Release Destructive Mental Habits and Find Freedom in Your Mind
Building a relationship with myself has been the hardest yet most rewarding thing I have ever done. I finally decided that enough was enough when I hit my lowest point this past semester. I was dealing with relationship/friendship/internal problems and it took a toll on me. I was barely eating, worrying constantly about others’ opinions and trying to manage my anxiety all while finishing finals. The pain from losing my grandma, losing friendships, and losing control of my own well being consumed me. I was a wreck. I felt like I was in survival mode, struggling just to make it through the day. Pain, fear, and guilt consumed me every single day. It was my new normal.
Something within me didn’t feel right. For months I felt like I was on a downward spiral until I reached a point of constant paranoia of my decisions having negative effects on my shaky relationships, doubting myself and increasing isolation. I was so confused about where my relationship with my boyfriend was going, so I felt like the best thing to do was take a step back and get some space. There was a hole inside me that nothing could satisfy or comfort. Not the constant loving support from my mom and other family members, not the consistent faithfulness from my boyfriend, not the countless things I tried to make myself happy and not even the endless stream of prayers my mouth pleaded. I was praying every minute of the day, but since I was stuck in shame, uncertainty and loss I told myself I got myself into that position and I did not deserve to feel the healing relief of God. I drilled it into my mind that the hurt I caused my boyfriend to feel was unacceptable, so I must suck up my own despair and weakness. All I could think about was “He doesn’t deserve this”, when at the exact same time I was drowning and was in desperate need of that same empathy for myself. It wasn’t until I officially ended things with my boyfriend and received the room to reflect that I realized the root of all the problems.
I did not have a relationship with myself.
I spent countless hours striving to maintain friendships that were drifting, adjust myself to better handle the things in my relationship that were weighing on me and blaming myself for not having it all together. I was embarrassed that I had been in a low place for so long, only able to focus on my shortcomings instead of all the incredible experiences and achievements I gained throughout the year. That is when I decided it was time to shift my desperate efforts of holding onto what I was losing and what didn’t feel right to healing the wounds of my self-loathing and lay a foundation of love and compassion for myself.
I am in the beginning stages of this process, but I can honestly say it has been life changing.
I took all the tireless energy that I was using up while worrying about how I was affecting others and poured it into discovering what internal narratives I have allowed myself to believe for years that have been limiting me from living the fullest and happiest life possible. When you take a second to explore what’s going on in your brain, miracles happen. Every time I was washed over with a sense of unworthiness, anxiety, or shame I immediately wrote down what I was telling myself and why I was feeling that way. I started to notice patterns and triggers. For as far back as elementary school I can remember myself going through waves of deep sadness and self-doubt. I just learned to ride through those waves and build my confidence in the moments that I wasn’t stuck in my low place. But without fail, no matter how much self-improvement I strived for, I’d find myself right back in my black hole. That hole, as weird as it sounds, was my comfort zone. I knew it was bound to make its way back around, so I prepared myself by never reaching my full potential.
God listens to your prayers and is constantly working in your favor even when you feel like nothing is changing.
I had always accepted that this vicious cycle controlled me until I heard something that changed my life. I was listening to a podcast as I was working out at the gym and heard something that had the potential to shift my whole mentality and finally give me freedom in my mind. The podcast was on Lewis Howes’ School of Greatness channel. He was interviewing ex-athlete Trent Shelton. Trent said something that hit me like train. He said
“I hope you break the cycle that’s trying to break you. I hope you kill the thoughts that are trying to kill you.”
God sent me a life line. It was the first time that I realized that the prison that my thoughts were holding me in didn’t have to be permanent. It pains me to say, but I had experienced moments of complete hopelessness in the previous weeks that left me questioning my motivation to be on this earth if I had to battle these waves of dark thoughts for the rest of my life. The anxiety was taking over. When I would finally calm my breathing and tame my rampant thoughts, I would just be left feeling tired and sad. It gave me inexplicable joy to find out I didn’t have to accept the fact that this is just the way my mind works and that I must be a slave to it. For the first time ever, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. I listened to that podcast from start to finish multiple times because it had information that had the potential to change my life and my perception of myself.
I knew it would take weeks, months, even years of work to dismantle the limiting belief system I so comfortably reside in, but I knew the reward would be greater than anything I could have ever imagine. I finally believed that I have all the power in the world to be free and peaceful in my mind. I do not have to accept that waves of darkness will always have a place in my life. Although the mind is a powerful thing, if you’re dealing with issues such as anxiety, depression, or other chemical imbalances in the brain, then you cannot just “cure yourself” by just thinking positively. You cannot change the genetic make up of your mind and body by just praying. Once you’re in the middle of an anxiety attack or at the depths of a depression it is extremely hard to make it go away, but there are proactive steps you can take to prevent them from coming back or getting worse. Positive thinking and a strong reliance on God has helped me tremendously, but I had to accept that I needed to find outside resources to help me work through my struggles.
I am a strong believer that there is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it.
I cannot even count how many times I leaned on my boyfriend, my mom, friends, and other close family for support and guidance. I went to the University Counseling Center regularly through the year and that provided me with so much peace and ease. I even visited a psychiatrist because I decided the levels of anxiety I have always experienced and the cycle of depressed feelings no longer had a place in my life. I highly encourage finding professional help if you feel its necessary because it has brought me an explainable amount of relief. Never feel ashamed or embarrassed to ask for what you need.
If it is giving you support to stand up and fight for the life you want then it is worth it.
As comforting and helpful the support from others is, nothing compares to the healing powers of caring for yourself. When we think of self-love we usually think of taking bubble baths or getting some me time, but I needed to start with square one because the care and compassion I possessed for others was nonexistent when directed to myself. Another podcast from Lewis Howes called, Lisa Nichols on The Key to Abundance and Success, gave me a great practice to build a relationship with myself. You look yourself in the mirror and think of 5 things you’re proud of yourself for, 5 things you forgive yourself for, and 5 things you commit yourself to. It sounds goofy, but it works wonders. When I first began this practice, I couldn’t even look at myself without crying. I didn’t know how I got to this point, and it was hard facing myself. Nonetheless I forced myself to do it, and slowly it got easier and easier. Without fail I felt rejuvenated and peaceful after each time I did it. I was having a hard time feeling love for myself, so I just imagined the pure love my grandma had for me and tried my best to feel that love for myself. I then added my mom’s love for me, then my dad’s, then eventually I was able to take all that love combined and let in sink in. I kept telling myself that I deserved it. We all do. Every person on this earth has an undeniable uniqueness in them that is deserving of appreciation and love.
I can’t say that my sadness and pain has gone away. Every day I still feel scared and hollow inside as I think about losing someone I love. Break ups are devastating, and I now have a new respect for people who have gone through one. What I can say is the development of the forgiving, compassionate, and encouraging relationship with myself is making those difficult emotions easier to handle. That gaping hole I felt inside me is no longer there. Now I have myself on my side. I’m not sure what the future brings. I don’t know how God is going to play things out, but at least now I know that I have the strength and love within me to excel in any place I land. It terrifies me to be so publicly vulnerable, but all I am hoping is that I can help at least one person who is stuck in the same cycle. If you can relate to anything I said, just know you’re not alone and there is so much hope and joy coming your way.
Please feel free to reach out to me if you need someone to talk to. I really believe that a lot of us are dealing with the same difficulties, so lets break the silence and be there for each other. God provides you with what you need at the exact moment you need it. It isn’t easy to break the cycle that’s trying to break you, but it is worth it. We have the potential to feel paradise in our minds and in our souls.
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