I created the S.L.I.C.E. Values video series for you, where I explained that S.L.I.C.E. is an acronym standing for my core values in business – Success, Love, Interdependence, Creativity, and Expansion.
In this 5 video series over on YouTube, I spent time diving deeper into what each of these values means to me.
Understanding everything that could possibly go wrong so you can try and defend against it.
Doing everything for yourself & everyone else, because you won’t trust other people to do it the way you want it done.
Desperately trying to make sure everything is “just right” and going down without a hitch, contorting yourself to make it happen.
Building resentment towards the people around you who don’t know how (or don’t care) to help.
Keeping people we love at an arms-length, rather than enjoying the deep connections that we really want – because we’ll feel less vulnerable that way.
Anxiety is all about fear.
Fear of dying, fear of losing love, fear of being rejected by the people close to you.
When that fear starts driving your actions and changing you from the person you really are, it’s a problem. It’s a problem common to many of us.
The girl in this photo was scared shitless, but she was done hiding from it.
She literally couldn’t hide it anymore. Anxiety was impacting every single area of her life. It wasn’t working.
Looking back, I can see this was a turning point for me…
I was so hungry for my deeper purpose and I knew it lived inside of me, I could feel it.
Finally ready to prioritize the unknown, I gave myself over to what my body was trying to tell me. I was ready to deeply listen to myself again, for the first time in a long time.
When this photo was taken I was not too far removed from weekly anxiety attacks, my own emotional co-dependency wreaking havoc, superwoman syndrome that kept me constantly on the edge – especially at work, putting out fires with ice cubes left and right.
My commitment to understanding & supporting myself changed things for me right away.
The more I was willing to listen to my inner guidance & follow it, the better I felt… And the goodness just keeps getting deeper & wider with time, the further I’m willing to go.
The woman I am today… 6 or 7 years later, maybe?… is lifetimes away. Not anxiety-free by any means, but happy as a clam.
I recognize a lot of similar things between now and then… I see so clearly how much GOOD this earlier version of me had going for her already, even though she had no idea how good it really was or how to fully appreciate what she had.
My life NOW is not perfect, but now I know that I’ll never be done… Whatever I accomplish, I’ll always want more & better & faster. That’s OK.
There will always be scary, hurtful things that are out of our control in this life.
Avoiding fear & anxiety & whatever other emotional challenges we encounter doesn’t really serve us, it blinds us. It keeps us stuck in the same cage we’re in. That’s not a solution. It takes a lot of effort & it still doesn’t work.
Oddly enough, emotions tend to shift when we’re able to lean in instead of away. When we look closer at anxiety to see what we might be fearing and address that real root fear – rather than frantically swimming around stuck in meaningless details of what’s happening around us – that’s when we’re able to experience the freedom & excitement we’re looking for.
Instead of running away, we need to get quiet & look deeper.
When I look my fear in the face, ask what’s up, live more slowly & more intentionally, processing & addressing the deeper feedback I receive… I’m able to suck the juice out of each and every moment, and I have more juice to share with others.
That’s important to me because, at the end of the day, the only moment we’re guaranteed is this one.
Whether we face that fact with fear or with trust is our choice.
We need to enjoy our people, do what we’re called to do, love how we want to love, & be the fullest version of ourselves NOW. Because we are not guaranteed tomorrow, and that’s a plain simple fact.
The solution is leaning into yourself & the universe & the people you love. This is how you will start to feel better & still get everything done that needs to be done, getting (& giving) the most with every moment you have.
That’s what I live & that’s what I help with, so you’ll have everything you need to make new choices when you’re presented every-day opportunities…
Accepting an offer for help – no matter how large or small – instead of saying “no, that’s fine, I can do it myself.”
Using your own self-connection & loving treatment of yourself to lift you away from the bad habits & crutches in your life.
Successfully grounding yourself & addressing your internal needs instead of generally freaking out or getting snarky, angry, & critical towards the people you love.
Advocating for what’s important to you, rather than conforming to the desires of others.
Expressing your boundaries when they’re being crossed or close to it, so the people around you understand how you want to be treated.
Honoring your own boundaries rather than crossing them to do something that depletes you.
Choice by choice, your life will open up & you’ll feel better.
I care about diversity & equality & freedom, I always have.
In our time, though – it is not enough to be “not racist”.
We all need to be actively anti-racism. We need to make it explicitly known, in no uncertain terms, that we all deserve to feel LOVE & LOVED. Free from hate & fear. Safe to be exactly who and what we are. PERIOD.
Everyone would benefit from a world like this.
We’d all feel safer & happier in our communities, taking trips to the store with our families.
Maybe we could relax and enjoy our favorite bands live again without being on high alert.
We could help each other – regardless of differences and associated stereotypes – with the unique skills that each of us brings to the world.
We can learn from each other & come up with better ideas for the future, for our children’s future.
Life is not a zero-sum game; the more we have, the more there is. We don’t need to fight for our resources… we’ll be much better off building upon our resources together.
First, though, there are some issues that need to be resolved. Something is very wrong here. That’s clear in our society and our politics today.
Hate and fear are not the ways forward. Love is.
I’ve been increasingly curious over recent years about the tenants that hold up racist views in our society, especially in the spaces I inhabit… for instance, as a resident of rural upstate NY.
