Wellbeing and Self-Care Tips to Help Kids Thrive

As parents, we all want the best for our kids and to find ways to support their wellbeing and happiness. I have developed some tips that guide you on this journey and with reminders that I hope help you continue creating an environment for your family to thrive.

We also know that sometimes even parents need reminders to look after themselves! So, some of these tips are there to remind you, to look after your wellbeing as much as you would for your kids.

Remember that “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and when you look after yourselves, you also model and teach your children that too.

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Tip #1
Create a Routine

Routines keep us all sane. They give kids a boundary to work within and that is what helps them thrive in uncertainty and in the unknown. Remember when developing a routine that it’s about working out what is best for your child, as well as what works for your family too.

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Tip #2
Boredom isn’t a bad thing

Don’t worry if your kids say they’re bored. Being bored isn’t a bad thing, as it can ignite a spark in them, that encourages them to think creatively about other ways to entertain and engage themselves.

One way to support your kids through boredom is to co-create a list of activities that they can do when the feeling comes up. This encourages them to take ownership of their boredom and make choices about what they can do to ease it.

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Tip #3
Practice Gratitude

Gratitude is such an important quality to cultivate. Set aside time daily to talk to your kids about what they’re grateful for. You can do a ‘What Went Well’ for the day or ask questions such as:
– What/Who are you grateful for?
– What do you love about…?
– Describe a memory you cherish
– Describe a mistake you’re glad you made

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Tip #4
A reminder for those tough moments

“When your child is having a meltdown, remember, it’s their crisis, not yours. Breathe deeply. Calm yourself. Then use a quiet voice and gentle hands to guide your little one through their crisis. That is living what you want them to learn.” L.R. Knost

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Tip #5
Mindfulness and Breathing

Mindfulness has a powerful impact our kids. It can not only help to quieten the mind but also creates calm and focus.

Spend time in the morning or afternoon (or both!) practicing mindfulness with your kids. There are many ways to bring calm and stillness to their bodies and minds and it’s important to find a way that best suits them.

Some ideas for this are to:
– get them to lie still and quiet whilst listening to soothing music,
– ask them to focus on their breathing and taking deep breaths in and out,
– get them to practice settling the body by breathing through one area at a time,
– colour quietly and with focus.

Breathing mindfully is also another technique that helps kids to centre themselves and to breathe through any strong and intense emotions they may feel.

You can do this through:
– encouraging your kids to breathe for a set number of counts, or
– guiding them to go outside and take deep, mindful breathes whilst focusing on a sound they hear.

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Tip #6
Mix up Routines

Routines are important for kids to know what is happening and what needs to happen. But often the weekday routines bring about some more rigid timings than weekends, so it is important to ensure you have different routines for them.

Have a routine for weekdays but modify the routine for weekends. Mix things up, change the activities, timings and expectations. This will take some pressure off you and the kids and will also allow some space and quiet to just be in the moment.

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Tip #7
Balance

Balance is so important. We often can get so stuck in doing things and ticking things off our to do list that we forget that there is a need for balance between work and play. Kids operate better when there is a balance of both these aspects in their lives, as do adults!

It’s also about understanding what works well for you and your family. You don’t need to push yourself to have everything right or perfect, identify what is manageable whilst considering the other priorities and values of your family.

* Remember, that with balance comes time and space to create those special memories as a family.

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Tip #8
Small Wins

Each day we encounter moments that put a smile on our faces and bring happiness or calm to our lives. But we are often so focused on the big goals and achieving them, that we forget to stop and celebrate these small wins.

Start a daily habit of writing down a small win with your kids. It can be anything they want to celebrate or acknowledge or even something they may usually take for granted.

Slow down, reflect and celebrate. There is a lot of good, we just need to make space to see it.

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Tip #9
Daily Emotions Check-in

Talking about and expressing emotions is an important part of developing resilience for kids. Every morning and evening ask them to share what they are feeling and why.

“Sometimes you need to rain before you can shine” ~Kimochis

Having the space to express their emotions is really important, not only as it helps them get it out of their systems, but it also helps them understand that their negative emotions are just as important as their positive ones.

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Tip #10
Journaling

A good way to work through the emotions with our kids (and for ourselves) is to not only talk about it, but also to journal it. It gets them thinking about their emotions in a way that helps them to understanding what they’re feeling and why they might be feeling it.

