All posts by Aga

Why drinking whole bottle of gin is not a great way to deal with anxiety relapse

That was pleasant Saturday morning when I sat with a cup of coffee after eating my favourite pancakes for breakfast. Little by little I started losing focus on a book I was reading. I felt trapped. I felt that I’m losing not only a breath but also a mind and ground beneath my feet. The walls surrounding me started to get closer, while the same thing was happening inside my mind.

Sounds like I experienced something horrible? Like I was part of some disturbing accident? Well, you know – in fact, nothing had happened. Just another panic attack.

Photo by Mary Oloum

Anxiety attack is not only a crushed stomach and trembling hands – it is above all a paralysis that overwhelms the body and mind. As if you were squeezed in a black hole from which you cannot get out. 

Even when everything is fine, relapses will come back

It is typical of neurosis and panic attack that they often appear for no good reason. If you’ve ever experienced a breakdown like this, you know the trigger can be anything, even something you wouldn’t think of. It is just happening at some level of our consciousness. That’s why it’s so important to keep an eye on yourself. Accurately and honestly assess ourselves and the situations we are in. If it weren’t for my physical symptoms, I would never have thought that lockdown and the pandemic had any effect on my well-being. 

Despite being one of the lucky people (who have not lost their jobs, whos business going well, and who have exiting opportunities appearing on the horizon) I can notice that the whole world has turned upside down and it had some destructive effect on my psyche. And if you are dealing with any of those dark friends like anxiety, depression or addiction you should realize that there’s no end to that story. Sometimes, even if everything seems to be just fine, they might come back and knock on your door. Now, it’s only up to you if you open and invite them in. 

How naive I was that not being able to sleep for almost 3 weeks has nothing to do with my state of being. Of course, I tried to explain it somehow – overwork, stress as we were finishing accounting year, an upcoming deadline for that damn book that I have no idea how to end. My mistake was to take it as normal and pretend everything is ok. Maybe it was until that fateful morning when my unwanted neurosis guest not only entered the house but made himself at home for good. 

So how should you deal with relapse?

I have to admit that drinking a whole bottle of gin to deal with it was not the healthiest solution. Well, I’m writing here so you don’t make my mistakes. There’s nothing worst than covering problems with another problem. Like dealing with anxiety on a huge hangover. Don’t do it, kids.

(And for those who loves that gin too much I have tasty piece here: https://wholeworldinmyhead.com/2020/05/19/dealing-with-an-addicted-mind/ )

Here are a few steps that you can follow to avoid the destructive effects of relapses:

  • Watch yourself and accept; you need to observe your emotions – don’t ignore and push through, it only makes things worse. 
  • Name your enemies; you need to recognize the triggers to eliminate them before an attack occurs. Avoid situations and people that make you feel uneasy. I know this is the taught one, (especially coming to people) but we are talking about your mental health – this should be your priority, not trying to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Co-workers dilemma about Kardashian’s life annoys you? Don’t go for a coffee break together. That super slim athlete friend with PhD makes you feel like old wrack? Mute his/her feed on social media. You don’t need to compare yourself to someone’s ideal world created for instagram, especially while you dealing with anxiety. 
  • Apply a mind detox; cut your screen time and go offline for a while. You know, there is a pretty awesome world outside there. Don’t watch the news, don’t read upsetting articles. Pick up some uplifting book or a podcast and go for a long walk. Move your body, jog, meditate. Connect with your inner energy – that peaceful place is somewhere inside you, sometimes you just need to dig really deep to discover it.
  • Rely on medication if needed; in case you feel that the situation slips out of your hands and you lose control, it’s always a good idea to seek professional advice. We are not always able to deal with everything alone. 

And the most important of all: be kind to yourself. Always.

Take control of your mind

Your brain has approximately 100 billion neurons, and every each of them can create synapses witch 10 thousand, thereby creating a complex network. Neurons pick up, send out, and process electrical impulses, such as your thoughts. According to latest research led by Jordan Poppenk of Quinn’s University in Canada, an average person has 6200 thoughts per day. * What does it mean for your life what these thoughts are? Everything.