Upstate NY seems overall pretty whitewashed (most people are conforming to white perspectives) & white-favoring (people & systems favor “whiteness” & white skin, whether they’re aware of it or not). Not just here in my small town; I noticed this in the city of Rochester, too, though in Rochester, the conversation seems much more public & I noticed strong Black leadership in the area.
Clearly, there are still MANY places in this country that fit the category of whitewashed and white favoring.
In my small upstate NY town, and in other towns like it, it’s clear that some of our children are growing into racist and aggressive adults.
I spent time in conversation recently with a young man who outwardly expressed racist views.
Earlier that night, I’d actually considered leaving – rebel flags all around me let me know my values didn’t line up with where I was. Then, when presented the opportunity, I wasn’t strong enough to engage full throttle in conversation with a group of men about this obvious racist choice. They all claimed that the flag, to them, had nothing to do with race.
I was intimidated & fell quiet quickly after asking about the flags (even if I didn’t necessarily *need* to back off – they weren’t trying to threaten me). I’d been drinking, so I couldn’t drive away at that time.
I slowed drinking & got comfortable. As the group thinned out I was able to have more deeply personal conversations, including with one of those rebel flag-waving men. He generously answered my questions about how he grew up, inspiring several people with us to share their own stories about violence they’d witnessed or experienced directly growing up. This is not an uncommon story, definitely not in this area.
That night, I also heard stories about multiple school-age boys threatening gun violence.
In all cases, responses were already in progress with teachers & professionals involved. “Stop playing violent video games” was one main course of action.
We need to realize that our children conform to & learn from their environment. They are deeply influenced & shaped by what they see & hear the most.
Video games aren’t the cause of this issue, neither are guns – these are all just symptoms feeding back into a bigger issue.
We have been exposed to violence throughout our history, and we keep on continuing the cycle.
Did you know that corporal punishment – including spanking – is illegal in more than 50 countries? The United Nations & several other entities have encouraged people to abandon the practice, because the research is clear that physical punishment has a negative impact on our development. Yet, this is still a common parenting strategy here in the United States.
Our violence is supported by a deeply rooted belief system in this country – based on fear & tribalism & survival & conquest – passed down in droves generation to generation.
We’ve held onto our fear & survival based beliefs despite the fact that our world is changing.
These beliefs are quite literally what this country (as we know it) was built on. Our lands were forcibly taken from the Native Americans who already lived here – because we ourselves were unwilling to go back to oppression in Europe. We took on a “kill or be killed” mentality, and built our society around it. We built on & maintained stolen lands, fighting wars to defend them on the back of African American & Hispanic people.
We as Americans are *ALL* impacted by this history & our collective views, which are intertwined with our current structure of government & the patriarchal values system we share.
There’s a lot of violence happening in inner cities, abuse happening at our southern border, conflicts between government entities & people of color/their allies – all additional symptoms of the same foundational discord we’re experiencing right now.
We are clinging to fear, conflict, and violence to survive. We need to prioritize differently moving forward.
At a very foundational level, we are still sticking to our own to survive — sticking to our chosen groups & smaller circles, succumbing to limits in our minds… as opposed to reaching out and embracing each other as one big interdependent community – where EVERYONE is capable, shares similarities, & has value to contribute.
We need to remember our *real* goals of finding freedom & expansion. Moving forward, that will require a new strategy.
Violence is perpetrated by once little boys and girls – who were not as fortunate as me, to be exposed to many supportive open-minded adults & diversity, education, and affluence growing up. Instead, they were witnessing violence and racist views all around them, sometimes growing unsurprisingly into violent and racist adults. These kids were largely fending for themselves, confused, struggling to survive. Kids who absolutely *needed* to conform in their community or find a new one. Kids who literally might not have survived without a group to belong to.
This is a similar story to the one that’s told about inner-city kids, who are vulnerable to gangs and shady dealings to get by.
Yes, everyone has choices, and I will never condone violence… and, it’s really not hard to see where all of this is coming from when we’re willing to look a little deeper.
I want to understand the views of my racist white neighbors and ancestors, I want to understand these parts of myself where unknown & fear still lingers… I want to find ways to deconstruct this issue of racism and violence at its root.
What kind of “different” are you afraid of? How did you learn to be afraid?
We can no longer say “not us” – not in our hearts, not our sons, not our brothers, not our friends.
We can no longer say “damn them” – they’re hateful, they’re crazy, they’re broken, they need to be dealt with or removed from society entirely.
In arguing amongst ourselves & falling into fear we are making what’s already done even worse.
In pretending that we aren’t a part of this issue, we’re making it worse.
Yes, our leaders need to act instead of encouraging of violent, racist views.
Yes, we need better gun laws, better healthcare & mental healthcare.
Yes, something on a large scale needs to be done right now.
Yes, we DEFINITELY need better prevention of these issues moving forward.
And, we ALL need to accept our individual responsibility for making LOVE the contagion we’re spreading, not hate.
We ALL need to be willing to go deeper, so we can look at the hardest parts of this issue & understand the ways we’re contributing to it. Because WE ARE ALL CONTRIBUTING to this issue.
We need to accept that our neighbors are violent shooters, our neighbors are being killed. We are all one community, one country, one collective human race.
What’s real for one of us is real for all of us.
We all have the choice to devolve into more fear and hate, or to choose compassion, kindness, and love – first inside of ourselves, for ourselves, and then for others.
We cannot continue on like this.
“We must live together as brothers, or perish together as fools.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Responses based on love, with our long-term problems and goals in mind, will have an impact on this huge problem of violence in our country. This issue is impacting every single one of us. What can we do?
