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Mid-Week Reflections: How Bad Do You Want It?

Desire is defined as a strong feeling of wanting something or wishing for something to happen. For you to achieve a goal, you have to first have a strong desire to want to achieve it. The basic want to want to start a business will result in you only thinking about starting the business and possibly talking to others about it. An actual desire to reach your goal will have you researching various business plans and actually making steps toward starting your business. Desire will have you walking the walk and not just talking the talk. Wanting to achieve a goal is just a wish. The desire to achieve a goal will light a fire in you that burns so hot that you will not stop until you reach your goal. What do you really want today? Is it a burning desire or a just a wish that you mention to people every now and then? Focus on your desire and work hard to make it a reality.

For daily motivation, please visit The Serenity Room’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/theserenityroom20/

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Overcoming the Fear of Success

We all set goals for ourselves. We talk about them, we tell others about them, we start taking steps to achieve our goals, and then something happens. Right when we are at the point of reaching that goal, we don’t. Why is that? We can point to a lot of things that may not have gone as planned or may not have fallen into place just like we wanted it to. But how much of that did we do to ourselves?

Oxford dictionary defines sabotage as “to deliberately destroy, damage, or obstruct (something)”.  If we are to use that definition, logic tells us that self-sabotage is the act of destroying, damaging, or obstructing ourselves. So what does this look like in real life?

  • Canceling an interview for a job that you are more than qualified for
  • Talking yourself out of pursuing a great opportunity
  • Giving up on a diet that you were beginning to see progress with
  • Accidentally (or not) missing a critical deadline

You often hear about the fear of failure but I believe that very often people have a fear of success. It sounds strange because no one readily admits that they do not want to be successful, yet they make decisions that block themselves from the success that they say they want. The following are a few reasons why people have a fear of success in some remedies that can help you.

Fear of Failure 

The easiest way to not have to maintain a goal is to ensure that you do not reach it in the first place.  You diet and get to your ideal weight but who wants to hear what everyone has to say if you gain all of your weight back? Or you may talk about this great promotion you want but do you want to explain to everyone why you did not get the job that you felt so confident about? The fear of failure contributes to the fear of success because you talk yourself out of starting a goal so you don’t have to deal with the disappointment if you do not achieve this goal.

Remedy: Push through the fear. It sounds simple but it is challenging.  Think of all of the good that can come from you achieving your goal. Even if you fall short, you tried and that is a step that many wish they dared to take. The fear of failure is full of what-ifs.  Challenge your what-ifs.  I had to challenge a lot of what-ifs when I started this blog.  I would think what if a lot of people don’t like the blog?  But I had to tell myself, but what if they do?  I would think what if nobody cares what I have to say with if what I have to say?  But then I would think that this could be just the point of view that somebody needs to hear? Everyone gets apprehensive but the key is to push through this apprehension to get to your goal.

Being stuck in your comfort zone

Your comfort zone is your safe space where everything is predictable. You can always be certain of how things are going to go and how certain people will behave. Even when you know that this comfort zone is not going to get you to your goals and desires, you stay there.  It is not fulfilling, but you know what to expect. Dreams die in the comfort zone because you are not willing to step outside of it and do something different. Getting something you have never had requires doing something that you have never done.

Remedy:  Make the conscious decision to do what makes you uncomfortable.   For example, one of my comfort zones was to respond to online conversations but not to necessarily initiate conversations. Starting this blog and my Facebook page has made it to where I am starting to initiate conversations. Even now it still feels unnatural, but I do it anyway. To achieve any level of success, you must do something that feels unnatural.  This is a sign of personal growth.  Personal growth often requires you to do those things that feel unnatural but is necessary for success.

Negative Self-Talk

You can say and think so many negative things to yourself that you begin to believe these negative thoughts. If you are already believing that you are not worthy or that you are not as good as the next person or that you will never be able to reach your goal, then you will never even attempt to try or your attempt will be halfhearted.  In essence, you are defeating yourself mentally before you even begin your quest to reach your goal. Oftentimes what we think of ourselves becomes a reality and we end up settling where we are when we have the potential to be so much more.

Remedy:  Realizing that feelings are not facts is the first step in combating negative self-talk. I make this very point in one of my previous posts that you can read here.  Realizing that the way you feel about yourself becomes your reality, the best thing you can do is to speak positivity into your life. Tell yourself you are as qualified as the next person despite what you feel. Tell yourself that you can reach and maintain the goals that you have set for yourself despite what you feel. Is this as easy as it sounds? No. But you have to get in the habit of challenging your thoughts especially when they have the potential to stunt your personal growth.

