Tag Archives: self-esteem

Who I Am

I have spent most of my life running away from myself. Who I thought I was. What I didn’t want to be. What I thought I should be. What I thought I was supposed to be. What I wished I had been. Running away from looking at who I am.

I have spent the last few years beginning to take a good hard look at who I am. Seeing myself for what I am – not what others wanted me to be or expected me to be, not who I wanted myself to be.

I’m surprised by how relatively little most people know about themselves. Or share with others what they know about themselves. Or both.

I’m surprised at how difficult it is to strip away the layers to truly see who I am.

And how surprisingly easy it is to examine who you are once you do so.

Who I am is my foundation.

I had to tear down the house and the driveway and the meticulously planted landscaping and the poorly formed sense of myself to find the foundation.

loveawareness

I spent a very long time thinking, and believing, that I was a bad person. Because I didn’t fit into the molds that (I had believed) other people had created. Because I hadn’t spent the time and energy to examine the beliefs I grew up with and picked up along the way to determine if they were in sync with what I feel to be true. Because I did not accept the parts of myself I didn’t like.

Because I didn’t love myself.

I have analyzed every aspect of myself – why I do anything, what I feel, why I act and react the ways I do, what triggers me, what I value… I continue to do so. Now that I have discovered the foundation, I am beginning to build upon it.

I have accepted that there are parts of myself I cannot change. And I have begun to work on changing the things I can change about myself.

I am learning to love myself. For who I am.

I’m not perfect. I sometimes take steps backwards but, even on my worst days, I can examine and plan for better days using what I know and continue to learn about myself.  I am whoever I want to be and, if I am not, only I can make changes to get myself there.

Asking for Help

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

I am going to come right out and say that I have been struggling. Recovery from my tonsillectomy was much more difficult than I had imagined it would be. Progress was extremely slow-moving and in very small increments. I had expected recovery to progress quicker and in larger increments.

I had great difficulty in being patient. Of course, I wanted to feel better right away. It was excruciating to allow myself to just be where I was – in my recovery and in a broader sense.

It has felt like I have struggled my entire life. Never seeming to “get” what I had expected. Always looking ahead to where I wanted to be. And always letting pieces of the past seep into where I currently was.

In many ways, it was easier that way. By always living in the past and the future I didn’t have to confront and deal with what was happening in the present. Avoidance is one of the oldest tricks of continued struggling.

For the past two weeks I have been in an outpatient hospitalization program. Perhaps in previous times I would feel embarrassed or ashamed by this admittance but, as I have grown wiser and gotten further in my self-progress, I can view this only in a positive light.

I knew that I was struggling and heading into a very dark place. I also knew where, historically, that could take me and it isn’t a place I’d ever like to visit again. I referred myself to the program, planning my attendance around a time of increased struggle for myself (my father’s second birthday since he passed away).

I recognized that I was in a place where I needed help – and I sought it out. Asking for help is one of the most difficult things any of us can do. We often view it as admitting weakness and exposing vulnerabilities. And yes, often when we are in a place of struggling we are vulnerable but asking for help is never weak. In fact, it’s one of the strongest things we can do. To identify that we are in a bad place and to ask/receive help is an incredibly mature and amazing thing to do.

I truly try to do the best that I can with the knowledge and resources (tools) I presently have. Most often my struggling isn’t because I’m not “trying hard enough”. It’s because I need additional knowledge and resources to help me more forward.

Sometimes my struggling isn’t because I don’t have the knowledge and resources that I need or because I’m not trying my best. Sometimes, when we are in a dark place, we can’t see the tools that we possess. It’s difficult to see anything in the darkness. Seeking out help can be a way to “turn on the light” and allow us to recognize and use the tools we had all along.

Life isn’t easy. Keeping constant momentum and living in the present moment isn’t easy either.

We will struggle. We will get caught up in the past and all the “should have, could have, would have” thinking. We will get caught up in the future and worry about what will be. We will face tragedies and heartaches and losses and disappointments. We will work to move forward a step, only to be unexpectantly forced three steps backward.

Sometimes we will be able to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and continue forward. Sometimes we will realize that we are unable to do so and, if we can find the courage, we will ask for help.

I am beginning to accept myself, who I am, and the life that I currently have.

I could spend every second of every day wishing to be things that I am not. Wishing that I didn’t have chronic, life-long illnesses. Wishing for a level playing field. Wishing things happened differently in the past… All that wishing won’t change a thing. I am who I am. I have the body I have and the mind I have.

