Go and Heal Someone Else

“As soon as healing takes place, go out and heal somebody else.”

— Maya Angelou

Humans have a hard time accepting that other people might have an easier way in life than they did, even if the easier way in life is all they ever wished for when they were struggling. What I mean is, if we see some going through what we have but we see them being given the support, patience, and understanding we weren’t, we get angry, and we cry over what we didn’t have and what no one else should have either.

We’re just bitter. We feel we have been wronged and since those wrongs can’t be helped or undone the least we can have is that everybody is wronged in the same ways we were. It feels like some kind of justice or validation of what we went through if at least it is universal and enduring. There is relief in seeing others fight and struggle the same as you. I suppose it makes us feel superior for having survived while others fall behind. It gives us a little bit of power and control over the world and other people we’ve never had.

But it’s wrong, and we know it’s wrong.

What are we all fighting for if it isn’t so other people don’t have to go through what we did?

This week, listen to the ways you talk about what other people should have, what they deserve, and why you think they aren’t as strong or as smart as you if they had it a little easier. Listen to the ways you talk about change and what benefit you think there comes with keeping things the same?

I’ve heard people say we shouldn’t be fighting bullying in school, we shouldn’t have kids wear seat belts, we shouldn’t have therapy, we shouldn’t have later start times for schools, or awards for kids who do their best, why?

The only answer I get is because they didn’t have that when they were young, and they turned out fine so no one should. I always ask if they think they might have turned out better, happier, or more successful if they’d had more support, understanding, and a better sense that they were good enough, smart enough, and strong enough already to do anything they wanted in life. They always answer yes, and they have no answer for why they wouldn’t want that for everyone, even if they didn’t have it themselves.

For the most part, I’m aware of when thoughts like that creep into my head, but I still struggle with believing other people should be able to do everything I can with the same limited resources and assistance I had. I forget that I don’t have a corner on suffering and that I don’t get to decide what other people need or what they can handle. I can be just as hard on other people about their lack of progress as I am on myself for mine. I can forget to have a little understanding, patience, or empathy.

What healing I have done has taken a lot of work. Work that would have been so much easier if I’d had more support and understanding. I want to help others in all the ways I needed help when I was struggling rather than talking trash or thinking trash thoughts about how weak they are or about how much I did with so much less. I want to heal people, not hurt people. I want to teach what I have learned and make the world better for the next person who feels alone and lost. This week, try to do the same.

Of course it isn’t your job to heal anyone, just as it’s no else’s job to heal you either, but we are social creatures, and so much of our lives are wrapped up in other people’s lives, in society, and culture, and community, we all benefit when we build each other up and do our best to meet one another’s needs.

You can’t fix it all, I’m only asking you to do one thing you wish someone would have done for you when you were hurting. Try checking in on people, especially people you haven’t spoken to in a while, or people you think are strong and don’t need it. Try really meaning it when you ask how someone is doing. Encourage others to open up to you. Try opening up to other people and letting them know they are important to you and that they make you feel better. Try actively listening and not just waiting your turn to talk about yourself. Offer advice if it’s asked for. Offer a hug if they want it. Offer some words of validation always.

Heal yourself first. Get what you need, do what you need to, first, always first, but after you have made some progress and stored up some strength yourself, go out and help the rest of the world heal.

***

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Self-Loathing for the Egoist

 

“He who hates himself is not humble.”

— Emil Cioran

What is it about self-loathing that is so damn satisfying? When I say satisfying, I don’t mean that it feels good. It hurts to hate yourself. It’s depressing, and it hinders you from realizing your potential, from taking care of yourself, and from being truly happy. It’s cruel and abusive, and yet, we all do it, some of us compulsively. Why do we do it? Why can’t we stop?

I am a chronic self-hater. I don’t like myself very much. I don’t see any reason why anyone else should either. I think I am a failure. I think I am ugly. I think that I am annoying and stupid and I feel like a burden to everyone around me.

I am hard on myself. I keep a running tally of all the ways I have pissed people off, said something stupid, made mistakes, made more work, or made the wrong choice. I remember that I always do this, that I always forget, and that I am always wrong.

