Obviously this post is for those who like me, recognize that you’re very hard on yourself at times. Perfectionism, low self-esteem, a fractured sense of identity, a parent’s scolding voice from your past or whatever else is causing you to be hard on yourself, you’re FAR from alone. I promise you that.
Recognizing When You Need Self-Care
I’m not writing this as a therapist (I’m not one) or other professional – I’m writing this as a man living with this challenge on a daily basis, a man who has gone through tragedy and despair through years in the mental health system. The tragedy was my brother’s death and my own near-miss, and the despair was over many years of trying to “find myself” and simply be happy, which I now recognize was the wrong expectation, since life is full of ups, downs and everything in between. How we choose to deal with each day and each challenge that comes our way is one thing, but how we feel about ourselves is a whole other matter.
Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is
I figure it’s best if I speak to my own experience, sharing examples of how I was hard on myself that needed to be dealt with:
- Working out to extremes, such as in the weight room as a young man, lifting very heavily and intensely to the point where I broke a blood vessel in my nose, used anabolic steroids and was kicked out of a local gym around the age of 18. I was full of rage and anger at the world.
- Dieting to extremes, feeling like shit about my body and thinking that if I didn’t have abs, I wasn’t good enough.
- Working obsessively – this one is subjective, and it takes very hard work to be successful in most things, but regularly burning out, making bad decisions as a result and not recognizing when I needed to step back and rest was a huge issue for me.
- Attempting suicide in 2011 – this was an obvious cry for help after my brother’s death and many years of internal battles I waged within myself, several of which are explained in other posts in this blog.
- My inner voice and the negative, shameful self-talk: I felt horrible for things in my past, for mistakes I made. I needed to learn self-compassion and self-care to remotely be able to be successful in anything I wanted from life. Compassion-Focused Therapy was a game-changer for me, and it still is.
- Inner Child Therapy and other forms of online therapy – trauma at home during childhood caused rage, anger and trust issues within me toward women I would come into contact with, resulting in several damaged, fractured relationships as I grew into adulthood. Learning to be gentler on myself and forgive my mother as much as possible has been a massive, MASSIVE factor for me.
I hope some of this hit home in some way, shape or form. I’m completely open and up front about my life in hopes that sharing openly will help a few people out there to know that you are NOT on your own with these struggles. We have so much ability within us, despite the past, despite the shame and guilt that each of us may feel for any number of reasons.
Love and light to you,