The human brain is an incredible and powerful, yet ambiguous tool. The great thing about it is that we can learn to use it to achieve what we want. How to do it? By learning to control the mind. At this point, I want to indicate that brain and mind are not the same things. In short, we can say that the mind is part of what the brain does; it is related to perception, thinking, self-awareness, as well as other unknown processes. 

Picture by Tabitha Turner

We can distinguish two modes in which our brain works: automatic and direct. In a direct mode, we are aware of what we think or do, while the automatic mode is responsible for all habitual activities. This isn’t just about automatic actions like using the right or left hand, brushing teeth or driving a car; here we are dealing with thinking patterns, and this is why it is so important to set up a “thoughts filter”

You are what are you thinking

Recognizing and working on changing negative thoughts patterns is the first step you need to take if you want to develop, heal or simply improve the quality of your life. 

Life isn’t comfortable if your thoughts are filled with fear, doubt, sadness, hate, or jealousy. It’s not easy to make your dreams come true when there’s a little saboteur in your head who whispers you can’t make it, you don’t deserve it, you’re worse, you’re too stupid, too ugly, too fat, too thin, too old, too poor…Most of us had to deal with these unpleasant promptings at one time. But how to deal with it in the long run? 

How to develop the skill of cultivating a positive mind? 

Have you ever decide that you want to adopt a dog – let’s say a German Shepherd – and then you see this species everywhere? It’s not a coincidence – this is how reticular activating system works. RAS is a group of nerves at our brainstem that filters out unnecessary information, so the important ones gets through. It ‘sieves’ the world through the parameters you give it. In the same way, it seeks information that validates your beliefs. RAS connect subconscious part of our brain with the conscious part. To put it simply – you are getting what you focus on. 

I wrote more about how our consciousness and subconsciousness are part of something bigger here: https://wholeworldinmyhead.com/2020/06/04/can-understanding-quantum-physics-help-you-create-your-dream-life/

Set your intent and visualize

“When the phenomenon of the universe is seen as linked together by cause and effect and energy transfer, the resulting picture is of a complexly branching and interconnecting chain of events(…)” 2 If you are channelling your conscious energy towards a specific goal, RAS focuses on that goal. 

It is incredible that in this scientifically backed up theory, we can find reflections of many ancient beliefs. Buddha himself said: “All that we are is a result of what we have thought.”

There are many techniques of visualizations that you can adopt for yourself. I would recommend that in whatever way you set up your “mental movie”, try to to do it regularly and always involve emotions in the process. Try to feel what you would feel if you really were in the situation you imagine. While you are creating this image, experience it as if you were living it yourself at the moment. 

Create that vision in your mind that will give you real feelings and ignite your desire.

Why don’t you try it yourself? Take control of the powerful tool that your mind is; filter your thoughts, be aware of them, and set time every day to visualize. You will be surprised how much your life can change. 

You can read more about the issue of positive thinking in achieving goals here https://wholeworldinmyhead.com/2020/04/05/how-positive-thinking-leads-to-success/

1 ‘Discovery of ‘thought worms’ opens window to the mind’. Queen’s Gazette, July 2020

2 ‘Steps to an Ecology of Mind by Gregory Bateson’ (Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. 1972).

Don’t put your life on hold

My granny had a whole wardrobe filled with dresses for special occasions. I’ve never seen her wearing any of them. They hung useless, collecting dust and going out of style. Like dreams that we put off for later.

Daily routine is 90% of our life; special occasions are only a fraction.

There is nothing more disastrous than seeing life as a series of special events separated by time that does not matter. After all, this time that fills the gaps between important occasions is all we have. So why do we neglect it?

Postponing life for later manifests itself on many levels;
perfumes that we consider too expensive to use everyday. Clothes that we don’t want to wear daily because we don’t want to wear them out (as if they were more important than our joy of wearing them). The favourite restaurant we only go to on one occasion, or this bottle of super-pricey wine that has been dusting on the shelf for months because it’s a pity to open it. Or those dreamed holidays that we put off for “a better time”. But there will be no better time – if you don’t make an effort to make present moment great, the future will be a sloppy too. The only thing that will change is that you get older and maybe you won’t want anything anymore.

Celebrating life is about appreciating every moment – whether it will be special depends only on us, on our attitude.

