Disclaimer – This is not a post where I tell you to have a bath and a face mask. I’m here to tell you simple steps and exercises you can do to become a better you the way YOU want. I’m not going to be selling an ideology to you at any point. Treat this post as a safe space for personal growth.
You can do some of these things when you have a day to yourself, or maybe in the evening before bed. I won’t lie that having nice music on or sipping a warm drink won’t help you get into a relaxed state and make wherever you are feel cozy and safe.
Below are some of the things I do or did to become stronger as a person and develop my own personality. I am by no means a mental health professional or anyone of the sort – I’m just speaking from experience. These things will probably change regularly, but that’s the fun part.
You’re doing great!
First of all, take some time to appreciate yourself and what you have achieved in life so far. You may or may not have terrible self esteem, but it’s still worth giving yourself a pat on the back. In all seriousness, be grateful of what you have and proudly own what you have achieved. Don’t perceive it as a sin to share your achievements with others, just make sure to celebrate the successes of others as well.
Take responsibility for yourself.
I told you to appreciate your achievements because you also have to take a hit. It’s the old story of realisation that’s the moral of the story of Cain and Abel. Take responsibility for your own actions. This can be painful but also extremely freeing. Realise that, sometimes, you failed because you’ve made mistakes, or even worse (like Cain) you realise you ignored your conscience and ended up screwing up in the exact way that your conscience had predicted. (And by conscience I don’t mean anxiety!!) It’s okay though, you know, because that means life is totally up to you. It’s all in your hands, and you can do it if you try hard enough and do it enough times. People generally get to their goals if they set them and accept full responsibility.
With this in mind, take a moment in your day sometimes to plan what you actually want your future to be. Hang on there, I hear you think, I like my life just the way it is thank you very much, and I want to see where it takes me without planning it all out like some perverted capitalist. I get you, I was in that space too but I quickly grew out of it, after realising that if you don’t aim anywhere, you’re pretty much stuck. It’s all up to you, but do sit down sometime with a notebook and think about what you want out of life. Is it a family, just a partner, living alone, a particular job or career, maybe a particular place that you’d love to live in. Trust me when I say this, just the act of writing that goal down and having it at the back of your mind will move you towards it.
“You’ve Changed” is a toxic phrase.
Mostly, because change is good, but also because who the hell wants to be friends with someone who says “you’ve changed” like it’s a bad thing? Imagine being so selfish you want your friends to stay just the way they are because you’re afraid of what they’ll do if they start improving themselves. I suggest you avoid people like that, but it’s up to you. You could just call them out on their bs.
Don’t let other people push you around or treat you based on how you used to be. Firmly re-establish your new and improved identity.
Stop being used by social media.
I don’t want to tell you to stop using social media, but if you can then do. There is so much evidence on how it links to bad mental health, I feel like the risk is just not worth it. I would not be on it right now, if I didn’t need it to prove my copy writing skills to employers.
If you can’t delete it, here are some things that you can do right now to help. And I mean do it right now, otherwise you’ll keep putting it off. Delete people you don’t want on you profiles, people who make you feel weird, uncomfortable or envious. They can be friends, family or strangers that were a little bit too nice. You don’t have to explain yourself. You’re not cutting off the relationship (unless it’s all internet based, but don’t be afraid to do that!) Imagine what your accounts and feeds would look like if you followed people you wanted to and people who are supportive and motivating. I mean, I’ve blocked half of the people using the #poetry on Instagram because it’s cheap Rupi Kaur style “poetry” that requires no effort whatsoever to write and just enrages me. Hehe, you can tell blocking them was a good idea.
Make sure these tools work for you and you’re not being used. Trust me, the more you detox from them the happier you will feel. Go and chat to people face to face not through snapchat.
Get rid of beliefs that aren’t yours.
By this I mean take some time to ask yourself, what sort of beliefs or moral codes are you following right now that are trapping you and just making you miserable for no reason? I don’t mean go out and kill and abuse people -don’t do that. Were you bought up in a religion that you no longer believe in? Leave it. Are you from an atheist family, but want to go to church? Do it. Do your parents hate LGBT but you know you’re non-binary, come out anyway. I know these things will have consequences, some very dramatic, but do consider finding the courage to be yourself. It will give you more confidence and more self-love than a million baths and face masks ever will.
This also applies to smaller things like the way in which you think you should do your laundry or speak on the phone. It can be what you wear. If you always wanted a tattoo but thought that it’s “not right” because of someone else’s views, go and get it done!
Do not be embarrassed because you love and care.
Do not, by any means, let anyone put you down because you are a loving and caring person. There is no such thing as being needy or whatever the hell else. If you love someone and they think that’s weird, don’t get involved. We need a revolution of real self love and love for other people. So be supportive, like other people’s pages and try to be happy with their achievements. Say “take care” before departing, and sing and dance with someone when they need it. Don’t be put into a cage of social anxiety mixed with fake expectation just to keep up a persona.
What do you need?
This is a short practical exercise you can do. Sit down alone for fifteen or so minutes. Away from anybody else, it’s important that you have this space. Take a notebook and pen. Sit back comfortably and try to imagine yourself, what would you look like if you were standing in front of yourself? Try and think of details and imagine yourself as vividly as possible, just the way you are now, but from a second person perspective.
Now, approach yourself as a friend and someone you care for. Ask this self you see before you “Who are you?” and write down the answer. Then do the same with “What do you need?” and any other questions that you need insight on.
Then hug yourself.