The fear of success can stop you from growing if you allow it to.  Becoming conscious of and overcoming these things will help you on your path to personal growth.  Have you ever had to contend with any of these things?  What helped get you over your fear of success?

For daily motivation, please visit The Serenity Room Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/theserenityroom20/

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The Special Needs Journey: Accepting Your New Reality

The joys of parenthood.  What comes to your mind when I read these words?  Images of fun and happy occasions such as games, recitals, and birthday parties probably fill your mind. As a parent of a child with special needs, these “joys of parenthood” can sometimes look different, are delayed, or do not happen at all.  This is the realization that many parents of special needs children eventually come to and it is often a hard and painful realization. 

My 12-year-old son received his autism diagnosis at the age of 3. Being a social worker, I knew it was critical to get him the appropriate services as quickly as possible.  I was prepared to advocate on his behalf to ensure that he got the services he needed but I was not as prepared for the impact that his diagnosis would have on the family.  The journey is often unpredictable and some of us sometimes feel as if we are traveling this road alone. 

Allow Yourself Time to Grieve

Grieve sounds like a strong word but that is exactly what you need to allow yourself time to do when you have been informed of your child’s diagnosis.  Just as you would grieve a loved one who has passed, you must allow yourself time to grieve the parenting experience that you thought you would have.  By not allowing yourself the time to properly process the diagnosis, you run the risk of becoming angry, resentful, and envious of those who can experience a more typical parenting experience.  All these emotions can lead to you become stuck and not able to fully enjoy the parenting experience that you will have.  Despite your experience being different, it can still be very enjoyable and fulfilling.  Every emotion is a valid one so allow yourself to feel every emotion – do not suppress any emotion.  Allowing yourself to process these feelings honestly will help you move through this process. 

Get Moving

Now, this may sound like a direct contradiction of my first suggestion (and you may even still be in the grieving stage at this point) but you must begin doing what you need to do for your child as well as yourself.  You will need to educate yourself on your child’s diagnosis and prognosis.  What will your child need?  Therapists?  A special diet or bed? Periodic hospital stays?  Getting a realistic picture of what your child will need will help you with being able to mentally prepare for the road ahead.  While ensuring that your child has everything, do not forget yourself.  There are many support groups online as well as in the community for parents who have a child with almost any diagnosis you can think of.  Consider joining some of these groups to get a better understanding of the diagnosis as well as what you can expect next from people who have been where you are.  Look into financial assistance from the government as well as assistance through private agencies.  This assistance can assist you with paying for therapy, camps, specialized beds, and much more.   Taking advantage of this assistance can take a lot of stress off you especially if you were not financially prepared for everything your child will need.

Accept Your New Reality

It is an understatement to say that the life of a parent with a special needs child is different than the life of a parent without one.  Depending on the type of diagnosis, there may be some things that you were able to do as a family before that you may not be able to do once you have a child with special needs.  After my son who has autism was born, my new reality was that we could no longer go to events that were held in open spaces because he would take off running.  Basketball games or fireworks shows were also off-limits because my son had a sensitivity to loud noise.  Your new reality could be that you find that your family must have an iron-clad routine, or your child will meltdown.  Or your reality may mean that you spend as much – if not more – time at the hospital as you do at home.  Whatever your new reality looks like, embrace it.  Embracing this new reality will help you with knowing what “normal” looks like for your family. Once you come to know what your normal is, your child’s diagnosis will become easier to manage.

As with any parent, the parent of a child with special needs will tell you that their child is their world and that they are very proud to be their parent.  But being a parent of a child with special needs also comes with a unique set of challenges and difficulties.   Hopefully, these three suggestions can help so that you can fully experience the joys of parenthood.

If you are a parent of a child with special needs, how did you navigate the first few days, weeks, and months following the diagnosis? What things would you add to this list?

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Be Kind to Yourself: Eliminating Negative Self-Talk

18 Mar 2005 — Young Woman Looking out the Window — Image by © LWA-Sharie Kennedy/Corbis

 “I am too old to start a new career.”

 “I won’t be selected for this new position, so I will not even apply.”

“I am not going to be able to maintain this new workout regimen, so I will not even start.”

