Negative thinking and self-degradation is something we are all guilty of- it's part of being human. We see ourselves in a way that is even harsher than how this bitter world sees us. We resort to self-criticism before we handle our thoughts with compassion. We are taught that all people deserve to be treated with kindness, but we draw the line at ourselves. We silence our opinions before they even leave our tongue. We slander our appearance even after spending hours doing our hair and picking out the perfect outfit. We doubt our potential before anyone has challenged us. We blame ourselves for the mistakes of others and things we cannot control. Why do we do this? We shouldn't.
I am 100% guilty of this which is why I want to write about it today.
Throughout my life, low self-esteem is something I have struggled with. I let the middle school bullying, hard high school math classes, judgmental friends, catty gossip, embarrassing boy problems, and my mental illnesses' false messages convince me that I am less and I deserve less. In a way, this also made me hypocritical. I have always strived to uplift my friends and family because I believe they are capable of great things yet I never stood up for myself when people openly disparaged my character because I believed their derogatory comments and used them to feed my own.
I objectively saw myself as a person, but I never treated myself like one. Today, I have decided to change that.
I am choosing to abate the voice of my negative self-talk, as I know I cannot completely eradicate it, and see myself for who I am- a respectable individual.
I tell myself I am not creative, but I write poetry and paint in my free time. I tell myself I am not intelligent, but I am an honors student who learns how to write computer code on the side. I tell myself I am not passionate, but I volunteer and start social media accounts for the causes am passionate about. I tell myself I am weak, but I didn't give up on my goals despite having so many health issues.
None of these activities give me a ticket for respect. What makes me worthy of respect and compassion is that I fail consistently in every single one of these activities, but I keep trying to be better- I try to be good.
If you are reading this and you feel like you are not worthy of the compassion you hand out so freely to others, you are. You are because you do your best or have not reached your best yet, but have the ambition to get there. You cry, you get angry, you feel pain- yet you never give up. You are still here and you try, and that's enough for you to deserve the affectionate treatment you give to other people.
I know this is much easier said than done, and I guarantee you I still have a long way to go until I fully understand the importance of self-compassion, but I am getting there. I want to share some things that have helped me see myself in a better light.
I have sincerely tried to surround myself with better company. This is honestly what has helped me the most. I started spending more time with people who uplift me and understand me. I have learned so much from them and feel happy when I am with them.I distanced myself from people who were bringing me down, even though it was really hard. Human beings are social animals, we listen to and value the opinions of other people, so the people who make up our friend group have a significant impact on how we see ourselves.
I tried to use social media in a beneficial way. We all know social media can seriously tank our self-esteem. Cmon, there's no way constantly seeing people live their seemingly perfect lives in our Instagram feed isn't going to affect us. I recommend disabling your social media accounts if they are getting too overwhelming, but my anxiety did not let me stay out of the loop. Instead, I decided to follow accounts focused on mental health and positivity. I earnestly enjoy and benefit from all the inspirational quotes and health tips I see in my feed. I also started following accounts like IWM that help people like me who battle invisible illnesses. It is nice knowing there are people out there to help and that I am not alone.
I started taking better care of my mental health. My mental illnesses definitely contribute to my negative thinking. Thus, I started attending therapy, taking natural supplements like omega-3 and hemp oil to help with my anxiety, and found artistic ways to express my emotions- specifically through painting and poetry. I understand that loss of interest in activities and lack of motivation are key symptoms of mental illness and everyone has a different journey, so it is easier to put these things on a to-do list than actually do them. It's okay, it took me a while too. If you are battling mental illness or suspect you are, I strongly encourage you to seek help. I promise you there is someone out there who wants to help you and will help you.
I am going to conclude this post by thanking you for reading this far and wishing you the best of luck in your journey to self-compassion and respect. You deserve all the kindness this world has to offer and you deserve your own kindness too. Trust me, one day you will believe that and smile at how much you have grown.
Sending you love <3