*My main suggestion – self-reflect on how you might be contributing to this issue, and take action from that place every day.*
Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
What kind of “different” am I afraid of? Where did I learn to be that way?
Is living in fear of differences helping me or contributing to my life in any way?
What am I most interested in about the topics of violence & race, that I can google & learn more about today? (I’ve learned a lot following @rachel.cargle @shaunking & @nowhitesaviors on Instagram, to name a few).
What’s one small action I could take today to welcome more love, newness, & diversity into my life?
I recently wrote a blog series on suicide prevention; keeping all firearms safely secured is a huge part of prevention there, too. So, if you must own guns, please maintain all proper safety precautions & keep them locked up. Take these steps not feeling limited in your freedom, but with intentions for love & protection of your children and the people around you. Guns allow us to feed/protect ourselves & our loved ones, right? Practicing/teaching good gun safety is how to make that happen in the safest way possible.
And, are automatic weapons *really* necessary for you? Are you military trained and/or qualified to have them? Are you feeling satisfied, loved & clear in mind? Let’s get real here.
We can always provide more education & support (especially support to parents) around early prevention of racism & violence.
We need to arm parents & teachers with the knowledge & tools they need to shape young minds that will be the future of our society.
We can continue to support causes that are diving deeper into this issue…
organizations/leaders who are promoting love & equality, related research initiatives, organizations providing preventative action on race & violence-related issues. I intend to add some great causes to this post – which ones are your favorites?
We can provide empowerment resources that encourage self-awareness, self-realization, individuality, & relationship-building skills for all people.
We need to stop hiding from the depth & the reality of who we are & the power we hold – both as individuals and united as a collective. This is my life’s mission. For instance, I’m hosting a free class on Thursday 8/8/19 @ 7:00 PM EST called Harvesting Power in Challenging Moments, and I’d love to have you there. I also host a free group called The Cocoon full of support & strategies for developing a deep & strong self-connection.
Once we’ve done some inner work around racism, we can strive to create open conversations, connecting with each other & exposing ourselves to different viewpoints on this issue. When we commit to talking to each other, we can find common ground to start from. Be willing to be compassionate & loving when the people around you are sharing themselves with you.
Alway start with compassion & love for yourself. Love can always emerge to dissolve fear & hate.
I will strive to create conversations in my online communities & in my real-life conversations that work to deconstruct the belief systems holding racist views relevant in our society. I would *most* love to host conversations where people of all colors are free & safe & comfortable to contribute to discussions on this issue amongst each other.
What else? Feel free to riff on thoughts & ideas or share the causes you’re donating to today in the comments section.
I want everyone to know that you’re seen, loved, & safe with me.
If you’re hurting today amongst these mass shootings, I’m with you.
This three-part series is meant to promote suicide awareness, and we will be discussing suicide throughout. If you are feeling suicidal & need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK – and get some support. There are also a ton of resources throughout this post. I truly hope you will stay alive and stay with us.
On a personal note, thank you for the beautiful response to part 1 and part 2 of this series. I’ve been blown away by the love, kindness, and support I’ve received – both from my closest friends and from strangers worldwide. These blogs have been very challenging for me to write, and you’ve made this labor of love so incredibly worth it. It’s clearer to me than ever that we’re ready to get together & come up with creative ways to prevent people from dying by suicide.
In part 1 of this series, we covered general suicide stats & research, and I shared some personal opinions on the topic of suicide.
Today, we’ve got a lot to cover, so you might want to bookmark this to take it in bits & pieces. (Plus, you might want to save for easy access to the resources)! We’ll be talking about all things suicide prevention:
– The current research and which methods are working well.
– Protective factors; things that make people less likely to die by suicide.
– My thoughts about how each and every one of us can prevent suicide as we move forward.
…And, I’ll leave you with even more resources-a-plenty so you can get support whenever you need it & learn how to better support others.
These sections are clearly marked so feel free to skip down to what you’re looking for.
Here we go:
The current research in suicide prevention says…
One important thing to note is that everyone is different. There are MANY different options available to us when we’re looking for help.
Suicide is complex. There isn’t one cause or one solution; usually, not even within one person.
This variability is what makes prevention efforts tricky, and also what gives us so many choices for how we can impact this issue.
There are great things happening in suicide prevention and there are things that each of us can do.
What I noticed here is that good suicide prevention requires strong access points.
Where are suicidal people already connecting with other people and with service providers? How can we support these people where they already are? How can we start a conversation about suicide in those places?
This is not only helpful for preventing suicide in your employees. You’ll be better supporting any employee who’s lost a loved one to suicide, and anyone who deals with a mental health issue at any point while you’re managing them. Believe it or not, this likely describes at least 50% of your employees. (Maybe including you).
Many people think that someone who’s suicidal will just find another way, but a lot of research shows that isn’t true.
As I mentioned in Part 1, the decision to commit suicide is often impulsive, so reducing someones ability to access a gun or lethal means while their fleeting impulse passes can literally be life-saving.
As this psychiatrist suggests, we need to be willing to take a long hard look at the *real* causes of suicide, rather than chalking it all up to hormonal imbalance as we move forward with prevention. An antidepressant or antipsychotic is not always the answer to prevent suicide.
There is no one cause of suicide.
Many, many issues contribute to completed suicides – homelessness, accessibility of healthcare, health issues, and poverty, just to name a few. We need to address all of these things (and more) as we continue to approach this issue.
