I thought I fixed this; my unkind internal voice. But I guess old habits creep back in when we aren’t careful. Maybe I haven’t been careful enough lately, or should I say mindful enough.
“Look at all that cellulite”
“Your belly is larger than it was 6 months after your third baby!”
“Your skin is gross”
“Don’t say anything, No body likes you and you’ll look a twat, just be quiet”
“Don’t bother trying, you’ll never get anywhere in life”
“You always fuck things up”
“Chris swapped his dad bod for hench as fuck and all you’ve done is put on more weight”
“They’re in a bad mood because of you”
These are just some of the things I have said to myself in the last 48 hours. And so I come to realise that I am back in this unhealthy place of really disliking myself. If I don’t like myself then I tend to believe nobody else likes me either – and it quickly becomes a lonely place to be.
I’m almost 30. I’m disappointed to discover that I have not permanently shifted this kind of mindset. Although not surprised, because I have a bad habit of taking one step forward and two steps back.
Last week I found myself slipping into this huge pit of self doubt. This belief that I’m fat, ugly, unworthy, a horrible person, a shit mum etc. I left work on Friday feeling upset, but knowing full well I had no one to talk to about it. Chris has his own stressful life running his business so I avoid complaining about anything to him. So I just threw myself into a busy weekend which worked to some extent. I enjoyed myself but started to feel physically ill, just a common cold – life can usually continue as normal with this.
Over the last week I have become more and more upset with myself. The worse I have felt, the less I have done, and the more I’ve hated myself. My house is verging on disgusting, nobody has any clothes to wear because I didn’t keep on top of washing and ironing. I’ve genuinely become fatter than I ever have before (without being pregnant of course!) and can’t figure out why my eating habits are representing someone with obesity. Most of what I’m putting in my mouth isn’t even enjoyable.
Many years back I self harmed as a way of dealing with my hatred for myself. This came in many forms, most of which I’m unwilling to discuss, but one of them being with food. I would deprive myself of food until it hurt my stomach and then leave myself in pain until the hunger became kinda numb. I did this again last Summer when something happened in my life that I blamed myself for. I was able to turn this around within a couple of weeks though and worked on repairing myself rather than punishing myself.
I have never had a good relationship with food, a few years back I took a lot of time to educate myself on nutrition and learned how my diet affects my mental health. When my body received all the nutrition it needed, my head was in a good place. When it didn’t – I was a mess. Since returning to full time work almost 2 years ago I have found it increasingly difficult to eat well. Not having time to prepare and cook nutritious home made meals being one factor, another being the fact I am sitting down for over 8 hours a day, so I find myself heading to the vending machine just to break my day up a bit.
Here’s the thing, I’m not prepared to just accept that I dislike myself so I’m going to do something about it. You might think the answer is to lose weight and then I’ll like myself – believe me when I say that will not resolve anything. It has to be the other way round, you can’t hate yourself thin, you will only ever be in a good condition physically when you love yourself so the love has to come first. Unfortunately you can’t love yourself by offering cake either.
I’m going to share my repair plan with you, it has no deadline, putting pressure on self care defeats the objective. Rather, it’s an ongoing plan that should reap benefits both short term and long term.
1. Positive Affirmation
I was introduced to this a few years ago and struggled with the idea of standing in front of a mirror saying nice things to myself. What I can do is write little notes to read to myself a few times a day, such as ‘I am good enough’. The main thing I need to start doing again though is interrupting my internal voice. It’s all about becoming conscious of how I speak to myself (or about myself) when it’s negative, immediately redirecting it to something positive. I need to do this long enough that it becomes a habit to override the current habit of putting myself down. Your brain will believe what you tell it, if I continuously tell myself that I’m fat and ugly then I’ll believe it, if I continuously tell myself I’m fine the way I am, then I’ll believe that instead.