*If they are finding it difficult to write it down, encourage them to draw a picture to help explain how they’re feeling.

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Tip #11
Strengths

Talking about strengths and the fact we all have them is important in empowering your kids to own what they can do.  Ask them to note down the key strengths they have and how and when they use them. To help start their thinking, you might also share what you consider their strengths to be.

Once you have this language of strengths, use it to praise or reinforce positive behaviours with your kids.
* If you want to build your vocabulary of strengths have a look at the VIAcharacter.org website or even just google a list.

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Tip #12
Savouring

Savouring helps us to step outside of a moment to appreciate it. It can also strengthen positive emotions when we are doing something we love because we stay present and aligned to what we’re experiencing.

Practice savouring with your kids, by picking one experience to truly savour each day. Spend time, be present and appreciate the experience which may include a nice shower, a walk outside, a family meal or any other experience you enjoy. To enhance the savouring experience, share what was noticed as a family during mealtimes.

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Tip #13
Involve your Kids in the Everyday Routines

Get your kids to help you with the cooking, cleaning and activities around the house. This helps them to see how working together makes light work but also shows them real life examples of what they learn in school.

For example, when baking kids see the application of numbers and measurement in practice, which helps them to retain their learning of these concepts.

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Tip #14
Connection

Connection is something we all are seeking as it gives us comfort and helps us to feel safe. Create this in your family unit by spending focused and quality time playing games or doing activities together.

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Tip #15
Reflection

Ask your kids to reflect on and share with you 3 new things they have learned about themselves or their family members throughout the week.

This reflection on experiences helps them to acknowledge the good things and the small wins, whilst also developing gratitude.

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Tip #16
Courage

A great message for our kids to have is that, “courage doesn’t always roar, sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering, ‘I’ll try again tomorrow’.” ~ Mary Anne Radmacher 

This idea of courage and perseverance is an important part of developing resilience and thriving.

Consider sharing this quote with them or having a night time ritual that allows them to let go of the day, so they can start fresh tomorrow.

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Tip #17
Unplug

“Almost everything will work out again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

Don’t forget to unplug sometimes and let your mind quieten. It reminds you that everything works out in its own time and that rest is important for our bodies. And it also shows you that it is in this calm and quiet that inspiration and creativity hits.

It is also so important for our kids to see this modelled too, these habits of wellbeing and self-care start from a young age, what they see you do will become what they want to do.

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Tip #18
Mistakes

Mistakes are part of life and so it is important for our kids (and ourselves) to learn to use these mistakes as ways to learn and grow, rather than as problems to get rid of.

As we work together, as parents and kids, on this journey mistakes will be made. So, the earlier we teach our kids that they’re ok and that they are, in fact, beneficial, the better equipped they are later in life.

“Don’t try to be perfect. Life isn’t; no one is. Use mistakes and mishaps as opportunities to grow tolerance and to teach.” ~ Teri Hatcher

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When you focus on wellbeing and self-care in your parenting and for your kids, you are not only supporting the development of habits, but you are also developing a safe environment filled with love, connection and gratitude for your family. It is within this environment, that your kids can and will thrive!

A Reflection on Connection

As I sit here and reflect on the situation, we find ourselves in, I can’t help but think that maybe this is a reminder. A reminder of the importance of connection with people – our loved ones, our friends, our colleagues and our communities but also a reminder about communication and openness.

Social media and technology have spread rapidly in the last decade but what it hasn’t prepared us for is how to cope mentally and emotionally with the fast pace, the separation it causes and the lack of social etiquette (which has been a side effect of being able to ‘hide’ behind a screen).

We’ve forgotten what it means to slow down, to look after ourselves – body, mind and soul, and to connect meaningfully with the people who matter. So maybe, in this challenging time, and as we move through the unknown, what we need to reflect on is how do we get back to a place of connection after this is all over.

  • How do we authentically connect with our family, friends, colleagues and communities?
  • How can we use technology and social media to enhance communication but not replace connection?

