Today, at 30, it’s hard for me to go an entire day without beating myself up for the most minute of mistakes. I could forget to text someone back, have a typo in an email, bump into someone else, basically just be human, and I’ll go over the details of the minor transgression until I’ve made myself sick. So, imagine my world when I make even bigger mistakes. It’s really sad.
As someone who has survived a lot of physical and emotional abuse, you’d think I’d go easier on myself, but I think there are some people like me have learned to do any or all of the following:
- Value ourselves less
- Tell ourselves that we deserve to be hurt and that we deserve to feel bad
- Move from a space of scarcity and see the world through this lens (ex: I’m never enough; nothing is never enough; nothing will ever last; there’s not enough out there for me…)
- Think that things will never get better for us unless we are perfect and without blame
What’s worse is that much of this thinking goes unchecked and unnoticed. That’s why therapy, journaling, blogging, tweeting, talking to friends, and sharing my heart are all so important to me. I want to be reminded of the darkness and pain and fear that drives many of my decisions.
We can’t conquer what we can’t see. In other words, if you don’t know you have an issue, then chances are you’re not going to find a solution for it. A lot of our unchecked mess leads us into unfavorable situations. I’ve stayed in abusive relationships because I thought that relationships were supposed to come with feeling upset, angry, and terrified often. That was my normal.
When healthier people came along, I rejected them. I didn’t trust their kindness. I was like, “You’re too nice to me and too dependable. Hurry up and hurt me before I leave you. I don’t want things to be this calm.”
And that’s another thing: some of us are so used to drama and bullshit that we can’t stand with things are calm, quiet, and actually healthy.
So what do we do?
Ugh. I’m getting distracted.
Okay. So here’s a list of a few things I do in terms of mindfulness, with the hope of checking and noticing my limiting thoughts, unhelpful behaviors, and negative drivers:
- I meditate daily. Currently, that means sitting down in my home office each morning around 5am and breathing slowly. I typically will think of the word “in” when I inhale and will think of the word “out” when I exhale. I learned that from the app Buddhify. After a few moments, my negative thoughts will kick up. My mind can be an absolute whirlwind of disgustingness in the morning. But, this is a good thing because I’m able to check all of the negative crap that’s going on in brain, heart, body. This morning, I had the thought of, “Dude, you’re spending too much money on your side hustles. Also, you and your wife are never going to pay off all your debt and pay all your bills this way.” This was me being totally honest, but it didn’t feel good at all. That’s where the next step came in.
- I fight to give myself grace daily. For me, grace is the space and room we give others and ourselves to fail, be broken, and be imperfect. So, when my negative thoughts come up, and I can see them clearly, my next best step (which doesn’t always happen) is to give myself grace. It’s to accept all that I’m feeling and all that I am. One of the main reasons I can do this is because I’ve finally accepted that I’m going to make mistakes and that that’s okay. It took me a long as time to get there, and truthfully, I don’t always believe it. But, when I do, when I successfully give myself grace, I breathe deeper. So when those thoughts about not having money came up this morning, I worked to accept how I felt in that moment. I worked to accept the frivolous spending that I did. I worked to accept my fear of being broke, homeless, and on the street with my wife and new baby.
- I work to reframe my thinking. This is probably the best place for me to end up. And I’m thankful every time I end up here. For me, a reframe just means: thinking about something or someone (including ourselves) in a different, realistic, rational, and more healthy way. So, I’m thinking: “Dude, you’re spending too much money on your side hustles. Also, you and your wife are never going to pay off all your debt and pay all your bills this way.” my reframe would be: “Dude, you’re spent money on a massage, acupuncture, an online class, a healthy lunch, and a web hosting fee. All together, those purchases were outside of your budget. But, you felt great about those purchases because of what they did for your mind, body, and business. You and your wife get to revisit your savings and budgeting plan once things settle down. In the meantime, your basic needs are met, your bills are paid, and you have support if any of that changes. It’s okay to feel afraid and to notice that everything is okay. It’s also okay to take risks and invest in yourself and your family” Sounds a little better right? But, how did I get there?
- I have systems of accountability and people who fight for my well-being too. I don’t want to – nor do I think I’d be able to – heal effectively in a vacuum. So, I see a therapist once a week, a nutritionist once a month, an acupuncturist once a week, and a massage therapist once a month. I share my honest thoughts with my wife, with my friends, with people I trust. I never go too far down any rabbit hole of negative thinking, because I have so many people checking me on my thoughts. I also take anxiety meds and see a psychiatrist once a month. I’m writing all this out and I’m thinking, “Dude, you’re a lot and you’re doing the most.” And that’s true. And I’m not alone in that. A lot of us have experienced a lot of hardship and it’s going to take a lot of work, awareness, time, space, and grace for us to heal. Healing is what I’m focused on because I want my life back. I want to feel joy. I don’t want to feel trapped in my PTSD, Anxiety, and Depression. I’m fighting for my life and I know that I deserve to be happy and successful.
- I remind myself of my brilliance and worth every day – even when I don’t believe it. I re-read affirmations about myself that I have posted on my wall in my home office. I read them one line at a time, and I take it in. Some of the things on the list are things that others have told me about myself. Some of the things are what I’ve learned about myself. This is easy to do at times and hard to do at times, but I’m better at it these days. I’m finally at a point where I believe the good things that others say about me and that I say about myself. That’s healthy.
Grace is one of the hardest things for me to give to myself. Growing up, I was told more about what I did wrong than what I did well. I was raised on shame. I got this from my family, from church, and then eventually I got really good at guilting and shaming myself.
But, I’m working on myself. I’m working hard so that I can actually enjoy this life, my family, and the small things. I’m working on myself so that I can be a resource and a light to others. And that’s why I share articles like this with you. I want you to know what my process is and I hope that you can take something from it and adapt it to your own life.
So, what’s one thing you’re going to do to give yourself a little more grace today? Let me know in the comment section below or tweet at me. If you’d rather keep the message private, you can always contact me via email.