How looking back can help you move forward

My favorite thing about my car is the back up camera. I love the confidence it gives me knowing that if I come within 20 feet of any object, the screen is going to warn me of the imminent danger and prompt me to redirect my path. I don’t have to worry about barreling into something that was in my blind spot and I don’t have to break my neck to get a good view.

Because, let’s be real- there’s really nothing like the embarrassment and panic you feel when you back into that pole in the Wal Mart parking lot or the stop sign adjacent to your driveway. Did anyone see that? Could I claim it as a hit and run? I can NOT afford a higher insurance premium.

Every time that’s ever happened to me, which unfortunately has been more times than I care to admit, I’ve just sat there with both arms extended, hands on the wheel asking myself:

“How did I not see that?”
“I knew I shouldn’t have parked here.”
“My dad warned me about this” 
“If I just would’ve paid more attention, I could have avoided all of this.”

The back up cam on my Jeep Renegade has saved me so much trouble, and money (and time on the phone with insurance)

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we had a back up camera for our lives? If we could see the source of destruction in our blind spot before we went crashing into it?

Well if there’s one thing I’ve learned about life it’s that you’re going to eventually run into something you didn’t see coming, and all you can do is buckle up and prepare for impact. And yes, it’s easier to move on from a dent in your bumper than a death, breakup, foreclosure- but how can you prepare yourself for these things, and manage to keep them from jumping in your drivers seat and steering your life straight down a road of self pity?

For me, the metaphorical “car” I slammed into going 100 mph was an engagement and 4 year relationship called off. It was moving out of the home I lived in and into an unfamiliar town. It was starting an accelerated nursing program which left me with barely enough time to work 2 jobs and get 4 hours of sleep a night. It was my only family within 500 miles moving 12 hours away from me. Those few months felt like I was backing into something, then pulling forward, and backing into it again. All of these things happening in a short period of time were the catalyst for a very dark and lonely time in my life. This overwhelming stress and panic sent me spiraling into an anxiety ridden depression that weighed me down like sandbags tied to my legs. I was barely dragging my feet before I realized how much it had affected my life.

It is hard for me to talk about because I love that I’m known as someone who’s always laughing and cutting up. I love that people come to me to talk because I can always point out the silver lining. I don’t want to be the person that walks around with a dark cloud above their head.

But that’s who I had turned into, the person that always had a crisis. There was always something wrong, I always needed to vent. “New year, new me!” wore off by the fifth day of January. It was April before I realized I had to make a change. I wouldn’t throw away my car just because it had a flat tire, so why was I throwing away my joy just because I experienced a little pain?

I made a promise to myself that I wasn’t going to suffer anymore. This is something I’m still working out, so consider this good advice with a dash of accountability.

The 5 things that helped me the most were as follows:

1. Positive self talk. This is probably the biggest thing you can do for yourself if you’re trying to change the way you think. I tell myself how awesome I’m doing, I write myself notes to remind myself that I’m beautiful and have a great butt. A sticky note on your planner that says “you are so funny, making friends just comes naturally to you!” Or “you are killing it!!” goes a long way. Don’t forget, you can be your own biggest fan, or your own worst critic. That’s up to you.

2. I started imagining the best possible outcome for my life. Instead of telling myself “you are way behind in life and you should just quit” I started telling myself “You have the whole world at your fingertips! There is nothing holding you back! I’m so proud of you for never giving up.” And “this will be so worth it when you have your dream job”

3. I stopped obsessing over things that made me unhappy. This goes hand in hand with comparing myself to others. I stopped looking at peoples social media that I didn’t like or that made me feel bad about myself. It did nothing but upset me. I stopped FORCING myself to go to the gym and I ate what I wanted (within reason). Being healthy is important, obsessing over your body is not. It’s okay if you have a dimple on your butt. It’s okay if you have 50. It’s NOT okay if you’re so consumed in the life of a social media fitness model that you work out instead of sleeping or studying for your final.

4. I had to make a conscious effort to read my bible and spend more time with God. This is the hardest one for me. The more involved I am in church, the more I pray and spend time in the word, the better I feel about myself. I have a more positive outlook on life, I have less negative thoughts, I feel confident that there is a plan for my future. But somehow, the most important thing to your life and salvation, is the HARDEST thing to make time for.

5. And last but not least, I stayed busy with the things that would benefit me long term. Running 90 to nothing between work, school and the gym left me with sore feet and very little time to sulk. I know these things are contributing to my future and keeping me out of trouble. If it weren’t for the constant chaos this past year, I probably would’ve went nuts.

I know it could be so much worse. I have 4 limbs that are fully functioning and my parents are just a call away. I have friends that drink wine with me, let me ugly cry to them after I make the same mistakes repeatedly and include me in their holiday traditions when I can’t make it home to my family.

What I’m trying to say is that eventually you’re going to back into the unexpected mailbox in your life. And it’s going to really suck and it may leave a mark on your shiny, new car but that’s no reason to take the whole thing to the junkyard. It’s up to YOU to buff out that scratch and keep driving.

What are some healthy ways you have coped with unexpected troubles in your life?