This approach makes life a constant waiting for something better. But life happens here and now. Whatever happen today won’t happen in the future. We will never be in the same circumstances again, and we will never have the energy and state of mind we have now. Unused opportunities will never come back to us.

Notice how often you are waiting for something to happen or for something to change. You can grow old in this waiting. Instead of waiting for special moments, make every day special as often as possible.

Let today be a special occasion

You can create special occasions without waiting for anything from the outside. It can be something as bland as the tradition of pancake Saturday mornings, or a monthly celebration of your relationship or friendship. Put on your favourite blouse, drink coffee from this antique china that you keep locked behind the glass case, order this delicious cake today even if it’s not your birthday. Enjoy your life, man!

You are the creator of your reality, and it is only up to you what rank you give to the events that happen in it.

Change the mindset that blocks you

Almost everything starts in your head. To put it simply, what you think and the way you think creates your reality. It seems easy, right? Unfortunately, controlling your mind is not so obvious. For so often, we fall into the ‘traps of thinking’ that we set ourselves. 

To recognize this process it’s important to observe yourself; your thoughts and reactions. Only by knowing yourself you can catch and change this unhealthy approach to reality. I will present here some common thought patterns that are harmful. I wonder, can you recognize yourself among these ways of thinking?

Photo by Shea Rouda on Unsplash

What is blocking us?

  1. Thinking that you’re not suitable

I’m talking here about this cold feeling of being unworthy and not good enough for something. We have often been told that the world is so structured that there is not enough for everyone. Well, I believe that in life, you get what you have the courage to ask for. And to ask for it, you have to say goodbye to “it’s not for me” thinking pattern.

We are all different; that’s a fact. We all have diverse social and cultural backgrounds, different experiences, different skills. However, we cannot let ourselves be persuaded that we are unfit for something because we are inferior. Or poorer. Or too old. 

External circumstances cannot decide who you are on the inside.

We may struggle with the social and economic situation; some of us may have mental health problems – but this should not affect how we perceive ourselves (in the sense of how we value ourselves). If you believe that you are not worthy of something – you won’t be worthy. Start treating yourself as if you deserve everything you dream about – because it is so. Start from your thoughts – if you are important to yourself, this is how you will become for the world.

2. Thinking that mistakes are the failure and that failing makes you a looser

Failure only exists if you let it. Otherwise, there are only lessons. If you learned something from error or failure, it was not a failure at all. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Forgive yourself for mistakes. And do your best to learn from them for the future. 

3. Equating success with happiness

We could write endless dissertations about happiness. This is an elusive and difficult to define concept. However, when you define it for yourself, remember one thing – do not equate happiness with success. These are two different things. Completely separate.

Making happiness dependent on success can lead you astray. Because often when we reach it, we do not feel fulfilled, either happier. Happiness begins inside of us. Not outside. 

You can be happy working on your success. You don’t have to wait for it to come true, you can feel it along the way.

What is true happiness for you? Can you find it among small everyday things, or you need that thrill of great success to allow yourself to be happy? Can you tell the difference between those two terms: happiness and success? Name it, write it, remember it.

4.Thinking that your worth depends on your accomplishments or productivity

This is the most difficult one for me, as I’m still trying to escape the feeling of uselessness. I often get overwhelmed with projects for which I don’t have time, probably to make up for this numbing feeling. The more I do, the more important I feel. How illusory that is!

The truth is that you can be the most creative person in the world, and yet sometimes you don’t do anything. And that’s okay. The problem starts when you stop feeling worthy straight away.

The value of a human does not lie in how much he can achieve, create, learn. It lies in what a person you are. No achievement is more important than a good, compassionate heart.

Interested in details? You can read more about it here: Do you also fall into the productivity trap?

5. Taking life as a contest

If you’re one of those with a competitive mindset, you know how much stress it brings. Life is not a contest, and you don’t have to be perfect in everything. 

Does it really matter so much whether you do something for a 100% or a 86%?

If you are working on something, do your best but don’t beat yourself up. You can’t always be the best, but you can always be good at something. This applies to every sphere of life – perfectionism is a devastating poison.

Trust me, there is no eternal score board where you can fight for the first place, there is no podium. Nobody is sitting and waiting to judge how you did. If you feel the urge to be the best at everything and outperform everyone else, the problem is probably with you. It would be good if you believed that you don’t have to prove anything to anyone.

