Using my favorite therapy skill, “Changing your perspective,” again, I have noticed that I was able to get over a large part of my anxiety by taking away some of its negativity. Anxiety now motivates me and it is possible for everyone. Adventure helps me and this is because I have depression. Going out and living an adventure helps me feel something. It helps me feel the adventure and also helps me feel even more because going on an adventure is hard when you’re either depressed or anxious. But I can’t always just drop everything and go on an adventure can I? But I have anxiety, so I can always, most days, have something to be scared of. So turn this need to go on an adventure into fighting your anxiety. Even when I have depression and can’t feel something, I have moments of feeling anxious until the moment passes and then I go on to feeling nothing. But even in times when I am just anxious without having a pressing need to feel something, I can always use this anxiety adventure to love myself for fighting it. And no matter how I feel, I always love an adventure, so channel your anxiety and turn it into a mountain to climb even if you’re just shaking someone’s hand while looking them in the eyes. The other day something happened that gave me a lot of anxiety and would normally send me into a dwelling state. But instead I decided to find some other thoughts that are true as opposed to the catastrophizing thoughts my dwelling mind gives to me…and the true thoughts are thoughts of my own strength. Surviving the moment gives you strength that you cannot deny, dwelling gives you thoughts that always wander from the facts into fiction of weakness.
This post is all about “should statements.” I was trying to think logically about how I messed up at work yesterday and at first I did well. Then the day went on and I started to believe another thought, “You should have done better.” Then I channeled everything that happened that day. “No, actually I should NOT have done better. I now have this memory, this BIG memory because of what happened from my mess up, and I will most likely never make the mistake again.” I mean, I might make the same mistake again but since the memory of my mess up is so big in my mind, the probability of doing it again goes drastically down. So maybe I “should” have done differently, but I really should not have done differently if you see what I mean. Anything that could have a “should statement” in front of it, is just a barrier to learning something that will help you so much in the long run. This memory of this mess up is now in my mind. So if anyone tells me I should or should not do something, I will just say (or think to myself), “The word should is the barrier to best lesson I could learn.” The best lesson because mistakes are harder to forget. So much different than looking at a lesson on a chalkboard. So don’t just push should statements out of your mind, channel them the opposite direction. You “shouldn’t” have made that mistake at work? Well you learned something out of it so maybe you should have.
PS: The way I came up with this post is because I wanted to write something. I thought really hard about my dilemma. Harder than I would if I just wanted to be happy. I didn’t want to turn my emotions into art and be creative because being creative to me can sometimes makes things worse if I am in a bad state. So I decided to think of something to blog about and I came up with this gem of a coping skill. (Well really an extra little twist to this already known coping skill). Basically I knew I wanted to write something in my time of insecurity because feeling creative or feeling smart could help me with my problems and I wanted to showcase the things I know. So I wrote about it and came up with something else. If you have no other motivation for using coping skills, try to remember how good it feels to blog about your intelligence and what you came up with on your own. That could be motivation in itself to think positively like it motivated me to change my “should statements.”
The first one is self as context. This means that you are not truly one thing. You don’t have to mold yourself into what you believe you are or have to be. It makes labels not make sense. Sometimes I am shy, sometimes I am outgoing. I cannot label myself as either one because every moment and every experience calls for something different. (This skill took me awhile to understand, so if I am wrong on this skill, feel free to correct me).
Then I love mindfulness. This one started as boring for me and then turned into something I use almost everyday. This is where you make sure you are aware of your surroundings. This helps immensely with anxiety. You occupy your mind while you tell yourself to look for certain colors around the room. Or you just sit outside looking at nature and make sure you notice and feel every single wonderful thing.
Building mastery. This is when you learn new things in order to gain self-esteem or a sense of accomplishment. This one is obviously self explanatory and if you are learning something new, you are already using this skill. However, this is something you need to keep in mind if you are in a rut and feel you need something to get yourself out.
