How To Know If Something Is Really Right For You
I can't recall when I first heard what I'm about to share, but it is something that I hold close to me; especially when I'm in the process of trying to make a rather significant decision—"Don't focus on what makes you feel good; focus instead on what you know is right." The reason why I so wholeheartedly agree with that way of thinking is because, personally, I think people are way too addicted—yes, addicted—to their emotions. And feelings? They can change at the drop of a dime. This means that if you're solely dependent on them, you could end up on an emotional roller coaster ride that can have you constantly feeling confused, unsettled and unsure. And because of that, your life decisions will, as they say, keep that same energy.
On the other hand, when the focus is on doing what is truly right for you, that's a bit different. I'll give you an example. Recently, one of my writing gigs gave me a raise. Putting that extra money into a savings account so that I can travel more is good. But right now, Uncle Sam and I have some things to work through, so hiring a reputable accountant is what's right. I recently had a conversation with a relative that was disconcerting to say the least. There was so much toxicity in it that establishing immediate boundaries would've been good. But because I know what it's like to not feel heard or validated, I listened and supported; at the time, that is what was right.
When doing what is right is what truly matters to you, it means that you are factoring in things like truth, facts, principles and timing; you're putting in the effort to make sure that all of these things will work together for your ultimate good. You're not only interested in how to appease your emotions or what will make you feel good in the moment. Doing what is right is about maturity and taking your future into account; even if it's not always easy, comfortable or what your heart—the center of your emotions—wants to do.
While keeping all of this in mind, how can you know if something—or one—really is right for you? That's kind of a loaded question, but here is a bit of a "cheat sheet" to hopefully help you out.
Your “Human Trinity” Is in Agreement
So, what is the "human trinity"? I define it as being the mind, body and spirit (for the church folks who may find it disrespectful, the actual word "trinity" isn't in the Bible. I refer to the "three in one" as the Godhead [I John 5:8], just for the record). These things are designed to work in harmony with one another. So, if there is something that you are considering doing or there's someone who you're thinking about getting involved with, take out a moment to listen to what your mind, body and spirit are saying. Is there a thought in the back of your mind that is telling you that it's not a good idea? Do you literally experience an uncomfortable physical reaction? As far as how your spirit/soul operates, check out "I've Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul" for a bit of a breakdown.
When I look back over my life, most of the things that I regret, I did without making sure that all three parts of me were, for the most part, on the same page. Meanwhile, the things that I feel really good about, even to this day, my human trinity was at total peace at the time that I decided to do it. I'm pretty sure that's not a coincidence.
It Doesn’t Compromise Your Principles or Values
We're living in a time when people are attacking principles and values on every hand. While it's one thing to allow someone the space and freedom to live out their truth, it's another thing for those same individuals to berate someone else for the beliefs that they personally have. If you want respect, you must give respect. But that's another article for another time. What I will say, for now, is that no matter how much bullying—both online or off—that may be going on these days, it speaks volumes about your level of integrity if you don't allow it to compromise (or silence) your own core principles and values because they are a huge part of your foundation and character. They are a large part of what makes you…you.
A great quote that fits in really well with this particular point is by the French novelist and poet Victor Hugo—"Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots." Amen. That said, if what you're about to do involves invalidating your core principles and values? Well, the phrase "selling your soul" covers a lot of ground; this is just one of the examples of doing it. And, at the end of the day, it really isn't worth it.
You Can Already See How It Will Contribute to Your Growth and Development
You may be familiar with a really popular Alice Walker quote that says, "No person is your friend who demands your silence or denies your right to grow." This is a powerful quote all on its own (check out "10 Signs You've Got A Close (TOXIC) Friend" and "10 Things You Should Absolutely Expect From Your Friendships" for a co-sign), but if I were to tweak it a bit to fit this article, I'd say, "Nothing is right for you if it hinders your growth and development." I don't care if it's a man, a job, a church or anything else—if we're not moving forward, we're either remaining stagnant or going backwards; those last two options aren't even remotely healthy.
So yeah, as you're in the process of trying to figure out if something is truly right for you or not, ask yourself if it will put you in a more progressive state a year from now? If you can't definitely say that, well, that's something to really think about. Isn't it?
It Invigorates and Inspires You
To be invigorated is to be filled with life and energized. To be inspired is to be compelled or influenced to produce something; something that is typically new. When something is truly right for you, these two things should definitely come into play.
