Jana Says

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Tag Archive: lists

10 strategies to improve self-esteem, part 1

It’s probably no secret around here that I have fairly low self-esteem. Self-confidence, feeling good about myself, believing in my talents and abilities are all rare forms of currency in these parts.

But I’m working on it.

When I was in therapy, my counselor and I talked about ways to undo the “maps” in my brain that automatically took me to the places where I feel worthless. We went over the whole “would you say that stuff to a friend or family member so why do you say it to yourself?” business. We discussed methods for acknowledging achievements, accepting praise and compliments, and all the other things that people with healthy doses of self-confidence do regularly and without having to think to hard about it.

She didn’t do a very good job of helping me because our sessions usually made me feel worse. It’s only now, about a year after I fired her and stopped attending therapy completely, that I’m able to truly work on building myself up after tearing myself down for so many years. I don’t know if it’s because now I’m actually at a point where I can fully commit to working on it or if the changes I’ve put in place since I’ve let her go are finally bearing fruit or something else that I can’t explain or maybe some combination of all of the above.

I do know that I took the first step to changing a few months ago when I decided I would just stop hating myself. It’s hard–and maybe too painful–to discuss why exactly I have such hard feelings towards myself but it might have something to do with impossible standards that I expect myself to achieve. In fact, I typically set standards too high, knowing that I’ll never achieve them in the limited and ridiculously short time frame I give myself so that when I inevitably fail because I’ve created a situation where it’s almost impossible to succeed, I can admonish myself failing.

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I don’t recommend doing that. It doesn’t work. Actually, it makes things worse.

Because I recognize that what I’d been doing wasn’t working, I realized a few months ago that I really need to change my strategy and my thinking, if for no other reason than I needed to think about the example I was setting for my daughter. How could I encourage her to have high self-esteem and think she can conquer anything when I couldn’t do that for myself? I need to live the example I was setting as words are meaningless without action.

So I started implementing 10 strategies. I’m still working on them, and I encourage you, if you’re in a similar situation, to start doing the same. We can be a team, even.

  1. Forgiveness. Forgive the people who’ve hurt you, forgive yourself for making mistakes, forgive yourself for not living up to the standards you or someone else has set for you, forgive past behaviors and mistakes. Something I’ve had to learn is that forgiving does not equal forgetting but when you forgive, it makes it so those behaviors and choices aren’t eating away at your heart and soul, and it makes it easier to move on. forgiveness quote
  2. Eliminate negative influences. We all have people in our lives who drag us down. They constantly make mean spirited comments, put us and our choices down, and go out of their way to make us feel worthless and unimportant. They’re unsupportive, condescending, and rude. And they need to go. Admittedly, this is harder to do with family than with friends but if you have friends like this in your life, they’re not really friends. Friends don’t let friends drive drunk but friends also don’t make friends feel like shit. It’s hard to feel better about yourself when someone else is making you feel bad.
  3. Have a mantra. Remember the old Stuart Smalley skit on SNL? The one where he would look into a mirror and say “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me”? It’s that concept. While it’s funny to think about, having a mantra is essential. Having those inspirational words to repeat to yourself in moments of self-doubt does wonders to combat the creeping negative feelings. A mantra doesn’t have to be a self-affirming statement, either. It can be a quote, a movie line, a song (these work best for me). Anything that you can say to yourself that makes you feel better. (If you’re stuck, you can follow my quotes and sayings board on Pinterest as a starting point)
  4. Accept flaws, quirks, and imperfections. It’s okay to be weird and have quirks. I have plenty of them. Instead of feeling bad or embarrassed by them, embrace them. Instead of apologizing for them, wear them proudly like a badge or medal. The flaws, quirks, and imperfections are what make you uniquely you. They help give you perspective and also maybe make you fun at parties. Trying to be whatever “normal” is doesn’t work for everyone and feeling bad about the fact that you’re different is pointless. Don’t be like everyone else. You are great the way you are. Even Billy Joel thinks so.

