Even though the fear is there at times, in general I do feel I am growing stronger. I even reached a stage last week when I felt like maybe “I got this”. I noticed I hadn’t felt blind panic for ages, and have continued to sleep through the night – amazing! I have continued my wellbeing and fitness routines, daily mindfulness, meditation, fitness and self care. I started to wonder, is this it? As in, it is good that I am not panicking all the time and everything, but I still feel a bit…meh. When am I going to feel really great – will I ever feel really great? Does anyone ever feel really great…? Aaah!
My therapist reminded me that this is simply a case of me being impatient. As with any change of routine, I saw dramatic results at first, and now my progress trajectory may have slowed slightly, but in fact now is the very time that I need to plough on with my wellbeing routine, and in fact push even harder and care for myself more!
Over the past few months I’ve been reading a bit of Louise Hay’s work. She was an inspirational lady (having been to absolute hell and back) and her work totally advocates self love as pretty much the cure for …well, everything! I really recommend reading her stuff if you are experiencing anything like burnout, or indeed self doubt, a tough time, worries or depression of any kind. She is a bit batsh*t crazy for my taste at times (lol) and I don’t really agree with her stance on some things, for example, that ‘unborn children choose their parents’ – as I’ve said before, I am a rationalist! However she explains that she’s quite happy for readers to pick and choose which of her theories they subscribe to, and the main premise of her work is all about self love. If you’ve got a problem with your relationship, job, finances, family, mental health etc, Louise Hay’s prescription is to love yourself more. In fact, she questions the reader all the time, ‘how can you love yourself more?’
I thought about this last week when I was struggling a bit to fulfil some work tasks. Each time I started something I began to feel a slight sense of rising fear. Then I read the words “love yourself more” and thought about how I could apply this. I made it into a sort of challenge for myself for a whole day, to love myself more, and this translated into small ongoing actions that I did throughout the day. I made a cup of my favourite chai tea, and made a lovely healthy lunch, I took a break and went for a walk in the park in the sunshine. So far that sounds pretty standard, but these are things I would never have done last year! Last year I’d have downed endless strong coffees, I would have skipped lunch and there would have been no walk in the park (literally or metaphorically).
I exercised and meditated as usual, and added an extra bit of time spent on affirmations. Louise Hay is all about these, and she insists you do it sitting in front of the mirror! Very uncomfortable at first, but that is just the point! Why should it be uncomfortable to say nice things (‘loving truths’ Louise would say) to and about yourself? She is right, and the more you repeat things the easier it becomes. By the way, there is strong evidence that this really works in terms of strengthening the neurological pathways which lead to positive thought and reasoning. It is really correlated with looking at our own core beliefs and how to re-allign those.
When it came to my actual work time I also thought about how I could love myself more. A lot of my work involves fundraising, and that in turn involves asking people to support your cause and in some ways “bigging” yourself (or your organisation) up. So before I spoke to a funder I made sure I had reminded myself of all the great things I have achieved in my work and know I can achieve, and wrote them down. A bit like the mirror affirmations, it meant that when the time came to speak to the funder in person I was confident and clear about this, and felt less pressured and stressed. Hurrah!
It is baby steps still, but it has been a really helpful exercise, and I have continued asking myself this question throughout the day prompted by a post-it note or my phone. Sometimes I can be unconsciously slipping into a dark few minutes and when I ask “how can I love myself more?” I am reminded to do that small thing for myself, to challenge a negative thought or think that positive thought.
I wouldn’t stroll through life taking my fiancé for granted, and I don’t think twice about carrying out small acts and gestures to show him how much I love him each day – so I can definitely do the same for me!