I think as we come through this time, which we will, we need to consider what we are going to continue to do to be connected with our tribes of people, what we will do to practice self-care and how we can slow down the pace at which we are living. In fact, what this will teach us is what we thought was urgent actually isn’t so and what we thought couldn’t wait until tomorrow actually can. So, I encourage us all to reflect, rethink and re-envision, create the life we will be proud to live.

Reflect –> Rethink –> Re-envision

Don’t Assume, Ask.

“We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.”  Miguel Ruiz

Assumptions are a common way people express their thoughts, opinions and judgements.  And we constantly face assumptions either because they are made about us or we are making them about others.

Do you ever find people making assumptions about you and your life? It happens more often than we’d like it too and can cause us a great deal of frustration.

I was recently talking to my parents about life in general when they asked me what I was doing that day (it was a ‘work’ day). I told them that I was dropping in to see a friend and give her some food as she’d just had a baby. My dad wasn’t impressed and started questioning when I was going to put effort into my work and spend time doing that rather than doing these other things. I guess for him, he doesn’t see how much I work or what I actually do, and he placed his assumption on me: that if I don’t work 9-5 on week days, I must not be working.

I was frustrated when he said this but surprisingly, not as much as I thought I’d be. (I guess this is a story that keeps repeating so I’m getting better at dealing with it!). I then took a breath and explained to him that for me a work day looks different, that I needed to help someone, and that’s part of my business and growth as well. He didn’t necessarily understand it, but he definitely stopped himself from any further questioning.

This was a relatively small issue but something I have had multiple people make assumptions about. They work 9-5 and continue to work themselves to the ground and wonder why I’m not doing the same. It frustrated me at first, but once I put some steps in place it stopped being such a trigger for me.

So, what steps can you take when others make assumptions of you?

The first thing is don’t immediately react. When we react, the other person thinks their assumption is correct because it has hit a nerve. Reaction always seems to validate the opinion, so we need to learn to not react.

Instead create a shared understanding. Much of the time when people make assumptions, we ignore them, but actually we should create a space to discuss it. However, it’s not about justifying and proving yourself through the discussion, rather it’s about showing them a different perspective in the story. And when you are calm and not reacting you are able to explain it.

For example, once I stopped reacting to comments about how I wasn’t working hard enough, I was able to start articulating to others that actually I work best in blocks of time and that I can work for two hours and get something done that could take another person 4 hours. I acknowledged my strengths in organisation and efficiency and was able to share that with others. Once I started doing this, I got verbal responses like, “oh yeah, you are really efficient so you can do that”. This is what creating a shared understanding does, it allows you to share your strengths.

Assumptions like this are interesting because they are driven by our expectations for people to operate as we do in the world. But in reality, how can we expect others to operate as we do when we are all different? We each have our own strengths, areas to improve and our own ways of operating.

When we have that awareness, we can start to look at how we might create assumptions about others. The thing I noticed was that as frustrated as I was by others’ assumptions on me, I was also holding assumptions of others. Some of it came from the expectations I held so high for myself that I would expect others to fulfil those as well. And some of it came from not taking the time to see where someone was at but rather hearing a little and assuming a lot.

This led me to delve into what I could do to consciously hold back from assuming and encourage others to do the same (as I’ve learnt modelling is way more effective than telling!).

It came down to a few things. The first was about having the courage to ask questions. We often don’t ask a question either because it’s easier to assume or because hearing the answer might open up a wound for us. But many of the assumptions we make and that are made towards us, can be eliminated through asking good, open questions.

The second is to listen, actively listen to the answer we are given. It’s interesting how quickly distraction comes in when someone else is answering a question, whether because we’re thinking about the next task or because we disagree with what they’re saying. But to really listen we need to be present and open to hearing them. This present and active listening allows us to develop a shared understanding and will start to minimise the need to make assumptions.

So before making an assumption, ask an open question and listen, really listen, not just to share your opinion, judgement or perspective but rather to hear the other person’s truth. When you do this you create an honest, open and authentic relationship in which any conversation is possible.

Remember don’t assume. Ask. Ask and be ready to hear.

 

Sapna Sachdeva 2019

How about those emotions?

Often, when asked how we are, we say, ‘I’m fine’ or ‘I’m good’. But are we really? Or are we feeling a complexity of emotions that we are hiding away to fit in with societal expectations that have been created, in which asking ‘how are you’ has started to seem meaningless? It is the very odd occasion when someone actually wants more and pushes, asking, ‘how are you really?’