5. Do something every day that makes you happy. I had to work on this–and still have to work on this–every day to help combat my depression. Taking a few minutes out of every single day, even if it’s only 5 minutes, to do something that’s just for me, that put the emphasis on me, reminds me that I, too, am important. We live in a culture that praises selfless acts and condemns perceived selfishness, and thinking about others is really important. It’s crucial, in fact. But taking a few minutes every day to do something just for you makes it so that you are more able to care for others. When you’re happy, it’s easier for you to project that onto the world. And using 5 or 10 minutes a day to do that is okay.

That’s the beginning of my 10 point strategy to feel better about myself. It’s working so far and while I’m far from the most confident person in the world, I’m no longer the LEAST confident person in the world.

Which is a huge, monumental step.


Jana’s rules for Zumba

It’s not a secret around here that if I’m going to exercise, it’s most likely going to take the shape of Zumba. It’s my preferred method of working out for a variety of reasons (the least of which is that it doesn’t bore me to tears) and it’s the only one I haven’t quit on in a few months time. And after over a year of doing it at least 3 times per week, I’ve noticed some things (of course I have. It’s what I do).

And because I’m amazingly helpful, I’ve assembled all I’ve noticed into a helpful list of rules so that if (and when) you decide to try it, you know how to act accordingly (oh, men? This goes for you, too. There are men who take Zumba and they look totally fine doing it. Plus, if you’re single, it’s a great way to meet women. Automatic conversation starter! See how helpful I am?).

So. Jana’s rules for Zumba. You can thank me later:

  1. Arrive on time. In fact, arrive a few minutes early and secure your spot. There is nothing worse than a straggler who pushes her way into the spot she wants 10 minutes after class has started.zumba time
  2. Respect the space of others. We move around a lot. Like A LOT. Don’t stand so close to someone else that they run the risk of smacking you accidentally on purpose as a warning. Or asking you to move or giving you nasty “let’s fight” looks. Not that I have done any of these.
  3. Wear a bra for the boobs you have not the boobs you want. Support the girls. They’ll thank you for it. Also, no one wants to see your goodies. (This also applies to workout gear. Wear something that fits and covers places that should be covered. A quick glance in a mirror before you leave the house should help).
  4. Know your place. Okay, that sounds rude. But if you’re new or can’t follow routines, please don’t stand in the front row. Your unfamiliarity with what the instructor is doing, or possess an inability to pick up on moves quickly (like me), is distracting. You can move up front as you become more familiar with the routines (note: quality of dancing is irrelevant. You can be a terrible dancer but still know the moves. In other words, me).
  5. Keep moving. We all screw up. Even the instructors. But when you screw up and just STOP, you throw everyone around you off and you might cause someone to fall or get hurt, particularly if they bump into you. And if you don’t like a song and don’t want to dance to it, step off to the side. Take a break. Don’t just stand there. Zumba dancing
  6. Along the same lines as #5. MOVE. YOUR. BODY. If you’re not going to move at all, why go through the trouble of going to the gym? You can accomplish the same thing staying at home with way less effort. Note: Unless you don’t know what you’re doing and you’re up front, the rest of us don’t care what you look like. We just want you to move.
  7. Wear deodorant. It makes me sad that I had to write that.
  8. Don’t be a space stealer. If someone leaves in the middle of song or to get a drink, don’t sneak into her spot. More than likely, she will return. Taking a break is not permission to sneak into someone’s spot. If you wanted a better spot, refer to rule #1. Zumba spot
  9. Prepare to sweat. I don’t care if you’re in the best shape ever, this is a shitload of fast paced cardio. It’s fucking hard and you will sweat. Don’t complain about it. We’re all sweating because we’re supposed to. So bring a towel and suck it up. Zumba sweat

Follow these rules and you’ll be an A student. Nothing is worse than going to a class and having an asshole with poor Zumba class etiquette ruin your experience. Don’t be that asshole.