Fighting this kind of thinking is arduous if it has bit deeply into us. However, we can change this by working on ourselves step by step. By watching ourselves and make small changes daily. When we know what’s blocking us, it’s easier to free ourselves from it.

Allow yourself to change

One of the most significant things I realized in my adult life is that change is an indispensable part of everything, and you have to like it, or at least make peace with it, if you want to keep peace of mind. There’s only one thing certain in life – a change.

Opening up to change set you free.

We don’t like changes because we like the comfort of steady situations. We like it so much that this zone of comfort very often becomes our wall-free prison. As is the case with prisons, they do not allow for development and true freedom, even if their walls are made of fear and insecurity instead of bricks.

I’ve never liked changes myself. Watching how the world becomes a different place made me feel uneasy. Back then, If I only could, I would stop the time and live forever in the same surroundings and with the same people. The changes were so unpleasant for me that it was even obnoxious that my best friend dyed her hair from black to blonde. Probably for the same reason, I have worn the same looking black clothes for years. I think it has to do with the fear of passing away; but whatever we do, we won’t stop time. There are things that we will not change and which we have control over – it is a great relief to accept it. Being ok with the fact that we can’t control everything is freeing – sometimes we have to surrender to what the Universe brings to us.

It’s never too late

Sometimes we get so used to the role we play that it seems impossible to change. We create a picture of ourselves and stick to it for years. And yet we are changing with the world as well. I am not the same person as I was five, ten or fifteen years ago.

I am talking not only about everything that shaped our personality (because we can change it too!) but also about the choices that influenced where we are now.

I’ve made many decisions in my life; not all of them were right. Even when it comes to my professional career, I tried many things to quit and move on to something else after a while. Often it did not find approval of all my relatives, because according to most people, we should stick to a decision once made. As if evolving was inappropriate.

I studied literature and polish language, knowing I didn’t want to be a teacher. So I signed up for the journalism faculty. After my MA in Journalism and PR, I felt that I didn’t want to be a journalist at all. After that, I was doing a computer graphics course, but it didn’t appeal to me too much. Then I got caught up in the world of makeup, and then there was herbalism…even if today I do not want to develop further in these directions, each of these things gave me irreplaceable experience and knowledge. Who knows who I would be without it. It is possible that if I had not made changes, today I would be an unhappy Polish language teacher.

Each change takes time, but time will pass anyway, so don’t think that is too late for a change. Don’t think in terms of deficiency – that you are too old, too little gifted. If we assume that on average we need about five years to achieve a master level in something, then in one life we can make such significant changes at least several times.

There is nothing sadder than burying your dreams when you are middle-aged, with so many of empty years ahead of you.

What I want to say is that you don’t have to stay in one place if you feel you would be happier somewhere else. If you have been drawing your life with a red crayon so far, reach for the blue one if you want your future to be different than what you have so far! And never feel guilty about it!

How to feel better with yourself? Stop striving for approval!

We all feel great when we are praised and petted. There’s nothing wrong with it. Approval in itself is not unhealthy. The requirement for acceptance becomes toxic when desire becomes the need – it’s just neurotic behaviour.

Photo by Amir Geshani on Unsplash
Photo by Amir Geshani on Unsplash

In a fantastic book by Wayne Dyer ‘Your erroneous zones’ he writes about self-destructive forces involved in the process of seeking approval. As when we are mentally overpowered when we do not receive approval or when we expect it always and from everyone. 

Such an attitude risks losing oneself completely – often, people who are dependent on the acceptance of others cannot live in their way. Because to please everyone, you have to bend your arguments and beliefs. That is why people who want to flatter everyone are perceived as devoid of character and clear views. And the truth is simple – you can’t please everyone. Deal with it.

You cannot allow the opinions of others about you to take precedence over your view of yourself.

If your value depends on the opinions of others, you have a serious problem. If you want to free yourself from it, it will be helpful to figure out why you are seeking approval. To do this, you have to go back to childhood, because that’s where programming begins. *

Our relations with parents and teachers often rely on the need to be appreciated. If we are perfect pupils and behave as expected, the prize we get is acceptance, appreciation and even love. Our culture support this mechanism; this is why we pay too much attention to what others think. 