I find some point in time when my actions could have changed everything and because I acted this way instead of that the whole train of events, and all the hurt feelings and frustration that result are on me. I can trace my negative impact all the way back to my birth. I am the worst; I tell myself this at least once a day.

I don’t want to feel this way. Hating myself is not something I enjoy doing. I want to love myself because somewhere deep down I know that I not only need it, but that I deserve it. I know this but I can’t get there. I have listed things I like about myself. I have told myself I am no more flawed than anyone else. I tell myself I am beautiful and smart and kind and worthy of love and happiness. I have treated myself and forgiven myself, and still, I fall back into old habits. I have tried, and some progress has been made, but I still can’t help hating who I am.

Clearly, giving myself a few compliments and staying hydrated are not the way. Or, they aren’t the only way. Self-love needs more than words; it needs an acknowledgment of the pain that brought you to such self-loathing. It needs an investigation into what purpose it serves and what satisfaction is derived from such thoughts.

Within each of us lives the ego, or our identity and sense of self. To act in an egotistical way is to put oneself at the center of your world at the exclusion of others. When we think of the egoist, we think of someone who is selfish and mean, ruthless and uncaring. Someone who thinks they are better than everyone else. We don’t think of ourselves as acting in an egotistical way when we heap hatred on ourselves because to us we are acting in a way that put everyone else above us.

We love other people more than ourselves. We value them more than ourselves. We take their blame and pain and anger and place it on ourselves. We carry the load for everyone and put ourselves down for not doing more. We don’t think we deserve as much as them. We don’t think we are as good.

But who we place above anyone else has nothing to do with who we are placing at the center. When we are so focused on ourselves by imagining ourselves greater than others and worthy of more, even if what we are giving is hatred, negativity, and insults, we are still acting in an egotistical way.

Maybe this is a form of control, a way to make sense of the world and feel some part of which way it turns. Maybe we are like a child who has simply gotten into a habit of seeking out negative attention because it is better than no attention at all. Maybe this is a way to make yourself feel important. Maybe we want so badly to be the best at something that we are willing to accept being the best at being the worst.

Self-hatred is a real concern. It is unhealthy and negatively impacts your mental health and quality of life. The pain that led you here is real, and your feelings are valid, but the result you are chasing may not be what you think it is. You are not giving yourself what you deserve, punishing yourself, or being honest with yourself. You are not making the world better or making people around you feel better either. You are putting the spotlight on you.

I realized this when someone I love, and who loves me too, pointed out how the feelings of others often got overshadowed by my self-hatred. When things went wrong, when I hurt someone’s feeling, for example, I focused on how I was always doing this and making mistakes and saying stupid things and fucking everything up, not on the person I had hurt. I thought I was helping by letting them know how awful I was, but I wasn’t. I was serving my egotistical self and making myself feel better by focusing on myself.

Admitting that I have been acting in an egotistical way has made me view my self-esteem in a new light. There is more to it, of course, but it is helping me make further progress in my healing. It is helping me see the difference between what is real and what isn’t. It is helping me find the right path forward.

So, take a look at how you feel about yourself. If you are you a chronic self-hater start asking yourself what purpose it serves and explores why it is so hard to stop. When did you start to hate yourself? When did you start to believe that you were less worthy than anyone else? What prevents you from seeing the flaws in others as well, or letting them take responsibility for them? What effect has your self-hatred had on others?

Often the expectations we put on ourselves and the blame we place there are unrealistic and wildly beyond what we would place on anyone else. Sometimes our motives for doing so aren’t apparent to us. We have to consider that we may be indulging in giving ourselves special importance as someone who is especially damaged. We may be looking for someone else to give us the love we should be giving ourselves. We may be looking for ways to be rescued or special acknowledgment for how we suffer.

Self-criticism is the middle road you should be trying to achieve. A realistic view of your strengths and weakness and your progress toward becoming a healthier more whole version of yourself through the pursuit of wisdom and fulfillment. Self-criticism is an important part of self-love. It is nothing less than what we would offer another human being that we loved. Able to see their flaws and their strengths without placing them above or below what is normal. To do otherwise would be cruel.