Many of us have either thought or verbalized statements like these at some point.  These are the thoughts that we have when we are at the point where we have to make a decision and self-doubt begins to creep in. These are the thoughts that prevent you from living your dreams. These are also the thoughts that keep you living in your comfort zone when you have the potential to do so much more.  This was my story for a very long time.  I cannot even begin to tell you the many opportunities that have passed me by due to thoughts like these drowning out all of the positive thoughts and encouragement that I was receiving from those around me. 

I would often try my best to move forward although these thoughts were swirling around in my head, but it would be extremely difficult because one of two things would happen.  One thing that would happen would be that I would move forward with whatever I was hesitating to do but I would do it half-heartedly.  In other words, I would go through the motions but would not put much effort into it because I did not believe that I would be successful at it anyway.  The other thing that would happen is that I would sabotage myself by talking myself or overthinking myself out of the opportunity.  I would allow these thoughts to take over to the point where I would consciously make decisions that would all but guarantee that I would not be able to take advantage of the opportunity.

 I still sometimes battle with these types of thoughts but here are a few of the things that I do to stop them before they take over to the point where I miss opportunities.

1.Feelings Are Not Facts.  When you are feeling like you are not deserving of or should not pursue an opportunity, that feeling is very real to you at that moment.  The feeling is real to the point that you will debate on whether you should go after the opportunity that has presented itself.  Always remember that feelings are based on what you feel while facts are based on what is known to be true.  This sounds simplistic but it is easy to confuse the two.  At the age of 40 or 50, you may feel that it is too late for you to embark on an entirely new career or go back to school.  Yet our news feeds are filled with stories of 80 and 90-year-olds that have just received their high school diplomas or college degrees.  We always hear about people have overcome immeasurable odds to start families, businesses, and careers.  We see all of these examples and think how wonderful it is that these individuals accomplished these great feats but for some reason we allow our thoughts to make us think that we cannot accomplish things as great as this or greater.  I have often felt that I am too old for this, have too much going on for that, or am just not qualified to do the next thing.  And when someone would point to someone with a similar set of circumstances to mine and as an example of how I could do something, I would just dismiss them and just say, “Well, that is them.  I can’t do that.”  But the reality is that that statement reflected my feelings, not the facts.  Everyone has some set of circumstances that could make anything hard but if you have been blessed to see another day then you have another opportunity to do something different – despite how you feel.

2. Would You Say This to Your Child? We often have so many inner conversations with ourselves during the day that we do not realize how many of these thoughts are negative and downright mean.  My daughter, who is a junior in high school, came to me after not doing as well as she thought she should have done on her very first test in one of her AP classes.  She was so disappointed and was even contemplating dropping the class because she was finding it difficult to understand the material.  I went into full supportive parent mode as I told her that she was more than able to handle the class or she would not have been recommended for it.  Also, I reminded her that she cannot define her whole experience in the class based on the first test that was taken when she was still getting a feel for her teacher’s teaching style and testing style.  A few weeks prior I had changed positions at work and was having a challenging time adjusting since I had been in my previous position for several years.  Even though everyone at work was very encouraging as I got settled into my new role, I was my biggest critic.  I would have never said to my daughter those things that I was saying to myself.  To my daughter and others, I am very encouraging and supportive but I was degrading and harsh with my own thoughts.  Now that I have become more conscious of this, I try to filter my thoughts by asking myself if this thought is something I would say to someone I love or care about.  This normally helps me put a positive spin on a negative thought. 

3. Try Not to Overthink.  Overthinking is the death sentence of so many dreams and aspirations.  Before you can set a goal in your mind for any significant time, you are thinking about every single thing that could go wrong and one negative thought leads to the next negative thought.  I cannot begin to tell you the many books and ideas for books that never saw the light of day because I had more reasons why I should not pursue being an author than why I should just go for it.  The act of overthinking can paralyze you to the point where you cannot even visualize anything better for yourself.  I have learned that the best way to overcome overthinking is just to go for the thing that you are hesitating to do.  This is much easier said than done but sometimes you have to move forward despite the negative thoughts.  I almost did not start this blog because of my overthinking.  I had all sort of thoughts – What if nobody likes it? What if it is not good?  I have never done this, what if I do it all wrong? What if I cannot maintain it? With all of these thoughts going through my head, I published my first post.  It was not easy but I did it and I am proud of myself for doing it. And you will be proud of yourself for stepping out and starting something that you almost talked yourself out of.  Overthinking will keep you in your comfort zone and almost guarantee that you will be unable to move forward with any goals or dreams that you have for yourself.