By focusing on pleasing others, you lose touch with yourself. You lose self-respect because you treat yourself as the least important person. You put on masks to please others and therefore you don’t know what you really are. You do everything to make others fun and pleasant with you – that’s why you often suppress your emotions. This leads to a depressed mood and a lack of self-confidence. It also extinguishes your life energy and makes you even more dependent on the opinions of others about yourself.

Fortunately, we can work on changing our habit of seeking approval. 

Start with the thought that you can’t make everyone happy and prepare yourself for any disapproval that can touch you. Be aware of it when it comes – name it and name emotions which will then appear. Realize that someone’s disapproval of you is someone else’s problem – not yours. It sounds simple but takes practise to make it a habit. 

Analyze all situations in which you put someone else’s opinion above yours. Do you succumb to your partner regarding the appearance or design of the apartment? Do you still obey your parents’ instructions so as not to offend them? Do you hold back on opinion on a topic just so that someone who thinks differently doesn’t stop liking you? Do you often think about how others see you? What is your reaction to rejection?

You can learn to react in a completely different way to disapproval. Begin by addressing to someone who is holding that approval and say (even if only in your head): your lack of acceptance does not change what I think and feel – even if you don’t something in me I’m still ok.

You can also keep a diary and record all situations related to this problem. Practice ignoring disapproval. This will help you ensure that even a lack of recognition will not upset you. 

And always remember: what others think has no bearing on your worth.

*W.Dyer, ‘Your erroneous zones’ (1976)

How to want less (I)

I remember such a parable, although I do not remember it exactly – there was a man who found a beautiful, wild island. There he found a fisherman sitting thoughtfully by the seashore. “Old man, I want to buy your house and your land. I’m a rich man; I can offer as much money as you wish. Think, You can go anywhere and do whatever you want – what would you do if you have so much money?” “Well – fisherman answered slowly – I would settle on a small island and go fishing”.

What would you like if there was no one to show it off?

Too often, we strive to achieve things we don’t even need. We want newer phones, more expensive clothes, more cars, more fashionable furniture, expensive and sparkling jewelry (so that it does not hide from anyone’s eyes), the fifteenth bottle of expensive perfume, unnecessary gadgets, new headphones (because a famous rapper did not advertise the old ones). And this is only a fraction of what we can have. Why do we need all this?

It is a second lockdown for me, and if I ever learned something because of it, it’s a conviction that I don’t need much. I don’t need much stuff. I don’t need many things around me. Clear space around and clear space in my head it’s a real blessing – because everything we need is within us. If you don’t find happiness in simple things, you won’t find it anywhere.

When the world crumbles and the notion of normality changes, it’s good to find ourselves encircled by something that helps you get through these challenging times. And I’m not talking about cool stuff here – things people like to surround ourselves with because of the vanity – things that we want to collect or have because everyone else has; things that are used to express our social status.

Joy in ordinariness

Finding joy in ordinariness begins from appreciating what you have: health, food, peace, fit body and mind, free time, people and animals nearby, opportunities to come, a world waiting to discover more in it.

What I need during lockdown is a nice cup of tea drunk with my beloved one and confidence that everything will be fine. What I need it’s a good book to feed my brain and nutritious food to feed my body. All I need is a quiet moment in the evening when I can close my eyes and look inside myself.

People have too many things. It takes away your peace of mind if we have more around us than within us.

Minimalism is rebellious in a way because it means living a bit against the modern world, and declaring that our value does not depend on the amount and size of the things we have. Minimalism is a bit of contempt for contemporary values based on possession. And yet, when we are left alone in the walls of the house (if we are the lucky ones who have a house), all that surrounding, glitter, things on which we build our image, and which are not us, disappear. We are left alone with ourselves. And we only have this: ourselves and time; not even all the time, just a specific moment. Do we then think about having more things?

Instead of more things, we can have more time, space, love, friendship, peace, compassion, adventures, conversations, dreams, thoughts, emotions, ideas, walks, plans, fun. We should have plenty of this while we eliminating from life what we do not need, what is overwhelming and burdens us.

Do you suffer from excessive ambition?