Be humble in your ideas of both the positive and negative aspects of yourself. Remember that you are never to blame for as much of the good or bad that happens in this world as you think you are. You are just plain old regular good and ordinary everyday bad.

***

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You Have to Believe It

Hello, and happy Monday friends! Yeah, I know, I know, Mondays aren’t exactly happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed. I know.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, a reset of sorts, every single week. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

“What makes you think you deserve to be happy?”

Thigh High

I read this some weeks ago, and my immediate thoughts were not positive ones. What does make me think I deserve to be happy? Who told me that and why do I believe it? Maybe none of us really deserve it. What does it matter in the grand scheme of the cosmos whether or not any of us is happy, or suffering miserably until death? It doesn’t.

So, why do I think that just because I was born, and I am here, I should get something out of it?

A feature of the human condition is endless frustration between ourselves and the universe over what we feel we deserve but are not getting out of life. We’ve all heard that life is unfair. We don’t want to believe it when we are young, but we learn it as we grow older. We learn that you don’t always get what you want and that good doesn’t always win. We learn that our hard work and sacrifice will more often than not go unnoticed and that the universe doesn’t owe us a damn thing.

We come to understand this, but we draw the wrong conclusions.

We grow bitter over time and sometimes, having nowhere to direct our pain and feeling a desire for understanding and control we turn the bitterness inward and believe that we don’t deserve happiness. It must be something within us that makes the world hate us so. There must be a reason that the scales are so tipped against us. There must be a reason that other people get ahead and we are stuck where we have always been, doing what we always have, and feeling shitty as ever.

But the real truth is, sometimes it is that shitty feeling that keeps us from moving forward.

Sometimes we hold on to these toxic worldviews, worldviews that, often, other people have put into us. People who didn’t believe they deserved better or happier either. People who were frustrated with the indifference and unfairness of it all. Those people drew the wrong conclusions too. They thought that because they didn’t deserve something, that you don’t either, but they are wrong.

The sad part is we all deserve better, but that doesn’t mean we’ll get it. The good news is, just knowing that can give you a better perspective and change things. Just knowing that you have the right to reach out and pull all the good things that come your way into your life and that no one has the right to take any of it away, can make your world a very different place.

If you think all you have is all you are ever going to get, you stop looking for more. When you think that this is what you get you think of your life as a punishment you accept and even seek out pain as a punishment. When you think that you don’t deserve to have the same as everyone else you set yourself apart as less than anyone else and inflict the greatest cruelty on yourself. If you do this and expect that some sign or someone will come along, tell you differently, and magically change things, you will be disappointed, because even if they do, it won’t make any difference.

You have to be the one to say it. You have to be the one who tells yourself that you have earned every breath, every joy, every hope, and opportunity. You have to be the one to tell yourself that you deserve more and better, and you have to believe it because no one else can make it so.

No one has the authority to tell you what is for you and what isn’t. No one is judging you or weighing what you have given against what you get. There is only you up against a very harsh and hard world. You may not be able to have it all, the world may not open for you and suddenly show you the way, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do what you can and get what you can, while you can.

This week, walk like you deserve to be here, work like you deserve more, and talk like you deserve to be heard. Love and accept love like you have earned the right to. Imagine a life where you are happy in all the ways you aren’t now and simply tell yourself that is what you deserve. You deserve more money, more consideration, and more respect. You deserve not to have to hurt so much, worry so much, stress so much. You deserve to feel good about who you are and what you look like. You deserve to be confident and to be accepted.

I’m not asking you to do anything different, I just want you to know, you are deserving of better and more. I want you to tell yourself that until you believe it, and when you hear your mind ask back, why? I want you to have an answer.

Maybe the universe doesn’t care, and maybe it doesn’t really matter either way in the long run, but I care, and you care, or you should, because you only get one chance at this, one chance! If there is no other reason why it is that. You get one chance, and no one has the right to limit you or give you less than what you’ve earned.

