It takes someone incredibly insightful to recognise that I am not a very secure and self-loving person. On the outside, I’m this enthusiastic, overwhelmingly positive and confident being who loves to spread love and joy to others, yet on my worst days I’m overly-critical, jarringly negative and hurtful to myself. On my best days I can tell myself that I’m a damn fine woman with some damn fine qualities, however, I still have low points where I struggle to manage my thoughts. It’s something I have to work on nearly every single day, but over the past couple of years I have become much better at loving who I am.
Mindfulness practice has become my lifeline. During my thesis year I took a five week course on how to practice mindfulness, and at the time I used it to help me cope with my overwhelming anxiety and depression. It helps ground you in the present moment, to let your running thoughts appear but not phase you, and teaches you to reground yourself whenever you need to feel at peace.
When discussing my self-bullying with my psychologist last year, she taught me to stop getting caught in a spiral of negativity by acknowledging my thoughts and not buying into them. Before I had those discussions, I would get caught in a mental battle where every time I had a negative thought I’d try and fight back. For example, say I said something that I perceived to be wrong in a social situation, I would tell myself “I can’t believe you said that, you’re such an embarrassment, nobody likes you” and then I would fight back with, “no! You’re amazing, everybody loves you, don’t worry!” and then the fight would continue between negative and positive until I felt mentally exhausted and really low. This was happening multiple times a day and exasperating my anxiety and depression.
So, she taught me to just acknowledge those thoughts and move on, perhaps asking myself why I might be feeling that way. The conversation would look more like this in my head: “I can’t believe you said that, you’re such an embarrassment, nobody likes you”, and I’d just notice it, “hey, that’s a negative thought” and then let it go. Then perhaps I would ask myself, “why am I feeling like this?” – I might then acknowledge that I was feeling socially drained and that it was time to go home, have a bath and get a good sleep.
I am aware that I sound a little nuts discussing what goes on in my head. But hey, that’s me!
This daily mindfulness practice has been really helpful, and I’ve learnt that when I’m tired, socially drained, haven’t exercised, have slacked with my self-care habits or have drunk alcohol, I am much more likely to be negative to myself.
Another way that I’ve learnt to love myself and deflect negative thoughts is through being single by choice for the past two years. Learning what makes me happy, what lifts me up during a day, learning what my passions and interests are, learning who I am by myself – these things have been so helpful in shaping my self-compassion. Because I have formed happiness on my own and I have learnt that I don’t need external validation from anyone to feel loved, I’ve realised that nobody else can make you happy – that’s entirely up to you.
Being single has also helped me in that I have cut out negative people from my life who were exasperating my negativity and damaging my self-worth by manipulating, criticising and bringing me down. Cutting toxic relationships is an incredibly uplifting thing.
And that brings me to now. Where I am no longer single. Which deserves some attention because OH MY GOD GUYS I FOUND A GUY WHO LIKES ME FOR ME AND WHO MAKES ME PANCAKES AND IS JUST AN INCREDIBLE BABE ❤
But what is a little terrifying is that my insecurity has begun bubbling up like someone’s dropped a Berocca tablet into the pit of my stomach. And I know why, it’s because I’ve been in toxic relationships where I’ve been made to feel like I am not important and that my personality is something to feel ashamed of. Because I’ve been dumped out of the blue for revealing my true self. Because I’ve been with people who have damaged my self-worth. Because for most of my adult life I’ve been allowing people to walk all over me in love, and now I know that that’s not ok, but I feel like I can’t trust myself to not let it happen again. And maybe because I have only just begun to love myself, I am really, really scared that this person is going to take 25 years to learn to love me too.
On the one hand I’m bouncing around like an idiot with a grin that would rival the Cheshire cat’s, but on the other I’m dissolving into bad habits and negative thoughts like I had before I showed myself loving kindness. And it’s a combination of things, in the throws of starting to date someone I’ve forgotten to eat properly, to practice my meditation, to exercise, to put myself first, to live in the present moment, to make myself a cup of tea and relax on my own. All because I’m so excited and want to spend every waking moment with this guy, in person, on my phone and in my head.