Factors that make us less likely to die by suicide…
We can all practice & encourage our loved ones to practice these things to prevent suicides.
When it comes to support, the more the better. Surround yourself with empowering people and invest in yourself when it feels good and right for you.
Strongly developed life skills, including emotional coping skills, problem-solving skills, resiliency, and adaptability when change hits are protective against suicide. Good self-esteem, a consistent sense of self, a sense of purpose in one’s life – all protective against suicide, so they’re also worth prioritizing, too. (Mental Wholeness could help strengthen all of these).
Finally, holding strong cultural or religious beliefs that discourage suicide is a protective factor. On the other hand, strong religious beliefs causing shame & guilt or feeling cast-out by your religious group can be a risk factor too, so this one isn’t always straightforward. We’re going to talk more about spirituality in the next section.
Prepare your knowledge about suicide prevention resources in case someone who needs your help opens up to you. Congratulations – if you’re still reading this blog you’re already off to a great start! I’ll leave you with even more resources at the end.
Once you’ve covered those basics, I believe your best steps to contribute to suicide prevention today are:
Address the parts of your mind that contribute to stigma.
Your mind is very powerful. You are creating your own reality every single day whether you realize it or not. You have the ability to shift & change the way your mind is working for you.
It’s all too common to dismiss ourselves and others as being crazy, as attention-seeking, or as being lazy… whatever-the-hell judgment we find suitable to put on ourselves & others.
On autopilot, we operate on subconscious patterns & beliefs that keep our needs met in a very, very basic way – like “stay alive” and “keep love” without distinguishing the kind of love and life that we *really* want to create for ourselves.
When we interact with people, our patterns and beliefs are impacting them too, even if we don’t realize it.
When you feel love, understanding, and acceptance of the topics of mental health and suicide, you will become a safe place where people can connect with support. That effect will spread out all over your world.
We need to become aware when we’re perpetuating the narrative that mental health or suicide is weird, scary, and bad – something to be avoided altogether.
We need to adjust our expectations of ourselves and others to be more realistic & supportive for our overall mental health & wellness.
Mental health and wholeness don’t always look like they “should”. It might not mean showering every day, having the energy to say “yes” to every invitation, never watching TV, exercising every day, or even getting out of bed every day.
What matters most is how we feel. What matters is that we’re able to discern what feels good and right for us, and are able to act on that knowledge.
We need to let go of harsh judgments of ourselves and others to create a world where everyone is free to be themselves.
Seek more acceptance, understanding, and forgiveness of yourself and others.
Free write about your perception of mental health. What does mental health mean to you? Have you heard stories about this in your communities and from society? What do YOU think?
Do your own independent research on mental health with an open mind (rather than relying on misinformed beliefs). Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need some recommendations to get started.
Create your life based on your intuitive guidance & nudges from something greater than yourself.
Spirituality has become kind of loaded in our society, and I believe it’s hurting us.
Just because someone doesn’t practice or doesn’t want to practice religion – including mainstream spirituality – doesn’t mean they can’t develop faith in something greater.
For me, when I’m feeling suicidal, or when I’m at my lowest and loneliest, my connection with myself and my faith is always at the center of my experience. When I’m willing to go ever deeper with myself & my calling, those suicidal thoughts simply cannot survive.
Will you connect more deeply with yourself & a greater purpose? Will you encourage other people to do the same?
My lowest moments are offering me my clearest next steps. They’re providing me insight into exactly what I care the most about, providing my marching orders that I can use to impact the world with my passion and my natural gifts.
These moments are my opportunities to discover and flex my psychic strength. They’re the moments when I feel closest to the “other” side and the moments when I feel most sensitive – the perfect opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of my purpose & my unique sensitivities.
In those moments, I only need to hold on, stay patient, and be open to the messages that are ready to come through… from deep inside of me, AND from a purpose-driven force.
We can all live our lives like this and support each other through this process. It’s a path of really deep fulfillment and almost constant awe.
When we’re grounded in ourselves and driven faithfully by a higher purpose, we create ripples of meaningful change in the world.
Some actions you can take to connect with yourself and something greater (maybe God, maybe the Earth, maybe the universe – what calls to you?):
Find what’s special inside of you and use that gift.
Be generous with your love, caring, and energy – start by being generous with yourself.
Get outside and bask in the wonder of nature – whatever kind of nature you prefer.
From there, connect on a deeper level with the people around you.
I often see people sharing about suicide awareness and encouraging all of us to check on each other, especially in the wake of very public, unexpected suicides like Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain, or Kate Spade, or on days geared towards awareness.
My questions for you:
Do you really check in on your people? When you suspect someone is suicidal, do you ask them directly about it? And, if you do, are you really ready and willing to hear the truth – without necessarily trying to jump in and change it?
Are you prepared to listen & connect with that person without judgment?
If you’re the person receiving a reach out, and maybe you’re feeling suicidal – are you willing to go deep with yourself to receive the love from the people around you? Are you willing to connect to the universe & find strategies for coping that work better for you?
(No bad answers here – just awareness).
It’s shown time and time again that connection is an essential part of our life.
Lack of connection is a risk factor for suicide, and feeling connected to others is a protective factor. Connection is a spectrum we ALL fluctuate on at least a little bit – we all feel lonelier in some moments and more loved in others.
Prioritizing true, deep connection, for many of us, is not what we’re used to.
We’ve been raised in a culture that places more value on competition than connection.
