We've all heard the cliche, you are your worst critic. While I agree with this statement, it's worth noting that sometimes other people can be very harsh as well. I don't want to take away from the fact that people say very horrible things, I simply want to highlight that what we say about ourselves is just as bad, if not worse, than anything we hear from others.
Why is that the case? Do we not realize how wonderful we are? Apparently not... In fact, I didn't even realize how harsh I was on myself until someone pointed it out to me. "Why do you not think you're good enough for anything?," someone said to me recently in a casual conversation. The bluntness of her statement, for someone I hardly knew, took me by surprise. "Excuse me? How dare you?," I thought to myself before realizing that her words offended me only because they were true.
Seven months ago, I did something I never thought I would do... I told the truth about my struggles with depression. I felt free. I felt loved. Your words of encouragement gave me a unique sense of hope that I had never experienced before. Strangers told me I was beautiful. Friends from high school reached out. Professors told me they were inspired. But one thing I couldn't shake was how I could still feel so empty, worthless, and alone.
I think it's crucial to know your self worth before you can do anything worth doing in life. If you don't, you will get a job, find a significant other, run a marathon, start a business and never feel confident in yourself but have someone else (or something else) to focus on. You will rob yourself of love for the rest of your life and that is a tragedy.
That's where I'm at.
I'm in the process of starting a business. I'm working a full-time job that serves nonprofits. I'm trying to show special people in my life that I love them. But I don't love myself. That should come first. Everything else is secondary to make a fulfilled life.
"But I need to show myself I can do it - that I can find love or start a company or finish an Iron Man or lose weight. Then I'll love myself." What if you fell in love with yourself and then tried to find love, start a company, finish an Iron Man, or lose weight? I bet it would come faster and easier than it ever has before.
It's even harder when you want to love other people so much. My whole life I have known that I want a career that makes people happy. But that is impossible to achieve until I am happy. It's something that is so easy to write, but so hard to fully grasp.
I sit here thinking to myself, "Why the hell are you writing a post about how to love yourself when you clearly don't. You're not good enough to write this. You're not even good at writing. Think of the horrible things people are going to say when they read this, if they even read this." Tearing yourself down is a vicious downward spiral that you allow to weigh you down. So step one to loving yourself?
1 // DON'T LISTEN.
(Again, I am not an expert. But over the last week I have done this and have noticed a difference in my everyday living and mindset.)
When you hear that voice telling you all the reasons that you aren't good enough - make a list of all the reasons that you are.
2 // DANCE
I believe in solo dance parties - I'm serious. There is something so refreshing about your favorite playlist, a lonely night, and the most embarrassing dance moves you can think of. It reminds you how silly and fun life can be if you let it. Take the edge off, one dance at a time.
3 // TALK TO SOMEONE
I know this sucks. And I don't mean talk to that cute guy (or girl) that you've been chasing after hoping that they feel bad for you and want to grab coffee. Find a genuine friend who can offer genuine advice and be real with you or find a doctor to consult with. This doesn't mean you're "crazy," it means you're smart enough to take advantage of what's out there.
4 // ALLOW YOURSELF TO FEEL DOWN
After I wrote about my struggles in March, I felt like I could never feel depressed again or I was a failure. Depression, anxiety, poor self-worth does not disappear overnight. It's OK to feel that way even when things are looking up. So many times, I beat myself up for feeling depressed that it only gets worse and any progress I've made disappears in an instance.
5 // INSPIRATION IN EVERYWHERE
This has been a motto of mine for a while now - even when I was depressed and too embarrassed to admit it. You can find it as the tagline of my website and it's written on every page of my planner. Each new day brings new inspiration - a reason to smile, a reason to laugh, a reason to believe that tomorrow will be better than today. Find it. Don't ever close your eyes at night thinking things can get worse, because then they will. Find what inspires you - it might be different every day.
I wish I could tell you that seven months into recovering from depression life is a beautiful composition of exclusively happy moments, but unfortunately that is not true. I have learned a lot throughout this journey and the most important lesson of all is that when I start to love myself, that dream or goal I'm going after will fall into place effortlessly. When I realize I am good enough to take on anything, I will kick ass. But until then, I have to focus on myself - loving who I am in this moment because I'm awesome... and so are you.