You, like everyone else, was born, has lived, and suffered. You were given a beautiful but limited gift and whether or not it was only down to chance doesn’t matter, because we all have the right to make the most of our miracle.

But you have to believe it to make it so.

***

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We are Not Okay, and That’s Okay

“I do not believe anyone can be perfectly well, who has a brain and a heart”

― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I’ve struggled my whole life with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and a general sense of guilt for just about every wrong ever committed. I’ve believed I didn’t deserve love, or happiness, or even my life. The weight of who I am and who I was is heavy on my heart while the weight of who I will be and when I will die weighs heavily on my mind.

I think about how time is running out, and I’ve made so many mistakes, and I’m not sure if this life I’ve is better than another life I could have had.

I don’t know whether to step this way or that, quite my job or stay, move to a new state or learn to love the one I am in. I don’t know if people like me or why I should care. I don’t know if this political party is right or the other and I don’t know how to fix myself or the world. So I am frozen, and I have no way to work through it or even know if I am alone.

I am not okay.

I feel so much, every moment of every day that in order to focus and move forward in life I’ve had to learn to shut it off, to zone out, to numb myself. We all do it. When we work, when we are with family and friends, when we are posting selfies, when we are posting witty comments on the timeline, and especially when we are alone. We shut off all that emotion, we do it our whole lives, and we forget how to cope with what it means to be alive.

I am a thinking, feeling, wanting human being, and it hurts. It’s confusing and scary and damn hard. It’s humiliating and terribly unfair, and I’m tired of trying to pretend it isn’t.

I can get through my day with a smile. I have to because to bring all the baggage of the human condition to work, or home to my girlfriend, or dump it on my friends, seems cruel. But if I am shutting off my “humanness”” just to get through my day, my life, then who or what am I? And why am I here at all?

I am not okay, at all, and but I don’t think very many of us are.

Billions and billions of us of us are going to and fro working our little jobs and connecting. We talk, meet for coffee, hold meetings, network, and update our statuses, but none of it seems to get to all that anxiety and fear we carry. We never admit that just inside ourselves below the facade, we show the world is an ocean of panic.

And it only seems to be getting worse. All this technology, bringing us together, they say, but I only ever feel pulled further and further away from who I really am. I mean, if the selves we are bringing together are only shells, pretending to be happy, pretending everything is fine, then we are only going to get lonelier and lonelier, and we will never learn to cope with what it means to be human. In the end, pushing it all down is only going to make the ocean of anxiety below the surface bubble and rise, wholly out of your control.

So, this week, take a few furtive glances inside yourself and ask, are you dealing with your fear, your pain, your uncertainty? Are you letting yourself feel human? Get below the surface, deep down, in the parts of ourselves we never visit, where all the deep questions are asked and never answered.

Get uncomfortable with what is down there and with who you are, and admit you are not okay.

We are not okay, but that’s okay. If you aren’t okay, it means you are alive, and aware, and feeling. It means you are human and functioning just the way you should. Don’t ever be ashamed of that. Don’t ever hide it and don’t ask others to either. Instead, talk to someone about it, and let them talk too. Maybe if we say it out loud, that life is hard, and we have no idea what we are doing, and that we are afraid, we’ll feel a little less not okay, or at least a little less alone.

Life will still hurt. You will still suffer and be afraid, but at least we won’t be pretending.

At least we won’t be afraid of who we are.

***

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Back to Self-Love Basics

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for feeling tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, every single week. Mondays are do-overs, each one is our own personal reset button. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

This Monday is a stressful one. I woke up late, I was almost late to work, and I don’t feel well at all. I’m tired, my joints hurt, and something is going terribly wrong in my gut, as usual. The whole thing is stressing me out, and the smallest obligations are making me feel irritated, angry, and exhausted. I’m trying to stay positive, but I’ve also promised myself that I can be a grouchy, whining, ball of difficulty if I want to too. So there!

“Be you, love you. All ways, always.”

— Alexandra Elle

I haven’t been feeling well for a long time now. I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s been many years that I have been quietly fighting whatever is going in wrong with my body, not to mention all the fear, shame, and anxiety that came along with it. Only just recently did I finally get some help and start seeking some answers to what’s been going on. It seems I am just in time too. These past few weeks have been the worse yet.

