One of the main reasons I started writing my blog was to reach out and help others. When I write my posts I pretend I am speaking to my younger self; whether that’s the anxious child fearful of the world around her, or the depressed teenager desperate to fit in and be liked, or the broken adult suicidal from pain. This post is a collection of thoughts and realities that I wish I had known when I was younger, and some I am still trying hard to grasp as an adult.
1. Don’t be ashamed of your story and who you are. Don’t waste your time hiding the real you and trying your best to fit in. Embrace you quirks and flaws – they are what make you unique.
2. It’s ok to admit you are not coping – it is not a sign of weakness. It’s ok to cry, it’s ok to ask for help, it’s ok to admit you are not coping, it’s ok to have bad days – you are only human.
3. Failure is not a negative thing – it teaches us so much. I was a high achiever at school – I don’t remember failing any exams, but the longer I didn’t fail, the more fearful I became of failing, so much so that it prevented me from trying new things as I was scared that I wouldn’t be any good.
4. It’s ok not to be good at everything. It’s ok to do something just because you enjoy it, not because you are good at it.
5. Perfection is not real. No one is perfect. Pushing to achieve perfection just leads to frustration and feelings of inadequacy.
6. Anxiety and depression are ‘Real’ medical conditions and you are not alone in how you feel. My teenage years were a scary time, I had no idea what my feelings meant – I thought I was a weirdo and alone in how I felt. I wish I could hug her and tell her it isn’t her fault too.
7. Self compassion is so important. You are worthy of love and compassion. “Treat yourself as you would treat a good friend”. We all makes mistakes – forgive yourself and move on. I still really struggling with this one but I’m starting to learn how to show myself the same compassion I show others.
8. It’s ok to say no sometimes, and it’s vital to set boundaries.
9. Stop comparing yourself to other people. You are unique, celebrate your uniqueness. No one has it all figured out.
10. It’s not self indulgent to spend time congratulating yourself on your achievements. Pause and enjoy the moment before racing on to your next task or goal.
11. Celebrate your abilities, not your disabilities. Rather than criticising yourself for what you can’t do or who you are not, concentrate on what you can do and who you are.
12. Accepting your current situation does not mean you are giving up. Acceptance is liberating and vital for your well being.
13. You are not superwoman. Cut yourself some slack.
14. Don’t take yourself so seriously – it’s ok (and healthy) to laugh at yourself sometimes. I have always been quite serious and taken myself too seriously. This inability to laugh at myself has made me more susceptible to being hurt by others.
15. There are practical ways to manage your anxiety. I wish I could take my younger self aside and walk her through some strategies for coping with anxiety, like mindfulness. It’s taken me years to acquire these skills but for so long I struggled alone.
16. Grieving is an important part of the healing process. I wish I could tell my younger self how important it is to talk about and remember loved ones, no matter how painful it is. It’s part of the grieving process and memories are precious – celebrating their lives helps us heal. We often forget the importance of acknowledging grief and when we don’t give ourselves this time to mourn, anger and guilt can take over.
17. Your feelings are, and will always be, valid.
18. You don’t have to wear your pain like a badge of honour. I fought against taking painkillers and antidepressants for a long time because I saw it as a sign of weakness – I felt I needed to prove how tough I was.
19. Physical appearance has no bearing on happiness. Weight has no bearing on happiness – your self worth is not determined by a number on the scales. Everyone has a part of their physical appearance they don’t like – even the beautiful people.
20. Success is not measured by monetary wealth and possessions. Success is measured by health, happiness, love, balance, family and friends.
21. Things can change in a heartbeat – for good or bad. If you are going through a tough time, know it won’t last forever, and if things are good, make the most of every minute. But change isn’t something to be feared – embrace it.
22. Being popular isn’t the be-all-and-end-all. Having a few close and loyal friends is more important.
23. There are ways to cope with negative emotions without beating yourself up further. Anger, resentment, frustration, grief, self pity, guilt and desperation, are all emotions I have faced throughout my life. Self compassion, forgiveness, removing self blame and finding time to pause, reflect, rest and restore – I wish I had known about these when I was younger.
24. Take care of your body and mind – you are not invincible. I have abused my body and mind far too much over the years. When I was younger I felt invincible and this was often reflected in my actions.
25. Nothing is as bad as it first seems. Take a step back; pause, reflect, rest and relax.
26. Rest, relaxation and reflection are vital for your mental and physical health. I have always (before becoming ill) lived life at 100mph not allowing myself to rest, mainly through fear of allowing my dark thoughts time to surface, but also because I wrongly thought by resting I was being lazy.
27. It’s important to be yourself – it’s the only way to be truly happy. Pretending to be someone else is admitting you are somehow ashamed of the real you. You don’t have to constantly try and prove yourself to others.
28. It’s ok to be a geek. Learning is cool, books are cool (although by saying cool I’m probably acting uncool and showing my age) You don’t have to hide your love of these things to try to fit in.
29. Everyone you meet has something to teach you. Everyone has their own unique story. Take a moment to pause and listen.
30. Choose your battles. You don’t always need to be right – sometimes it’s best to let it drop and move on. Preserve your energy for more important things.
31. When someone compliments you; believe it, smile and say thank you – you are worthy.
32. You can’t control everything. Trying to control what is out of your control just leads to frustration and anger.
33. Find time to do what makes you happy. There’s a bit if a theme going on here. Have I made my point?; happiness is vital. You deserve happiness – right now.
34. It’s ok to spend time doing fun things There doesn’t always have to be a reason, purpose or goal for everything you do in life. You don’t always have to be ‘getting things done’.
35. It’s ok to show your weaknesses. It’s ok to let your guard down and ask for help- you don’t have to be strong all the time.
36. You can’t help everyone and not everyone wants your help. If I see someone is hurting, then I want to help heal them. But the truth is; I can’t help everyone, not everyone wants to be ‘saved’, and some people are not deserving of my love and energy.
37. Mental health is just as important as physical health – don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
38. Suffering from a mental illness does not make you a bad person. Neither is it a sign of weakness or something to be ashamed of.
39. Try to leave the past in the past. No matter how much you worry about past mistakes, you cannot change them.
40. You can’t please everyone, all the time. There is always going to be someone who disapproves or disagrees with what you are doing. But that’s ok – you don’t need their approval or validation, just be true to yourself. And it’s ok if someone doesn’t like you – It’s not a reflection of your character or self worth, and it doesn’t mean you are a bad person. Do what makes you happy.
Writing this list has been a real eye opener for me and has made me question a lot about how I perceive myself, and the enormous amount of pressure I have put on myself over the years.
Where did I get this notion that I had to be tough and strong all the time? When did I first start believing that I had to take on the world to prove I was brave? When did I stop asking for help because I saw it as a sign of weakness? When did I decide everything I did in life needed a purpose and a goal – doing something just because it’s fun seemed frivolous and wasteful? When did my self worth become intertwined with my weight and physical appearance? – Did society teach me this? We are all the product of our genes and our environment – but how much of this negative perception of myself has been taught, and how much is due to the mental and physical illnesses I inherited? I hope by writing these thoughts of encouragement down I can cut myself some slack and give myself time to heal.
What words of encouragement would you give to your younger self?
For more personal stories, reviews, news, inspirational quotes and in-depth discussion, please head over to my Facebook page.