2. Make nutrition a priority
I try to fit a lot into my 24 hours, as a youngster I gave up sleep to have more hours in my day. However in the past two years I’ve put a lot of effort into becoming a good sleeper which is definitely a positive change I needed to make. People often make the mistake of going on diets to lose weight however I know that I need to break this viscous circle of feeling rubbish by eating more nutritious meals rather than just grabbing whatever is available. This means I need to make regular shopping and meal planning and prepping a thing again, although it feels like a huge challenge because of how much time it will take. However I need to remind myself that this is essential, not only for my physical health, but also my mental wellbeing.
3. Practise self love
I feel like I’m already good at this these days, I don’t think I’ve let this one slip. But I have been loving myself with junk food which makes no sense. We reward dogs with food, why on earth would we reward ourselves in the same way?! I go to the gym, practise yoga, read and write, listen to music, have even started buying myself clothes. Maybe I need to reconsider how I’m loving myself though? I recently discovered my love language is Physical touch which means I can be incredibly clingy to Chris when I’m in need of love. If I could, I’d be physically attached to him! It’s terribly unfair of me to rely so heavily on him to make me feel loved though. I need to make more of an effort to do things that make me feel good, such as a good skincare regime, getting my nails or hair done. More tattoos maybe?! 😏 Although these suggestions all result in me looking better, my motive is entirely based on how they make me feel.
4. Cut screen time
This is one I am always working on but I know when I’m miserable my screen time shoots up because I procrastinate and sit scrolling instead of doing anything that would serve me. I got myself a new phone a couple of weeks ago so inevitably I’ve spent more time on it as I’ve enjoyed playing with new features, including the incredible camera it has which of course results in more instapics! It fascinates me how I can spend all day at work, rush around at home for a couple of hours, head out to the gym every evening and still hit 3 hours screen time. Where the hell do I pull those 3 hours from? 30 minutes when my alarm goes off in the morning to try and wake myself up but the rest of it is made up of 5 minutes here and there. Too many pick ups to check my notifications! I need to start leaving my phone alone more, use my laptop to write my blog or book, and shop. I don’t have the Facebook app on my phone any more, I download it a couple of times a week to upload photos and catch up on random crap before deleting it again. I like my insta stories too much to delete Instagram too but I definitely find myself on the app far too often!
This weekend is being spent catching up on housework, so that it’s easier to keep on top of it. My mental space often reflects my physical space; and right now both need a huge clear out. How good does it feel coming home to a clean home? How stressful does it feel when we come home to mess and leftover jobs. When I’m in a good place, I’m often able to be feel grateful for yesterday’s me for doing something for today’s me. When everything is falling apart, I find myself wishing I didn’t skip the ironing on Sunday, or the washing up last night. Life is better when I’m prepared for it, winging it only really works for a limited time before life begins to feel like one giant juggling act that I’m losing control over.
6. Brain fuel
What we feed our brain is just as important as what we feed our physical body. When I first entered the wonderful world of personal development I discovered that certain programmes or news stories did me zero favours. I’d watch a murder documentary with Chris and would feel ever so down the next few days and I had never realised the two were directly related until I started paying attention. The books I read have started to drift away from ‘feel good’ to a more science or business style genre, although I am thoroughly enjoying learning something new every day, I perhaps need to throw some motivational Ted talks into my day. Guided meditations are also fantastic brain fuel.
7. Have something to look forward to
I usually have a string of events lined up to look forward to. Whether it be holidays, dates, days out, or even work trips. This year I’ve tried to plan less in advance, I found that I’d schedule to meet friends for 3 months time and then on the night was not at all up for it. I want to be able to call my friends up spontaneously when I actually fancy doing something. However I’ve inadvertently left my calendar free of anything because of this desire to be spontaneous. We don’t have a holiday booked either. So I’m going to start putting some plans together for something to look forward to.
So there we have it, my plan of action for Operation: Pull myself together! I can’t bare to wallow in self pity and self hatred for too long. Every minute I waste being miserable is a minute lost that I cannot regain. We all go through the ups and downs of life but I do believe it is a choice to stay there or do something about it.