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2019-2021 - What I have learned

It’s been a while that I haven’t posted some thoughts regarding therapy and just how it’s been helping me. Since we’re entering a new year, also that I have yet to wait for some updates from my therapist/the possibility to pursue with her, I want to sit down and reflect on some personal takeaways from the past two-three years. There’s so many of them and the list could have been so much longer. But, these are very significant to me.

I don’t like new year’s resolutions. Too stressful and a perfect recipe to sabotage myself (aiming perfection and unrealistic standards is a constant struggle). I’d rather look at what has been strenghtened in my life, and what needs to keep going, little by little.

Hoping to look at this at the end of the year and to keep reflecting on it.

The things I have learned to understand through experiences and healthy relationships:

  • The negative things I think about myself are an indication of how I feel at the moment, not of who I am.

  • It is safe to trust others with myself. If someone wants me to be someone I am not, if a relationship makes me uncomfortable or feels off, then I don’t have to keep interacting with them.

  • Accepting a compliment or a kind word doesn’t make me a bad or egoistical person.

  • My past doesn’t own me. I own my story. My past didn’t make me stronger. I made myself stronger through how I have been reacting and learning despite these experiences.

  • I can’t please everyone. No one will ever approve or agree with all the things I do and say, and that is okay. It’s part of life. A disagreement is not the reflection of my worth.

  • I am not shy, I am anxious. When I feel safe with someone, I can be very talkative and bubbly.

  • “Family” is how I decide to define it. It is not conditioned by genetics and biology, but the quality of reationships.

  • Spirituality is a process made of times of doubts, desperation and wanders. Not having all the answers is not a shame. Not “fitting in” is not a shame.

  • I am not a bad person for expressing how I feel or simply using my voice. I am not a bad person for setting boundaries. I am not a bad person for saying no.

  • The way I think people perceive me is always distorted and on a catastrophizing mode. I need to give people I trust the benefit of the doubt, even if what I feel is the complete opposite.

  • A depressive or anxious episode is another wave to ride, and I can get better at it each time it happens. It is never a full stop, but a rough time to go through.

  • Suicidal thoughts don’t mean that I want to end it all, but that I am tired and need to rest. That something is not functioning and will need to be figured out.

  • I don’t need to understand why I feel bad at a given time. Actually, not knowing often bring more frustration. At the moment, what matters is how I respond to it, how I deal with the symptoms.

  • My experience of mental health is my own. I am not a pile of symptoms or diagnosis. As much as books and conversations with professionals are inspiring and enlightening, I will never find myself in them. The answers I need are in the experiences I had and all the ones that have yet to be. Everything else is guidance and inspiration.

  • I am more resilient than I thought I was, and I can turn my experiences into something meaningful. I don’t have to apologize, to forgive or to be grateful for what I have been through. I am allowed to be grateful for how I’ve been learning to keep what makes sense to me and rejects what doesn’t serve me.

  • We never really fail as long as we try. We can only learn and grow.

The things I need to keep working on this year:

  • The small steps make a big difference. It is very frustrating for me to accept to do only one small thing instead of trying to do all at once. I’ve been living most of my life whether on full speed or freezing mode. On a reaction mode because of unidentified triggers. Learning to embrace the other speeds in between feels unnatural and requires practice.

  • Stepping out of my comfort one. My anxiety is like a force that pulls me back constantly. Its power increases then lessens every time I step out of my comfort zone, do something I don’t feel fully safe with. To make sure these experiences keep happening regularly and not just once in a while is key for me. I fear that it would be like this for the rest of my life, but, who knows, maybe not.

  • Slowing down and focusing on me whenever I see early signs of burn-out appearing. My own anxiety is a good indicator of it. Functioning on an “all-or-nothing” mode in terms of energy, activities and commitments is what makes me stuck in a perpetual cycle of burning myself out. Compassion fatigue, mixed with feeling guilty for resting has been a huge part of how I constantly sabotage myself no matter what I do in life, also what makes me less patient with myself and keep that cycle alive.

  • Focusing more on “what if it works?” instead of “what if it fails?”. Fearing failure and embarassement is my greatest self-sabotaging strategy. I’m this person who is trained/equipped to manage a teamwork but keeps saying “I prefer to be the one who brings coffee and receive orders” (no judgment there, every role is essential). I fear positive opportunities because I’m convinced I will mess up. In the past, I have pushed away opportunities like publishing articles about subjects I cared about, making a few conferences and even accepting a promotion just because I thought I would never be able to do any of this, and that all I have to offer is a pile of junk. I could spend a life stuck in the same spot and never dare to get out of it just because I feel already that I will fail sooner or later. Impostor syndrome is as present in my life as my own shadow.

  • Not giving up on developing self-care routines, even if they feel completely unnatural to me and uncomfortable most of the time. I have never been told or learned how to take care of myself. It’s easy for me to forget myself, and requires a real discpline to actually make time/room for what I feel. It’s also a slow process to learn to sit with yourself when a lot of what’s within you is made of old pains and tears.

