Thursday, January 4, 2018

5 Ways to Love Yourself (Part 5) ~ Accept Your Thoughts

This is #5 and the final post in the series "5 Ways to Love Yourself."

Accept your thoughts, and work on the faulty ones.

Don’t be afraid of your thoughts. I know they can sometimes be strange or scary, or annoying and out of control. But it’ll be okay.

Listen to this simple song from Steven Universe (trust me on this), as it teaches the basics of Mindfulness.

P.S. I love Steven Universe.

Positive Response
A method I've tried in combating negative thoughts is to respond to each of them with a positive one. I'll admit I struggle to keep this up, and it’s easy to lost track of my thoughts due to OCD. But if I can catch them the moment I am aware of them, I can replace them with a positive affirmation (provided I have the energy to).

For example: a common negative though I have is “I’m too slow to keep up with anything” (or something like that, anyway). A positive response might be “I’m not slow, I’m detail-oriented.” It’s true, so I wouldn’t be lying to myself.

Similar to positive responses, mantras are another great tool for rewiring the brain to think more positively. They don’t necessarily have to be tied to Yoga or religion, either. I recommend Google searching “mantras for ___” followed by whatever you want to re-enforce in your mind. For instance, I want to be successful in life, so I might search “mantras for success.”

Here are some mantras below, as an example. You can try any of these or find more by clicking here.

"Today, you are perfect."
“I deserve to be loved no matter what happens”
“Nothing can stop me today—I can only stop myself.”
"Commit. Succeed.”
"You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather."
"I am beautiful. I am strong. I am enough."
"I am grateful for all that is unfolding in my life and all that is yet to come."
"I am fulfilled. I am fearless."
"Less is more."
"What is my path to happiness?"

(I found these mantras in various places on the Internet)

Meditation and other types of therapy can be helpful, too. Relaxing activities such as Yoga or Qi Gong can increase your mind-body awareness, which in turn makes it easier to calm down when you find yourself tense or overthinking.

I personally love Qi Gong; I've attended a few class sessions and felt super tranquil afterwards.
My favorite moves are the arm movements at the beginning of this video, and "scooping the moon" or "Buddha holding up the earth."

Now that I've shared my thoughts in this series, I have something to admit.

I don't love myself.

I mean, I do, but I don't.

Constantly, I am battling negative thought patterns. I have OCD on top of Asperger's, which complicates everything. It's likely that I have a hormonal imbalance as well. Wherever the thoughts are coming from (I don't always like pinning it to one specific cause or disorder), they're always there. Of course, I do have some good days when I feel in control of it--but I know I will never be fully rid of them.

I've heard it said that OCD is like having a bully in your head. I couldn't agree more. In addition to OCD, I would apply that comparison to negative thought patterns as a whole. This "bully" tells me I'm too sensitive, overdramatic, inconsistent, unreliable, and useless.

Sometimes I'm tempted to shut down this blog. Sometimes I want to delete my Facebook, Twitter, and everything I have online. I think about disappearing virtually and physically (suicide ideation is common for me) because I perceive that I am only a nuisance, too hard to understand, and my efforts to earn my place in this world are fruitless.

The bully in my head screams often these louder than anything outside my own head, louder than the words of my loved ones, louder than a hug, and louder than the kindness others show me. But if I've learned anything, it's that truth can be found in silence and quiet voices. Today, that is what I choose to listen to. That is what I choose to re-enforce. They're telling me to stay, so I'm not going anywhere.

Grab a copy of "Through Our Eyes: Living with Asperger's" (Special Edition 50 min version) for only $10! Discount expires soon (1/15/18)

Like this post? Leave a tip for Alyssa:  

5 Ways to Love Yourself (Part 4) ~ Accept Yourself

This is #4 in the series "5 Ways to Love Yourself." Check back tomorrow for Part 5.

Accept who you are.
This seal loves itself… do you?

Accept your whole self: your looks, personality, strengths, flaws, past, present, and future. You are valuable and lovable, even if you don’t think so.

Observe the Alyssa in her natural environment--
how she makes a poop-face while listening to music.
Such a beautiful creature.
Your Natural Self
We are our own worst critics. It’s difficult to love ourselves and accept love from others when we can’t even accept ourselves. As someone on the autism spectrum who struggles with mental illness, I understand this difficulty all too well.