Relationships are messy. We won’t always have the right words or know how to address each other, especially when times get rough.
What we need is a willingness to sit vulnerably, honestly as ourselves with each other – without walls, without judgment.
We need to be willing to engage around the topic of suicide when the situation calls for it.
When we can ask each other openly about suicidal feelings & talk about suicide without fearful emotional responses, we’ll be better able to support each other on a regular basis.
If we all focus on connecting more deeply with the people around us, we’ll have an impact on the issue of suicide.
It’s time to be intentional about shifting our values towards deeper connection as a society so that we’re able to love each other and lift each other up consistently.
Some action steps to get you connecting on a deeper level:
Would you like to stay in touch with me? We’d love to have you over in my free FB group, The Cocoon. Or, shoot me an email and let me know what you thought of this series – email@example.com. I would love to hear from you!
Thank you for reading. I hope to connect more with you soon.
This three-part series is aimed at promoting suicide awareness, and we will be discussing the topic of suicide throughout. If you are feeling suicidal & need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK – and get some support. I truly hope you will stay alive and stay with us.
This photo was taken hours before a recent bout with my own suicidal thoughts… about 2 months ago.
I’ve talked a lot publicly about how I *used* to be suicidal. It’s true – I used to be much less stable than I am today. I’ve also talked about my relationship with my first love who died by suicide. Indeed, that journey has been foundational to the person I am today.
But, this doesn’t really reflect the whole story.
When this picture was taken, I was mid-business strategy event that I’d traveled many miles to attend. Instead of leaving the event inspired that day, I felt defeated.
Extremely low on myself, I felt like I had a million miles left to climb. I wasn’t sure I had what I needed to keep going. I felt alone, duped, abused, abandoned.
On the drive back to my beautiful AirBnB, random thoughts about dying started to pop in.
It’s been quite a few years since thoughts like this took over my consciousness with such strength. They surprised me on this day when they decided to come back for a visit.
I was surprised because I’m in a better place mentally, emotionally, and physically than I have been in years… maybe in a better place than I’ve ever been.
I’m surrounded by family and friends almost every day, in a healthy and happy relationship. I love my home, my pet snake, my work, my life in general. At the risk of sounding cliche, I’m pretty blessed.
On this day I was shocked to find that none of it seemed to matter.
In those moments, it didn’t matter that I really want 200 more years to live on this earth, enjoying the people, places, and things that I love.
It didn’t matter that I’m incredibly lucky and incredibly loved by a surplus of my closest people.
I reached out for support – and I received it. Even that didn’t matter.
It felt like nothing mattered, nothing was worth it. It felt like *I* wasn’t worth the air I was breathing.
This was an old familiar feeling of deep self-loathing… it settled in and wouldn’t shake.
I ate dinner alone at a bar, brimming with tears, furiously writing in my notebook, a million miles away from home. Two hearty glasses of wine subsided my tears and lulled me to sleep at a decent hour, until I woke up at 2:30 AM feeling frantic, crawling out of my skin.
I texted my boyfriend. He called me to talk, but I was too irritated to receive the support he was trying to give me. He wanted to understand what was happening, but I couldn’t get my words out about what I was feeling. I was too upset. We both hung up even more frustrated than we were to begin with.
I felt so betrayed by life. It felt like my loved ones & the world at large would be much better off without me. I felt so tired, so ready to give up.
Grasping for any sense of connection to myself and the universe that I could find, I stayed awake well through that lonely 4 AM hour.
I prayed, I packed, I paced, I wrote, and I eventually soothed myself to sleep.
Clearly, I stayed alive.
The long 9-hour drive home the following day gave me time to reflect & refocus. Really, I’ve been reflecting on this experience ever since, and my passion for suicide prevention is being reborn.
I’ve come to the conclusion that eradicating these thoughts is a fool’s goal.
Because, from my experience, over my relatively short life so far, my feelings only seem to get sharper and deeper over time. This is especially true as I welcome in my physical and emotional experience more and more.
As I welcome more and more good things into my life, and I feel new levels of awesomely blissful, loving feelings like I’ve never felt before, I also feel new depths of “low”. I believe that’s normal and OK.
I’ve learned over the years that regardless of my mental stability and strength, which grows stronger every single day of every year, death will still come to visit me.
It’s often on the tail of my best day ever that my worst moment comes knocking.
Feeling a vast, deep array of emotions, the full spectrum, is an essential part of my creative process.
Maybe this is who you are, too.
When I judge myself as sick or wrong when I have these low experiences, I stifle myself creatively and I dig myself a deeper hole that becomes harder and harder to get out of every time.
Those judgments breed shame & secrecy… and I’ve learned that anything that conjures shame needs a flashlight shined on it. (That’s what I’m doing here today).
Even though I can’t permanently erase these thoughts from my brain, I’ve found ways to grow stronger through them.
My tools and my choices are what keep me alive during these moments, so I’d love to share a few of those with you now. (These are the same basic steps I apply to all of the personal & professional project work I do with my clients).
Cocoon is all about nurturing a rock-solid connection with yourself, that allows you to be your own constant in a constantly changing world. It’s all about leveraging your mind, body, and energy to become the strongest possible version of yourself, so you can magnetize your dream life to you.
This self-connection is incredibly essential for me when I’m facing my own darkness.
It is so important to have a system for self-connection to fall back on in these moments when life feels life is falling through your fingers. (I love my Mental Wholeness system for this).