Where does this surface level response to how we are come from? I believe it stems from our unwillingness to share emotions. Either because we don’t feel our emotions will be accepted or because we may be judged. How often are we told to be ‘strong’, implying that we shouldn’t engage in our emotions or share them? Or, we are told we’re over-sensitive, so we squash the emotions we feel. Not only do we keep our emotions from others, but then a lot of the time we keep them from ourselves as well.

We need to reshape this idea that sharing emotions is a sign of weakness. It’s not. Acknowledging emotions shows true self-understanding and awareness. It allows us a path to heal and move forward through life’s inevitable ups and downs.

Sharing our emotions also allows us to empower others, especially children. It gives others the inspiration and confidence to articulate their feelings and emotions. We will create a healthier world if we allow everyone, young and old, to share their emotions openly, without making them feel sensitive, weak or ‘unmanly’.

Why do we need a label for it? If you have an emotion, express it. Emotions are part of who we are. Speaking them, living them and being them doesn’t make you any more or less of a person. It just is. So, let’s start talking about our emotions, to allow ourselves to thrive but also to give our children the words and empowerment to accept who they are and acknowledge the importance of emotions in developing their ability to flourish.

 

Sapna Sachdeva 2019

Modelling Change for Children

One of the key drivers for me to start Momentum Education Consulting was my belief that children deserve a holistic education. One in which they are taught how to cultivate their wellbeing, how to focus on growth, and how to build social and emotional skills, allowing them to reach their potential and flourish. I have been passionate about this from when I started working as a classroom teacher. But the reality is, as much as we can directly teach students these skills and knowledge, there’s an even more important way to help them grow, learn and flourish.

“Sometimes words are just noise… don’t tell me; show me.” Steve Maraboli

Much research shows that children learn best through modelling. That’s how we teach them the ‘right’ way, and that’s usually how they learn the ‘wrong’ things too! So, if we know they learn best through modelling, what’s our responsibility as adults? We also need to focus on our wellbeing and growth in order to flourish. As educators and parents, we often know what we want for our students and children – for them to be socially equipped and emotionally adept – but how often are these the skills we are actually showing them?

In this journey to create a generation of children who flourish and reach their potential (whatever it may be) through self-awareness and acceptance, we, as educators, parents, schools and communities, must also be on the journey. So, let’s all do it together. Let’s create a society where we all focus on wellbeing, growth, and social and emotional skills. We all want it: a life where we fulfil our potential, where we thrive and most of all, where we are truly happy.

 

Sapna Sachdeva 2019

Outside the Zone of Comfort

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Neale Donald Walsch

Ever had one of those weeks where everything that happens removes one of your zones of comfort?

That’s been my week this week. My relationship, job and apartment – all my comfort zones – gone in the one week. I knew these changes were coming, the job and relationship anyway, but when I also found out my apartment was being sold and I’d have to move, that was the final straw. I felt more overwhelmed than upset, and I felt fear for the future. Everything felt out of my control, and I didn’t know how to bring it back into control, without overreacting to it.

When I stepped back to think about what these events could teach me, I realised it was something I’d known for a while: I prefer my comfort zones, even when I know I need to move out of them.

It’s a need we all have, to control. Some of us in all areas of our lives, some choose certain areas. But when you think about why we have to be in control, it is essentially a safety mechanism put in place to calm our fight or flight responses. If we aren’t comfortable trusting people, we control situations, so we don’t have to rely on other people.

The thing about control is, though, it doesn’t help you grow. It holds you in a space that eventually you have to move out of if you want something different in your life. And the reality is, if you don’t move from that comfort zone, life will force you out of it. So, how do you do this? How do you step out of your comfort zones even when you feel they’re protecting you and allowing you to move at your own pace?

I think for me it’s about trust. Trust that there’s a plan. Trust that nothing ever falls apart, but it’s actually falling more into place. Most importantly, trust that control is not always a good thing! We know that you grow the most outside of your comfort zones, but we often believe that it only happens when we have control over the process. So, where’s the line? How much do we control and how much do we push?

