The art of learning to be kind to yourself.
I don’t know if this is something too many people can relate to but it’s something through therapy such as CBT and MBT I was encouraged to learn to do. I don’t think I had a positive word to say about myself for so long and the way you view yourself, talk about yourself and maybe mentally talk to yourself really does define you in ways I had never really known.
Looking back is not something I’m fond of as though there has been good times my mind and body like to constantly remind me of the pain, the tragedies and what feels like my constant failings. So when I look back and see this bleak darkness it’s hard to move forward in good hope that things will be different. Here is where I am starting to discover the power of being kind to myself.
You know that feeling where you have promised yourself you are going to lose weight and get that body you have always known you could have but you just have never found the time to do it? So you set yourself a challenge and start doing the exercise, you change the diet and your lifestyle and you start to see the results which is great and this could happen for weeks or months then you relapse you have a week of pizza, booze and cake and in your mind that’s it you’ve ruined it all!
This is how I often feel about myself, this attempt to be perfect as I view myself as something resembling ‘damaged goods’ to redeem myself I must try to be perfect no room for mistakes, which when you have a mental health disorder is to put simply beyond unrealistic. I think that’s why I got so close to the edge I always fell short of my expectations for myself, not good enough, kind enough, intelligent enough, pretty enough, compassionate enough I could go on and I’m sure people can relate to this the guilt you feel when you get things wrong when you step over the boundaries you have put up to maintain that image of your ‘perfect self’. I am learning to be ok with not being perfect, of accepting my flaws and my often immature behaviour or stupid impulsive decisions, but being kind to myself is like re-wiring my whole brain I just haven’t done it in so long it’s alien to me.
A few moments in my guilt ridden mind is hard to explain so to share with you a scenario of a night out drinking where I got far too drunk and had to miss work the next day, at first something resembling a panic attack starts to happen head spins into a blurry mess, palms sweating and heart pounding ‘fight or flight’ is very much at work here. My mind screaming things like ‘you will never get better’, ‘permanently a screw up’, ‘you ruin every good thing you have’, ‘that suicide idea was probably your best decision yet to bad you screwed that up too’, ‘everyone hates you’, ‘this is all you are worth’. A few moments of tackling these thoughts feels like going a few rounds in a boxing ring with Mark Tyson and being beaten to a pulp, leaving me with barely any energy to move let alone attempt to battle each one of these thoughts.
There is a temptation to look for confirmation from others when in this state, to have them tell you that ‘You’ve done nothing wrong’ or ‘Don’t beat yourself up about it’ a desperate need for comfort as I cannot find any within myself. But recently I’m trying to change that… not many people know a few things about me, one being I am a Christian and my faith is probably well more honestly definitely the only reason I’m still here, but it’s no walk in the park, no comfort at times but it does remind me I cannot be perfect and should not expect myself to be, if you believe in God or not we cannot be all knowing and any attempt or expectation to be means we will always fall short.
It’s ok to make mistakes, it’s human to get things wrong, it’s even human to hurt people if it be intentionally or not, we cannot control others thoughts or feelings anymore than we can attempt to control our own. Often my biggest achievements have occasionally come from selfish intentions, and my biggest mistakes from my greatest intentions. That’s life, that’s normal and that truly is ok. Even writing these words brings some comfort to me, to tell myself ‘it will all be ok’ and not hoping to hear it from others brings a peace, brings space to open up the door to more possibilities where I wont view myself as a good for nothing failure.
The whole reason I wanted to write this post is vaguely to get it off my chest to declare it to the ‘blogging world’ and make my peace with it, but also as I know there are people out there who must do this too and I’m probably too comfortable with myself being treated like dirt but am far from comfortable with the idea that others do this to themselves. So to be an example I will say a few things to myself I know to be true, but in my heart of hearts I still have a fair way to go before I start believing but that doesn’t mean they are not true, and these are as true for me as they are for you, ‘It’s ok to make mistakes’, ‘I am worthy of love and peoples time’, ‘I am beautiful inside and out’, ‘I am not a bad person’, ‘My life means something and is important’, ‘I am loved’, ‘I deserve peace’. I think that’s all I can about manage for now as even writing them I feel the stir of something uncomfortable within me awkwardly stirring in disbelief as I say them to myself internally, but I must learn and will learn life is no walk in the park and being kind to yourself is so important to get you through all those tough times.
So lets make a decision to choose to think good of ourselves even when it feels like the most impossible thing to do.