In trying moments, you will not be in your most resourceful state to learn something new. You need to know how to shift yourself to get there. Well practiced steps, that become your normal every day of the week, can literally be a lifesaver in these moments when it counts the most.
For me, in the instance I described above, this looked like writing and dumping all of my thoughts down on paper. Acceptance is one specific strategy I use; for starters, I accepted the way I was feeling and I welcomed the expression of my emotions rather than pushing them away. I leaned on my emotional alchemy process to work through the emotions that were coming up. By walking to and from dinner and soothing myself with a cold cloth on my forehead & neck to help me fall asleep, I connected with my body. I leaned into a sense of trust that by following my own process, I’d allow everything to work out perfectly for me.
Create is all about partnering with all-that-is to get all-the-things done – as opposed to feeling the need to figure everything out and make everything happen all alone. Faith is very much at the core of this phase… even if the only faith we’re talking about is faith in ourselves.
I’ve found that surrendering to something greater than myself is an essential component of navigating through moments like these.
Even as I sat at the bar, eating dinner alone & writing in my notebook, I recognized that this was an opportunity to more deeply understand the highly sensitive creative folks that I’m passionate about supporting. I believed that the universe was trying to show me something important.
I apply every experience – especially the difficult ones – to my purpose, allowing myself to gain more clarity about how I can serve a purpose in the world.
After years and years of practicing this, I instantly know that my challenging moments are a gift that can highlight my way forward.
My drive to serve people with my life has kept me alive more times than I can count, and partnering with the universe to do this is what *really* makes life feel magical… even when the dose of guidance I’m receiving is hard to swallow. I opened up to receiving the wisdom available to me through this experience, and, that’s when the inspiration for this blog series was born.
This is all about connecting with other people because our connections are what life is all about.
On the night in question, for me, connecting looked like smiling at the bartender through my tears, taking his suggestion regarding the salad I ordered, thanking him for his guidance as I enjoyed my dinner. It looked like having a conversation with the man next to me, whose wife was in the hospital after a sudden stroke. I stayed connected with my boyfriend throughout the night, including our phone call that I mentioned earlier. Even though I wasn’t able to receive his support, communicating with him was enough to remind me that there are people who deeply care about me. That felt very important.
Another essential part of using my connection to others as a support during this time is a decision I’d made long ago, after feeling the effects of losing someone I loved to suicide… I *know* the pain that suicide causes, and I decided that I will never inflict that pain on my loved ones. After years of practicing this choice, I remember quickly, even in the moments when my brain is telling me that I’m a burden to them.
My connections to myself, to the universe, and to my people – and the strategies I use to intentionally maintain those connections – help me stay alive and thriving every day.
These three steps work. You’re probably already taking some of them yourself, and I hope that you will start practicing more intentionally right away.
That being said, we are only scratching the surface here. There is so much more where this came from, so many specific strategies that can help you make these concepts real in your life in a way that fits perfectly for you.
Investing more time, effort, and resources into strengthening these skills for yourself is basically like taking an insurance policy on your life and your success.
When you practice these concepts, you will allow yourself to stay alive & stick around for the people and projects that mean the most to you. You’ll develop a winning formula to really show up as the best possible version of yourself in every situation. Maybe most importantly, you’ll discover exactly how you can easily set your life up right now to support that most positively influential version of you.
If you’re interested in learning more from me about this, join my free Facebook group The Cocoon.
This three-part series is aimed at promoting suicide awareness, and we will be discussing the topic of suicide throughout. If you are feeling suicidal & need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK – and get some support. I truly hope you will stay alive and stay with us.
Suicide is a leading cause of death here in the United States.
It’s time to shed the stigma and talk openly about the topic of suicide, so we can promote suicide awareness and prevent unnecessary deaths by suicide.
More than 10.5 million American adults reported feeling suicidal in 2017. This is more than 4% of adults 18 and older. The prevalence was highest among adults aged 18-25 – about 10.5% of adults in this age range reported serious suicidal thoughts in 2017. (via the National Institute of Mental Health)
I’m a member of this club. (I’ll share more about that in part 2 of this series).
My first love committed suicide when I was 15, and ever since, suicide has been a part of my life.
For years after Brad died, I fought the desire to take my own life. Even though I’m past the days where suicidal thoughts were almost constant, I’m not in the clear.
The truth is, suicidal thoughts are common, and they can be complicated.
Lots of things put us at risk for suicidal thoughts/feelings, and they’re not always in our control. Family history of suicide, family history of abuse, local suicide epidemics, feelings of isolation & loss, the stigma around seeking help, and barriers to accessing professional support are all risk factors for suicide.
Those are the statistics – the facts – what the research tells us.
Today, I’d also love to share what I’ve noticed about suicide… simply starting a conversation as someone who cares about the topic.
My noticings are from my perspective as someone with a personal relationship to suicide, as someone with a background in mental health and experience working with suicidal clients, and as someone who’s passionate about supporting leading-edge creatives as they make their mark on the world.
Every time life ends prematurely, we miss out on volumes of what could have been contributed to the world with that life. When this happens, we all lose.
Sometimes, it’s a super depressed person that’s feeling suicidal every day. I suspect this is what many people picture when they think about suicide.
Sometimes, though, it’s the person with the biggest smile on their face, laughing the loudest, cracking jokes, impacting every single person in the room with their brilliant energy who’s most at risk to die by suicide.
