Too much self-help, not enough self-love

Last week at work, I was consuming yet another self-help podcast.

About half way through, I made a quick decision to turn it off and stop consuming so much self-help material. It wasn’t anything particular to the podcast itself, I just realized that I’m sick of feeling like there is always one more lifestyle change I need to make in order to be my best self. I’m exhausted from parsing out all the contradictions in the self-help community.

I’m tired of thinking that I’m not quite good enough, yet.

It’s great and noble to strive to be a better person, but it can come at the cost of losing who you really are.

If I notice an undesirable trait in myself, I want to fix it. A trait that has been very apparent to me lately is that I’m a quiet and reserved person. I don’t like how being a quiet, reserved person leaves me feeling left out in social settings and so I want to stop being quiet and reserved, but when I do, I feel unnatural and ashamed of myself for being someone I’m not.

It’s one thing to want to be a better person, but it’s entirely something else to strive to be a different person.

Not liking who I am or wanting to be someone else has plagued me for as long as I can remember, and it’s an emotional battle that I keep ignoring.  I ignore it because it’s uncomfortable to acknowledge it, and acknowledging it only makes me feel worse. It reminds me of the pilot episode of my favorite animated show, Daria, where Jane and Daria meet in a self-esteem class, but test out three weeks early and are honored with a school-wide assembly.

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Recognizing that I don’t like myself makes me feel pretty rotten. I wonder why, and I try to figure out what it is that I don’t like, and then I end up in that loop of trying to fix myself.

There are ways in which this inclination to “fix myself” has been good for me. For example, I’ve overcome paralyzing social anxiety, I’ve learned to ask questions about things that I don’t understand and I’ve learned to keep trying even when things get hard.

I’m glad that I strive to improve myself, but I’ve been walking a fine line between self-improvement and self-flagellation.

I want to start honoring who I am, instead of resisting it.

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When I was a young girl, I hated my body, but I eventually overcame that. I learned to stop saying mean things about my body, and I learned to like what I see in the mirror. I can do the same thing for my mind, spirit, and heart. I can learn to love all the parts of myself, all ways, always. border

What’s an emotional battle you’ve been neglecting? How can you start tending to it? What freedom could you receive from addressing it?

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Tuesday Treat: Today is a Good Day

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This morning my Dad sent the family a quote in our group text message that read:

“If we have the attitude that it is going to be a great day, it usually is.”

– Catherine Pulsifer

I decided that today will be a great day. That doesn’t mean I’ll deny any negative feelings in favor of a great day, it simply means that I will savor the day for all it’s worth.

What will you decide about today?

I Hate Uncertainty

Have you ever experienced restless legs?

For me, restless legs occur from a sensation of throbbing or aching or pinching that gets so intense that I feel like I can’t sit still. I’ll get this achiness that feels like all my muscles have curled up and are begging to be stretched out.

I start to wish that my legs were made of rubber so I could stretch them for miles.

For the past week, I’ve been noticing this restless leg sensation in my entire body. It starts with a shakiness underneath my skin, and I begin to feel physically unfocused. The longer it goes on, the more this surreal but frighteningly real feeling takes hold – like I want to unzip myself and walk around the world in my bones – a new kind of naked.

(Naturally, I took to Google to see how psychotic I am. Turns out, I’m average).

I’ve considered that there are physical possibilities for this, but it’s not a consistent occurrence and it’s worse when my anxiety is worse, so I have to assume they’re related.

I think that this internal restlessness is resulting from the fact that I’m in a place of uncertainty right now and I’m panicking about my future.

What if I don’t get the job I want? What if I don’t get any job? What if everyone else is better than me and I get passed over for the rest of my life? What if I’m unemployable? What if my student loan repayments are unfeasible for our budget? What if I’m never satisfied?

I see other people sorting their futures out, or it seems like they already have their future sorted, and I feel like I’m behind. I’m sick of the dead-end jobs that have occupied most of my adult life. I’m sick of being in a holding pattern because of school, yet I’m terrified to graduate and hit the play button because I’m worried that it will be broken.

I’m worried that I’m broken – like a puzzle piece that’s had a corner chewed off by a dog – I don’t quite fit.

I’ll fit somewhere, just so there are places for other puzzle pieces to attach, but I won’t quite fit.

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Catastrophic thinking like this takes up space in all areas of my life, but it unravels when I have to wait. While these thought patterns aren’t catastrophic in the sense that I’m imagining disasters, I am imaging the worst, most negative possibilities. I get hung up on the details of how everything is going to unfold. I jump into decisions in a mad dash to hurry up the waiting. I can’t stand the way my brain spins disastrous tales and I think I can fix it by sorting out my exterior world with a job or a plan, but what I really need to do is seek inner clarity and calm.

I feel guilty for taking my time in planning the next steps in my life, but I also recognize that I’m blessed to have the space and time to do it, and what’s worse – using the space and time, or not fully appreciating it because I feel bad? If I’m rash and quick to decide away the next several years of my life, then I still won’t quite fit into the puzzle, anyway.

This skin-deep restlessness has been driving me up the wall, but my body is trying to tell me something.

I think it’s telling me to slow down and accept the broken bits of myself instead of trying so hard to fix them with temporary solutions, and I ought to shut up and listen.

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Do you spin worst-case scenarios in your mind? One strategy I’ve heard to combat this is to consider – what is the worst possible thing that could happen – and is it actually really that bad? I don’t know if that works for catastrophic thinkers as we can imagine such horrific things, but it might work if you’re like me and your biggest “worst-case scenario” situation is that you won’t get the job you want.