Ambition can give meaning to life, but it can also take it away. It can add wings as much as it can clip them. How can we recognize if our driving ambition can be fatal? First, we need to know what drives our action.

Latin “ambitio” means a desire for recognition. We associate it with the desire to achieve success, goals, and development. And in fact, ambition is what motivates us, what makes us want more from life.

Photo by Fuu J on Unsplash
Photo by Fuu J on Unsplash

When does ambition start to be a problem?

When, despite the achieved goals, we still feel empty and unsatisfied, and we try to fill this void inside us with something from the outside – e.g. with recognition or splendour.

Excessive ambition is usually caused by comparing ourselves to others and wanting to prove that we are better or at least equally valuable. It is low self-esteem that makes us continuously prove something – to ourselves and others.

Timothy Judge, professor of management at the American University of Notre Dame, states in his research that

“(…) ambition was positively but weakly related to life satisfaction, there may also be negative consequences of ambition for individuals when a variety of dimensions of satisfaction are considered.” *

Psychology distinguishes three types of “I” – “real self”, “ought self” and “ideal self”. The imbalance in our interior leads to the growth of excessive expectations. Tory Higgins’ research has shown that the more discrepancies between them, the more problems. The divergence between the “real self” and the “ideal self” can lead to sadness, depression and burnout. On the other hand, the discrepancies between the “real self” and the “ought self” lead to shame, anxiety and fears.

It is an imbalance in our interior that leads to the growth of excessive expectations – to toxic ambition.

In its extreme form, ambition can be destructive. According to psychologist Sheri Johnson, excessive ambition is associated with the risk of bipolar disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.

Indeed, I can see this pattern among my friends or co-workers. I can see a lot of it in myself -the pursuit of the unsurpassed ideal. So many people broke their lives because their bar was set too high. You know this type of people – they are the ones who say “all or nothing”. If something spectacular was not achieved, they treated it 100% as a failure. And yet from 100% to 0%, there is a series of ninety-nine digits …Is the result not the highest, but on a level above average, also a loss? For many people, it is. And this is what we call a sick ambition. Great results, although far from perfect, do not satisfy them in the least. It’s like those kids at school who cry because they got A and not A +.

Excessive ambition is a way of dealing with complexes through overcompensation. We feel worthy only when we achieve something big.

The best solution to overcome the havoc caused by excessive ambition is to look inside yourself and cultivate who you are. At the opposite pole of sick ambition lies gratitude and self-acceptance. This is where you should direct your thoughts. It is also responding to internal motivation. Only what flows from within can fulfil ourselves. Only desire from within makes us strive in the direction we set for ourselves, not looking at external acceptance.

Each of us is different, and each of us has a different internal mission. Only we can answer what this mission is. So what you choose – the pursuit of recognition, or maybe something truer?

* (On the Value of Aiming High: The Causes and Consequences of Ambition )

You won’t get anywhere if you don’t know direction

I know a lot of people who are driven by a desire for success. Most of them, however, can’t even define what success means to them. It’s like the biggest priority in life, but they can’t even describe it. I’ve heard so many times people saying things like “I need to achieve something”, or ” I want to be someone”. Well, the first thing on your way to achieving your goals is to determine what you actually want.

What is the success you want?

Success is a very tricky word, and sometimes I feel that would be favourable if we could redefine it for ourselves. Success is something different for every human being because our inner structures are different from each other. Unfortunately, the stereotype that success is related to money, social standing and power still linger. But it doesn't have to be that way. 

People don’t know what they want. They follow dreams of others; they fall into traps settled by social expectations or expectations of their loved ones. They are chasing a pattern of success set by other people, so even if they finally achieve it, they don’t feel happy neither fulfilled.

There is a reason for every one of us to be on this world. Fulfilling a person’s mission does not have to involve momentous things. Something that the world will not hear can also be a great success. Let’s not seek recognition in the eyes of other people, because everything we need to be happy is hidden deep within us. Let’s just look inside ourselves more often.

I had a friend who was obsessed with “achieving something”. I mean, she wanted social recognition so badly, that at some point it ceased to be important how would she achieve it. She struggled between opening ill-considered blogs and the Instagram pages where she wanted to become famous. Nothing worked as she wished. Why? After all, she was determined to be successful. Well, there was no direction in her chaotic activities. There was no vision.