While waiting for appointments and tests I’ve noticed all the work I put into learning to love myself more is slowly slipping away. My body feels entirely against me. I feel dirty, disgusting, and untouchable. I feel angry with my body. I don’t understand it at all. I am frustrated by it and the limitations it puts on me. I wish I could be someone else.

I feel afraid to eat because I have no idea how my digestive system will react. I’m afraid to lift anything or move in any way because the sounds coming from my joints are so alarming. I’m afraid of migraines. I’m afraid there will be new symptoms and new fears any minute.

This past weekend I walked the dog, just a leisurely walk around the block. Nothing strenuous, nothing difficult. I got home, and my right knee swelled up. Now I can’t even walk the dog! I’m afraid this will be my life now.

So I hate my body for ruining everything. This broken and disgusting body. This body isn’t me. It doesn’t even feel human. It surely isn’t behaving the way human bodies should. I want out of it, now!

But of course I know, somewhere deep down, that this my body is me. My body will always be me, and it won’t get better unless I start loving it again. For now, there isn’t much I can do except love it, and once I have the answers, I will have to go one loving it, caring for it, babying and coddling it, and helping it get through the day and accomplish everything it needs to.

My body is flawed, but it’s the only one I have. There will be no new one, and no matter how hard I protest or wish it away it will still be here. I had better learn to love it. I had better stop blaming it for everything. I need to stop being ashamed of it. I need to stop resenting it. I need to stop thinking so much about what I can’t do. I need to stop letting it define me and depress me.

It’s easier said than done, but this week I am going to try.

If you have been feeling a little trapped by your body, if you are having a hard time looking in the mirror and recognizing the reflection as you, or if you, like me, are just frustrated by pain and limitation, get back to the basics and start loving your body again.

This week try mediation or a new beauty ritual. I’m thinking about making a new DIY body scrub or trying dry brushing. I will eat slowly and deliberately, enjoying my food and giving my system time to digest. Maybe I will try some new teas to sooth my stomach or buy some new essential oils to add to baths, lotions, or soaps. I’ll take it easy and pamper myself a little. I’ll try to say good things and remember how hard I am fighting. I will look to the light at the end of the tunnel and focus on feeling better instead of blaming and pulling myself down.

Self-love and self-care are not easy, and no matter how far you have come it doesn’t take much to fall back into old habits. This week, take some time to remember how amazing you are. Take some time to show yourself some love.

***

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Do Not Forget Your Frailty

Hello, and happy Monday Dear Reader. I hope your weekend was relaxing, and you feel ready to take on the demands of the work week. I know Monday’s have gotten a bad reputation over the years, but I am aiming to change that. Can you believe that we spend one whole day out of the week feeling bitter and unmotivated? Let’s change that, shall we? Let’s not waste another week starting off on the wrong foot.

Let’s think of Monday’s like a new start, another chance to get it right. Let’s think of Monday’s like the first step to meeting our goals and getting shit done.

For me, this Monday is a hard one. In fact, I beg your forgiveness in the lateness of this post. My baby niece might be on her way to being born today; my dog managed to hurt herself, and my work day has been more draining than usual. Thankfully, I will be heading back home soon.

(How frail the human heart must be —
a throbbing pulse, a trembling thing —
a fragile, shining instrument
of crystal, which can either weep,
or sing.)

Sylvia Plath

Most of the time I encourage people to remember their strengths but this week, I encourage you to remember their fragility. In the body, yes, but more than that, remember your emotional fragility.

When you play a sport or do any intense emotional activity, you wear protective equipment. You wear the right footwear, you wear pads, you wear a mouth guard and a cup. Before you can play you have to practice. You learn how to throw the ball. You learn the plays. You get to know your team. Before every game, you have to warm up. You do all of this so that you can play the game effectively and without injury.

After years of play, though, an injury is just about inevitable. When it happens you carried off the field, you are seen by a doctor who specializes in the part of the body that was hurt. You are looked over, diagnosed, and given instructions to rest and rehabilitate and when your body is ready, you begin therapy.