It's tempting to reject your natural makeup, especially if it doesn't fit your cultural ideal or norm. There are times when I see the way I am as "wrong" and I'm convinced I can't be fixed. Other times, I ignore my natural self and try to be something I'm not. I set aside my gifts and limitations for ones others might view as more favorable--and yet I quickly realize I cannot keep up the facade for long. 

Pretending to be something you're not is about as useful as a turtle 🐢 trying to be a giraffe. Even if the giraffes are gullible enough to fall for the turtle's ruse, it'd be quite difficult to deny the turtle's struggle to put on the act. For starters, turtles aren't tall enough to reach the tree branches with the leaves the giraffes are eating. They could probably get up there if they happened to be a particularly nimble turtle who can climb. But doing so would leave them exhausted, drawing some funny looks from the giraffes who wonder why their odd green family member gets so tired after eating lunch. 

                     What the turtle thinks it is                                        What it actually is

Similarly, denying who you are and your natural tendencies is going to be exhausting in the long run. Let's say you have the choice between a job as a cashier or as a backroom worker and they both have equal pay. If people easily exhaust you and your math skills are poor, it'd probably be a bad idea to take the cashier job--even if your coworkers are pressuring you into it because they want to be in close proximity with you.

I can't deny that I'm autistic. So I wear sunglasses inside public buildings to prevent sensory overload, and I work for longer spans of time with longer breaks since that's how I function best. I'm also introverted, so I don't feel bad about spending most of my time in my room. And I recognize that my eye for detail makes me slower at completing tasks, but the end result might be higher quality.

Someday, the turtle 🐢 might look at the grass on the ground and realize he could eat that instead of tree leaves. Why burn himself out climbing a tree just to please his giraffe friends? Even if he's not like a giraffe, or even like other turtles, he knows he is happiest when he is on the ground.


Pursue what suits you best. And not just in a job setting, but in everything (whenever possible). If you're a guy who loves knitting, get off your butt and knit! Of course, it's good to try new things too--just be sure to balance it with things YOU like.

Your Origins
The nature vs. nurture debate makes identity a rather complex thing; either way, I cannot dispute the fact that my genes, upbringing, culture, and experiences influence who I am today. As I've grown into an adult (I'm 26 now), I've felt ashamed of my genes, betrayed by my upbringing, disillusioned by culture, and scarred by my experiences.

Or maybe that's just Paranoid Alyssa talking.

But I've also come to appreciate the way I am, being introverted and sensitive like many of my family members, as these traits come with unique gifts and insight. I also am grateful for the deep love and inner light my sheltered religious upbringing fostered in me. I stand in awe of how in our chaotic culture, humans still connect, share creativity, and find sanctuary in one another. And I recognize that amidst rejection, confusion, breakups, darkness, and mental breakdowns, I've been lucky to find acceptance, clarity, love, hope, and health. And it all made me stronger.
(Honestly, this paragraph was painful to write as I am currently going through a depression--in case you didn't already notice. But I feel a little lighter now that I've written it.)

Wherever you come from, wherever you've been, whatever your past was like: own it. Think about the good that has come from it. It may not be easy (especially if you are depressed like me today), but I guarantee that if you look hard enough, you'll find some remnant of a good memory: a person you loved, a gesture of kindness, a moment you laughed, something you learned, or something you're proud of.

Sometimes, I feel guilty I'm from a middle-class family and have a roof over my head, while others are homeless or struggling to pay rent. I feel guilty for being pretty and skinny, when others are self-conscious about the way they look. I feel guilty for my good health, while others are sick due to lack of finances, lack of resources, or complex physical vulnerabilities. But I know I shouldn't feel guilty. I should be thankful for what I have, and use it to continue feeling well and help others do the same.

The best thing you can do is be kind and listen to others.
Even if you have nothing else to offer, your time and consideration is valuable.

Look at what you have right now. You are blessed in some way or another. What you have, others might envy or have a dire need for it. Truly feel the good in what you have, and share it with others.

Your Thoughts
Another thing that makes you YOU is the thoughts you think. So it makes sense not to deny those either. Even if the giraffes don't think fondly of the ocean, the turtle 🐢 shouldn't feel bad that his mind drifts to the beach. And I shouldn't feel bad that I question everything in existence--I'm a curious person! It might be a bit lonely having thoughts you feel others can't relate to, but they are still a part of YOU.