Without vision, there is nothing.

As Stephen Covey wrote in his best-selling book, you need to begin with the end in mind. You need to have a vision which will influence your thoughts and actions. Knowing the direction in which you are going makes it easier to determine the itinerary.

Only specific actions aimed at specific goals can bring the intended effect. Otherwise, it is only drifting, bouncing off the banks.

Once we define our personal journey, we must realize that everything depends on us, on our proactivity. We must not fall behind in the phase of dreams and plans; we must take the first step, then the next and another.

It’s not enough to tell yourself – I want to be successful in life. You need to clearly define what this success supposed to be.

If you are struggling to define your vision, take it easy. The tension has never helped anyone. Start by reflecting on all the things you enjoy doing. Make a list of those things and a list of the things you dislike. Think about what makes you happy, what makes you want to get out of bed in the morning. Take a close look at your emotions. This is an excellent start to building the foundations of what you want to base your life on.

If you have a vision of your life, it defines you and your actions. Knowing where you are going makes you surely get there.

Know what you want.

Do it.

Feel great about it.

What years of dealing with anxiety taught me about self-love

Most families seem normal, but if we look closely, we will notice that they are indeed dysfunctional. Sometimes we are growing up in households where the pattern of anxiety and depression have been passed down from generation to generation. No wonder that we did not develop a healthy approach to life as a younger person. 

Don’t get me wrong – I have no desire to blame anyone for my mental state. Just need to outline the point that since I remember ‘loving myself’ was something unimaginable. Encouraging humility, modesty and putting the needs of others in the first place prevented me from developing the feeling that should be the most important thing for everyone – love for oneself. 

Our parents love us, but they don’t know how to teach us loving ourselves merely because they don’t know how to love themselves.

As a teenager, I put on a mask that didn’t show how vulnerable I was. The very thought of someone seeing that I was weak, fragile, scared and feeling unworthy scared me. Hence I played the role of someone who doesn’t care about anything. Sinking into neurosis accompanied by overuse alcohol and drugs made all the fears that consumed me from the inside grew. Because sometimes you think you’re killing fear with drugs, but you’re just feeding it. 

And then you enter adult life equipped with luggage filled with guilt, low self-esteem, fear of other people, fear of the death, lack of a sense of purpose, traumas, lack of self-confidence, timidity, toxic perfectionism, inferiority complex, comparing to others, self-harm, insecurity. It’s a lot to take for one person. Sometimes it seems unmanageable to find warm feelings towards ourselves among all these harmful emotions. But nothing is impossible.

Learning to love yourself is not about standing in front of a mirror and repeating ‘I love you’. It’s not about forcing yourself to take actions that you think you should do but don’t feel at all. In my experience, the smallest steps we take every day are the most important. Because self-love, among other things, it’s a mixture of everyday habits and small things you can do that make you feel worthy. 

Self-love is:

  • saying ‘no’ if you think ‘no’ and saying ‘yes’ if you think ‘yes’
  • limiting contacts with people who are bad for your well-being
  • removing someone from your life
  • knowing that it’s ok not being productive all the times
  • resting when you are tired
  • investing in your development
  • surrounding yourself with things that make you happy
  • not spending time on things and people that are not worth it
  • not meeting people if you don’t feel like it
  • pleasing yourself
  • make yourself feeling comfortable
  • applying for a better job and more money
  • taking care of your body – nourishing it with healthy food and keeping it in good condition
  • doing things you love to do
  • taking alone time when you need it
  • getting enough sleep every day
  • realizing that you don’t have to be nice to everyone
  • and that you don’t have to please everyone
  • knowing that it’s ok to make mistakes
  • reaching out for help and support
  • leaving an unsatisfactory relationship
  • not blaming yourself for your past
  • not explaining yourself to anyone
  • spending money on the things you desire
  • feeling good about receiving compliments
  • standing for yourself
  • nurturing dreams, even the craziest ones
  • admitting difficult emotions
  • expressing your own opinion
  • not living to people’s expectations
  • setting boundaries and sticking to them 
  • accepting not being perfect
  • be proud of your achievements

What would you add to this list?