Consider what you’re trying to control and why, then practice letting go of that control, trusting that you’ll be ok. The best advice I have after my experience this week is: start moving out of your comfort zone on your own terms and trust there’s a bigger, better plan in place.

Sapna Sachdeva 2018

What We Do at MomentumEC

So what do you do? It’s a question I often get asked and with many different ways to teach and talk about wellbeing, it is an important question to clarify.

At Momentum EC we believe we are stronger facing the outside elements when our internal world is built upon a solid foundation. This belief is what has determined our direction and vision.

External elements impact us

Our vision is to provide everyone with a chance to achieve their potential by building strong foundations that allow them to operate in optimal well-being through knowledge, application and embodiment. In order to become positive contributors to our society, we must first understand who we are and be the best version of ourselves. When we have the skills and strategies to be ourselves, I believe we can operate more effectively in our lives and make a more meaningful impact on the world around us.

I work towards building a sustainable approach to wellbeing with schools for the benefit of educators, parents and most importantly students. I believe if we want to see a change for students then, as educators and parents, we also need the tools to reshape our thinking and work towards achieving our own potential. Using the premise of the Circle of Influence, I focus on involving all stakeholders in the process. When we work with educators and parents around the importance of wellbeing, then we can make an impact on the students and in turn, they have an impact on us.

MomentumEC Circle of Influence

I use my strengths of observing and understanding to identify a school’s needs and work with them using the Process Triangle. This allows me to support the acquisition of knowledge, and the application and embedding of concepts that are vital to creating overall wellbeing and an environment that supports individuals to flourish.

MomentumEC Process Triangle

We have created various sessions for teachers, parents, and students to support you in starting your journey and can tailor any programs to continue this support. Have a look at our website momentumec.com.au for more information.

 

Sapna Sachdeva 2018

Being in the Moment

How often are you distracted, caught up in what might have been or the what-ifs?

“Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment” (Oprah Winfrey). But, we are so caught up being ‘busy’ that it’s like we overlook the idea of having space and time to just ‘be’. I often fall into this trap, as do many people I talk to, needing to continually tick things off the list. I pride myself so much on being organised that I started to realise it gave me an excuse not to be in the moment. But the beauty of being in the moment is you open up to new ideas and thoughts and find answers that, when your mind is busy, seem to evade you.

Being in the moment

Have you ever noticed, though, that with children it’s different? In the classroom I would observe that my students could be in the moment so effortlessly. Their heads were where their hands were the majority of the time. They have a refreshing view to the world, naturally focusing on being in the moment rather than anywhere else. To be honest, it was always easier when they were engaged or enjoyed the task, but when they weren’t, it wasn’t necessarily because of worry or anxiety. Sometimes it was just because their friend was more interesting in that moment!

Often, we feel this when we play sports. We don’t get distracted or worried about what has happened and what might be. We are in the moment, focused on shooting that goal, hitting the ball or passing it to the right player. We are so engaged in that specific task, at that moment, that it’s like nothing else exists. I guess that’s why the idea to ‘keep your mind where your hands are’ is there. Imagine if you were playing netball, about to take a shot and thinking about what your brother said to you yesterday that had really upset you. You’d lose your focus and miss that shot for sure.

mindfulness colouring

There are other ways we can get this same feeling outside of a sporting field. We do mindful colouring in school; the students and I always enjoyed it. You focus on the picture and how you want to colour it so that you can’t help but be in the moment. I still do colouring. When I need to actively switch my mind off and am struggling to find that space and quiet, I just colour. And it is in that moment that I know I am just ‘being’.

There are so many examples of when and how we can be in the moment. But the main thing to remember is to focus on putting your mind where your hands are. It seems to be the trick that keeps you focused on that moment and in the present.

Sapna Sachdeva 2018

The Idea of Respect

Recently I was speaking to a friend about respect and we were reflecting on our Indian parents’ generation’s idea of respect, which focuses on age and age alone as the determining factor of whether you receive respect. I would argue it’s not based on the premise of mutual respect, rather it’s quite accepted that it may only be a one-way feeling. But I guess now as we become more independent, more travelled, as we question and inquire more, we realise that definition of respect no longer works.

Respect is not a universal term, but it is often viewed as a universal value. When we delve into the word respect, every culture and society has a different interpretation or understanding of what it means. To some, it is about manners; others it’s about honouring elders; and to some it’s about mutual regard.

