Better in time

Over the last couple of weeks I have found reading Helen’s posts both inspiring and challenging, and it’s definitely made me realise that at times (quite a lot!) I can be very unkind to myself.

I often have very destructive thought patterns, destructive about me. I’m pretty good at convincing myself that people only see the negative in me – and in that case, why would anyone like me? How could my husband possibly find me attractive when I don’t even like how I look? And as Helen mentioned, it’s incredibly easy for those thoughts to spiral out of control.

It was Helen’s ‘how to save a life’ post that eventually made me sit down and take note of how often I am unkind to myself, and the things I do to bring me back out of that hole.

My ways of being kind to myself are similar to Helen’s, but I hope that maybe they will offer some encouragement to others trying the same things.

The first thing I learnt to do was accept compliments – someone had to teach me how to do it! Initially I would say thank you, just to keep the person who had given the compliment happy, but after a while the compliments started to sink in, and they gave my confidence a much needed boost. Nowadays if someone gives me a compliment when I’m feeling down, I try to soak as much of that positive up as possible – not to become big headed, but just to feel ok.

My next thing is having something positive to look at – for Helen it’s a list of positive things, for me its two verses from the bible –

Jeremiah 19:11 – ‘for I know the plans I have for you; declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’.

And

Jeremiah 1:5 – ‘I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart’.

I used to have both quotes blue tacked to a mirror. Then I moved house and I didn’t reattach them. Tonight I’ll be putting them back on the mirror, because for me they’re a strong reminder that I was created, I was chosen, and I am loved. If God is for me, then who can be against me?

Taking care of myself physically makes me feel good. Too often when I am down I’ll eat, and not good things – doughnuts, chocolate, crisps (anything from gregs!) … and then I beat myself up even more because I don’t like how I look and eating that stuff isn’t going to help! I lost weight a few years ago and the difference it made to my confidence and self esteem was amazing. Then I had a really tough few years, I comfort ate and I put it all back on again, and more. I’ve recently started being focused on eating well again, and I feel great. Fruit gives me energy! I’ve also bought a skipping rope, apparently its really good exercise … so far its hard work, but again it makes me feel good and feel like I’m doing something positive to change me for the better.

Sometimes to bring myself out of destructive thought patters I use the 5-4-3-2-1 relaxation technique. Basically you say to yourself (normally in your head) ‘I can see’ and then list 5 things, then ‘I can hear’ – 5 things, and ‘I can feel’ – 5 things. Then repeat the sequence but this time only naming 4 things you can see, hear and feel. Then 3, and … you get the idea! It really helps me to feel more relaxed and reduces the ‘chatter’ in my mind.

One thing that is key to my well being and to being kind to myself, is being in a job. I was out of work for a long time and it was the most negative experience of my life – some people thought I wanted it and that I was enjoying it, but they couldn’t have been more wrong. Yes work can sometimes be stressful, but I’m lucky to work with some great colleagues who are a good giggle, and sometimes I actually get to make a difference in someone’s life.

Finally I take comfort and refuge in my friends and family. I’ve learnt that my happiness shouldn’t be reliant on my husband, and it’s not anymore, but he does play a major part in making me happy. He knows how to make me smile and laugh, he knows how best to comfort me when I need it. That little kiss on the forehead, that unexpected ‘I love you’, when he puts his feet on me with a cheeky smile, the little acts of random kindness – it reminds me that he does love me, that he has chosen to be with me. And allowing myself to remember those things are probably the biggest way I can be kind to myself.

Thank you Helen, for allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and for encouraging others to join in. Its scary but sort of liberating!’

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