Kat Atwell is a freelance writer, blogger & stage presence telling stories that deliver laughs, validation & community.

Mental Health | Wellness & Self Image | Experiential & Reviews


I want to talk about talking. And listening.

Never assume that someone knows what's in your head. It's always better to err on the side of communicating something you think someone already knows, than just expecting that your non-verbal cues and talking around an issue have somehow brought to light what's going on in that brain of yours.

Indirectly, I guess it's a compliment when people do that. They're guessing that you're smart enough to piece clues (real or imagined) together to reach a conclusion you've credited as foregone.

My impression of myself is that I'm pretty clear, individually, with the folks I care about most, about what is happening in my head. I've joked for as long as I can remember that I have no poker face, and I'm a horrible liar. When I counsel individuals about retirement, I tell them the reason I'm in the service industry and working for the company I work for is because I trust that I'm doing what's best for them, and concurrently, myself. Ever since I got into the financial industry, I've had opportunities to go into sales with the promise of "limitless potential" and whatnot. The flipside of that has suggested there is no assurance that if I fail, the minimum I will earn is enough to get me through.

I get that life has no guarantees, and at the end of the day, the priority is to have faith in yourself. But when you don't, or when you say you do, but don't really mean it, you'd better be working for a company or a person who you do trust.

My current position in life has been headed toward a greater sense of self and trust in my abilities. It's slow, and sometimes feels so slow that it's stagnant, but I know I'm heading in the right direction. As mentioned in previous entries, I do have a very significant anxiety disorder, and as most folks suffering from anxiety will tell you, the majority is rooted in faith in oneself. Fear is such a fucked up concept. Somehow, our brains can take the most black and white interpretation of "kill or be killed" and assign it to the simplest of tasks:

I can't start my own business. If it falls through, I die.

I can't stand up for myself and tell someone that my needs for self-preservation supercede their expectations of me and our relationship. They will get angry, and I'll die.

I can't seriously consider a goal to lose weight, because inevitably I will stop exercising and revert to mindless eating habits and, coincidentally, I'll die.

It is ALWAYS the worst case scenario. I can't claim to know how the minds of others work, but trying to retrain myself to flip that switch to assuming massive success? It's hard - real hard. That doesn't mean I can't try.

How did this start out as a conversation about what other people need to communicate to me, and wind up being a defense of what I'm doing to make myself a better communicator? Huh. Admittedly, it's humiliating to admit to someone that you've already claimed yourself the loser of whatever game you're playing before the cards have been dealt, and I get that it's the fear talking, but saying that out loud is enormous. Admitting your weaknesses - MY weaknesses - is massive.

When I got married, my husband and I went through this book regarding The Five Love Languages. The test showed that I need ample positive reinforcement. It's due to self-doubt. That's not a character flaw, that's just where I am in life.

It also indicated that you'd score a lot more points with me if you did something I requested, as opposed to surprising me with an unexpected gift. So, for those of you trying to get on my good side, do me a favor, and literally do me a favor. Or, as my former boss used to say, "Do me a solid."

That sounds like I'm asking you to poop. I'm not, but I do encourage healthy bowel movements. Leafy greens!

My brain is on overdrive. I've stepped out onto my proverbial cliff and am telling myself to trust myself enough not to stumble over the edge. Furthermore, I'm getting to the point that I'm recognizing people shouldn't assume I'm going to be the one to pull them back from falling, or pointing out to them that the cliff is even there. In order to pull others up, I need to have solid ground first.

I just read a news article about a landslide off the coast of Washington state, hence the cliff analogies.

Love yourself before you love others is an easy thing to say, but is damn hard to execute. Being told to put your oxygen mask on before you stick a mask on the kid next to you is an easier concept, but essentially is saying the same thing. I think I've tossed down enough metaphors for one night.

Tonight, at least, I'm optimistic about where I'm headed. And that has to be good enough.