Today is one of these days when I want to talk about my thoughts a bit more.
The last couple of days have been hard for me in terms of mental health. I’ve been thinking about myself a lot, and one of the things I came up with (again) was that I have to love myself more.
I’ve been telling you this in other posts – and here I am, admitting that even I don’t do it properly?
But it’s not that easy – and those of you who experienced depression will understand me. Sometimes you just don’t have enough energy to keep positive thoughts in place.
Objectively, it should be easy, right? What can be hard about finding a reason to say good things about yourself? To understand that you are not a perfect, all-mighty being and it’s okay to fail?
I personally know people that wouldn’t understand what I’m talking about. They’ve never struggled to accept themselves (at least, that’s what I’ve seen). If you are one of them, maybe that post will help you understand your loved ones better.
And if you do know what I mean, and if you did have these moments when accepting yourself was a challenge, know that you are not alone.
What To Do When You Start To Slip
Down below I listed some of the self-deprecating thoughts I had myself or witnessed in others. These thoughts can be triggered by something or occur spontaneously when depression just wants to pat you on the back.
First of all, don’t get attached to them. I’m repeating my meditation practice here but really, your thoughts do not define you. They take over your head only for a moment.
Accept that you have them, that your mind is trying to go against you. Don’t turn it into another reason to be angry with yourself – you can’t control what comes into your mind, but you can control what stays in there.
Try to figure out where these thoughts come from. Then, you’ll be able to defeat them.
Here, let me give you some examples.
“I have to be perfect”
So much negativity comes from this thought alone – and, unfortunately, it’s common too.
Ever since we were children, adults have been praising us for doing something good and scolding us for bad behavior. In turn, it could leave you with the assumption that the only way to do something is to do it perfectly.
Of course, it’s not even close to the whole variety of reasons for being a perfectionist. But I feel like this one is what you’re familiar with.
Typos, undone shoes, messy hair, laughter that’s too loud, handwriting that’s too uneven. There are plenty of reasons to feel like something about you is wrong.
But the truth is – no one is perfect. Even your teachers or your parents. Even your friends, colleagues, employees, actors, scientists – no one.
We all make mistakes and get criticized for them. Because it’s the only way to grow. You can’t be good at everything.
Try to see your imperfections from the other side. Sometimes they can be fixed, but sometimes they’re just a part of you – and it’s okay.
They make you – you.
“I am responsible for every mistake”
This point is closely related to the previous one. If you are a perfectionist, every mistake doesn’t only seem fatal. It also is, undoubtedly and fully, your fault.
Of course! Because if you are the one that has to make everything perfect, then who else is responsible for things that didn’t work out?
Honestly? Anyone. Anyone else can be responsible for it as well.
And I’m not trying to say that there’s always someone to blame. No, it’s okay, it’s important to recognize when your fault is your fault and how you can fix it.
But also learn how to recognize when someone (or something) else has affected the outcome as well.
Sometimes it’s easier to blame yourself for a delayed bus, forgotten charger, and burnt toast. But these situations, like so many others that happen every day, aren’t your fault.
We all forget things, miss things, mess up with things.
Don’t blame yourself endlessly.
Sh*t happens – and sometimes you just have to let it go.
“I have to be attractive”
And I don’t mean objectively. I don’t mean things that you do to feel attractive, to be lovely or handsome, to look at yourself in the mirror and think “Yes, I’m looking pretty dang good.”
No, I mean every thought that’s related to the way other people see you. What they think about you. How they react to your appearance.
There’s a healthy amount of self-awareness in these thoughts. I mean, you wouldn’t show up in your underwear at work, even if you feel confident that way, right?
But “healthy amount” is crucial here.
I know how easy it is to overthink and spiral down the anxiety rollercoaster. Especially when it comes to looking for a partner and actually trying to look better in their eyes.
However, don’t let these thoughts catch you.
You don’t have to be attractive to be loved. You don’t have to look like this friend of yours, don’t have to have that hair color or hip size, don’t have to wear anything that doesn’t make you feel comfortable. You only have to be you.
There’s so much more to your appearance, things you don’t even notice yourself. And let me tell you, every person is the most attractive when they’re confident and comfortable with who they are.
“I have to be strong”
When we are in our weakest, when depression crawls back in, when the mind feels alien in your own head, it’s tempting to blame yourself.
You have to fight it. You are just being lazy. You have to be strong to enjoy your life.
Unfortunately, this mindset is often supported by those around you. Despite all the efforts to talk more, explain more about what mental health is and what it isn’t, it’s still a popular notion.
Come on, just get up, just smile, just love yourself, it’s not that hard.
Well, it is. It is hard, for all of us.
You do have to be strong to get through this – but you also have to be understanding and compassionate towards yourself. Living with mental health issues is not about punishing yourself for feeling that way or “getting yourself together”.
It’s about accepting yourself, your dark and bright sides, your strengths and weaknesses. It’s about living through good and bad days.
You are strong for being here. You are strong for every day you get through. You are strong even when you feel the weakest.
Support yourself. Praise yourself. You deserve all the love.
“I am a failure”
Even as I write this, a part of me is thinking that it’s such an absurd thought, “why would anyone think so low about themselves”. And the other is bringing up the countless times I had that thought myself – randomly, out of nowhere, because I was feeling like it.
We learn from our mistakes, so we tend to remember them more clearly. That’s why, when you start thinking about your life as a whole, whether in the middle of the night or on the way to work, failures are what we usually think about.
That broken relationship, that friend you haven’t talked to in years, that time you got the lowest grade in the class.
Whatever situation was bad enough for your mind to take notes, it’ll gladly bring them up five years later. They’ll always be a reason to think that you failed.
But mistakes don’t define you.
One, two, five, ten thousand failures don’t make you a failure. Because successes are all there as well, hidden in every passing day.
If you can’t find anything big enough to praise yourself for, remember about little things. You supported your friend when they were going through hard times; you left a nice reply and made someone smile; you fed your fish today.
Instead of focusing on the things you lack in, recall all the things you are good at.
You can be proud of making delicious toasts, finishing that series of books, making your siblings laugh.
These reasons may sound silly – but they are valid.
You can find good in yourself every day.
Active Tip To Try
When you feel like there’s nothing about you to love, try challenging yourself. Grab a piece of paper, a pen, and write down 10 compliments to yourself.
It can be about your face, your hands, your brain, your memory, your experience, your feelings. Big, small, what others told you, what you think, what you feel. Anything.
When finished, keep that note or memorize these points – and go on with your day.
As soon as your mind will try to come back to self-hate, bring up these points. Even if they feel very small in comparison to everything your mind is throwing at you, focus on them. Grab onto anything good about yourself.
Because you’re worth it.
You’re worth hearing compliments every day. You are important. You are enough.
Always remember that.