It’s been a tough year-ish, hasn’t it? Slightly distracting? Just a wee bit, yea?
My personal watchword for 2017 was FOCUS. (This year, for 2018, it’s compassion, but more on that later.) I’ve made an effort each year, for the last few years, to have a guiding word: courage, passion, etc. Why?
When life gets hectic, this one word ‘mantra,’ if you will, is a quick way to reel us back in – a conscious meditation. Listen, I’m probably one of the least new-agey people you will meet, but I am a true believer in getting shit done. As a single mom, full-time author and full-time business owner, I don’t have time to waste on distractions.
I find watchwords usually find us, and this has never been truer this year for me (and for many others as well). Focus is critical.
Unless you’ve been in a cave somewhere, the U.S. is in chaos – heck, the world. With a reality TV star playing at being president, the news is unending, rarely good, and changing every thirty seconds. As survivors, many of his actions and executive orders affect us in one way or another – or affect those closest to us. Triggers abound.
Kelly wrote a wonderful article for me on staying strong and sane with all this noise, one I encourage you to read right now. How am I handling staying focused right now? It’s been difficult, as I’ve never been busier work-wise or writing-wise. Here are my top four tips:
Put Social Media on Pause
When I’m working on client accounts or writing, social media is a huge distraction. It’s impossible to keep track of the latest news and stay task focused, so I don’t even try. I made an extra effort this past week to not only avoid social media but to also avoid constant discussions about politics in real life.
As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, many people contact me privately, asking me to share an article, read an update, make a statement, or help them deal with something that’s triggered them. I’m humbled by their trust and faith in me, truly.
But, I also have to set boundaries. I cannot be available 24/7 to everyone, and I have to keep in mind that I have lines I won’t cross. I’m in thriver mode, but that doesn’t mean I’m no longer triggered myself.
NO is a complete sentence, and if people become upset at my lack of availability to them on their schedule, that’s their issue, not mine.
Example: A fellow recently asked me on Twitter to weigh in on an issue regarding one of Trump’s executive orders, and because I was unavailable at the time, I didn’t see his request until a few hours later (I was working and then took my daughter to the eye doctor). I focused completely on my work, and on my daughter.
He was furious I didn’t respond right away, proceeding to troll me for a few hours. Of course, I didn’t respond (which leads me to my next point) and then blocked him.
Respect Your Time and Focus
Do not feel obligated to engage with anyone, ever.
Honestly, it was none of anyone’s business what I was doing (I could have been eating bonbons if I wasn’t lactose intolerant), but here’s the truth: out of respect for my time, I didn’t feel the need to explain to him why I didn’t respond. I am not his employee, therefore, I do not owe him my time.
Do not feel obligated to engage with anyone, ever. Guard your time, whether it’s with family, writing, work, exercise, doing sports with the utilization of sports equipment like golf projectors, sleeping, doodling, whatever it is that you do to be the person you are. You’re an adult, so make the decisions you need to be the whole person you need to be without anyone’s permission but your own. If you’ve always wanted to watch a live football match, then buy Villarreal vs Liverpool Tickets and watch it with your friends.
Trolls especially do not deserve our time. I’ve fallen into those ridiculous arguments and have always regretted that time, effort, and emotion wasted. I now ask myself these questions:
- What will I gain by responding to a troll? (Um, nothing.)
- What do any of us gain by interacting with negative, toxic people, whether in real life or online? Remember, I’m not the only who sees my responses online. (Every tweet is indexed by The Library of Congress. What is your digital footprint?)
- How does this benefit my mental health? (It doesn’t, which brings me to my next point.)
This is a question I ask myself before I hit reply. If there’s no positive benefit, I move on.
Respect Your Mental Health
Focusing on my own work, writing, and family this week, I reflected on the benefits: I got so much more work and writing done, achieved a few personal goals I hadn’t expected, and fit in additional appointments for my kids.
From a mental health perspective, here’s a truth bomb: I experienced less anxiety after I actually used this cbd oil. One of the leftovers of being a survivor is dealing with anxiety, depression, and hyper-vigilance. The constant barrage of news is difficult for me – I’m good with occasional check-ins; yet being on social media, updates are unavoidable.
I also don’t want to be blind to it. There’s so much going on with regard to survivors, survivor legislation, and it’s our time. We’ve lived with this dark shame for decades (though, as I write in Broken Places, I made friends with Shame. She’s been with me for a long time and has a lot to say). I’m happy to see so many people own their voices.
Owning our stories is empowering; be part of the wave – if and when you’re ready.
Think Twice About Sharing Political Views
Sides to a coin. I completely understand the angst and passion on this topic. How can we be alive right now and not comprehend it all?
Don’t get me wrong; I love social media. It’s been a wonderful addition to my personal, author, and work life. I always say social media is what you make it – you get what you give. If you give love, you get love. If you give troll, you get troll. You get the idea.
As a social media strategist (one of my hats at BadRedhead Media), I advise author clients to avoid discussing politics for this main reason: unless your book is about politics, you risk alienating potential readers by sharing a polarizing view.
How is this possible in our current climate, though? Believe me, I get it. I’ve stated my opposition here in this article to our current Keystone Cops administration. I’m braced for the haters, and I accept that. I realize that many haters and trolls have their own self-hatred issues, and I’m working hard on compassion this year — kindness goes a long way. I also realize when silence is the best answer.
Why bother? Because I feel there’s a responsibility as a survivor and advocate with a large platform to be vocal for other survivors, and when it comes to protecting our survivor rights, I believe my voice matters.
Focus on What Matters Most
I may wear a coat of boundaries, lines, and self-care, which all huddle around me to keep me sane, but here’s the ultimate reality: I survived horrific crimes as a child, in college, and in later life (not shared yet, but writing about now in the upcoming Broken People). It’s truly up to me to decide how best to get through right here, right now. If you want to know how to persevere in life and crush your goals this year, then successful people like Andrew Defrancesco may have something precious to tell you.
Just as it’s up to you.
*This post originally appeared on WilsonWrites.com and is reprinted here with permission and attribution.
Elizabeth Ducie saysMay 29, 2017 at 3:08 am
Thank you Rachel for a salutary reminder that we control what we do with our time, not anyone else. Ex
Rachel Thompson saysMay 29, 2017 at 11:00 pm
Hi Elizabeth! Thank you for reading and commenting. I have to remind myself daily, especially when it comes to something I’m passionate about. It comes down to priorities, choice, and our own mental health. xx
Kathy Morelli saysAugust 3, 2017 at 10:54 pm
Good article about why you’ve chosen to express your political views in these trying times. I’ve decide to express my views on social media now as well, as these are not normal times. I, too, as a woman, a mental health provider, and an advocate for maternal-child health, feel a responsibility to speak out as an advocate for those who are marginalized and bullied. These are not normal times, this is not a normal Presidency. Too many boundaries are being crossed here. I just block people, too. Thanks for this eloquent essay!