R . E . S . P . E . C . T

You often see respect as a school or company value, but do we really have a shared idea of what it means? What I enjoy about teaching is that we are co-creators of understanding and so when we speak about values and respect, we create a mutually beneficial definition of what it means. Through this, it is clear that we not only need to see respect in action but also going both ways. Otherwise, a teacher might reprimand a student for not showing respect when they themselves aren’t showing the student respect in return.

Respect for every voice

As I write and reflect on this, my issue is not with the value of respect because I strongly believe it’s necessary to build community and to acknowledge others’ abilities, qualities and achievements. However, I do believe that we limit children’s voices when we insist that respect is about age and, therefore, stage of life. There are many situations in which I will respect a child or young person’s point of view on an issue over my limited view because the reality is that their experience is greater than mine in that area.

So, the next time you find yourself saying ‘show some respect’ or ‘you can’t say that’ or ‘don’t talk to me like that’, consider whether what they’re saying is based on greater experience rather than because they’re not being respectful. We need to dissociate the giving and receiving of respect purely from age and make it more about experience. The value of a person lies in their experience and that is certainly not limited by the constraints of age!

Sapna Sachdeva 2018

The Truth Behind Needing Authenticity

2017 was the year I’d decided to focus on me. I wanted to discover the parts of myself I’d kept hidden over the years, the parts that weren’t defined by insecurities and lack, and most importantly I wanted to be my true self. So, I set a goal to be more authentic. It was interesting to note, as I pursued this goal that it was based in such falsities. Here I was in this pursuit of authenticity when clearly the one thing I was lacking was self-love and acceptance. As it happens though, I came across a quote from Brené Brown which helped me to truly understand how authenticity and self-acceptance were linked. Brené says authenticity is “the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are” [1]. This made me realise that authenticity should be driven by our desire to be our true selves and not by being caught up in who we think others want us to be.

That’s easier said than done, though. The idea of being authentic means allowing people to see you, which is one thing we all fear. What if I’m not good enough? What if they don’t like me? What if I don’t fit in? It’s a constant barrage of thoughts preventing us from showing ourselves. Rather we choose to be what we think others want and will accept. However, the one thing we always seem to forget is that everyone is in the same boat. It’s not a unique battle, our mind just tricks us into thinking it is. So, I encourage you to look beyond the desire to be authentic and ask yourself who you are and what you want to be? Because that is the most important part. Once you accept that part of you, authenticity comes naturally because you won’t accept anything less that showing your true self to the world.

At the end of the day, it’s about our choice to love and accept ourselves. Once the power of making your own choices is there, then any goal you strive for also becomes achievable. So why not try it? Focus on accepting yourself and make a choice to be who you want to be. It’s all easy to say but where do we start? Here are a few tips and exercises from my journey to self-acceptance:

  1. Write down all your worries, fears and insecurities and go through each one logically and determine if it is true or is it based on an untruth. You have to be ruthless with yourself and honest. Without the honesty this activity will not have the same impact. It’s always worth talking to a trusted friend if needed.
  2. Use an affirmation. We are hearing about these more often, but they do work. They help us to rewire our thinking and as the proverb by Buddha says, “As we think, so we become”. Some examples are “I love and accept myself as I am”, “I am safe and loved”, “I am true to myself”. There are many sayings/mantras/affirmations you can create that sound good, but the key is to make sure it resonates, and you are comfortable and happy with it. When you are, repeat it morning and night at least three times for 21 days.
  3. Watch videos or read articles from people who inspire you. I watch Brené Brown, Oprah and various people on Tedx Talks whenever I need a drop of inspiration to remind me why I am on this journey to accept who I am.


I can’t tell you I have it all worked out, but I am in pursuit of authenticity and I feel closer to my goal than ever before. I feel it’s because I’m on a journey of acceptance; I choose to accept who I am and let go of who I thought I should be. I choose to let those around me see my true self. I know it is daunting, but it’s actually quite liberating too.

Sapna Sachdeva, 2018

[1] https://thevalueofsparrows.com/2014/07/07/authenticity-cultivating-authenticity-letting-go-of-what-people-think-by-brene-brown/ accessed 09012018