Tag Archives: self-love

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?

Do you also fall into the productivity trap?

Not so long ago, I had a slight breakdown. It seemed to me that I no longer had room in my head for more thoughts. At the same time, space and time seemed to narrow – everything got less – everything except responsibilities, plans and things to do. My anxiety returned, I could no longer breathe, and slowly began spiralling into depression.

Be careful with recently so popular word – productivity -there is a monster inside. 

There was a time when my diary was filled up with goals or things to do, to this level, that I didn’t have a minute to do anything outside of my schedule. Moreover, If I didn’t check out all things from a to-do list I felt unworthy. 

Even if it gives you an illusion of fulfilment, a full calendar is not a definition of success. It becomes dangerous when we base our importance on what we have managed to do or achieve. Overlapping with too many responsibilities can lead to burnout. So can we talk about “tascoholism”? Yes, when we are only focused on the future and our life starts to be a nothing else but a project. 

Planning is good and it’s good to have goals, but real life isn’t a list of goals to tick off. This approach cuts us off from being here and now. After all, the most important thing is to be present in your own life. 

How not to fall into this productivity trap?

Let it go

Whatever it is – everything can wait. Close your diary and close your eyes. Find a peaceful place at this moment, inside yourself. Feel yourself here, in this space and time. Feel what it’s like to just be. 

Now, do something for yourself. Something which will change your vibrations and take you from stress to pleasure. And most importantly – absolutely don’t feel guilty about it. There is time in life for work, for achievement, and for rest, which is equally important. Time for pure joy of being, most precious manifestation of life.

How I rescue myself from situations when I feel like drowning in reality? I choose some long novel, or a horror story (this is my weakness) and dedicate a few evenings only for myself, scented candles, herbal teas and immersion in reading. I don’t take phone calls and I don’t use social media. It’s only me and my small peaceful world. Sometimes I let my cat get inside 😉

Go inside

Starting day from a great routine that includes meditation helps cope with any kind of stress. Making mindful mid-day stops is also a good idea. Try to find a few minutes between your daily tasks just to ventilate your mind, turn off for a while. Be aware of yourself and your emotions all the time. Pause during the day and notice what’s going on inside you. If you feel you need a break, that there’s too much of something, just do it. The world will not collapse. 

And go outside

Nowadays we have lost our connection with nature, with the energy that flows through everything. We have forgotten that everything is one, that we are made of the same elements and come from the same source. Reconnecting to this source allows you to see everything as it is. Realize that you are a piece in the puzzle of the universe. 

Notice the world around you – trees, plants, clouds, starry sky, moon, powerful sun, life-giving soil. You can draw energy from it. Sit on the ground, lean on a tree that has been here for hundreds of years and will continue to grow long after you are gone. Find this particular stillness which is the anchor for this moment. Isn’t it a great feeling – being a tiny part of something bigger. To me, night walk under the stars is the most purifying and building inner stability ritual. Unfortunately, clear, cloudless skies over Dublin are not often found.

Verify your priorities

Is everything on your to-do list so important that it can’t wait? Do you have to do all of these – start a business, enrol in another field of study, learn Portuguese, take a speed reading course, learn to play the violin, build an athlete’s body, write a book? Choose what matters to you and focus on it. Don’t get distracted – there will be time for everything.

I’ve noticed that lately when someone asks “how are you” it’s is in a good tone to respond “busy”. Is being a busy person the new definition of being a successful person? It sounds like bullshit. Wouldn’t it be better to be able to answer “I am calm, peaceful and in the right place”?

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash