Getting Into a New Relationship
When did we stop loving ourselves? Was it when that little boy or girl at school told you, you were ugly? Was it when you scrolled through social media, flipped through a magazine, or watched an advertisement broadcast unrealistic body expectations? Or was it after a breakup that left you wondering, “What is it that’s wrong with me.” It has taken me a very long time, a mental breakdown or two, and some self-discovery to understand my worth and why I chose to get back into a relationship with myself. This is a somewhat follow up to my previous post where I left you with a sense that I’ve conquered my demons and that I have figured out my life. That I am all cured of my issues. Excuse me while I laugh, then ugly cry, and then dig into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s before I continue on to say, life doesn’t work like that. If only it were that simple. I have continued to struggle with myself. I’ve been battling between the person I want to become and the person I’ve frustratingly continued to be. And I’ve come upon a notion, maybe even something that could be considered an unpopular opinion, but to understand the things within me that I simply cannot change (be it biology or bad habits) and recognizing the things I can.
Wanting to Change and Making a Change Are Two Different Things
Hey there! Do you want to change into a more positive, outgoing, ambitious individual? Me too! But that’s just not going to happen. I don’t mean it’s going to take longer than a week or a month to achieve such goals, I just mean that that will never happen. I’m not trying to be a downer or philosophize a realist’s perspective, but I want you to know that you cannot change who you are. Your innate tendency’s, the things that tick you off, the sadness of depression that is carried around everyday, and the worries that plague your anxiety-ridden mind, will always be there. There are things that happen in life that add onto the load that is already too heavy to bare, some blame it on bad luck when most of the time it’s circumstance. But it’s really what we do with what happens to us that can assist in “making a change.” It’s how we are in those moments, how we treat ourselves after and actively make the decision to be our best selves on a daily basis.
When I mentioned that we couldn’t make becoming more positive, outgoing and ambitious a goal was because these types of things are not finite. Much like other things we set in place for ourselves that result in limited or lack of progress, or a change that doesn’t last. We are under this impression that we have to develop some kind of endgame for ourselves, which we ultimately fail over and over again. We forget that these are things that we should strive to adopt and build over time, not in a week or a month from now. Think about it. Let’s say you you’ve gone into a new day with this goal of positivity, being outgoing and ambitious but end up having a crappy day and have become none of these things. Then you think to yourself, “I am such a failure.” Because you had the mentality of wanting to be happy, wanting to be more positive but yet experienced something unpleasant, then let yourself feel things other than happiness, positivity, etc., and then you’re back to where you were before you initiated wanting to change. Because that’s what these “goals,” and many other similar “goals” will result in. Failure. And then you get back into your old routine of self-loathing wondering, Why do bad things only happen to me, and finishing a family sized bag of sour cream & onion chips in one sitting. Okay, the chip thing may or may not be something I only do… My point is, stop setting these “goals” for yourself where you’ll ultimately end up hurting your progress instead of helping it. And I keep putting quotations around goals because when we set standards for our own self-improvement they are not goals. These are hopes. Hoping for a change that is never going to stick.
I know, this stuff sounds crazy and I sure am no psychologist. Although I graduated with a minor in psych, so clearly I know everything (totally kidding). Just how people think my major in religious studies makes me homies with God (or Goddesses/or no God/or whatever floats your boat). I’m not trying to discourage you from personal growth. Far from it. I want you to recognize that there are things about you that you simply cannot change. That sometimes the world has dealt you a lousy hand. That basically shit happens, and the silver lining is that you’re not alone. Everybody has their own stuff that they are dealing with. Be it a death, a breakup, a car accident, losing a job… All of these things royally suck, like really suck. But being an actual human is having to deal with the crap. That’s the number one thing that I turned a blind eye to, acknowledging that I tried my best in a bad situation. I have been accustomed to beating myself up, telling myself that I should have done something else or that I could have done it better, when really, there wasn’t anything better that could have been done at the time. I just beat myself up over possibilities, which I now know is how my mind works. I overthink, rethink, and replay conversations and situations in my mind over and over again, telling myself that I did or said the wrong thing. But that’s what it’s like having anxiety and depression for me. I have these compulsive thoughts and tendencies to aggressively overthink every little thing, and once I’m done beating myself up, my depression keeps me in a place of self-pity. It’s really quite the game I play with myself, “What’s going to get me riled up next.” It’s fantastic. But these are things that I now realize I cannot change. These are things I’m learning to adapt with and manage.