10 reasons why CandyLand is the best board game ever


Candy-Land-Wallpaper-candy-land-2020333-1024-768Board games are a favorite family activity in my house. In fact, as I type this, my daughter asked if we could play PayDay. Which is fun and it teaches about money so there’s actually a purpose (if you’re into that as a selling point). And that’s how we roll in my house.

Seriously, what’s not to like about board games? That’s right. Nothing. Pretty much everything about them is great. Except Monoploy. Monopoly is evil and should be destroyed. We only play it if we feel like fighting because really, who doesn’t need a good fight over a game involving plastic hotels and free parking?

Clearly we do. Because why not.

However, there’s one game that I maintain is better than all the rest. And that game is CandyLand. I mean, you just can’t argue with this logic:

  1. No reading involved. Not even for directions.
  2. Easily converted into a drinking game.
  3. Gingerbread men game pieces.
  4. Super cheap to buy. And you can buy it anywhere, pretty much. I’m fairly certain I saw it at a 7-11 or gas station.
  5. Even if you’re losing the whole time, you can win with the pull of one card.
  6. It’s such a tedious paced game, time slows down. And who doesn’t want to feel in control of time? That’s a kick ass superpower.
  7. So. Many. Pretty. Colors.
  8. The satisfaction of seeing an opponent get stuck in molasses while you hop over them with a double square.
  9. Designed by a woman. Recovering from polio. In 1945.
  10. It’s also in the toy hall of fame (so is the stick. Like an actual stick. From a tree. So you know the standards for induction are crazy high).

So. CandyLand. You can’t beat it.


9 things I didn’t know until I watched Pitch Perfect

I like to think I know things. Lots of things. But every now and then, something comes along and informs me that, in fact, I do not know as many things as I think. That recently happened with the movie Pitch Perfect which maybe I can’t stop watching because I’m a little sad and bored and also it’s a great movie.

So I’ve assembled what I’ve learned in a list because I like lists and also because I always wanted one of those “All I Needed to Know I Learned From My Cat” posters when I was younger but never had because I wasn’t allowed to hang things on the walls of my room (except for one year and maybe I went a little crazy hanging posters of the long haired beauties of late 80s hair bands and then my parents made me cull the herd). Anyway.

Here’s my list of “9 Things I Didn’t Know Until I Watched Pitch Perfect“:

  1. It’s acceptable to barge in on someone in the shower and compel them to sing while completely naked. And have them do it. The next time I’m in the vicinity of Matt Damon while he’s in the shower, I’m totally copying this technique.
  2. Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins need to do color commentary for everything. EVERYTHING. The State of the Union would be so much more exciting–and watched–if you brought them in. Think about it.
  3. Random, empty swimming pools make not only excellent locations for parties but the acoustics are outstanding and make great rehearsal spots. Now I know how to make extra cash off my pool.
  4. Horizontal running and mermaid dancing are activities that really need to catch on as exercise trends. Immediately. I mean, they’re certainly better than this.
  5. The Breakfast Club is, in fact, the greatest movie in the history of time (which I already knew but Pitch Perfect reinforced). It has social commentary, humor and heals fractured relationships. That’s a quality film, y’all.
  6. Stress induced projectile vomiting is both disturbing and hilarious. And kind of impressive.
  7. The world needs more Fat Amys.
  8. It doesn’t matter what other people say or do to you. If you’re doing what you love, keep doing it. Don’t give up. Success will come to you. Although maybe, if you’re randomly conjuring birds and hamsters, dial that back a bit.
  9. Moderately attractive guys who can sing and are funny will almost always trump spectacular looking guys with no sense or humor or discernible talent. Because this:

someecards.com - If you're funny, you're automatically 79% more attractive. Beauty fades but sarcasm is forever.

So there you have it. Things I didn’t know but do now. And now you know them, too.

You’re welcome.