“The secret of joy is the mastery of pain.” – Anais Nin
For years I have had this internal struggle of feeling like an absolute failure when things don’t go well. I tend to blame myself for all the bad things that happen to me. My parent’s divorce, my failed relationships, problems at my job, my failure at trying to find meaning to my life… everything felt like carrying a huge bag of bricks on my shoulders. When depression and anxiety kicked in, I felt like I couldn’t breathe nor get out of bed. Sometimes I wanted to stay in bed and cry myself to sleep. Even eating felt like a burden.
I felt like, no matter how hard I tried, something bad always happened. Something that kept me from achieving my goals, something that ended up disappointing the people that I loved. I could see the disappointment in their eyes, the judgment falling on my head. The feeling of unworthiness filling my body. I spent so much time trying to prove myself and others that I could be worthy, that I had some value in my life, but suddenly everything felt pointless.
I left a horrible relationship with my ex, moved to my house, subscribed to a Gym, lost weight became healthy, made new friends, I got myself a hobby (which is running), I ran my first marathon… and then? Now what?!
No matter how many different things I tried to do, it was always the same result. What was the purpose of my life? What great achievement could I do to start feeling worthy? What do I need to do to get noticed? Why was I still feeling lost, lonely and unwanted in an ocean of people?
I went on to join Church groups that did charity work to help people in need, children with cancer and old lonely people that nobody could take care of.
Helping others gave me a purpose, it felt good to do something nice for someone in need and also, it was very rewarding to see the smile on their faces.
I felt like nobody could understand my depression…
At the end of the day, back at home, the same feeling of loneliness overwhelmed me again.
I felt like nobody could understand my depression. I wanted to scream, I wanted to end my misery, but I was too coward and scared to harm myself.
I wanted to be hugged, to be loved and be recognized by someone.
Someone told me the clichéd phrases “You have to love yourself first” “Be your own hero, ” but that did nothing for me. How could I love myself when I didn’t like my own life? Even in my relationships, I felt judged and pointed at. My partners and family would always tell me what I did wrong, what I didn’t do and what I should have done better.
I felt no love for myself after hearing that kind of feedback, and of course, I didn’t feel like a hero at all. I felt like an absolute failure. Every time I saw my face in the mirror, I saw all my physical and emotional flaws. I believed in all the horrible words the people I loved used to describe me.
In my journey towards self-worth, I began to take small steps. Some days I would feel powerful and amazing, and many days I would feel defeated, tired and bitter. I knew I was alone on this path, I felt like no one would understand my struggle, so I did my best to lift me up whenever I fell. Some nights I cried feeling lonely and defeated with no one to talk to because I felt they wouldn’t understand. I had to fight my own demons on my own.
7 Awesome Moves to Kick Depression’s Ass for Good
1. You are not perfect, accept it
For years I thought my partners wanted me to be the perfect girlfriend. The girlfriend that was always nice, polite, never complained, easy to please… at the end that only humiliated me and ended up burying me deeper into the dirt. Even my family was expecting me to be the perfect daughter, the perfect sister, the perfect everything. One day I said enough was enough and began to embrace my imperfections. The people that REALLY love you will love you for WHO you are right now and not for whom you can become.
Yes, even if you are an emotional disaster today, the right people will see the best of you and remind you that you can be loved.
2. Not everything that happens to you is your fault
I had this tendency to blame myself for problems at work, at home and with my boyfriend. I used to think that if I were perfect, then everything would be alright. Wrong – me trying to be something I wasn’t brought me misery. I wasn’t almighty to control everything around me, especially feelings of other people. You can only control your own reactions and your feelings. What happens around you is not yours to control. Let it go. How people behave tells more about them than you, it’s their problem, not yours.
3. Stop being a people pleaser
I can’t count how many times I did stupid things and went against my better judgment for trying to make other people happy. I wanted to earn their love, their admiration, and their respect. I wanted them to see me as a caring, loving woman, but in reality, all they saw was a pathetic doormat. One day I exploded and spent all day in my room feeling tired and drained. I had to learn to stay true to myself and set boundaries. It wasn’t easy to say no, but it was necessary. Whenever I was asked to do something or to make a life changing decision, I asked myself first “Is this something that will make ME happy?”– you decide. Honor yourself first.
4. It is OK to change route towards your goal
I would feel frustrated whenever I didn’t meet my goals. Many times I tried and kept pushing myself harder to get what I wanted only to discover that wasn’t the right path. Sometimes we have to step back and see things from a different perspective to achieve our goals. I am not saying you have to give up, but change paths if you need to, but don’t quit as long as is a doable goal and is something you actually want.
5. It is perfectly fine to give up on something that is not making you happy
If something or someone is not making you happy, then leave. People can say a lot of things, but sometimes it’s best to let things go and focus our time and energy on something that can bring us happiness. This won’t make you a quitter nor a loser, but wise and someone who respects themselves a lot to realize when something is giving too much pain.
6. Help others in need
Participating in charity work helped me discover what real misery looks like. There are people out there struggling to survive while I am here feeling sorry for myself in my comfy bed under my own roof. This was so wrong of me. I met children with cancer who had more love towards life than anyone else I had known! I met old people abandoned by their own families in shelters who had more energy than a young person. I met people living under horrible conditions who managed to stay strong and took each day as a blessing. Helping others was also a way of helping me learn a powerful life lesson. Their energy and love towards life helped me cope with my own struggles. It gave me a purpose.
Everything that happens to you is your teacher. The secret is to learn to sit at the feet of your own life and be taught by it.
I didn’t go back to crawl in my bed to cry after realizing there are people who don’t even have a bed.
7. Practice addition by subtraction
I quit habits and left toxic people for good. It was a necessity to detox my life from negative energy. There are people that need to be loved from a distance (like family members) because having them near only bring sorrow and pain. There are also habits that need to stop because they bring unnecessary pain to our already challenging life. Releasing ourselves from toxicity is a step forward towards wellness. Easy? No, difficult? Very, impossible? Never.
In the end, we have to do whatever is best for us to survive our internal struggle and keep fighting our demons. We are here to be happy; we can be loved even when we feel we aren’t worthy, even in the middle of our storm there can be light. That light is inside of us; we only have ourselves to lift us up to continue living. We can change our lives; we can make a huge difference once we change our own mindset.
Every morning, I look at myself in the mirror and repeat my mantra “You are loved, you are beautiful in your own imperfection. Go outside and shine.”
That may sound cheesy, but it has helped me to at least to get out of bed and start a new day without feeling like a burden.
The choice is yours.