A person feeling suicidal can simultaneously be madly in love with their closest people, living a beautiful envy-inspiring life. Then, in the wee hours of the night, they find themselves hitting a massive low with no-one around or no-one they can trust to provide the support they need to keep going.
I’ve noticed a gap in the suicide prevention resources that are available for people like you and me – people who are smart, ambitious, independent, creative, and private.
People who are self aware, constantly learning, and always seeking personal growth.
Those of us who are ready, willing, and able to invest generously in ourselves for the betterment of our life.
Leaders who possess a healthy respect for how small our challenges really are in the grand scheme of things… who sometimes feel so sad so deeply none the less.
Many times, we fall into our depths when we are carrying the emotional weight of our entire community, and our entire world… when we’re acutely aware of the severe challenges faced by so many less fortunate than us.
In those moments, it’s too easy to feel defeated, alone, and unable to keep going.
For some of us, the national hotline and the free support groups just don’t cut it. The traditional healthcare system doesn’t always cut it for us either.
For some of us, the traditional healthcare system isn’t an option – whether it be a lack of insurance coverage, bad experiences that have scared us away from the system, or an adamant refusal to take medication… not a refusal based in shame, but based in a deep knowing that we need to find a better way.
While we’re on the topic – there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with taking medication and seeking treatment through the traditional system. We are all entitled to seek the care & solutions that work best for us.
We can welcome healing in from all angles. In my book, the more support the better.
We feel things strongly, and we’re not interested in dimming or losing that part of ourselves.
Our emotional & creative nature is our gift to this world, and we’re always looking for ways to channel this.
We are strong and capable and we want to be supported with this in mind.
It can be a challenge to find support like that. I’m working to bridge this gap, so we can stop falling through it.
Many people don’t realize how many options exist to feel better.
Part of bridging the gap is having conversations to spread suicide awareness.
From what I can tell, this gap in support is partially produced by the way we talk about & portray suicide.
Suicide is sold to us as something to be afraid of, something to judge, a weakness of character, a lack of the stuff it takes to make it. This stigma keeps us quiet and ashamed when we feel suicidal or otherwise awful.
Related, I’ve noticed a (mostly) unspoken but widespread belief that suicide prevention & support should be low cost or free.
Don’t get me wrong, I *love* that free resources & support groups exist, and I believe that these things are so very important, just like therapy and medication are important.
Still, these solutions do not provide everything for everyone.
I don’t know about you, but I crave support in this area that goes far beyond the walls of a doctor’s office, a room full of strangers, or a free 10-minute phone call.
I want support…
…to meet me in the middle of the night, in the moments when it really, truly counts.
…who cares deeply and recognizes that my darkest moments are stepping stones to an even more powerful version of myself.
…able to show me how to make those steps forward with much less unnecessary pain and figuring-it-out-alone along the way.
I would love to live in a world where friends, family, and society at large can support us well through moments like these.
I like to think that this conversation spreading suicide awareness is a step in the right direction.
Still, the truth is that most people aren’t trained in suicide prevention and most people have absolutely no-freaking-clue how to meaningfully connect with a person who’s feeling suicidal.
We learn to keep our feelings to ourselves, and we decide to carry (/be crushed by) our burden all alone.
Even our supportive, priceless friends can seem to be unavailable or distracted when we need them the most. Can you relate?
When we’re willing and able to invest our time & money into high-caliber, highly qualified emotional support – like the support I provide to my clients – we can transform ourselves over and over again… in ways that free resources and crowded hotlines just can’t touch.
I don’t want either of us to be the next Brad Test, Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, Chris Cornell, Robin Williams, or any of our loved ones who we’ve lost to suicide.
So, it’s time to change the way we talk about suicide.
Let’s keep spreading suicide awareness. We can use this 3-part blog series to get started.
Let’s change the way we approach these most challenging moments. We can empower each other to recognize and embrace our greatest creative and emotional gifts. Our world needs this from us.
If you’re feeling suicidal, sad, depressed, hopeless, lonely, anxious, etc… help is available, and you deserve access to that help. Also, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Please know that there are MANY options available to you.
When you notice someone else talking about “your thing” – how do you feel?
Your thoughts & feelings in these moments say a lot about where you stand in relation to your goals & how fully you’re expressing yourself in the world.
If seeing others working well your field makes you upset, jealous, or even angry… Perhaps you don’t feel heard or valued as an expert yourself yet.
Those feelings originate in you. You aren’t listening to yourself. You aren’t valuing yourself.
Maybe in these moments, you feel like you could do it better than they are, you have something more to contribute. In that case, do it up! Get to work!! Get yourself out there and hop to contributing – we need you & the gifts you bring to the table.
I used to feel a pang of upset & jealousy when I heard people talking about topics like mental health & wellness, emotions, creativity, inspiration, leadership, spirituality, etc… Seeing someone else shine at “my thing” would make my chest tighten up and I’d start questioning everything.
Now, I quickly feel excited and encouraged when I see or hear about someone else killing it in my field.
I think things like …
“People are clearly interested in this topic.”
“I would love to do that – this is proof that it’s possible for me, too!”
“What a great approach! Maybe I could try that/collaborate with them/learn from them.”
“Maybe that person would be interested in what I’m doing, too.”
… And I consciously wish for them to have even more success and all of the abundances their heart desires, so they can keep providing amazing things to our world.
There’s more than enough to go around.
The truth is, we need to work together to create the world we want.
It’s a big world, you’re only one person. I’m only one person.