  • Allowing myself to try what I want to try, regardless of the outcome. Every experience will be a learning one. If I don’t want to live a life of regrets, I need to give myself a chance to explore what I want, to push through the lies and fears that hold me back in life.

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This though. Love to see it

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Whoa, Micro! It’s so awesome how you’ve been able to reflect on these and share them with us, it’s definitley inspiring! I can see myself having similar goals and learned experiences that you’ve had, but you’ve just put them into words so nicely. So many amazing quotes I can take from here, too, and I can’t pick just one or two that I can relate to or want to bring into my own life looking ahead.

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@misty: I am so glad that most of these resonate with you. I can surely see, thanks to your posts and the parts of your story that you have shared, how some of these are also part of the challenges you face/are willing to keep exploring.

To be honest, the exercise itself of acknowledging progress could probably be part of the list. I’m always scared that “fixing” something like this - even if it remains flexible/open to new possibilities - would disappoint me once another depressive/anxious wave would appear. As if writing all of this would also create expectations I’m afraid to have. It’s weird to constantly live with the conviction that everything is going to collapse anyway. But progress is progress, and in the end life is just made of so many different seasons.

I’m looking forward to keep sharing life with you as long as you’d allow this community to be by your side. Just for the time you’ve been around, you’ve already made some major steps. You had also to learn to be very self-reliant early in life, which brings its share of burdens that you can unfold and unlearn with the help of safe people like here, but it also made you develop a great sense of self-awareness - which is definitely a strength that you have. Keep going. :hrtlegolove:

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@Bimini: Thank you friend. I hope it doesn’t sound dismissive regarding therapy - I’m all about advocating for therapy, even though it is surely not for everyone. It’s just a very useful tool, a crutch between others. Life keeps happening anyway, and we deserve to fully embrace it.

I know I’ve already told you this, but I’m really proud of you. The experiences you’ve been through bring their share of sufferings, but with time, with vulnerability, with love, you will keep learning to reject what doesn’t need to be part of your life, what is not yours to carry, and to embrace what actually serves you and help you grow.

There’s this saying… “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”. Gosh, I don’t like it. We makes ourselves stronger. We freaking own that. Not fate or whatever. That’s how we react and push through that makes the difference. The patience, resilience, hope we build for ourselves in spite of it all.

That’s what you have been doing especially recently, and that is worth celebrating. You inspire me. :hrtlegolove:

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Of course not! I took what you meant as that every person has a personal experience and it’s not just textbook problems with text book solutions. There’s stories and feelings behind people.

This is wonderful! It’s something I’ll continue to come back to and remind myself of.

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This is wonderful! It’s something I’ll continue to come back to and remind myself of.

So very glad for this, friend. I owe it myself to the wise and loving @SheetMetalHead. :wink: :hrtlegolove:

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Hi Micro :wave:
I have been wanting to respond to this for a while now and it will take me a while so here we go. Micro I am very glad that you have made this list. It holds some very deep truths and also reveals your character more to us all which is very brave of you and I am thankful for your trust. There are a couple of things not in any particular order or importance that you mentioned that I have some words to say about because they have picked my interest.

This feels familiar and I dont think that it is just me and you. I think people may have different reasons for doing this like: wanting to face everything at once, not being used to waiting and being patient, they like to challange themeselves, they overwork themeselves… there are many motivations but the result is the same. All or nothing, slow or fast, black or white. These styles of thinking are never true. It is good to remember that the world is not monochrome (Black and White) but full of different colors and shades. :slightly_smiling_face:

I would like to point out one thing here. Even tho you are not used to taking care of yourself that does not meant that sertain self care routines are unnatural for you because of just that. Maybe they are simply not the right ones for you. Doing the “Now I am going to sit down and TAKE CARE OF MYSELF whether I like it or not!” is a bad idea. You are only reinforcing something that might not benefit you. What I suggest it that you try to notice which activities come more naturaly to you and which activity helps with what. Not just being disciplined but also efficient in taking care of yourself. There is a saying that the most efficient are the laziest of people because the always find out how to do something with the least amount of energy. What that means is that what you should do is not to learn how to discipline yourself to take care of yourself but to make it a natural habbit that is pleasant for you. :slightly_smiling_face:

That is a very good rule but also… be smart about it and let your voice be heard. What I mean is put your trust in things that your anxiety and fear dont let you believe in but only when the evidence suggests that they are wrong. Meaning when you fear somebody hates you but they have been friendly and compassionate and caring… yes that is the case for this rule. Fearing that someone hates you because they have been mean to you and did questionable things… not so much. I know you probably know this but there are times when it is not so obvious. :upside_down_face: Sometimes it is good to make a list of reasons why we believe something is or isnt true. That often reveals a lot.

Micro I am glad and thankful to know you. You are an amazing person that is compassionate, nonjudgemental and friendly with me and all the other people at hearthsupport. I hope the year 2022 will be a better year for you than the last one and that you will have great moments of happiness and joy. Happy new year 2022. :blush: :wink:

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