Learning to be kinder to myself

Things have felt difficult recently and I have a habit of being very hard on myself in times like this. I have been getting so frustrated at my physical health for preventing me doing the things I want to do. I have been getting angry at myself and everyone around me. My anger in some ways has been for good reason, but I have been letting it eat me up and feeling miserable as a consequence. I have been feeling as if I’ve lost my passion, interest and excitement for things and beating myself up over it. I am forgetting how important it is to be kind to myself!

After a difficult few days I woke up this morning feeling like I’d been hit by a bus (this happens a lot). My whole body is aching and I just feel drained. I have been lying here trying to work out what is going on with me right now and why I feel like this. But I realised I am focusing on all the things that are wrong right now and forgetting how much progress I have actually made over the past couple of years.

Making progress hasn’t always been that easy for me to identify, because it doesn’t always look like I think it should. It looks messy and feels incredibly difficult. Over the past couple of years I have managed to stop using alcohol as a way of coping with how I feel. I’ve stopped smoking. I have worked so hard on my eating habits and have just generally started looking after myself a lot better. This is why I keep thinking ‘why am i not feeling better now? In some ways why do I feel so much worse?’. And this morning I have remembered that it feels worse sometimes because it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done!

In a lot of ways it was much easier to continue with all my destructive coping strategies, and to generally just not care as much about myself. I didn’t have to try as hard. I could just think ‘Oh well, that’s just me I mess everything up’. Not to say it didn’t cause me and others around me a lot of pain, but it was familiar to me. Caring about myself and learning all these new and healthier coping mechanisms has pushed me completely out of my comfort zone. I have taken away all my go to solutions for dealing with anything difficult in my life, and replaced them with things that feel completely alien to me. No wonder it makes me feel worse in a lot of ways!

I haven’t given myself enough time to really feel the benefit of all this. I am doing it all and expecting to feel happy and healthy straight away, but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. I need to give myself more time. Last night I felt completely hopeless, couldn’t stop crying, and spent hours wanting to drink or do something worse. But I didn’t. I cried, I talked to my friend, I texted a crisis line (although I didn’t find this that helpful, I’m still glad I reached out). I somehow managed to get myself up and cook myself some pasta instead of binge eating or letting myself lie here hungry for hours without eating. I might have felt awful whilst I was doing all of this, but I still did the right things. I didn’t make any mistakes or do anything destructive, and I need to give myself more credit for that.

So today I am going to spend the day remembering how well I am actually doing. I am going to talk to myself the way I would to someone else I care about. To understand that this is just a difficult time for many different reasons but that I am doing everything I can to cope well with it. It doesn’t have to feel ‘good’ yet doing all of this, but at least I am not making myself feel worse anymore. Maybe one day if I continue on this path it will feel good. Happy even. At peace. That is what I want for myself one day, but for now it can be enough to just not make myself feel any worse. Because none of us deserve that.

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