The concept of self care has become a widely explored concept over the past few years causing many of us to be more intentional about doing things for ourselves that we feel will promote personal growth and overall satisfaction with life. We’ve done things that range from physical activities to spiritual and mental health activities. Yet, we as a society, have found ourselves growing ever so anxious, angry, and quite honestly depressed.
I, myself have battled with depression and anxiety to the point where I’ve isolated myself from loved ones as well as had moments where I felt completely hopeless. I never felt like I didn’t want to be here in the land of the living, but I had moments where I wanted to give up and throw away all of my cares and responsibilities. If you’ve been here (or are currently here) you’re probably asking how did I escape these mental rabbit holes? It wasn’t easy and it’s still a daily decision that I make that involves a complete mindset overhaul.
My journey began after having an anxiety attack that changed my life forever in November of 2017, following a major surgical procedure. During this attack I could literally hear the battle in my head, one side was saying give up, give in and let go. While the other side was yelling No! you can’t check out, you have one more child to get through high school, you can’t abandon her. Needless to say, I won that battle, because here I am! But my victory came only through very intentional work that I continue to this day. Please be advised that what I am sharing is my own personal journey with anxiety and depression and is to be used as informational or educational purposes only and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultations with healthcare professionals.
For me, self-care has been a journey of self-discovery leading to true self love. This journey has resulted in true freedom. Freedom that allows me to live a life where I am no longer held captive to mine or other people’s ideas and expectations of me. Realizing that I do not have to walk a path that other people have decided for me due to religious or culturally accepted traditions and having my own relationship with God have been foundational keys on this journey. Over the course of the past 5 years, I’ve found myself utilizing many strategies, activities and courses that have helped me identify some key areas of my belief system that needed a complete overhaul. My increased awareness and application of the following 5 suggestions have been monumental in this needed overhaul resulting in my ability to begin to truly love myself. True self love will inevitably result in self-care by default.
1. Meet Yourself Where You Are. This is a moment of clarity and being true to who you are right now. Identify where you are and where you've been in your journey of life and accept yourself as is because quite frankly you are enough for this very moment. Understand, you will grow and become who you need to be for the evolved version of you, but not for the current you. Who you are right now is who you needed to be for this very moment. Once you get honest with yourself about where you are emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally, accept yourself as is. This does not mean that you stay there! No, there will always be room for growth as long as we are still breathing. If there was no room for growth we could claim to be all powerful, all knowing... we could claim to be the God of gods.
2. Give Yourself Grace. As you acknowledge your shortcomings and mistakes, realize you're human and worthy of forgiveness and patience. To expect perfection of yourself is unfair to you. Remembering your humanity sets you up for being able to learn what you need to learn on your journey. Keep in mind we will ultimately have some struggles in the learning process. Expect more shortcomings and mistakes but don’t view them as negatives. Look at them as opportunities for growth.
3. Living A Non-Reactive Life. Reacting to other people’s choices and actions is a choice. When you get to a place of accepting that you cannot control, nor should you attach yourself to the choices and actions of others, you will experience the ability to have more control of your overall mental and emotional well-being.
4. Pay Attention To The Triggers. Recognize those things that people say, do, maybe even post that cause you to react. Those things being said or done are triggers of some underlying issue that you have yet to allow to be healed. Yes, allow…. you have the potential to heal from every trauma or unfortunate circumstance and those triggers are nothing but a mirror to your unhealed heart. Admit and/or identify what caused the initial pain, allow yourself to feel the pain and do the work to heal.
5. See The Beauty In The Pain of Process. Transformation is a process that can and more than likely will have moments of pain. In fact, it’s a guarantee that there will be some pain so it’s important that you begin to train your mind to expect the pain but to find beauty in the pain. You can condition your mind to see beauty in the process because you know and understand the potential outcome of being a transformed more refined you. As you experience the hardships of process, remind yourself that this pain is not forever and the result will be a more evolved version of you.
These 5 suggestions are a few of the key elements of my mindset overhaul that have led me to being able to begin to truly love myself. As my love for self grows so does my ability and desire to do those things that equate to self-care.
~ Jamela Johnson of @BeingJamela365