I have the illnesses I have as well. And fighting against them will never propel me forward nor allow me to become the person I would like to be. I could be in a perpetual state of conflict and anger and darkness, fighting against forces that I have no ability to change.

I ask for help because when I’m in a place of darkness, of struggling, I cannot see any other way than to fight or to submit to the darkness. These past two weeks while I was in the outpatient hospitalization program, a light was shone on me. It was my choice to use that light and allow myself the opportunities to create my own light.

This is who I am. This is what I have. If I want anything to change I have to make that choice. And I am.

It’s quite likely that I will need help again, but I will view it not as a setback or a weakness but instead as an opportunity to grow stronger, to learn more and to make the choice to continue to work on improving myself and my ability to move forward.

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Resources:

If you or someone you know is in an emotional distress or suicidal crisis – the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK (8255) 

If you are concerned about your own alcohol or other drug use or that of someone you care about – the NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence) hotline 1.800.NCA.CALL (622-2255) 

Free. Safe. Confidential. 24 Hours. 7 Days. – RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network)  National Sexual Assault Hotline  1.800.656.HOPE

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder – the National Eating Disorders Association information line 1.800.931.2237

If  you have questions about or are affected by serious mental illness – the  NAMI (National Association on Mental Illness) information help line 1.800.950.NAMI (6264)

The Process of Loving Ourselves

From Brene Brown’s book “The Gifts of Imperfection:  Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are”, which I’m really enjoying reading.

Loving yourself, with all your imperfections, and the process to do so may be incredibly uncomfortable and scary. And while it requires a lot of hard work, it’s one of the most important, and bravest, things you can do. Not only for yourself but also for everyone you meet throughout your life’s journey.

The process of embracing who you are is one I have been working on for a long time. And, likely will be on for the rest of my life. Only recently I have started to see some of the progress I have made and the sense of calm that comes with accepting, embracing and loving yourself.

Even in the Pain There is Beauty

There are times, so many times, when it seems like there couldn’t possibly be another thing you could handle. No possible way you could deal with anything else.

And then life hands you another lemon (or whatever vague analogy you’d prefer to use) and you’re faced with the requirement of dealing with that too.

There are people who will tell you stories about how when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Or that when one door closes, another opens.

These are cute inspirational sayings but I won’t insult you with such simplicities. Sure, sayings such as these can sometimes help to uplift us.

But sometimes, life just sucks. And there isn’t necessarily any good reason why. Or any reason at all.

I can’t tell you why some people seem to constantly have bad things happen to them. Really I can’t tell you anything.

Because I don’t know.

I think a lot… about everything. One concept I inevitably come back to is that of reality.

What is real? How do you define real? Is this the real life? Is this just fantasyyyyy? (Sorry, sometimes I can’t help but fall into lyrics).

Reality is constructed, by those around us and ourselves. And what you believe, externally and internally, to be true is what’s real for you.

As someone who helps construct reality (and so MANY things in this world), you do have some say in how you construct your beliefs and perspective.

Bad shit isn’t going to stop happening because you have this knowledge, but this knowledge can allow you to alter your perceptive of said bad shit in the context of your life.

We can’t predict the future and we can’t control it. Neither can we control the past. Whatever you focus on is what life is for you at any given moment. Focus on the negatives in your life and that’s what your life is for you. Focus on worries, that’s what your life is. Focus on gratitude and positives and, yep, that’s what your life is for you.

It’s so difficult to not solely focus on the negatives when there are so many presented to you.

Like when your kid is sick and you have to miss school to stay home with them and your car breaks down so you can’t even make the doctor’s appointment you were lucky to get — this is when life seems overwhelmingly horrible.

Or like when your relationship with someone is stressed and you’ve been trying to deal with their addiction while remaining detached enough not to get hurt, but also attached enough to still care and you just can’t save them. Because you can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved and slowly you watch them change from the person you loved the most into the saddest stranger you’ve ever seen.

You start stacking all of these negative things, overlapping one another, and you’re stretching yourself out to continue at the same, or higher, level of productivity for an endless period of time. It’s difficult to see life as anything but negative.

But if you looked back at your horrible day or week or year, really look, you’ll see that there is likely positive things as well. The day your car broke down and your child was sick allowed you moments with your child that you both enjoyed and may seldom get to have. Even in the really painful moments there are spaces of positivity. If anything, there is growth and beauty in pain if we allow there to be.

