Out of the blue, someone I know professionally wrote me a quick Facebook private message telling me he thinks I’m amazing. Truthfully, I didn’t even know how to respond. I read it and sat with it for a couple of hours before I responded. It truly confused and bothered me.
He was not pointing to anything in particular I had done.
I expected he was most likely responding to a Facebook opinion post.
But the unexpectedness threw me. Mostly because I didn’t believe him that I am amazing.
The push back in my head was loud and clear.
As many people do, I suffer from undiagnosed anxiety.
As a young adult, during a particularly difficult time, I reached for Ativan for a short period of time.
Afterwards, I have not needed psychotropic medication to control and calm it.
Just practicing good mental health habits is all I need to do and I am fine.
Lately, due to a busy period, my anxiety levels have been higher than usual and I have been working hard to ignore it.
You know, just pretend its not there and that everything is fine.
But the signs are there:
- Poor sleep.
- Weight gain.
- Increase in my chronic pain. (L4, L5 crushed discs are bothersome things.)
- Finding reasons to avoid people and social interactions.
- Recurring thoughts of “OMG, I’m going to fail. I’m such an impostor.”
(OK, that last one can be a pretty regular friend. LOL)
Then the note arrived.
Now, normally, a note like that elevates me. It makes me appreciate the giver. It starts a great exchange where we elevate each other.
I recognized that the anxiety is getting the upper hand because of my response to the note.
Instead of reacting with gratitude at such kindness, I hesitated and I needed to know, “why did you send me this note?”
After all, when we are anxious, praise doesn’t make any sense.
We are needy.
We need proof. Something tangible to point to so we can point and say “Ah yes, I did that!”
Wisely and kindly, he would have none of it.
Instead of pointing to something measurable I had done, he pointed to my qualities that he saw in me, as a person.
He talked about my empathy, kindness and non-judgmental disposition.
He wanted to make me feel good and, at first, it made me feel worse because I couldn’t see it.
What a tremendous gift!
That note was a great wake up call for me.
It has driven me to take action to take better care of myself.
So now I am going to actively map out and practice better mental health hygiene.
- So, daily, before answering emails and doing research, I’m going to meditate and journal my blessings.
- There will be no excuse valid enough to skip going for a walk.
- I will force myself to have social events. If my to-do list is too long so I am avoiding the social, I will shorten the damn to-do list.
Another gift from the very loud self-doubt reaction
It reminded me of a very stressful time that I overcame and have so much to be grateful for.
When I first left my former husband, an alcoholic who suffered from his own set of problems, my self esteem was at its lowest point.
I was unemployed and my life felt un-anchored to anything solid.
That is typical when going through that terrible type of transition.
At that time, I read this wonderful book called “Rebuilding” by Bruce Fisher. That was 27 years ago and one exercise in particular made a huge difference.
The exercise was simple. Write out 100 things you like about yourself. Put them somewhere you can see them.
Living alone, I decided to tape them everywhere on the wall. It took me 2 weeks to find 100 things. Then, I decided to keep going beyond 100.
I still remember the first one.
“I have nice looking earlobes. Not too big and floppy. They hold earrings just right”.
You have no idea how hard finding things I liked about myself was. The guilt I felt for feeling good about myself was palpable.
I learned self-doubt at my mother’s knee. A woman who greatly suffers from anxiety and self-doubt. The messages were clear.
“Don’t be proud. Be humble. Don’t try to stand out. Be sweet. Be nice.”
Truthfully, that is bullshit. My brother never got those messages.
Something that I have learned is that pride is not negative.
Pride is a conduit for being your best and living out your passions and beliefs.
Being humble is also positive. So are being sweet and nice. But none of those are meant to be at the expense of your self-esteem.
So if you can be humble, sweet and nice AND KICK ASS, then do that.
Here’s the truth:
You and I, we’re both worthy.
Make time for balance and self-love because it’s what you would want people that you love to do.
So go ahead and be the model.
- Take care of yourself first.
- Then get out there.
- Be proud.
- Kick Ass!
- And you will still be kind and nice.
Guess what old activity I’ll be doing this week?
Feel free to send me what you 100 qualities are or things you like about yourself. I really want to know.
Have a beautiful week worthy of the self-love you deserve.
P.S., My husband loves my earlobes. 🙂
Monique Caissie’s facilitated dialogue “Demystifying Mental Illness” tackles the taboos and is appreciated by organizations who are committed to quality relationships when things seem impossible. Monique draws from 30 years of crisis intervention work to empower others to have more productive dialogues and improve collaboration. She appreciates being introduced to people who may benefit from her programs. Grab her free Cheat Sheet – Ask For What You Want.