Let’s stop competing and start deeply connecting, so we can work well together towards our common goals.
The first step is sorting out your own hangups, so you can collaborate with ease (especially through challenges & disagreements), celebrate the success of others, learn quickly through challenges, and keep the vibe high in any room you occupy.
I’d love to help with this.
I’m offering another opportunity for you to catch my live virtual class Transforming Dark Moments into Opportunities for Expansion on Tuesday 5/14 @ 12:00 PM EST.
I’ll provide three specific strategies you can use to diffuse jealous & uncertain moments when they come up. Register here.
If you’ve made it this far – CONGRATULATIONS!! That’s no small feat, and I hope you’re feeling more mentally whole already. I’m celebrating you.
I promised I’d be back with some guidance about where to take this next.
The way I see it, you have three main options moving forward:
1. You can do nothing to intentionally continue working with Mental Wholeness.
This is a totally legitimate option.
Maybe you’re feeling a hard “no” right now to continue with this, and that’s cool. Perhaps you have a lot of competing priorities right now and you just know the timing isn’t right. Maybe you’re completely uninterested. (If that’s you, though… I doubt you’d still be here).
If you’ve been following along with this content, I’d be willing to bet that Mental Wholeness will continue to unfold in your life whether you give your focus to it or not. There’s no shame in coasting along with this, letting things unfold naturally until you feel a strong “yes” to continue.
You don’t need anything outside of yourself to be successful. Period.
That being said, there’s a lot of value in creating a strong support system around you that’s plugged into what you’re working on. You deserve support as you go through the process. You deserve to surround yourself with people who see you and value every part of you, who can hold space for you to grow comfortably into the best possible version of yourself.
When I say the best possible version of yourself – I mean the version of you that’s the most fully YOU.
Eventually, if you keep practicing, Mental Wholeness will lead you towards the community you’ve always wanted. You deserve to have that community – exactly as you are, right now.
Still, you might genuinely be in a place where you want to practice some of these things on your own for a while. Sometimes, that’s 100% the right decision. Again, the whole point of this is to follow your internal guidance, so I hope that you’ll do that.
Mental Wholeness™ is a group course where you’ll learn to connect with yourself & your inner guidance – consistently, regardless of the situation surrounding you – so you can create magic in your life.
If you’re highly energetically sensitive & creative, you love helping people, & you’re looking for more natural ways to nurture your mind, body, and energy (aka your mental wellness), then this course is for you.
Calm your mind and focus your thoughts in a way that creates instant freedom, inspiration, & momentum in your life.
Deeply love your body and understand the messages it’s sending you, so you can identify what you want, follow your intuitive guidance to get there, and feel physically better & better over time.
Become a force of nature in the best of ways, by embodying your full potential – no matter what energy surrounds you – even (especially) if the moon is full, mercury is in retrograde & you find yourself smack dab in a room full of toxic, negative naysayers.
With a system for Mental Wholeness™ in your repertoire, you will masterfully spot early warning signs of self-sabotage & disconnection, so you can avoid veering off course completely when your empathy, your environment, or your work tries to pull you away from yourself.
As a result, you’ll be way more present in each moment, able to enjoy the amazing life you’re creating for yourself with the people you love the most.
Through practicing Mental Wholeness, you’ll accomplish more meaningful work in less time.
You’ll feel more spiritually connected & you’ll gain tools to identify/refine your natural spiritual gifts.
Opportunities to make your biggest dreams a reality will flow swiftly into your life.
With a commitment to a lifelong practice of Mental Wholeness™, you’ll feel ever-better & ever-more-balanced over time.
You’ll create a ripple effect & have a massive impact on the world, just by being yourself in it.
If you’re interested in exploring Mental Wholeness together and want to determine if this is the right fit for you before you invest, let’s talk about it.
Feel free to email me – firstname.lastname@example.org – and tell me a little bit about what you’re looking for. I would love to connect you to the perfect support for you.
Thank you so much for following along with this Mental Wholeness blog series. It’s been a pleasure sharing this space with you.
Some of you are going to want more support and you’ll want to know what’s next. If that’s you, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for my next blog post. I’ll definitely make sure you have access to what you need.
Until then, it’s time to integrate. Here are the questions we’ve covered so far:
What are my intentions here?
What does Mental Wholeness mean to me?
What am I most resisting in my life right now?
How can I be more accepting of myself and others today?
What can I do to bring my body more love, comfort, and pleasure – right in this moment?
What would make my body buzz right now?
What beliefs are holding me back from fulfilling my purpose?
Am I ready to let go of those beliefs today?
If I’m not ready, what will it take to get ready?
What beliefs would be more helpful when it comes to accomplishing my goals?
What am I creating right now?
What do I WANT to create?
What will I see/hear/smell/taste/touch when I’ve succeeded?
Who is the person who already has what I want (or something close to it)?
How can I be more like that person right now?
How does that person FEEL? How does that person make others feel?
What emotion is waiting right under the surface of my awareness, needing to be felt?
Where in my life am I accepting less than I deserve? What line is being crossed? How can I better respect this boundary within myself today?
What do I really want and need in my life right now?
What action would feel good and bring me some joy or pleasure?
Take that action now. (Especially if you’ve walked through this whole exercise!)
If you’re looking for personalized guidance, support, or just to continue the conversation, feel free to email me any time – email@example.com. I’d love to connect with you.
I’ll be back soon with the final entry in this Mental Wholeness blog series. Thank you for reading. See you soon.