Also, it’s natural to only want happy thoughts and not the unhappy (or annoying) ones. Like the echoes of cruel words uttered by your childhood bullies. Or that stupid thing you said to a cute boy at school, and what you should have said instead. Or my OCD telling me to Google-search "is mental illness real" or "am I on government blacklist for google searches."

Alas, these thoughts are a part of you, too. But they don't have to hurt so much.

An effective practice I’ve learned in dealing with bad thoughts is Mindfulness; specifically, the ability to accept all thoughts without overthinking them, and then calmly let them pass by.

That being said...

...tune in tomorrow for the final post, on Accepting Your Thoughts! :)

Grab a copy of "Through Our Eyes: Living with Asperger's" (Special Edition 50 min version) for only $10! Discount expires soon (1/15/18)

Like this post? Leave a tip for Alyssa:  

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

5 Ways to Love Yourself (Part 3) ~ Healthy Mind

This is #3 in the series "5 Ways to Love Yourself." Check back tomorrow for Part 4.

Create a nourishing environment for your mind.


Ever heard the saying "you are what you eat"? I believe that can also apply to your brain. 

Quoting contemporary Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh:

"When our mind is conscious of something, we ARE that thing.
When we contemplate a snow-covered mountain, we are that mountain.
When we watch a noisy film, we are that noisy film."

But that doesn't mean you're helpless against this force called Consciousness. Even in our digital age--where information is relentlessly thrown at us--we have control over what we choose to read, watch, and think about.

Quoting Thich Nhat Hanh again:

"The mind is a television
With thousands of channels
I choose a world that is tranquil and calm
So that my joy will always be fresh."

You can filter what you engage with online, be mindful of who you follow on social media, separate yourself from toxic behavior, and focus on what you find fulfilling.

Whether it’s painting or skydiving, just do what you enjoy.

Here are some ways I filter and have filtered my experience:

  • Following Positivity on Facebook:
    I unfollowed everyone on Facebook (pretty much the only social media I use often), and re-followed only my closest friends, positive people; and pages that make me happy, nourish my spirit, or teach me something I need to know
    I also use FB Purity to filter certain topics or block my newsfeed when it becomes distracting, and a Stylish dark theme that's easier on my eyes).

  • Disabling Notifications:
    I do this for nearly every app on my PC and smartphone, besides crucial ones. For me that would be Facebook Messenger, texts, calls, and sometimes a game or task I'm doing temporarily. Either way, I don't check notifications often so I can stay focused. I don't need to hear about the latest deals on Amazon or even new posts from my favorite bloggers.

  • Accepting Only What Resonates:
    I don't often enjoy violent, explicit, or fear-breeding content, since it doesn't resonate with me. I consciously turn down horror movies, shooter games, and whatever I find too negative or distressing. Media that is too complex or difficult for me to process is also off the menu since I am prone to information overload.
Like, I get that Overwatch is amazing but I just don't have time or energy to devote to playing it.

I have enjoyed a few dramas and action movies, but they’re not my norm. Typically, I choose relaxing, lighthearted TV series like Aria (anime), cute games like Little Big Planet, and anything else that is calming to me. I also listen to music that suits what I'm doing or what kind of mental state I want to be in.

(Of course, your preferences likely differ from mine. Focus on whatever makes YOU happy.)

Recovering From Negativity
If you've already absorbed a lot of negativity from media, people and experiences—and it's something you truly want to let go of—the good news is that you CAN recover from it. However, negatively is oddly addicting, so it may take time, patience, and weathering through some "withdrawal" symptoms before you can fully alter your preferences and thought patterns. With that in mind, the first step towards moving forward is consciously deciding to focus on better things.

But what about people who have suffered abuse or trauma? Like a brain affected negativity, a brain racked by trauma can also heal (though the process is not easy nor painless). If you have or are currently suffering abuse or trauma, I urge you to get far away from the situation (make a careful plan first though!) and consult a counselor or therapist to help you process it.

The experience of abuse and PTSD is much more painful and difficult to resolve compared to the general negativity, grudges, drama etc. that most humans experience. When you take those brave steps towards recovery, it becomes easier to nurture a healthy environment for your mind.

To close this post (because I'm far too tired to write smooth transitions)....

I don't often quote scripture but here is one that has stuck with me:

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8).

Grab a copy of "Through Our Eyes: Living with Asperger's" (Special Edition 50 min version) for only $10! Discount expires soon (1/15/18)

Like this post? Leave a tip for Alyssa:  

Monday, January 1, 2018

5 Ways to Love Yourself (Part 2) ~ Healthy Habits

This is #2 in the series "5 Ways to Love Yourself." Check back tomorrow for Part 3.