So what can you do when you’re really going through something or just dealing with the everyday? The first thing to do is recognize the things that have triggered you in the past to become overwhelmed (or however it is you feel when you experience a red flag moment). If you are like me, and struggle with tons of anxiety, this has become extremely helpful. For example, I know that if I don’t see my wallet in my bag or my keys when I leave the house, I automatically become nervous and worry that I forgot them. But overly nervous and worrisome; like a shaking Chihuahua kind of nervous. It’s something so small and ridiculous, but I’ve realized that if I just open my bag and see that they are indeed there, then one piece of worry is not on my mind for that day. The second/third piece of advice I have for you (even though I know no one asked) is acknowledge how you react and if there really was anything else that could have been done. To continue with my lame wallet example, I would literally freak out about where I could have left it because my mind would start thinking about all the things that could happen from losing it. Like, now I’m going to have to order a new health insurance card because it was in my wallet, or if I pop a tire how I won’t be able to call AAA because my AAA card is in my wallet, or if someone found it would they then go on a spending spree and then I’d have to go through the hassle of trying to prove that it’s not me. As someone who suffers from extreme anxiety, it’s not just a misplaced wallet; it’s a ripple effect of a multitude of scenarios that play out in my mind all at once that I cannot stop from happening. So for me, understanding that there are mundane things that can set me off and telling myself that it’s really not the end of the world is my way of coping with it. Also having the ability to congratulate myself when I don’t let my mind get carried away with these out of control compulsive thoughts, helps me too. Having created small standards that I can actually achieve and giving myself credit when I’ve achieved them is a better way of dealing with my anxiety and depression.
So I was crying the other day, I know shocker, but I realized something this time that I hadn’t been able to recognize before: I have a difficult time letting go. When I say letting go, I am referring to the action and ability to fully process events, my emotional response to said events, then being able to move on, and ultimately, let go. Having finally taken more responsibility for myself, has finally given me a sense of control. Something that I felt has eluded me for years. I understand now that when I ruminate about past experiences, especially the things that have brought me pain and sadness, it perpetuates just that. And if I choose to continue doing this to myself, I will never be able to alleviate myself from this cycle of torment. I know it’s not a simple task, especially because difficult pain cannot be forgotten, and the past cannot be changed. But I’ve now learned that I need to confront my problems by handling them as they happen instead of clinging onto them for later. Recognize that what I feel is not wrong, being able to express myself without doubt, will assist in finally being able to let go. I’m finally in a place where I can better process the pain that I’ve clung to and have preserved, accepting the realness and validity of experiencing such things, learning from it and then moving on.
Be a Bitch
I know, not too much of a smooth transition. But I mean, you knew that I would be switching it up a little since it’s a new section (the last section wasn’t really a smooth transition either, so…). It is somewhat of a continuation of taking a different approach to self-improvement, getting into a relationship with me/learning how to love myself again, letting shit go, and I swear it pertains to the title of this section, BE A BITCH.
I don’t know about you, but I apologize way too much. I always try to be nice and never want to hurt anyone’s feelings. But of course one cannot always be Gandhi when the metaphorical shit is hitting the fan, and there’s no way you’ll be able to please everyone. There is always an opportunity for you to offend at least someone. But I mean try and be nice, there’s really no reason to be a shmuck. This is just something I’ve recently had an epiphany over and you can think while reading, “this is a load of self help crap.” So I’ll keep it short and sweet for you cynics out there (don’t worry, I’m kin). So when I said be a bitch, I mean it in the sense of stop apologizing for being you. Be assertive. Be confident. Know who you are, and love who you are. And seriously, for the love of God or the Devil or whoever, stop comparing yourself to everyone else! Stop trying to be someone or something you’re not. You are not them, they are not you, so knock it off already. You are incredible. Just let yourself be you. Like I’ve stated previously, you are the only you out there. And when you’re having a bad day, or you feel as though you’re having a bad year, just know you’re not alone. Take some time to get better acquainted with that handsome human in the mirror because you’re an amazing individual. Flaws and all.