The goal is to always strive to be a better version of yourself and sometimes that may mean stepping out of your comfort zone.  So many times we could get so much further if we just got out of our own way.  Hopefully, this post will assist you in eliminating those negative thoughts that hinder you from growing and accomplishing all that you are capable of. 

Comment below as to the different things that you do to combat negative self-talk.

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Are You Making Resolutions or Commitments to Change?

By now, I am sure we have all seen the advertisements that come with the New Year.  It seems like there is an advertisement geared toward every resolution.  The fitness centers have their promotions for those who are trying to lose weight.  Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem have their promotions for those who desire to have a healthier diet.  And if your New Years’ resolution if to save money, deep discounts and bargains await those who will spend money but not feel bad because they took advantage of a big sale.

Because resolutions usually come about from people looking back on the previous year and wanting to make improvements, it should surprise no one that the top five resolutions are usually to exercise more, eat healthier, save money, become less stressed, and to lose weight.  There are others such as traveling more, improving relationships, or finding a new job; but those top five are usually consistently the top five.  No matter how many resolutions I make year after year, two resolutions are made every year.  One is to eat healthier and the other is to drink more water.  I have struggled with these two resolutions for several years and would normally give up on these resolutions within the first few weeks of the year.  I believe that these resolutions never led to real change because I never made a real commitment to change.  In essence, all I did was verbalize a wish.

Here are a few reasons why resolutions fail.

  1. You think it will be easy.  It is easy to make a statement in December that you will lose weight, save money, or in my case, eat healthier.  It sounds really good and deep down you intend to fulfill the resolution.  But then January 1 comes around and you realize that it is going to be a lot harder than you realized.  You suddenly realize that your resolution to save money means that you cannot go on that emotional shopping spree.  Or that it is going to be hard to fulfill the resolution of eating healthy if you still grab fast food at lunchtime every day.  When it gets hard, the easiest and most natural thing to do is to fall back into bad habits and that is what a lot of people do.
  2. You are not ready for the resolution. In the past, the only reason why eating healthier was a resolution of mine was because other people would tell me that I needed to eat healthier and I agreed.  I was serious when I made the resolution because I agreed that I needed to eat healthier but I was not ready to eat healthier; therefore, the resolution failed.  It wasn’t until I started feeling sluggish and realized I needed more energy that I began to make a conscious effort at fulfilling the resolution.  You cannot make a resolution because everyone else is making resolutions.  Your resolution has to be personal and important to your well-being. If you do not know why the resolution is important to fulfill, then it was doomed to fail before you made it.
  3. You are not ready for sustained change. This one may sting but it is true for many of us.  The harsh reality is that many resolutions fail because we made the resolution but we were never really ready to put in the work to make the change.  I can say that I want to eat healthier and may even know that that is what is best for my health, but I if don’t make the effort to seek out healthy places to eat for lunch or shop for healthy food to make for dinner, then I am not truly ready to eat healthily.   The fact that I know I need to make the change will lead me to make the resolution but my not being ready to make the change will keep me from fulfilling it.

So what can be done so that you are not just making a declaration of what you want to see in your life but are actually taking steps to make the change?

  1. Recruit Cheerleaders!  Cheerleaders are the people who will encourage and support you even when you slip back into old habits.  These are not the people who are on the sidelines waiting for you to slip up so that they can tell you that they knew that you were not going to succeed and then are almost gleeful that you proved them right.  I am talking about the people who will offer words of encouragement if they sense you starting to struggle a little.  Now, to recruit cheerleaders, you have to share your resolution with others.  This sounds simple but many people do not share their resolution because they do not want the whole world to be a witness if they are not successful.  For about two years I did not tell anyone about my desire to start a blog until I knew that I was truly ready to start it.  I did not want to start this blog out of obligation because I had talked so much about it and everyone was waiting on me to start it.  I began to let people know about the blog once I was sure that I was ready to start this blog and put in the work to keep it going.  Once you are ready to let the world know that you want to make a real change, recruit the most encouraging people in your circle to be your cheerleaders.
  2. Make adjustments to accommodate your change.  You have to make space in your life for the change.  For example, it sounds great to make a resolution to reduce stress by attending yoga classes but you have to make time in your busy schedule to attend the classes.  If you do not consciously make the extra time in your already busy schedule, you will become frustrated and not able to keep your resolution.  My resolution to eat healthier is only going to be successful if I make a conscious effort to put healthy items on my grocery list as opposed to the not so healthy items that I am accustomed to putting on my shopping list.  When making resolutions, consider what changes you have to make in your schedule, lifestyle, or even your budget.  Be mindful of the adjustments that need to be made to ensure that your resolutions lead to sustained change.
  3. Break down and be specific with your resolution.  A resolution can sometimes demand such a change in your lifestyle that it requires you to break down your anticipated change into little steps.  You may walk away feeling like a failure if you do not break your resolution into small, attainable steps. My resolution to eat healthier does not mean that suddenly on January 1 I will be eating healthy every night.  That is unrealistic since it is very difficult to change your entire diet overnight. I may have to start by eating healthy twice a week, then move up to five days a week, until I can make it into a daily habit.  Also, be sure to be specific with your resolution. Define what healthy means to you. Does healthy mean less meat? Or does healthy to you mean no meat? Does healthy mean more plant based food? When dealing with resolutions that require a lifestyle change, your resolution may have to be more specific and broken down into smaller goal