Establish healthy habits.


This topic also ties in with self-care. Healthy habits are the result of daily, intentional effort to ensure one's actions are beneficial to themselves and others around them. When I stick to my healthy habits, I feel much better about myself and find it easier to accept love from others.

Daily exercise, balanced diet, a regular bedtime, socializing, going outside, and taking down-time (when I need it) all do wonders for me.

...though a 3am Krabby Patty is okay every once in a while.

And saying "no" to events, content, and activities, that do not resonate with me helps me love who I am and not something I'm expected to be.

I love music, but dislike concerts. No offense to friends who invite me.

But carrying out these daily habits isn't as easy as it sounds. Like I said, healthy habits are the result of daily, intentional effort. If I'm not consistently paying attention, it's easy to slip up and forget that I need those habits to feel well. Keeping my awareness open to listen to my body, mind and spirit are crucial--along with ignoring my lazy side trying to convince me that checking Facebook, watching Netflix, or overworking is more important than meeting my needs.

                  This...                                                                              ...not this.

I'm aware that not everyone f
unctions splendidly (especially me), so here are a few hacks I use to carry out these habits or free up energy, even on bad days:

  • 5-Minute Workout:
    I've read that a mere five minutes of vigorous exercise can relieve depression, fatigue, and an overall bad mood for much of the day. I've done this many times and it works well for me.
    (I make a point to actually test the advice I read about.)

  • Alarms:
    I set an alarm for each major task I absolutely cannot forget, like my mealtimes, meds, exercise, and bedtime routine. I also have more specific alarms ready for my "lowest-functioning" days, that remind me of everything else like drinking water, showering, or using the toilet. I often have three alarms set just to get me out of bed in the morning.

  • Disposable Dishware:
    I buy paper plates, bowls, forks, and spoons in bulk to save energy that I can use on other valuable things instead of washing dishes: like bulk cooking or spending time with family. Paper and plastic does put a small dent in my budget, but it's well worth the time that I would have otherwise spent burning myself out on washing dishes.

  • Ask For Help:
    When all else fails, seeking assistance from friends and family (when appropriate) can help lift some of the burden. Honestly, I'm quite stubborn about this one and don't like asking for help, even my family is supportive. But I do sometimes request help covering expenses or cooking a meal. I realize that asking for help does not make you a failure; it makes you human.

         It's nice to see that Hogwarts offers accommodations, too.

Grab a copy of "Through Our Eyes: Living with Asperger's" (Special Edition 50 min version) for only $10! Discount expires soon (1/15/18)

Like this post? Leave a tip for Alyssa:  

5 Ways to Love Yourself (Part 1) ~ Self Care

This is #1 in the series "5 Ways to Love Yourself." Check back tomorrow for Part 2.

Self-care first, everything else second.

It's awfully difficult to love myself when I'm hangry, tired, or feeling grimy. When there is an unmet basic human need (i.e. food, sleep, shower), I cannot focus on anything else. When I get hazy minded or find myself in a negative spiral, it helps to ask myself if I've been taking care of myself.

Self-care looks different for everyone in different situations. It can be physical (like eating and sleeping), mental, or emotional. One doesn't necessarily have to come before the other (they are all equally important), and the actual fulfillment order depends on how they work together for you.

For instance, sometimes I find it difficult to eat if I'm feeling unproductive, so I will perform a simple task to boost my self-esteem. It can be anything from opening my video editing program, to washing a few dishes, or running on the treadmill for 30 seconds. That type of task would "loosen" my tense brain and I'll feel calm enough to eat.


Self-care may also include therapy or coping mechanisms. I get counseling once a month, and the rest of the time I am my own "counselor" by journaling and writing down my thoughts and emotions. I also make use of my coping mechanisms when they are needed. One example is how I always take my sunglasses, visor, fidget spinner (or cube ☺), and earbuds with me when I go out in public to prevent anxiety and sensory overload.
                                                             Journaling is theraputic :)        I have this fidget spinner and take it with me everywhere :)

What is part of your self-care routine? Comment below!

Grab a copy of "Through Our Eyes: Living with Asperger's" (Special Edition 50 min version) for only $10! Discount expires soon (1/15/18)

Like this post? Leave a tip for Alyssa: