and give you that inner comfort, but do pay attention to your surroundings. Know that there’s something bigger beyond all of us that is carefully working to bring us closer to accomplishing what we came into this lifetime to create. Have faith. 

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Have you spotted these universal signs in your life too? What are some examples? Do you have any other universal signs that you’ve recognized that I didn’t include on this list? What are they? What did you learn from them?

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!

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Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.