And I guess this post is just a reminder to myself that I know how to love myself, I know how to deal with my insecurity, and I know how to be confident, loving and amazing, and I need to maintain that while introducing someone new into my life.
Last night I sat down and wrote out a list of things that I bring to my relationships, romantic and other, and what I am interested in that differs from this man, and in what ways I trust myself. Because I very quickly started to take the position of “oh man this guy is incredible, what on earth am I bringing to this relationship!? Why does he even like me?” and that’s not ok, because before that I was telling myself, “oh man I’m incredible and I’m going to conquer the world” (well, on my good days haha!).
And it really, really helped. Because now I have a list of positive things about myself that I can keep coming back to whenever I’m feeling a bit low and insecure in my relationship. It made me realise that I am actually a pretty awesome chick and someone better wife me quick before my baking skills and amazing personality are snapped up by someone else HA.
I am really hoping this guy does not read this post because I already freak him out by talking about our four future babies… hehe.
Here’s what I wrote:
“What do I bring to my relationships?
I’m kind, compassionate, loving, supportive, enthusiastic, positive, excited, playful, funny, silly, friendly, warm, open, real, adventurous but also relaxed. I’m a good listener. I want to know the person deeply. I will always be there for the person. I want to make the person feel good. I will sacrifice my needs for the needs of that person. I put the person first. I am loyal. I’m considerate. I’m fun.
In my romantic relationship I’m the above but also flirtatious, a good kisser, willing to learn, I’m a romantic, I want to challenge and build him up, I know I will fit easily into his family and friend circles, I’m genuinely interested in his interests. I’m trusting. I love my body and am confident in my own skin, which I think makes me attractive. I accept him and like him for who he his.
What are my interests? What forms my identity?
I’m intelligent, dedicated, creative and ambitious, I am funnelling this into my PhD. Outside of my PhD I am working on self-improvement by learning to manage my anxiety and depression through my strategies and I’m working on my health and my fitness. I am goal driven. I don’t need outside affirmation, but I need to set and achieve goals to feel accomplished.
I like to bike – especially on these sunny autumn days with the brown leaves falling! I read prolifically – blogs, the news, novels. I watch vlogs, TV and movies- sci-fi and fantasy ❤️ I love writing, drawing and photography. I listen to music and dance around. I sing and make up songs. I like to and am great at cooking and baking. I love food, reading cookbooks, finding new places to eat, testing new recipes. I like exploring on my own, taking myself out for a coffee. Travel!!! I like shopping, clothes and style, make up – making myself feel beautiful, because I am beautiful! I like knitting! I like sitting with a cup of tea and just thinking and day dreaming.
I love getting together with friends and my family – even if it’s just over Skype. I like exploring my faith.
I trust myself and know that I am not going to lose my balance in this relationship, I know that I can walk away at anytime, I know that if he leaves me I am not going to dissolve and lose myself and be completely broken. I trust that I will listen to my gut, that I will love myself. I know that I don’t need his validation to feel beautiful, wanted or loved, because I felt all those things before him – but it is wonderful to have him to support and care for me. I know that he likes me for who I am, as I have been completely myself, and if he decided that he doesn’t like me for me, then it doesn’t matter – I’m awesome anyway! He’s amazing and I really like him, but we were fine without each other, we are just bringing our awesomeness together now.
It’s ok to be vulnerable and insecure sometimes, but you are a boss ass lady who deserves to feel like a Queen everyday- so throw those negative thoughts aside and jump into loving everyone in the best way you can, while loving yourself everyday too!”
I know this was a little bit of a self-indulgent post and was really just a way of getting all my internal thoughts out and re-grounding myself, but hopefully it can help you if you’re feeling insecure. Practice mindfulness, don’t buy into self-bullying, practice self-kindness and compassion, learn who you are on your own (don’t like dump your partner, but maybe take a weekend away by yourself sometime), acknowledge that your gifts, abilities and personality have value and trust in yourself. If you’re battling with chronic insecurity, it’s a tough gig, but you can learn to love yourself, just by taking it one mindful and loving day at a time.
Put on that crown and wear it like the goddess/god you are.