Once upon a time, I would have been trapped in this never ending cycle of thoughts, being dragged under the surface until I drown in the quagmire of my own negativity and self-judgement. What is different, and really quite amazing now, is that I understand what my inner critic is trying to do, to recognise what is actually happening when anxiety strikes. And even more importantly, I know I can take action to help myself. I have the power to rein her in, and to rescue myself from that negative voice that takes me to dark places.
Am I cured? Well, that’s a question I am asked a lot – can I “cure” people’s anxiety. I’d love to tell you that there is a cure, but it doesn’t work like that. What is true is that you can live with anxiety, work with it so that it doesn’t affect you in the way it used to, and lead a happy, full, incredibly rich life, full of the things that your inner critic says you’ll never have!
Contrary to popular opinion (and it was my own a few years ago), anxiety is not an enemy to conquer, but is a friend in need of love. Anxiety needs to be managed, looked after, to have some attention paid to her. In particular, when I notice my anxiety pushing her head above the parapet, I know it’s time to pay attention to myself, ask myself what do I need, and then do it. Sometimes this means a nap. Sometimes it means breathing calmly. Sometimes it means meditating, going out for a walk, or making a date with my own therapist, and sometimes it means tough love. What it all comes down to is self-care and ultimately, self-love.
The funny thing is that if you’d told me a few years ago that I would be into self-love, I’d have laughed and thought you were off your rocker. (Not very PC for a therapist to say, but there you go!!) I thought you had to be conceited, self-indulgent and completely self-absorbed to love yourself. My inner blocks to self-love were enormous, overwhelming, and absolutely rigid.
But I learned over time that self-love is necessary for everyone. So many of us are missing out. And if you don’t have it already, it’s not always easy to come by. It can be an effort to get rid of the blocks that prevent it. And it takes work with someone you trust. But when you do, it’s a massive step in your personal evolution, and it changes everything! And I believe now that anyone can learn to self-love, (even if you’re a complete sceptic like I was).
Of course, there isn’t a magic wand you can wave that suddenly means you can say “Today I will love myself!” It involves accepting the reality of how you feel about yourself now, understanding why you feel that way, and where it comes from. It involves recognising what happens in your thoughts, feelings and behaviours when this comes to the surface. And it involves change – changing your perspective on the things that created those feelings, processing them, and learning how to begin to move past them, so they don’t have the same power and control over you anymore. It involves finding the truth about yourself, and distinguishing that from the lies you (inadvertently) tell yourself most of the time.
When you can learn to do this for yourself, you open the door to self-love. You remove the blocks, one by one. It’s like opening the curtains in a room that hasn’t seen sunlight for decades; you see the sun beams shining through, lighting everything up in a way you haven’t seen before. With the light of new understanding comes a shift towards accepting, appreciating, and loving yourself for who you truly are.
I love my work with people on this journey, in part because the moment when they open those curtains for themselves is such a revelation, it’s a joy to witness. And I know how that feels too, having undertaken my own journey towards learning to love myself.
Self-care is part of the route towards getting ready to open those curtains. And when you do achieve this new perspective, what is really key is maintaining that change. That also involves self-care. It’s a vital part of any personal evolution, because when you stop, the old habits try to reassert themselves (which is why stress and anxiety will reoccur sometimes).
But is it all about you? Well look at it this way… when you self-care on a regular basis, you are naturally reducing your stress and anxiety levels. That affects other aspects of your life, your work, family, relationships, in fact, everything. Self-care is giving yourself time and attention, which is the key to managing your stress or anxiety. It’s an act of supreme self-love. But it’s also the gift that keeps on giving – because of the ripple effect it has on others. If you reduce your stress and anxiety, you become less irritable and more tolerant, less snappy and more likely to laugh. Who wouldn’t want to be around someone like that? How would that kind of change affect your family and loved ones?
So this week I’ve listened to my anxiety and heard her message. I’ve taken time out to care for myself and my needs, so I can be my best self. And I’ve done it out of love for myself, and those close to me.
Far from being self-indulgent or conceited, self-love is the kindest gift you can give to yourself, and those around you. It’s truly OK to say that you love, respect, and care for yourself. More than that, it’s simply wonderful!
Take good care x
If you have concerns about your stress or anxiety, or your inner critic is a bit out of control, please don’t hesitate to message me so we can arrange a chat where I’ll help you understand the blocks to your change, and work on a way to remove them. Or just go ahead and click on the link to book in a call with me: Click Here to book your call