So yes, shit sucks. But you do the best you can with what you have in this moment and you continue to work on improving yourself. People aren’t perfect. Life sure as hell isn’t perfect. You just keep moving forward, getting through each day. And as the Monty Python song goes, “Always look on the bright side of life…”

Happy New Year!

The holidays were both wonderful and stressful which is, as holidays go, about average. Placing less stress on myself to have the “perfect holiday” and more focus on the things that really matter (my family, the moment), I was able to have a more enjoyable holiday than I usually have.

I know with the new year many people like to make resolutions and wishes for the new year. With that many take the time to reflect on the prior year – myself included. I do a lot of self-reflection (what seems like) almost daily.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want to feel bad anymore for doing the best I can. Or feeling like it’s not good enough. It’s what I’ve got and if it isn’t good enough for you, too bad. It’s good enough for me. 2012 is going to be the year where I stop playing the victim. I’ve been the victim, I know the role, so it’s been an easy role to fall back upon. But I’ve also played the survivor and I play it well. I haven’t survived by laying down and giving up.

I am a capable, amazing person who is working so very hard every day to navigate through this life. To try to look on the bright side and see the positive. To try to propel myself further forward towards my goals in education, parenting and personal growth. It’s ok if sometimes I feel sad or angry or frustrated because denying myself feeling those emotions only strengthens their negativity. I can allow myself to feel sad or angry or frustrated and come out the other side.

I’m not perfect. But neither is anyone else. No longer will I be trapped by others negativity and attempts to stifle my achievement and growth. I am strong. I am smart. I am capable of loving and I am capable of receiving love. Not only capable, but worthy. It starts with me. And today I tell myself, “I love you.” And I mean it.

How often do we focus on other’s happiness and well-being, neglecting our own in the process? How often do we give ourselves endlessly – our time, our resources, our love? How often do we do the same for ourselves? Give something back to yourself, everyday, even if it’s as simple as saying a little mantra — “I love you”, “You are capable”, “You are strong”, “You can do this”.

Access of Choice

I don’t think people wake up one morning and decide not to have any motivation, any goals. I don’t think anyone one day thinks to themselves, ‘Self, you know what? I’m just not going to try anymore. I’m just going to give up.’

Honestly, giving up is a last ditch option. Yes, you know that person who just never really did anything. But, really? Did they really not ever do anything? Or did there life never present them with that option? With the choice to do something, anything?

I think if we really look at people, more often than not, people merely get stuck in their lack of options rather than actively choosing not to do anything. A child who grows up in a family with parents whose primary concern is obtaining and using drugs never had the experience of anything different. That’s not an easy thing to just cast off once they’re 18 and on their own. The child who grows up in foster care, being bounced from one house to the next, where they are primarily a “paycheck” and a burden, doesn’t suddenly have the experience of feeling secure once they turn 18.

And yet that’s what ‘society’ (and I use that term oh so loosely) expects. That all these people in our world who are homeless or jobless or lacking of a variety of experiences… well, they just don’t want it enough. Or they aren’t trying. But that’s like expecting someone who has never flown a plane or driven a car to just get in one and know how to drive it. And when they don’t telling them, ‘You just don’t want it enough,” or “You aren’t trying.”

People cannot possibly know how to do something they have never done before. Have never even seen before. And yet, that’s what we expect people to be able to do. “Just do it.” It has nothing to do with not wanting it enough. Or not trying hard enough. It comes down to lack of experience and knowledge. And underlying all that is the issue of self-esteem and self-belief. If your entire life – hell, even part of your life – someone, many people have told you that you are lazy and stupid, etc., eventually you’re going to believe it. And that’s not even what you are saying to yourself!

We, as society, need to be so much kinder to our fellow human beings. I truly believe that everyone is doing the best they can in the moment with the knowledge and resources they have. It doesn’t mean they couldn’t do better. It means that, at this very moment, with the information they have on how to do things and what things are available to them, they are making the best choices they can.

However, ending it there gives people an out to just continue to do the same things. And doing the same things (regardless of what they are) over and over is insanity (Theodore Geisel). Resources need to be expanded. Education needs to be expanded. And the knowledge of both of these needs to be expanded. Most people have no idea of the resources in the own community – education institutions and programs, classes, programs for a wide-variety of people. Housing, shelter, heating, etc. resources. And so much more.

The more people know about what is available to them, they more apt they are to make better choices for themselves.