“Do you like being the victim; needy and suffering?”, a Guru asked. I had ferociously typed my problems – smudged my stress on our WhatsApp conversation. We came across each other through work. And within time, she became online therapy – she left me always feeling better. I hope to recreate that same effect on this post.
Disclaimer: I’m not a therapist or professional. Words are based on experience and research.
Stop worrying about should
I had a thing for morning routines: a YouTube obsession. I’d watch influencers showcase their perfect schedules: stretching, meditating, journaling, exercising, drinking lemon water while putting together a smoothie. In comparison, I arose to check social media, dreaming of more sleep, half-crawling to my coffee. If I could just recreate their habits, my life would be beautifully organised – I once thought.
Weeks of trying, I realised, I hate morning exercise, I don’t like raw produce first thing, I don’t want to meditate half-asleep and I have no journaling thoughts when tired. My compromise: lemon water on occasion and stretching. Moral of the story: stop trying to should everything. The book Seeds for the Soul suggests ‘should’ can cause most problems.
I prefer asking: why do I need encouragement to complete this task, and why does it feel important? If I want to quit going on Instagram just before bed, surely, I need to dig deeper and ask why I’m scrolling at such a time. Do I need to schedule an earlier moment to catch up; or am I distracting myself from late night thoughts?
Getting to the root of a problem; considering if something is even a problem for you, plays a role in feeling better about yourself. You can easier make decisions that aren’t based on other people’s ideals. I think it’s easy to forget that self-help has a lot of wriggle room. You’re not going to like every suggestion and there’s no reason to always force yourself to try.
Devise a bucket list
A bucket list doesn’t equal an itinerary to complete before death. Again, it’s open to interpretation. My current list jots down ideas I haven’t yet got round to. Performing my poetry at a poetry club, for instance. Some of the things feel more random: having a bespoke perfume formulated, watching the opera near the front stage, wearing a dress like Vivienne’s in Pretty Woman, or Carrie’s when “The Russian” took her to a performance. Some days I get so weighed down by the daily tasks and general upkeep (cleaning, grooming), I forget to plan the big moments.
Switch up your routine
I have an anecdote: The Guru recommended I make changes to my routine. She explained how change can happen in the most mundane chores. I was advised to walk on the other side of the road during my commute to work (I became comfortable walking the same paths). At the time, I couldn’t find a prescription. Chemist after chemist didn’t have my tablets in stock. Then, on my way home, I switched to the other side of the street, and there I noticed a chemist. A chemist that had my prescription ready-to-go.
Humans can only see the grand world with two small eyes. When you adopt change: breakfast before showering, unloading the bottom dishwasher drawer before the top… you can break habits and question your shift focus daily. It sounds silly I know (a dishwasher implementing change), but they do say the little things add up.
Quit the pity party
When you complain, how frequently do you use the word I? There are countless external factors in life to blame. I’m stressed because they kept sending me emails, they kept me waiting, they don’t trust my ideas, that’s why I don’t feel appreciated.
And sure, these people do exist. I don’t enjoy reading ongoing emails on a Friday afternoon, and wish some people understood repeat lateness isn’t okay. Yet I keep telling myself: only I can control my emotions. It reminds me of when I sat on a cold bench in a station, mindlessly checking through my phone while waiting for a friend. They showed up 45 minutes late, casually, as though it wasn’t a problem. I couldn’t help feeling annoyed – I had to wait and sit bored for no reason. My friend said I could have grabbed a coffee, done shopping or run an errand. And they did have a point.
Regardless of circumstances, you’re always in a position to choose the bright side or swallow upset. Holding myself accountable does help in feeling better. Now when I realise, I’m playing the ‘poor me card’, I snap out of it and do something to improve the situation.
Feeling better may mean professional help
You can read inspiring quotes, change your hair, speak positive mantras to yourself. I could type 500 ideas on boosting self-esteem, with none offering real affect. If you’re able, seeking professional help could be the sole solution. I believe there is a therapy stigma: some attribute the practice only to sex addiction counselling, alcohol rehab, severe trauma etc. Therapy supports anyone who has an issue that impacts their life. When therapy isn’t an option, you can contemplate online classes and one-day events. When the lockdown is over, that’s probably next on my bucket list.
What tips have you learnt for feeling better about yourself? Recommended next read: How To Accept Your Physical Flaws
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