I talk about changing your perspective all the time in this blog so it’s only appropriate that I share it here. This skill is when you take something you dislike about yourself and then you change it into something positive. This is what I try to do with this blog. Share the wonderfulness that I see in every aspect of all everyone can be. Tall or short? You can love yourself if you are either. It makes sense. Two people who are completely the opposite physically or mentally both have the option to love themselves; both have the capacity to be confident. You cannot look at someone and say with fact, “That person has got to be confident.” Just like you cannot look at someone and also say with fact, “That person has got to be insecure.” There is no universal type of person who is the epitome of confidence. That is saved for someone who is just actually incredibly confident no matter who they are. Every single person on this planet has the power inside of them for self-love. Which means your insecurities are not true. If confidence about some aspect of yourself is not inside of you but is inside of someone else just like you, you can find it too. And every category of person has many people who are confident in that aspect of themselves.
And then there is opposite to emotion. I use this a lot when I cross the street oddly enough. I hate crossing the street at cross walks if there are cars. “What if they wave me on but I can’t see them through the glare in their window and I just stand there awkwardly?” “What if I think they let me go first but then they begin to drive as I start crossing and I have to jump back with embarrassment?” “I’m almost to a cross walk and there’s a car coming. Maybe I should stop and look at my phone and act like I’m too busy to cross the street until that car is gone.” … “No, I better just be strong and cross the street with that car. I’ll feel so much stronger when it’s over.” So yes, I often do cross the street especially when I don’t want to. It’s an incredible feeling, even crossing the street, to defy your fears.
This ideal just came to me recently. When I was a teenager and my cousins slept over, they would always be up at around six am, while I couldn’t get up until around nine. I cannot get up in the morning without an immense amount of trouble. I like working nights because I don’t have to wake up. I hate mornings. Let’s just put it that way. But when you sleep in, this is an easy recipe for self-loathing. “I’m lazy.” “If everyone else wakes up that early I should be able to too.” Well, a few days ago I was finally okay with myself for the times when I do sleep in. I’m a night owl. And there are reasons why I am. I like the darkness, I like driving around at night. I like walking at night. I like staying up late. I love being a night owl because I love the night. I can know why I love being a night owl in my own love of the darkness. I hear the crickets of the night and I love them, so I love the fact that I will stay up late to listen to them. And then, being a night owl leads to the inevitable…I am not an early bird. We can also just switch all of my ideals onto an early bird. You know why you love the morning, maybe it’s the birds chirping or the idea of a whole day ahead of you. And because you know exactly why you love the mornings, you can love your early bird self for being able to see that beauty in the dawn. So back to my point. Be a night owl and sleep in. Don’t consider yourself lazy. You just love the moon, the crickets, the stars, the glow under the streetlights. You feel happiness when you look out into the night, and that happiness is why you sleep in. When you wake up and look at the clock and it’s noon and the sun is already streaming onto your face, think about the reasons. You love the moon more than the sun and that’s perfectly okay. And if anyone tries to tell you, you are lazy for sleeping in, go ahead and just tell them that you love the stars. If anyone tries to tell you, you are lazy for going to bed early, tell them you love the sunshine.