Most people make resolutions with the ultimate goal of keeping them.  I hope that this post will help you see why some resolutions may have not succeeded in the past and assist you with fulfilling this year’s resolutions. 

Comment below and tell me what you feel has been the barrier to you succeeding with resolutions in the past and what you will do differently in 2020.  Or if you are successful with keeping your resolutions, please share how you made that happen.


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Welcome to The Serenity Room

January 17th.

According to Ellen Ciuczak and Ryan Miller’s November 12, 2019 article in USA Today, that is the day most people give up on their New Year’s Resolutions. That is not to say that many people do not stick to their resolutions and achieve the goals that they have set for themselves; that is just the date that most people who are unsuccessful fall back into their old habits.

If I am being honest, most of my resolutions over the years failed before January 17. But this year I was determined to join the ranks of people who have been successful with achieving their resolutions. My one and only resolution this year is to fulfill a resolution that has been a resolution for several years: to write for an audience. This blog is the first of many steps to achieve that goal.

I am Gayle Walker and I have been creatively writing since I was 12 years old. I have half-written several novels and middle-grade books that never saw the light of day for fear that they would not be good enough. I have had the idea for this blog for a couple of years but never started it for the same reason that I never finished a book: the fear that my blog would not be good enough or interesting enough to attract readers. And as cliche’ as this sounds, one morning I woke up and made the conscious decision to change the entire way that I thought about myself. As a social worker, I empower and encourage people daily. So why not go a step further and empower, encourage, and educate others through my love of writing? I realized that my writing is good enough and I am more than qualified to reach out to people to uplift their spirits and empower them to be greater than they may have ever imagined.

I envision The Serenity Room to be a place where you will be encouraged, motivated, and will hopefully come to the realization that you are not alone in many of the daily struggles that we all experience. Have you ever experienced an emotion so overwhelming that you did not even want to share how you felt with anyone because you just knew that they would not understand what you were feeling? Only to finally confide in a trusted person and realize that not only have they felt that way, but many others have also. Remember the relief you felt of knowing that you are not alone and others have felt this way too? I want The Serenity Room to start conversations that were once shied away from. I want you to read the posts published in this blog and either learn something or gain a firm reaffirmation of what you already knew or believed. I want you to realize that you are bigger and better than every negative thought that has taken up residence in your spirit.

As I stated earlier, I am a social worker and do not profess to be an expert in any topic that I will be posting about.  The majority of my posts will be on topics that are personal to me that I have researched for my self-growth. I hope that you will be empowered as I seek to empower myself.

As of now, I will be posting every other week about a wide range of topics. Some upcoming topics include standing in the way of your own success, the impact of negative self-talk, and being open to the change you claim you seek. One blog a month will be dedicated to either special needs families or families of first responders as my family includes both. Over the years, I have learned that a lot of things I go through as a mother of a child with special needs are similar to what other mothers experience, but some things are unique to families that have children with special needs. While the posts will be about the experiences of the families of special needs children or first responders, I hope you will still take the time to read the post to gain an understanding of the reality of others.

Between attracting an engaged audience, gaining exposure, and making a name for myself as an author and blogger, I will also like to eventually profile those individuals who have persevered against incredible odds. No matter what topic is being discussed, please feel free to make comments and suggestions either in the public forum or via email. In the end, my biggest goal is for The Serenity Room to grow into something bigger and better than I could have ever imagined.

For me, it all begins with this post. A post that I have been dreaming of posting for a very long time. This is my very first step to overcoming all of the things that has prevented me from doing this before today.

What is stopping you from doing that thing that you have been dreaming of doing for so long?

What will your first step be in 2020?