Friday, January 13, 2017

How Much Do You Love Yourself?


Some days the world just seems so intense. Emotions are heightened. 

People say things that trigger a thought process we thought we'd escaped from long ago. 

Loving ourselves is an interesting challenge. It's a way of life. It's important for living. So very important. 

It can be a rough go, though. A tough thing to do consistently. Most of the time I think I'm on the right side of it - the side that loves who I am and where I am in my life. I recently posted the following status update on Facebook and thought to myself - wow - I really am there. 

"Sometimes you do your work and you walk away, or hang up the phone, or save the file and you breathe deeply and truly feel like you're meant to be here. In this place. Working with and for these particular people. And you recognize that although sometimes you forget it? This is the work you're meant to do." 

And when I share things like this I recognize how far I've come. I am proud of me - of who I am - of what I do. And I wouldn't change a thing. 

And then, there are days that I think about how much more I could be doing. 

There are so many ways to work towards loving oneself. I have friends who struggle with this. I'm not exempt. 

I admit, as a person, a mother and a social worker, that I've been in therapy. I think anyone who provides this service to others should have had an opportunity to work on themselves by sitting on the so-called other side of the desk. On the couch (I've never had an office with a couch - I think I've been cheated!). Wherever you sit. Try both sides on for yourself. It truly does so much for you as a provider. 

Now, know I'm not judging anyone who has not done this and works in the same field as I do. I just recommend it strongly because even if you feel you have nothing to work on for yourself - your eyes will open so widely to what your own clients feel when you're on the other side of the phone, computer or - yes - desk. 

Therapy is something I worked at for myself many years ago, as I started my journey into social work. It was a time in my life I needed it most. 

A time of insecurities and challenges. A time of words that I absorbed in my brain. Words from friends and people I thought cared about me. Words I held onto and were carved into my soul for a little while. And I needed to process these words with someone who was not impacted by them. With someone who could support me as I found my way through them. 

A good therapist does not tell you what they would do, nor do they tell you what you should do. They listen as you find your way. They guide you through the thought process you might not have found had you had to sit and find it on your own. 

But back to loving yourself. 

Sometimes we go through things that set us back. Or change our lives in such a way that we feel like we're two different people. The person of before, and the person of after. The incident, the change, the challenge, the thing we experience can be positive or negative, or both. 

A friend got me thinking about this topic today and it stemmed from motherhood and antenatal and perinatal mood disorders. 

Motherhood is amazing. Incredible. Powerful. SO beautiful. 

But for many women motherhood leads to a whole source of anxiety-provoking things, intrusive thoughts, depressed moods, and more. And so - we women often feel as though before we were moms we didn't have that same mindset, we were different. And then after we've gone through so much and learned so much, but who are we then? Really? 

Death does this to people, too. Death is - truly and utterly - devastating. 

Losing someone you love and care for, no matter how much they were suffering, no matter their age, no matter how expected or unexpected - it is a horrible thing to live through. As a survivor, we feel like we're missing pieces of ourselves. Who are we now that this person is gone? 

When I lost my father I knew I was still a daughter. My mom is one of the most important people in my life. Of course I'm a daughter. But then I became fatherless. Did that change who I was? Who I am? Yes and no. Of course it did. This was the worst loss I'd ever experienced. 

And yet, I'm still me. The girl he loved with all his heart. Daughter, sister, wife, mother. That's me. No matter who remains around me. And I needed to hold onto that and love myself wholly because of it. 

Because without my own love I would have floundered and not been there for those who needed me. 

Am I different now? After becoming a mom? After losing a parent? Yes. Yes I am. 

But I'm still incredible. I'm still strong. I'm still me. 

And the reminders I give myself happen regularly. 

I remind myself that finding ways to connect my new and updated self with the 'old me' is important. 

The not-so-good things we struggle through sometimes prove to us just how freaking strong we are. Just how amazing we can be as we make our way through this thing called life. 

Do I reflect back to the me of decades ago? Before I was anything more than a daughter and a sister. Before I found the path I wanted to take to provide support to those who need it? Of course I do. 

Those days were fun, challenging, stressful, amazing, and every other adjective you can think of. They were all the things. Each and every one of them. And I don't forget those days. 

But I remember the way I felt when I questioned myself. And though I hate the way I felt, I recognize that I had to be there. I had to feel those things. Without them I would not have made it to where I am today. I wouldn't be me. And there's nobody else I'd rather be. Even with all of my flaws. With all of my shortcomings. With all of the questions I have about who I currently am. I'd not change much of anything. I'd still be me. 

That reminder? Reaching the point in ones life where you're able to say that? Whether it's therapy, age, life, love, loss - whatever it is that gets you there - that's the point in your life you know that you truly do love yourself. 

So think about it. Think about where you are on this journey. And what steps you need to take to get you there if you're not there yet. Because the steps are out there - just waiting for you to take them. They're yours for the taking, as the saying goes. 

So fly - my friend - take the leap! You're SO worth it.