In two days I go to a wedding alone. My self esteem isn’t doing all too well at the moment and I desperately need a way to be okay with going alone. It’s a friend who has friends that are all confident and in relationships. Then there’s me. In my head, I’ll be the only one alone, which most likely will not be true. Before I would just say to myself, “I have to go. But this is going to be horrible. I cannot wait until it is over.” But now I can say, “I am going to go. But I need to make the most out of it by digging deep into the situation and finding the good.” I already knew it would make me stronger. However, this one didn’t seem so appealing this time. I’ll be strong going alone. That’s great! But not enough this time. I even had to google it because these blueprints to finding the good in every situation isn’t working with my brain right at this moment. I at least found that it’s not strange to go alone. I learned that other people go alone as well as I. It’s an experience. Not everyone can say they went to a wedding alone. It’s an accomplishment especially when you have low self-esteem. Writing that right there made me more confident but I still feel my nerves all over my body. Lets turn this moment into a bucket list task. “I want to survive a wedding alone.” Now, this will be my second wedding of my life. The only other one was when I was twelve. So, when will my next wedding be? Another ten years? I have found that this is an experience that is tough to deal with. A situation that would be awesome to survive. So, why not put it on my bucket list if I’ll feel accomplished when it’s all over? I can’t skip out now. I won’t be able to check this off for another ten years. What fun would it be to live on the safe side all the time? Any time you are about to do something you think you will hate, just think about how strong you will feel and grab your bucket list and write, “I want to get through [insert experience here] and come out stronger.” Be careful though. Don’t say to yourself, “I have to go.” Maybe find a perfect way out of the situation and then just throw it aside. In the end you may not believe you’re strong enough because you really didn’t have a way out. You “had” to go. Your brain might tell you, “You’re actually weak because you couldn’t even say no.” Well, now you can fight back your negative thoughts with that excuse you never used. “I could have stayed home, but I went anyway.” Now that’s being a warrior.
We all spend so much time taking pictures. Whether that be for instagram or something of the sort. I recently got back from a trip in which I practiced this new type of bucket list I thought of. I call it, “The present bucket list.” What this means is to go into a situation that is either on your bucket list or just a situation you find yourself enjoying, and then take one picture of it, but just one. I mean, we all know that in good situations these days, most of us, including myself, want to take a picture of it. This isn’t a bad thing in any way at all. Pictures are memories but it gets us into trouble if we only see what’s in front of us from behind a camera. What I did this week on vacation, doing things on my bucket list and looking at the scenery is take a picture, and then be sure that I am mindful. Mindfulness should take up most of the time spent on this. Not taking pictures or videos. Make sure if you are in a situation where you are ready to check something off your bucket list, make sure you really look at it. Act as though, for a few moments, that the different view of a camera never existed. Act as though your hand physically cannot move to place a checkmark next to this experience until you have practiced mindfulness in this situation and really looked and felt everyhing.
I used to be ashamed of going to therapy like I believe a lot of people are, but now I am so extremely grateful for everything that I have learned. And this is not only because it helped me live a better life and everything therapy does for an individual…but because of going to therapy itself…I love myself for it. When most people think of going to therapy, they don’t think of going to therapy for the experience or think of going about and telling everyone how much they love themselves just for the act of going to therapy rather than the outcome itself. Many people just go to therapy for the outcome, which I obviously understand. But for me I finally found the beauty in the act of going to therapy rather than just the outcome. You can love what your soul became when you emerged from therapy but you can also love that fact that you went even if you aren’t completely cured from your ailments. You don’t have to look at your recovered self in your actions and wish, “I wish I was born this way,” or “I wish I could have gotten well on my own.” You can be okay with needing help and the things you learned along the way. Finding this kind of intelligence about mental health through my treatment and therapy journey has made things so much clearer in my head. I believe that therapy showed me my intelligence. Without being born with mental health struggles, I wouldn’t have wanted to learn about my brain. But I was forced to learn about it when my mental health deteriorated. I feel that I learned so much that I can speak intelligently about my own experiences, how I got well and can now see clearly what I believe is right and wrong. I know a lot about the brain and therapy skills now that I can speak of them with intelligence and say how much it worked because of how far gone I was in my eating disorder and managed to bounce back. Going to therapy I didn’t just learn to begin getting better, I learned like a student how to use my own opinions on the world and be able to express them and add my newfound therapy intelligence to my opinions. So be okay with yourself just for going to therapy every time you enter that room even if you still have negative thoughts every single day. Even if I was still trapped in my brain right now, I would be happy with what I have learned, even if I don’t have a desire to go to school to be a therapist.