I consider myself to be a creative. Something that I know about creative types is we're constantly driven by inspiration. When I recently checked out the article "10 Creative People Share What Inspires Them", some of the things that other creatives shared they are inspired by includes taking risks, challenges, relationships, self-reflection and nature. That's their list. What's yours?
For this point, let's look at it through a romantic lens. I know a married couple who talk all of the time about them knowing that they were right for each other because they both inspired one another to attempt things that they would've never considered prior to meeting. Not only that but, even after all of these years later, they wake up with a sense of excitement because, since they are both so spontaneous and driven, they never really know what to expect.
Doesn't reading that just make you feel invigorated? Yeah, if something is really right for you, it will cause you to feel a sense of exhilaration. It will motivate you in ways that nothing else quite has before too. If something doesn't move you like this, while I won't go all in and say that it's exactly "wrong", what I will say is do a little more investigating; something is definitely kinda sorta…off.
It Will Get You “Unstuck”
I've got a friend who keeps, as the old folks say, going around Charlie's barn. She does it on the professional tip. She gets a job at a company she doesn't like, stays for a couple of years, then looks for another job in the same field for about the same salary, only to find herself restless about six months in. I've watched her do this for about 15 years now. Finally, I flat-out asked her why she keeps doing that to herself. What she told me was although she has a passion for teaching, the irony is all of the jobs that make her unhappy are giving her more experience in a particular field. So, she thinks that it makes more sense to keep doing what she doesn't like than to step out and start all over.
OK, y'all. Guess how many of us absolutely hate what we do for a living. A whopping 85 percent! When you stop and think about the fact that you spend most of your waking hours at your place of employment, what sense does it make to be someplace where you are unhappy? The entire time that your eyes are open? Uh-uh. Better to start over than to die a slow death in a familiar space.
Another way to know if something is right for you is it will encourage you to get out of doing the same ole', same ole'; from living as if you are stuck in a rut.
That said, if you've been stuck in a rut for so long, you don't even know what that looks like, here are some telling signs—you are bored a lot; you hold onto toxic habits and people simply because they are familiar to you; every day feels like you are doing nothing more than going through the motions; there's nothing that you really have to look forward to and the only thing you really look forward to is ending the day and going to sleep. C'mon sis, what could possibly be right about any of that?
You Have Total Peace
At this stage in my life, "peace" is one of my favorite words. And yes, a final indication that something (or one) is truly right for you is it will bring tranquility, order ("order" is a BIG one) and calm into your world. There will be less confusion. Less tension and stress. And definitely less drama (when things are right, drama significantly decreases).
Based on what peace means, I seriously doubt someone else's husband is right for you. I seriously doubt taking a job that doesn't recognize your gifts and talents is right for you. I also seriously doubt remaining in a toxic relationship, whether it's a family member, friend or significant other, is right for you.
So, take a deep breath and think about all that you just read. What in your life, at this very moment, is truly right for you? Whatever isn't, it's time to do a little internal house cleaning. So that you can make room for what's better than average or even good. It's time to embrace all that is truly RIGHT. Right?
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
Need To Make A Big Decision Quickly? Do This.
5 Signs You Don't Trust Yourself. 3 Ways To Change That.
How To Become A True Master At Timing
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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What Are Intrusive Thoughts & How Do We Manage Them?
TW: some depictions of intrusive thoughts may be disturbing for readers.
Have you ever caught your mind drifting off to entertain the most disturbing scenarios imaginable? Maybe you can’t stop thinking of all the ways a loved one could pass away or worrying that you left every candle lit in your apartment to which you’d return to a home in ruins. If distressing ruminations like these have crossed your mind, you may be experiencing an intrusive thought.
What Are Intrusive Thoughts?
Intrusive thoughts are unwanted or distressing thoughts, images, or impulses that pop into your mind without your control or consent. These thoughts can be repetitive, unsettling, or even violent in nature, and can cause anxiety and frustration for those who experience them.
“Generally they're unwanted thoughts that come up in our head that interrupt what we're doing or thinking, and can feel very foreign,” says Adia Gooden, PhD, licensed clinical psychologist and host of the Unconditionally Worthy podcast. “It’s any thought that intrudes or interrupts what you are doing. They can be distressing and upsetting for us because it feels like we are not in control of them, and they're coming up out of nowhere and aren’t in line with how you normally think.”
What Causes Intrusive Thoughts?
