As many of you know, I have spent much of my life overcoming adversity, challenges and obstacles in all forms. It has been a long, difficult and painful road that has also been sprinkled with joy, happiness and love. For most of my younger years, though, I struggled.
I struggled to find myself. I struggled to love myself. I struggled with facing myself and my demons. And I struggled with the “why me” mentality. To be completely honest, I felt hopeless, and this presented itself in many destructive ways. But then I discovered what I now refer to as my emotional toolbox.
IN NEED OF REPAIR
If you aren’t familiar with this term just yet, that’s okay. We can take a deeper dive into the concept in a minute. First, it’s important to note that while I was aware that I was lost, unhappy and desperate to find solutions that would give me some relief, I wasn’t quite sure what my next steps were supposed to be. So, I went on a journey of self-discovery. I began to tune in to how my feelings correlated with my behavior. I began to notice patterns—and change them. That’s when real change began to happen.
The foundation of this change has always begun and ended with two concepts: The first was all about mindset, and the second was all about choice. Every moment, we have a choice about how we want to live our lives and what we want our mindset to be. Once I began to grasp those concepts, I decided if it’s meant to be, it’s up to me.
I made the choice to strengthen my mindset. Once I made that decision, I had to figure out the HOW—and that is where the toolbox came in. Had I known about this toolbox early on, I would have had a much easier path to today. But by having had to learn it, I was able to master it. And now I can share it with all of you!
TOOLS FOR CHANGE
Okay, so more about the toolbox! Basically, tools are a collection of practices, rituals and routines I have developed and turned into habits. I practiced these habits consistently, which in turn resulted in them becoming a lifestyle for me. And man, it is a great one!
These tools can be anything from spending some time chilling and watching Netflix all the way to meditation, sound bowls and crystal healing. For someone else, they might be running, journaling or connecting with friends. They are essentially behaviors that can heal, nurture and nourish our mind, body and spirit. This is obviously very specific to each individual, which is why it’s important for each person to develop her own toolbox according to her needs and preferences.
The toolbox works in a couple of ways. As I accumulate each tool, I try it out to see if I want it in the front of my toolbox or at the back. If I absolutely love a tool, it stays front and center, screaming at me to try it out every time I open the box. If I try another tool out and don’t like it, it goes to the back of the box where it will sit in a dusty corner until I revisit it. And I definitely revisit them. (And I encourage you to do the same!) As you grow and use your tools on a regular basis, the tools you once put at the back of the box often become favorites at different points during your journey.
START YOUR OWN TOOLBOX
As you start filling your toolbox, taking care to keep what you love up front, you will find that you look forward to opening it. Each day is new, and you can select a tool or tools that you are excited to work with. Know that, at first, the toolbox might seem limited because you are just starting to add to it, and you’re beginning to learn what you do and don’t like at this particular moment. It takes time to get acquainted with the tools and with yourself. Don’t rush, and try to enjoy the process of discovery.
I’ve been accumulating various tools for the past 23 years (and possibly even unconsciously before then) so my toolbox is robust and bursting at the seams in the best way possible now! But filling my toolbox is an ongoing process. It constantly changes and evolves as I change and evolve. It will no doubt be a lifelong process. The key is to find the tools that work in the moment. Savor them. Use them to help balance out the things in your life that drain you. They will eventually become your lifesavers.
If you want to learn more about this concept, including examples of some specific tools that you might find useful, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for my newsletter. I have more tips and examples that I’ll be sharing in the coming weeks!