I feel like I’ve been here before, this uncomfortable place of personal failure, not knowing quite how I got here. The years keep passing and it seems it has become one step forward, nine steps back with the backward steps becoming more like tragic leaps into darkness. It’s so easy to look through the window of the lives of those around me, close to me and see them succeeding in all the ways I wish I was.
Why not me? What am I doing wrong? Has become consistent mind dialogue.
With this mindset, I have continued time again to spiral into a pit of self-shame that I’m not sure I can make it out of… …not this time.
I’m going to climb back up and change my cycle. Here’s how:
1. I’m going to stop the pity party.
Thoughts like those above (“why is this happening to me”, “how did my life turn out so much worse than – insert friend or acquaintance -“) do not help. I repeat, they DO NOT HELP, in fact they do more harm than it may initially seem. This dialogue you have with yourself is very powerful. It can either work for or against you and thinking patterns of negativity lead directly to leaps backward.
This time, I am going to instead ask myself “what can I do to better my situation?” and “what can I be grateful for now?” Cliche right? But seriously, this change in mindset can bring you from thinking about yourself as a worthless, money wasting, space hog (which you absolutely are not!) to a woman/man on a mission of utmost importance; this switch can do wonders for your self-esteem which will only propel you forward.
2. I’m going to stop comparing.
Easy right? Uh…ya. Social media has taken over our lives. That is a fact. As long as you’re not living in an ice cave in Siberia (and maybe even then), you open and spend a good chunk of time scrolling through at least one social media platform in a day. I know I probably spend 3 or more hours a day doing so. And this is fine!
As long as, like me…, you’re not basing your self-worth off of what you see. I am big for comparison and probably have been since elementary school. I didn’t fully realize it (or want to admit to it) until earlier this year. I see photos of the ‘highlight reels’ of people’s lives and expect that line should look the same.
After all, who posts pictures of themselves crying mid-breakup, their thighs after they’ve gained 12 pounds, or all the time they spend playing Halo (or whatever I’m not a gamer) throughout the week? I can definitely admit to my feels being a highlight reel of an image of myself I want to project to others.
Which, I suppose then, isn’t really ME. So why should I view others pages/posts as totally authentic? I’m not going to completely remove social media from my life as that is totally unrealistic. What I am going to do is be mindful as I scroll. Am I looking at pages that are good for me? (Ahem…confessed ex bf creeper * face palm *) Am I beginning to get the uncomfortable urge to self-shame and compare? Are these photos building me up or breaking me down?
This ties in with my first point since as I’m scrolling I will listen to my internal dialogue and make sure it stays positive, otherwise I will quit the app and walk away.
3. I will fill my schedule with activities that support my values and subsequent goals.
If you haven’t done so, I highly suggest writing out your top three values. Values are different from goals. Goals are tangible ideas that can be reached such as making the soccer team, or saving $20,000. Values are internal; kindness, bravery, health, etc. I think goals are important but values are much more important. I for one have reached many goals.
Did ‘happiness’ derive from reaching these? Sometimes fleetingly. I’m not saying goals are bad, but living according to values that align with who YOU are, is the real recipe for freedom and contentment (notice that I don’t say happiness – which I believe is an unattainable and fleeting goal in itself).
I consider my top three personal values to be
- Acceptance (of myself and others)
- Commitment to mental/physical health
- Vibrance (to live in my truth)
I am by no means a master of these (probably why I am even writing this article) but I am working to live in accordance with them as much as I can.
Back to my point, I am going to fill more of my time with activities that will help we toward realizing my values in my life. I am going to take inventory of what I am currently spending my time and my money doing and decide whether it aligns with my values as listed above. Then I will take mindful action…
4. I am going to give myself a break.
This final one kind of embodies my first 3 tips, however, I think it is very important. I am SO hard on myself. I rarely, if ever, give myself the benefit of the doubt. I am constantly overthinking, over analyzing and over punishing. This has caused me to drink to excess, do too many drugs (sorry mom), over and under eat (sorry body) and over exercise (again, sorry bod). I’m thinking that many of you can relate; Our culture is one of invulnerability and excess after-all.
So, I plan to treat myself with kindness and remember that my current situation will not change overnight. With a little effort day in and out and dedication to my listed strategies, my world will start to change…slowly. I urge you to do the same. After all, if we were all a little kinder to ourselves, our world might be a little kinder too.