Nothing Will Go Away Until It Teaches Us What We Need To Know

Running away from my problems used to be my favorite coping mechanism.

I can still fall prey to this old bad habit; I’ll hope people who bother me will disappear, or I will leave situations when I’m uncomfortable.  However, every time I do this the same people pop back up, and the same situations manifest in a different way… over and over again.

It’s a fact.

I could write about endless examples, but there’s one I have in mind which was so bitterly uncomfortable that I’m still surprised I got through it.  When I had a difficult roommate, I obviously thought the solution was to move.  To run away.  Despite receiving the silent treatment for weeks, I didn’t leave- and get this:

I was kind.

I still said “excuse me” when we would pass each other in the hallway, and I still tried to be considerate despite her obvious distaste for me.  Although I really had no idea what I had done wrong, I didn’t cower or run away- but I did later learn she had been secretly drinking.

It wasn’t even me that was the problem.

Old Kristin would have run away to avoid the feelings of rejection, discomfort, and anger- but New Kristin dealt with the situation, stuck to her guns, and now has a much better living situation because she stuck with it.

Completing things you started can be difficult- especially for someone like me who hates to be uncomfortable.  If you were to ask me in an interview today if I am a “team player,” I would probably stop lying and tell them I work best independently.  The truth is, I’m not a team player- I’m one of those kids who got frustrated in school and did the entire project themselves.  As a control freak and type-A person, I kept trying to do everything myself, over and over again, and do it MY way.

But those bad roommates will keep coming along, and so will team assignments.  It’s up to you to choose how to handle them today.

Maybe I do work best independently, and I look forward to the day I don’t have roommates anymore.  Nevertheless, as long as I remain teachable and willing to put down my ego and learn to live life differently than I used to, I’ll be just fine.

The Best Things in Life Are Free- Looking Within

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They say the best things in life are free, and from my experience, that is absolutely correct.

For years I looked everywhere I could to fill the void in my soul- I was addicted to shopping, I sought out approval from others, I moved from city to city, and I tried to slow down my brain by drinking excessively.

I went from bar to bar, boyfriend to boyfriend, job to job, and handbag to handbag- yet whatever I had was never enough.

Sitting still wasn’t even an option- and back then, I didn’t realize how amazing stillness could be.

When I started Mindful in Style, I had just left my fashion copywriter life in New York City.  I dated actors and Wall Street attorneys, bankers and startup entrepreneurs.  I mingled with designers and screenwriters, fellow fashion bloggers and alcoholics.  I justified my behavior by associating with people in the same circumstances as me, for better or for worse.

What I failed to do was look within to improve myself.

Battery Park, 2014. Photo by Rik Parker

I thought that if things looked okay on the outside, they must be fine on the inside.

I couldn’t have been more misguided.

Although I seemed to have everything, that hole in my soul was still as deep as ever.

What they don’t seem to teach you as you grow up is that life doesn’t have a “happiness” finish line or an invisible box to check in order to reach fulfillment.

Living a beautiful life doesn’t mean grandiosity, status, or material gains- living beautifully is about living in the now, embracing life’s simple pleasures, and making the most out of what is right in front of you.

My best days now are strolling through the city, enjoying my coffee by the river, or sitting quietly with the cat.  It’s the peace I have found within that makes my life so beautiful- and although I still enjoy a great handbag, true happiness is found in the mindful moments that I used to take for granted.

Being Mindful in Relationships: Setting Healthy Boundaries

Lately I have been thinking a lot about healthy relationships.

This isn’t limited to people who you would date- I’m talking about healthy relationships in every area of life.  It includes family, friends, mentors, coworkers, and even people in passing.  We spend so much time thinking about our physical health, yet mental health can easily be triggered and negatively impacted when we’re spending time around people who aren’t treating us in a way that is in our best interest.

Of course, we can’t completely avoid certain people or behaviors- but how can we set boundaries and interact with those people in a new, healthy way?

It’s up to us to make the change.

Over the years I’ve had a lot of “friends” who took their own issues out on me.  I’ve learned to step away, stopped taking their suggestions, and realized their behavior wasn’t about me at all.

The people I choose to let into my life lift me up, empower me, and accept me for where I am at.  They inspire me to keep doing what I’m doing, and would never try and make me doubt myself.

It can be hard to be alone at times, but remember- it’s better to be alone than to be invested in an unhealthy relationship.

Remember all the light you bring, and spend time with those who appreciate you.  They’ll help you shine even brighter.