Let’s have a very honest conversation about negativity. It is an unfavorable feeling, that sweeps up all emotions, if one allows it to. I am guilty of this, and unfortunately, it is such a recurring pattern that I am blind to the toxic residue it has left on my subconscious. More recently in therapy, I am challenging myself to unpack this cloud of negativity. The root of negativity is self-sabotage, which I am no stranger to. Self-sabotage sprouts from the fear of pain. My therapist asked me, “did you have an experience once that should have been positive?” I was able to immediately recall very vivid accounts of my past, in which I was let down, hurt, betrayed, heartbroken. She encouraged me to do two things: 1. record each time I feel self-sabotage creeping in and what in the moment is prompting the feeling, and 2. create a new story. I have been able to illustrate a best and worst case scenario for any given fear that I am experiencing, which has allowed me to combat it and ultimately conquer it. Self-sabotage is the old jaggedy misfit jacket you keep in the very back of your closet, that rears its head every now and then, and you contemplate wearing it because you have an emotional attachment to it. The jacket is a reminder of your pain, and that should signal the need to move on. I am committing to overcome self-sabotage, by taking the jacket out of the closet of my mind, and throwing it away. It is a mental gymnastics exercise, that will take consistency and repetition to perfect.
Let’s unpack the “all my friends are happy” Instagram effect. As we know all too well, Instagram is an aesthetically pleasing, perfect bubble, that once you are within it, you need to play the part, regardless of the imperfections that lie beneath the surface. We all want to put our best foot forward, and Instagram is the most compelling stage set to get that message received. I cannot tell you how many times I have been told to my face, via IG dms, or on a phone call, that I am ALWAYS happy. I ALWAYS have a positive presence. I am ALWAYS high-energy and bubbly. Well, I am here today to set the record straight. I am not ALWAYS those attributes that society painted me out to be. I put on the filter every single day, to show the world only the attractive and pleasant parts of myself and my world. I want to shed light on this, specifically because I am not one to ask for help, rarely or never. I have the reputation of being strong for others, and tending to their needs, supporting them, and I rarely ask for that in return. I have had friends tell me, “I sometimes don’t think to check-in very much with you because you seem happy all the time, and you post happier content on your social media”. I understand that point of view to an extent, and I know we are all trying our best to be better for ourselves and others. I am making it an intentional initiative to check up more with my friends, because that always brings me comfort. I recently saw an Instagram post that read, “Check up on your friends like you check up on the celebrities you don’t know personally.” That REAL. Let’s all consume ourselves with our real-life friendships in the same manner we actively keep up with the larger-than-life figures we idolize. If you don’t ask, you may never know that someone, seemingly so happy and full of life, is silently suffering.
I would like to share a real-life example with you all. A few weeks ago, I went to LA with an amazing guy. We had the most picturesque weekend, from boozy brunch, 5-star dining, and fancy hotels, to quaint airbnbs and tesla rides, to recording studio artist meet-ups and malibu beachside relaxation. In the midst of all the glorious sights, food, and bonding, my mind uncontrollably drifted to a negative place of believing that I don’t deserve this abundance of happiness that makes my heart burst. That the insurmountable love I feel is fleeting, that I am not worthy of someone to care so deeply and unconditionally for me. Each time I felt that fear during the weekend, I would do my best to shake it off. I have alot of future plans, which is exciting, however I am working to not let the fear of something falling through or going south, stop me from living life to the fullest with no inhibitions. My therapist determined that I have been having suicidal ideations for the past 3-4 months. I often question, “would I be missed if i’m gone?” and “will I make it to the next stage in my life?” Once I arrive at these thoughts, my mind shuts down, I become numb, and I start to cry, bearing a bottomless pit in my stomach filled with extreme pain, distress, and anxiety. This is a difficult confession to make, but it has been a burden I have been working on in therapy to get a grasp on. I want to stop doubting myself and self-sabotaging all the good and beautiful moments, experiences, and feelings I have.
I decided to set realistic goals for myself:
- Say “no” out loud to negative thoughts
- Tell myself often and out loud that I deserve happiness
- Believe and practice gratitude that I am healthy, safe, and secure at all times
- Allow myself to love wholeheartedly
Along with treating my goals as a ritual, I have been writing daily mini journal entries when I feel at a low-point. I end each one with “it will be better tomorrow” because the following day will bring something, even in the midst of a negative situation, that I can ultimately find light and gratitude in.
Ask yourself: what can you accomplish without fear?
Without fear, my happiness is limitless. Without fear, I can believe that I deserve happiness. I have spent a lot of time thinking I do not deserve happiness due to past wounds. Wounds such as past breakups, unreliable friendships, my upbringing, trauma of my parent’s divorce, not feeling worthy, and not being accepted for my flaws. I need closure from the lasting effects of these wounds. My response is a love letter to myself. I am doing the best I can. I have fallen into a pattern of self-abuse and it has taken control. I did not fail; I am learning. Learning to abandon crippling and unwelcome thoughts. My depression and suicidal ideations have taken up precious space in my consciousness. I will address the negativity as it arises, not suppress them until it is an insurmountable weight of pain that is too heavy to bear. My brain is playing old tapes of bad days, and triggering memories. I am learning to hit “pause” on the negative memories and hit “play” on the positive memories. Once I “pause”, it is crucial for me to stop and reflect on what just took place. Recognize the self-sabotage, address it, and gain the strength to ultimately walk away from them.
I have focused on a few items that positively fuel me. These self-care tactics include:
- Exercise at least 1 hour a day
- Take a warm bath once a week
- Weekly creative writing
- 1-2 mile walks weekly
- Getting dressed up (hair, makeup, clothes)
- Cooking a healthy meal from scratch
- Phone calls with my friends
I am promising myself to develop new ways of thinking, have self-compassion and compassion for others, and show forgiveness to myself. I am promising myself to protect my time, energy, and peace– it is valuable and sacred. Vulnerability should NEVER be looked down upon, as it will ALWAYS be a sign of strength.