Preaching Self-love, but Finding It Hard to Practice?
By Bea Hare
"I'm not good enough"
“I don’t deserve to be alive.”
“I’m pathetic, I should be stronger.”
“I’m not worthy of help or love.”
“I will never get through this.”
Sound familiar? These are just some snippets of the thoughts I have when my depression hits hard. Sometimes they just slide into my every day life too. I’ll be thinking about what to make for dinner and then BAM, I’m left trying to combat the negativity and dinner is forgotten about.
Sometimes it is so overwhelming that I literally cannot get out of bed. My mind won’t let my body move. What is the point? is often what I end up thinking. My plans for the day go out the window and I end up feeling even lower because I cannot let myself have that day to feel crap.
I’m the person that will always preach how important it is to take time for yourself and look after your mental health to my friends. But when it comes to practising what I preach, I have a mental blockade in my head. Its like everyone else is watching The Godfather but I’m watching Hellboy (2019 of course, the Del Toro films were great). I simply don’t think that I am worthy of positive thoughts - that I fully deserve how I feel.
Now, the reality is that isn’t true. It wasn’t until I started therapy that I realised that the majority of my negativity comes from myself. The pressure I put myself through and the horrid thoughts I have about myself all stem from my self-worth. I’m not very kind to myself which exacerbates my depression and anxiety.
I know I’m not alone.
You are not alone.
We live in a world bombarded by advertisements, marketing, social media - all showing off how perfect life can be if we buy this product or do this thing, etc. Our feeds are full of people showing the most perfect side of their lives and rarely do we see the reality of their lives behind the screen. Yes, your friends just posted an amazing picture of the holiday they’re on, but behind that picture could be a fractured relationship fraught with arguments and unhappiness. But when we are constantly shown a perfect life online, at every bus stop, in every store, for every product, it can make you feel incredibly lonely. Like everyone else has life figured out and you’re still trying to tie your shoelaces.
For example, I am apparently an adult. How do I know this? Because I’m nearly 25, I pay taxes and I have a job. Do I feel like an adult? Fuck no. I feel like a toddler trying on their parents’ shoes! I used to think that older people knew exactly what they were doing. Surprise surprise, they don’t. We’re all bumbling through life the same trying to figure out what we’re doing. We often get caught up in how other people are living their lives and forget to value our own lives. We compare ourselves to others by what we see through marketing and social media. The thoughts of worthiness and despair rise up again and again.
My Mum once gave me a bit of advice that has always stuck with me. There are two certainties in life, she told me, you will get taxed and you will always wake up next to yourself.
You will always wake up next to yourself. This is why we all should work on our self worth. People will come and go through our lives. Situations change. People change. The only person you can ever truly 100% rely on is yourself. That is who will be there the next morning.
So when you say you don’t love yourself, you are offending the most important person in your life. Yourself.
This was and still is a difficult lesson for me to learn. Especially as I really despised myself for being depressed. I blamed myself for what had happened. I hated myself for not feeling comfortable in situations where I had previously been the life of the party. It was a vicious cycle of mean thoughts while being depressed, which added to my anxiety, which in turn made me more depressed, making me more anxious, and so on.
I won’t lie to you, I still struggle on a daily basis with my self-worth. It isn’t an overnight fix, it is a lifetime battle. We will all go through mental battles where we don’t think we are good enough. Often our own expectations of ourselves are difficult or even impossible to live up to. Whether it’s because we didn’t get that job, or we put on weight, or friends laugh at us, it doesn’t matter what situation causes you to question your self-worth, it will happen. It is how we deal with this negativity that matters, how we value ourselves despite the negativity.
It is so easy to beat ourselves up. But it is harder to love ourselves and to realise that you are enough.
So I want to give you a way that I have found has helped me value myself more. I’ve taken some of this from Queer Eye season 3 episode 4, ‘When Robert Met Jamie’, which I highly recommend for those of you who struggle with self esteem.
First off, when you are having these negative thoughts of I’m not good enough, I’m not worthy of being alive, etc, write them down. Seriously. I know this gets said a lot, but actually writing things down helps you to stop them going round your head. It’s like when we’re trying to remember things and we write a list to get them out of our head and onto paper. It’s the same when we are having negative thoughts. Write them down and get them out of your head. Do what you want with it then - throw it away, burn it, recycle it, whatever. Just get them written down and out of your mind.
Next, you’re going to write down things about yourself that challenge all those negative things you wrote down. The first time you do this, you may find this as difficult as I did. I cried for an hour because I realised I didn’t love myself at all and couldn’t think of anything positive. Eventually, I managed to write down ‘I’m pretty decent at Rocket League’. Then ‘I make amazing scrambled eggs’ (thank you Gordon Ramsey for your fool-proof method). Then ‘My friends trust me enough to confide things in me.’ The list you write will grow and grow. Now take all those lovely things you wrote about your wonderful self and put them up somewhere you see them every day. Karamo in Queer Eye puts them on a mirror, I have mine on a cork board in my kitchen because that’s where my desk is. Look at them, add to them even if the thing is small, it is significant to you and that is what matters.
How you see yourself now can change. But the only person that can change that is you. And let me tell you, you are more than worth it.
You are good enough.
You deserve to be alive.
You are strong. You are not pathetic.
You are worthy of love and help.
You will get through this.
If you’ve been struggling with your mental health or are having suicidal thoughts, or you know somebody who is, these are the numbers to call to get some help.
Samaritans: 116 123
CALM: 0800 58 58 58
Papyrus (for those under 35): 0800 068 41 41
Childline (for children and young people under 19): 0800 1111
The Silver Line (for the elderly): 0800 4 70 80 90