One of the hardest things to learn — it most certainly feels like an acquired skill that takes time to acquire and implement — through therapy so far has been achieving radical acceptance of myself and being kind to myself.
I like to think I’m a kind and empathetic person for others, but when it came to myself? Whether it is the little things or the big things, when I was in the worst depths of my depression, I was the most brutal person to myself. Because when I’m depressed, I see very little value in myself in relation to others, in relation to my place in the world and in relation to myself as constituted. That’s the fertile ground in which suicidal ideation manifest. As such, I’m the person best (worst?) equipped to belittle myself.
If I can’t do a simple task: You’re pathetic. You can’t even do this. How are you going to be able to do X, Y and Z?
If I can’t do a big task: See, this just confirms that your imposter syndrome is legitimate.
If it’s a day that ends in “y”: You’re worthless and the world would be better off without your burden of a self taking up space.
That sort of constant negativity is always present when in a depressed, sinking mood and that sinking spiral only exacerbates the negativity; it builds upon each negative thought until you’ve created a pyramid of pain: Oh, you can’t fix this doorknob? You’re inept and that’s why your relationship failed.” It escalates exactly like that. It seems absurd, right? But it’s hard to know or understand that when you’re within it.
Yesterday, I was feeling the “grr Mondays” and just blargh in general. For whatever reason, I was exhausted and couldn’t get the brain fog to abate. I took two naps! And because of that, I was being hard on myself. “Why are you like this?” sort of questioning.
But I stopped myself and reminded myself: Be kind and take appraisal of what is going on today.
The latter part is particularly an important follow-through for being kind to yourself. Find the evidence that contradicts the negativity. The evidence I found: I’d gotten through my work emails, organized press release stories and opinion pieces for the Tuesday paper, scheduled social media posts, called back an individual about a story and I wrote three originally reported stories. After my official job, I then did three hours worth of a gig job (Amazon Flex; maybe I’ll write about that eventually).
That’s a darn good Monday, I’d say! But my brain was in that place of, “What a wasted day, you loser.” I simply had to remind my brain that it was wrong, present my case like a mental prosecutor and recalibrate from there.
Once I did that, the rest of the day got a lot better mentally-speaking and I felt better. Sometimes, we just have to remember to be kind to ourselves. Actively. It takes work! It takes actively engaging in being nice to ourselves to combat those negative, spiraling thoughts.
Doing that worked for me yesterday and I hope doing that can work for you as well when you find yourself in that negative headspace.
It taken me years to practice being kind to myself. Years to know most of the time whether to use those negative voices to sort through my heart on issues and then respond correctly. For me, it’s the Word of God that I put into practice that helps the most. I have put what God’s says about me over and over. Thinking on negative thoughts often can become a rut that my thinking falls into. Same as positive thoughts such as the God of the universe loves me can be that new road of thinking and a road built on truth from my Creator. My belief system has changed dramatically since becoming a Christian. The voices from my youth were not good, my Dad calls us kids pitiful. My early years of marriage were full of a lack of positive voices into my life so I always felt like I had to do more for someone to love me. But with God…He loves me continually and without any thing I can do for Him. With Him, it’s Him who always gives more than me, I rest in that on a daily bases. Loving myself is still a struggle at times but knowing I am loved by Him cast all those negative voices out of my mind. It’s good to be honest about our failing for we all fail to be perfect or what we think we should be or what others think we should be. I am the daughter of the King, King Jesus and that knowledge gives me great peace and I no longer strive to please that inner voice that says I am nothing. Jesus died for me, now who does that unless they love you. Very honest post Brett, know this, He died for you too, you are precious in His sight, live in that truth.
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Thank you so much for sharing! If you don’t mind me asking, what did those first steps into Christianity look like for you? How did it happen? Did you start attending church? Or just open the Bible? Or?
Thanks Brett for asking. I did not grow up in church or any form of religion. At 29 I was pregnant with our daughter and after 6 miscarriages I knew this baby was going to make it. Feeling her move caused me to wonder, what happen to those baby I lost. I bought my first bible, an New International Version, easy to read and continued on a search I think had been there all my life. I wanted answers that had some depth to them. I had searched in lots of places, other religions, astrology, self awareness book, all kinds of books and did not find any peace in what I read. I felt like I had a hole inside of me and even a husband, nice home, children after 12 years of marriage did not fill. I started at the beginning cause thats where you start any book. What I learned in the Old Testement was I was a sinner just like everyone. God loved me and the whole world. He provided for the Jews despite their disobedience. I believed Jesus was the Son of God and I needed to trust Him my life here on earth and for eternity. BUT, that meant I needed to stop trusting myself and others. You see, I was a survivor from an abusive home life as a child. REading the bible taught me that I could not trust in myself who was full of pride, self, thinking I could save myself. I said stupid things when people would talk to me about heaven and hell. I knew I was going to hell, but to cover my fear I would say things like, hey, I am a survivor , I can survive hell. Talk about being in the dark. It was an accumlation of my search for something to fill up the hole in my heart that finally drove me to accept that I could not help myself and trust what Jesus Christ did on the cross for all mankind. Salvation is for all, John 3:16, we just have to believe God’s way of bringing salvation to us. It’s hard to drop self and admit I must trust this God man, Jesus who I have never met in person, seen any acts of his life. Trusting what He did on the cross for me is trusting the God who created us and the whole world. He loves us so much and it was that love that drew me because really it was not the fact I would go to hell for eternity that drew me but His love making a way so I did not have to go to hell. Believing He had a plan for my life was huge for me, because I was sure I could make my own plans. The Bible is the key, it holds truth that no other book on any thing spiritual holds. So by faith, scared, yet humbled I accepted God’s plan of salvation for me. I am still after 30 some years trusting Him for my life here and for my eternity. Because I do not fear death or any man who could hurt me, it cannot Jesus away from me. He lives in my soul, that empty soul I lived with until I got saved and the Spirit of God moved inside that hole and now I have available anytime a comforter, a helper, a guide along with the Bible for my life. We did start attending a church, the one we went to before I got saved. I heard the gospel the same as I understood it to be as I read the bible and went and talked to someone about my search. I have never, ever be sorry, ever. And I have had some hard times to work through but God has led me through them, mistakes an all to peace. Knowing God loves me more then I can or other can love me had kept me living for Him despite my failures at times. He is easy to follow when you understand the love He has for us. I know this is long but I love talking about God and how He has impacted my life for I k now everybody is a seeker. I seek no more, my seeking days are over, my confusion is gone, I know who I am, His child. I am praying for you Brett as you seek.
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