Certain trauma or stress can contribute to the development of intrusive thoughts, so having a challenging experience from the past or current life situations may trigger them to form. “An intrusive thought could come in the form of a flashback, image, or a thought about something that's happened to you,” Dr. Gooden tells xoNecole. “When it gets to the point where you feel like you can't function or make clear decisions, that's when intrusive thoughts become really challenging.”
While some of the 1 billion videos found under the #intrusivethoughts hashtag on TikTok would lead you to believe that these thoughts are nothing more than casual displays of our imagination going untamed. Intrusive thoughts are more than sticking your hand in a soap dispenser, wanting to cut all your hair off at 3 a.m., or having a random impulse to eat fake bread in public.
The Anxiety & Depression Association of America reports that approximately six million individuals, equating to roughly two percent of the American population, encounter intrusive thoughts. Intrusive thoughts are often linked with obsessive-compulsive disorders, but they can also manifest in individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or anxiety.
Examples of Common Intrusive Thoughts
Because of the explicit nature of intrusive thoughts, they tend to cause shame and internal conflict in those who experience them. Although these thoughts can differ from person to person, these ideation can consist of:
- Violent or aggressive thoughts towards oneself or others, such as harming or killing someone;
- Sexual thoughts that are unwanted or inappropriate;
- Repetitive thoughts, such as a song or a phrase that keeps repeating in your mind;
- Contamination or germ-related thoughts or the fear of contamination and getting sick;
- Religious or blasphemous thoughts, such as questioning one's faith or having thoughts that go against religious beliefs;
- Doubts or uncertainty about one's own actions or decisions, such as fear of making a mistake or fear of not doing something right.
Intrusive Thoughts and OCD
That’s why Dr. Gooden encourages everyone to understand the difference between our fleeting thoughts and impulses and true, intrusive thoughts. “What level of distress does it cause and is it something you would never consider,” she says. “If you're finding that these thoughts are getting in the way of you living your life and that you're controlled by the thoughts, those are some signs that it would be good to get some support in navigating it.”
She also emphasizes the importance of understanding that while we may not always have control over our thoughts, we can control our behavior. “On TikTok, people are sort of blaming intrusive thoughts on their behavior, and our behavior is always a choice,” she says. “If we are in our right mind and we're not having a psychotic episode, our behavior is our choice — we are not obligated to follow any given thought that we have.”
Are Intrusive Thoughts Normal?
With intrusive thoughts, it’s natural to question whether these thoughts are “normal” to have. However, these thoughts are not meant to define who you are as a person but simply indicate that you have a functioning human mind with automated thoughts that you, or any of us, can’t control. These thoughts may come, but they don’t have to be acted upon, nor do they define who you are.
“I've worked with clients in the past who say, ‘Why am I thinking these things? What's wrong with me?’ But if you're not acting on the thought, then it's probably not a huge issue,” Dr. Gooden says. “If you are thinking a harmful thought towards yourself or someone else and you are making plans to act on that thought, then yes, we need to do something about it.”
How To Manage Intrusive Thoughts
If you are struggling with managing unwanted thoughts, Dr. Aida suggests taking these tips to help manage your mindset when they occur:
- "Recognize that it's a thought and thoughts are just thoughts. We often put a little bit too much weight on our thoughts, and that can create a lot of distress. But remember that thoughts are not facts."
- "Having a thought that's disturbing or upsetting doesn't make you a bad person, and it doesn't mean that you are suffering from a mental illness."
- "Sometimes the best thing you can do is say, 'Huh, that was an interesting thought. I'm going to let that go. That thought is not helpful for me right now."
- "Ask yourself: is this helpful? Is it helpful for me to buy into this thought and believe this thought? Asking that question can be really helpful because we are not at the mercy of our thoughts. If it's not helpful, you can let it go."
Intrusive thoughts can feel bizarre and foreign when they come up, but they aren't inherently "bad." Our minds can sometimes be filled with random and inappropriate thoughts, but that's what our stream of consciousness does: it thinks. Fortunately, we can release those thoughts at any moment; you don't have to follow through with them.
And ultimately, not every TikTok diagnosis is one that we should label ourselves with.
"It's important for people to acknowledge what they're experiencing but not run too quickly to diagnose themselves with some mental illness or disorder," Dr. Gooden advises. "It ends with confusion, and we miss the opportunity to understand the people who really do have that mental health challenge."
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