Three Steps To Learning To Love Myself
How did it begin?
I really don't know when it started. When I was very young, I had no problems with me and who I am. It's like I just woke up one day and hated everything that I was. I lived this way for what seemed like forever. Through a lot of soul searching, I was able to figure out I did it to myself. There were a lot of factors that made it easy to do to myself, but at the core of it my misery was my fault. One day I put the painful load of being perfect on my own shoulders. It felt like nothing I did was ever right, or even just good enough. This is a feeling I still struggle with letting go.
Step one: Say it
As I'm sure you have heard before, keeping things inside and pretending everything is just fine does NOT work. I had completely convinced myself it DID work and I really WAS doing fine. Until the sun set and I was alone with my thoughts. This turned into lacking a lot of sleep, and that doesn't help either. Things didn't start to turn around for me until I looked in the mirror, stared myself down and said "I am not okay." Things didn't just magically up lift from there. I spent several months just having to face that I was depressed. All those years of denial landed on my shoulders like a ton of bricks. One by one, I had to sort them and deal with each bad situation, every bad thought, and a lot of anger. I went from crying once a year (when I told myself I was allowed to cry) to having break downs almost every day. If you know someone who is trying to sort through depression, this is the time to give them a lot of patience. Let them complain about something that happened five years ago, because to them it still feels like yesterday. (or maybe even five minutes ago) From here, you're ready to be a phoenix. Let something new crawl out of the ashes.
Step Two: Let It Go
Now you have a ton of bricks that have been sorted, re-sorted, and then sorted again. This would be the perfect time to throw it all away. All this weight serves no purpose, and it's slowing you down. That is of course easier said then done. Washing away all that dirt is going to take time. Let it take as long as you need. You have to decide that yesterday is gone. Distract yourself from the past, and look at what's happening around you now. I found a lot of peace in walking around garden sections in any store that had one. That slowly turned into wanting my own garden, which is even better. I found a sense of accomplishment in saving a plant from myself with my first garden. I chose to do an herb garden and some flowers around the yard, which I still have plans to expand on. On those bad days, it can very helpful to step outside and look up at the stars. Let it make you feel small. When you feel small, you'll realize how small everything else is. All those problems that cause so much anxiety come into a different view, and you'll feel like an elephant just climbed off your chest allowing you to take a very refreshing breath. These are just some things I have done to let it all go. Found your own way to focus on the now that shines a little light on the world. Look at the little things you take for granted and remember how great it is. like plumbing; plumbing is pretty great.
Step Three: Say something else
When I was 13, I had a therapist. My mother promptly fired her for looking me in the eye and telling me "I can't help you". It doesn't get much lower than a therapist giving up on you. She gave me one piece of advice I had always found annoying. It never really worked, until years later when I really put my heart into it. And tweaked it to suit me better. She told me to say a mantra every day. Every day I was supposed to say "I'm happy." When you're living with depression and anxiety, just saying "I'm happy" is a pretty lame answer to the problem. This is where I made it my own. I challenged myself to use the word "fabulous" three times a day. I did not have to say "I'm fabulous" although I do, it wasn't part of the rules. Walking through a store you'll probably see something you really like. well, isn't THAT fabulous? Pick a word to uplift your vocabulary, it can be any word that has a positive meaning. Say it at least three times a day. Eventually, it will just be a apart of your life. I'm at the point where I do try to say "I'm fabulous" every chance I get. I don't really believe it, but it does make some days a little easier. This even lead to helping myself deal with the depression of epilepsy. I started having seizures when I was 16, which is not the best time to have your life turned upside down. I started saying things like "I'm so awesome my own brain can't handle it".