Be the Hero of your own story!
I’ve been putting off writing this for some time which tells me it is probably important.
I need to be inspired. But what can you do when you are struggling to find that inspiration? I know that is when I’m vulnerable. However I’ve achieved so much which I have to remind myself of and this blog reminds me that what I have done, what I am doing, which means it can inspire me. Maybe even you?
When I look back to my bleakest point, I felt there was no hope. That change was impossible for me. I felt there was no hope and I was destined to stay in the misery pit I existed in. Even the thought of making positive change made me anxious and was quickly snuffed out by automatic negative thinking patterns and an acceptance of the belief that I wasn’t good enough. Simply put, I wasn’t capable.
The only strategy was to ignore the tempting seeds of possible change, survive and exist the best I could at that time. Keep my head down. Drink. Bury my head in the sand. Now when I see others doing it, it makes me sad. I try my best not to judge them, as I now always try my best not to judge myself.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
The worst thoughts involved thinking I’d be better off dead (almost like a Plan B if everything else fails). Sometimes we just aren’t ready to change.
Deep down I was secretly hoping for something or someone to save me, to bear my burden, like a knight galloping in on a white horse. I don’t know, but I’m sure there are loads of people out there, or hopefully even reading this who feel the same.
“We accept the love we think we deserve” Stephen Chbosky.
Back then I had very low self-worth. I genuinely thought I didn’t deserve anything and sometimes even felt I deserved to feel that bad due to mistakes I’d made. Looking back with fresh eyes, it turns out those mistakes actually weren’t that bad anyway, as they ended up becoming early catalysts for reflection or growth. Which means I needed them to grow, so wouldn’t change them.
What I can confidently say now is that I will never, ever punish myself like that again. Fuck that. No way.
The thing is, I made my mistakes out to be huge terrible ‘crimes’ rather than a part of life. We all make them, even you. Of course, I feel guilty if I have ever upset anyone, but we don’t always do this without contributing factors. But crippling shame can do one! All that did was keep me down. So as soon as I found a person who accepted me and my flaws, did I start to take action to create positive change which I documented in my very first blog – Fuck it! Strength through Vulnerability.
So, from my lowest point and through the initial process of change, it was trying new things, new approaches that saved me. It involved being upfront and honest through therapy and being accepted and learning to appreciate and accept myself. Slowly I started to reduce the feelings of anxiety and that internal dread and unease that came with feeling like I was in trouble all the time, that my sheer existence was somehow disappointing or inconveniencing someone. I have gleefully discovered that I really don’t have time for that shit anymore. Yay!
Reflecting back, I remember past feelings of worthlessness. I thought I was a waste of space. I told my current counsellor that I used to often refer to myself as a loser. Some friends though this was a ploy involving self-deprecating humour, but believe me when I say that when you repeat a lie often enough, you give up trying to reason with it or fight it and just let it exist.
You are what you say you are. So I was a loser.
Now I can use my self-awareness to reflect back on the painful years of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and mental battery which no-one really knew about. I think it will help others. It looked like weight gain, fake confidence, a social mask, crippling self-doubt, panic attacks, depleted sex drive, a genuine clusterfuck of negativity and pain. Oh and a breakdown. It felt really, really, really, really shit. Don’t do it.
But it happened.
No one died. No one got hurt.
I got through it.
I’ve coped with it through better self-compassion, which means I’ve become better at accepting my shortcomings. As I don’t set unrealistic goals, I’m not failing my own challenges and tests anymore. I’m just me, doing my thing.
New experiences which include therapy, playing football, losing 4 stone and completing coaching and leadership courses have helped me to appreciate my strengths and finally take note and be mindful of things I was doing well and am still doing well. This makes me feel great. For example, I’ve always been quite social and been good at introducing people and bringing them together. My interpersonal skills are something I didn’t appreciate enough before but are now front and centre, at the forefront of my present and my future. A breath of fresh air. I’m really good at it.
Through all the different therapists I saw, I analysed different parts of my past and personality. Inevitable I had to confront and overcome feelings of guilt and shame as I pushed myself further, because I was voluntarily making myself vulnerable. But I kept going.
Something positive happened and I noticed it.
As the weight dropped off me physically, my self-worth and self-esteem grew. I developed a thirst and a hunger for learning that is now bordering on an obsession. I listen to podcasts, read articles and engage in thought-provoking conversation through networking, as part of my quest to find opportunities to showcase my true-self. Being authentic is amazing.
My current counsellor said to me that she has never seen such a transformation in a client. I respect her so I’m going to believe her. She wouldn’t say that for no reason. If I’m good enough for her (I hope to god you are reading this and know the impact you’ve had on my life) and those who matter to me then I’m more than good enough for myself.
By sharing myself so openly and authentically, I can see how few people out there actually do this. Doesn’t make them bad people. I’m not judging. It can be fucking scary. But you’ll reap the benefits in whichever way you do it. Now I’m learning new things and taking on more work, I enjoy it rather than dread it like before. I used to think all work was stressful. Then punish myself for being lazy! I’m just wired differently. My recent ADD diagnosis is something I’ll explore over time, but explains a hell of a lot.
No need to prove anything.
Just live and explore it. Watch this space.
I’m becoming more comfortable authentically engaging in new experiences such as running Talk About It Mate, offering counselling, making podcasts, producing lengthy blogs (sorry not sorry), networking like crazy, attending business courses and looking after myself. I write it down to record what I can do.
No one cares about what I’m doing as much as I used to think they did.
I also think I’m not as smart as I used to think I was.
But I’m OK with that.
To the villain, my imaginary critic I say that you can have your opinion but I’m beginning to know what is best for me. Also, fuck off.
If it doesn’t work out the way I think then, so what?
I’ve got a great recent track record of doing new things. Bring it on.
The evidence suggests I’ll succeed.
At what? I’m not sure yet.
The current meaning of my life is to explore and master my own mind. Therefore, I love being on a path of self-discovery. I love working in short bursts of inspiration. I’m resilient enough to take the rough with the smooth, ride it out. After all I’m a survivor.
You are too.
CHEESE ALERT: Turns out the knight on the white horse did come along after all!
It was meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
BE YOUR OWN BIGGEST CHEERLEADER.
Talk About It Mate.