Monday, June 15, 2009

Being Gentle.

Some of you may know that I've been seeing a counselor for nearly a year now. Some of you reading this now may even be the ones who encouraged me to take this step. I can't say it's made everything 100% better, but it certainly has helped. Last year was a rough one. Nothing particularly catastrophic happened. I was just sad and lonely and frustrated. Sad when I wanted to be happy. Lonely even when I was surrounded by people I loved. And, frustrated because I didn't know what was "wrong" with me or how to "fix" it. It wasn't a great place to be. Sometimes, I find myself in that place again, but the stints there are much shorter, more manageable and not nearly as emotionally exhausting as they were. It's progress.

In my first session, I was asked what I wanted to get out of my therapy. I replied without hesitation, "I want to love myself." Because that's what I want. I've wanted it for a long time. I want to love myself every day. Not because of anything I've done or what I look like or any great challenges I've managed to overcome. I want to love myself for the simple fact that I deserve to love myself unconditionally. Just because.

This isn't to say I hate myself now. I don't. But I don't love myself either. On a regular day, I'm more indifferent than anything else. On a good day, I don't think I'm half bad. On a really good day, I like myself. On a bad day, well, let's just say, I'm not in a happy place with me on a bad day. I'm a perfectionist. And, my own worst critic. It's a volatile combination. A friend once told me I have a bad coach (The "coach" being that inner voice inside your head.) because I confessed that my own inner voice is usually pretty negative. I'm working on being more positive with my thoughts. On being more gentle with myself. On loving myself unconditionally.

And as I was waiting for the train home in Penn Station a few nights ago, I read this quote and I thought it would make a great new motto for me. A new mantra. And because I think it's so true. And because I know we all need to be reminded of this truth from time to time, I am sharing it here with you.

Be Gentle With Yourself.
You Are A Child Of The Universe,
No Less Than The Trees And The Stars.
In The Noisy Confusion Of Life,
Keep Peace In Your Soul.
~Max Ehrman

It's great advice. One I really need to remember.


Vickie said...

Here is my verb to you today: remind.

Use it when you need to remind yourself of this lovely Ehrman quote.

I will also give you this one: believe.

As in, believe that you are the recipient of unconditional love, and equally that you can give yourself that same gift.

Irene said...

Hi, I had therapy for a about a year and a half and have been out of it for a year now. I can honestly say that it was one of the best things I ever did as it taught me to invest in myself. I realised that I had been so preoccupied with other people's opinions and other people's problems that I had forgotten to concentrate on myself. I also found that it made me appreciate the small things a lot more - for example, clean sheets, a nice showergel. Taking time to "sooth" myself - like doing an elaborate makeup or workout routine - made me see that I was someone who was worth spending time on. And by seeing that, the expectations of what I should get from friends/relationships went up - so I managed to distance myself from situations that were toxic. Now I am getting on much better with my work, I have a small but cherished group of friends, my relationship with my family is better, and I have a boyfriend who is so kind to me that it sometimes makes me cry.

One thing that my counsellor said that was interesting was that I should avoid using reading as a crutch for my emotions, or as something which I measured my "real life" against. While an active imagination is a wonderful thing, it sometimes needs to be kept in check to avoid over-analysis.

Two books I found helpful were Overcoming Low Self Esteem by Melanie Fennell and Manage your Mind by Gillian Butler and Tony Hope. Both are UK publications, but amazon should have them.

I trust you will find similar comfort in your journey - from reading your blog (and noticing your name being dropped with admiration by people like Angela Thomas) it seems that you have a lot going on for you that you should be very proud of.


the Thomas team said...

That is lovely and good for us all - despite the outward appears we put on, we all most likely go through that too, just aren't brave enough like you to share. MANY, MANY thanks!