Bodily injury is talked very seriously but emotional injury isn’t. When you pull an emotional muscle, you do not stop to rest the part of you that is hurt. You do not see a doctor to diagnose the problem and plan your recovery. You tell yourself it isn’t that bad. You go on like the hurt never happened. You do your best to walk it off. This will only result in weakened resistance and susceptibility to further pain.

In any physical activity, you are best served by remembering what the body is capable of and how to do what you do safely. We are given the tools we need to protect ourselves and rely on coaches and teammates to help us along.

In life, we aren’t given the tools we need to protect our hearts. We are never taught what our emotions should and shouldn’t do. We are never encouraged to learn our feeling words, to learn how to express ourselves, and we are not given a safe space to feel our feelings safely.

The emotional self is much more fragile than the body. We are easily injured; sometimes the hurts are big but fewer and farther between. Sometimes they are smaller but frequent, building up over time. The result is the same, though, a breaking down of the mental resistances, like the knee or hip bone, slowly giving out after years of hard hits on a field.

The difference is when our hearts get hurt there is no one to carry us out of the environment that hurts. There is no doctor readily available to diagnose you. There is no time to rest or rehabilitate. Therapy is not encouraged.

So you must do all you can to care for yourself, and the first step is to know and remember your weakness. Remember to protect your most vulnerable parts. Do not make the mistake of thinking you are invincible or impervious to the blows to your soul. The world is often a harsh and hostile place for humans to exist, do your best to make a place within yourself where you can retreat when things become too much.

If you get hurt, give yourself time to rest. Go easy on the parts that have been injured lest they be injured further. Work yourself up to normal activity as slowly as you can.

Rest and rehabilitate.

Therapy is encouraged.

Artists instinctively want to reflect humanity, their own and each other’s, in all its intermittent virtue and vitality, frailty and fallibility.

// Tom Hiddleston

***

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Written in response to The Daily Post prompt: Frail

Don’t Listen to Your Brain, It’s Stupid

“What’s wrong honey?”

“A lot of things, mostly that I am ugly and I can never do anything right.”

“That is not true you are beautiful and you have done so many great things.”

“But that’s not what my brain says.”

“Well, don’t listen to your brain. Your brain is stupid.”

The best piece of advice I have ever received and continue to receive regularly, in person, comes from my girlfriend.

She reminds me that my brain is stupid.

It may sound a bit harsh; my girlfriend is the kind of person who says things bluntly. She can sound mean or angry when her intention is only to be honest. She wants me to see myself from her perspective, but she knows that is impossible. The best she can do is remind me that there is more than one perspective and mine may (read: probably is) wrong.

So, she reminds me that sometimes my brain doesn’t know what the hell it is talking about, nd I should not believe everything it tells me. She reminds me that brains are not perfect organs. They do not experience the world objectively, nor do the process and recall information without clouding it first with emotion and previous experience. Brains are made up of a whole lot of things other people (and their imperfect brains) put there.

She does this whenever I get down on myself and to me, it feels so much more real or true than just telling me I’m wrong. When you think you look bad or when you think you have done bad, having someone say you are wrong doesn’t help. Hearing that only frustrates you and deepens your feeling of loneliness. She isn’t invalidating what I am feeling, she is only pointing out that I don’t have to believe what I am feeling. Plus, the way she says it is kinda funny which brightens my mood a little.

I still get down on myself from time to time but I remember what she says and the moment passes quickly.

It’s a comfort knowing that my bad feelings about myself aren’t unreal or unjustified, they are just wrong. It helps shift my focus from believing my bouts of low self-esteem are fact-based into realizing that my feelings are the sum total of the genetics I inherited, the childhood I had, and what society says about people who look and live like me.

It isn’t true that I am ugly, or dumb, or incapable of accomplishing my goals. What is true is that my brain is imperfect, it functions with only the tools it has been given over my lifetime, and sometimes it is even stupid.

Sometimes I just shouldn’t listen to it.

***

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Written in response to The Daily Post’s Discover Challenge: A Piece of Advice