If you’ve been reading here for a while, you probably will have noticed that I struggle with self-confidence and self-esteem. I wander through life with a constant stream of “not good enoughs” rolling through my brain. I’ve worked on it with many psychiatrists, psychologists and life coaches, yet still, it comes back to haunt me as I look outside of myself for validation that I am enough.
I can’t seem to shake this need to look outside.
I manage to go through periods when the bright light inside me is on and it tells me that I am enough, that I am a success, that I am worthy. Then, mysteriously, although probably through a lack of cultivation, the light fades and eventually goes out, until I find myself lost in a fog of “not good enoughness”.
It generally takes someone else to point this out to me (again with the external validation). Someone will point out what I’m doing and tell me to stop. They remind of the strategies that I already know and I reluctantly start practicing them again.
However, most of the strategies I’ve been taught rely on pushing aside the negative feelings, on going around or seeing beyond them. There is much said about practicing gratitude and affirmations to change one’s mindset. Don’t get me wrong, those things have their place and are valuable tools.
The strategy that isn’t talked much about is the idea of sitting with one’s feelings, no matter how uncomfortable. Of staring them in the face, of expanding them until they can expand no more and allowing them to diminish of their own until they blink out of existence. My writing, here on this blog, is part of that strategy. It is an uncomfortable process, not just for me, but probably for you, the reader, but it allows me to fully explore what is going on in my head and brings enormous relief. It helps me see through the fog and realise what I need to do next.
Facing the darkness inside us is a necessary part of our healing process, yet we are taught to steer away from it, to deafen it with affirmations and positive thinking. I’m here to tell you that unless you face your dark feelings, they will be buried under all the positivity and they will fester, like a deep infection, only to erupt and blister your whole body when you least expect it.
Don’t be afraid to sit with your dark feelings. Talk to someone about them. Maybe a friend, maybe a therapist. Write about them in your journal or on your blog. There is nothing shameful about these feelings. They are part of who you are and they CAN be exorcised by giving them some air.
My friend Anne, taught me how to sit with them, without judgement, just feeling them in my body and observing. She has a great process for dispelling them. I just need to remember to keep doing it, because negative feelings tend to be like an onion – you deal with one of them and immediately another one comes along to take its place. There can be many layers of darkness, yet it IS possible to deal with them all one by one.
Today, a blogging friend listed this blog in a Top 10 Mental Health Bloggers post. For that I am grateful, yet in her description of my blog she said that this blog is not for everyone. That hurt a little bit, but I guess she’s right. I tend to be very in-your-face – blunt, honest and, at times, dark.
This blog is about telling it like it is. It’s about self-discovery and healing. It’s about sharing my story and hoping that someone else out there knows what I’m talking about. It’s about letting you know that you are NOT alone.
Mental illness is not easy to live with, but, as always, I am doing my best.