I spend some of my day on social media – engaging in some discussions and seeing what people are focused on.
The one reoccurring topic that I often see is “kindness” – #kindnessmatters.
Usually it is being recommended that people offer a sign of kindness to someone else – as a simple act of kindness can have an impact on their day – as well as influence their entire life. The effect of a simple act of kindness should not be underestimated.
To take this concept a step further, I cannot help but remember a time that I was very unkind to myself. Its true – when I was suffering with my anxiety and phobias – I was very unkind to myself.
Actually, to be honest – I was the single most hurtful person to myself ever. No one demanded more from me than I demanded from myself. No one ever made me feel more like a failure than I did myself. In short – I was extremely hard on myself. I almost felt as if I allowed myself in some strange way – to continue dealing with my anxiety. As if I had a choice – obviously I did not – and the internal punishment I put on myself was completely unfair and unjustifiable.
But in some way I created this cycle and allowed it to continue – first my anxiety would punish me – and then I would follow it up with feeling like a failure – just causing more emotional punishment for myself. It was a vicious – never ending – cycle.
Learning to be kind to myself happened in two different stages of my recovery.
The first stage was fairly early on in the recovery process when I learned to accept that I had anxiety disorders and I was working on them.
Each time I would start to emotionally punish myself – I would remind myself that I have anxiety disorders – not that I asked for them – and I certainly did not want them – but I had them and they needed to be worked on. I reminded myself that just because I did not necessarily like this one thing about myself – it was something that I was working on to change.
That was a really big step for me – really big.
This one shift in acceptance of my situation at that point had a profound affect on me. I stopped punishing myself for having anxiety disorders – and instead I found comfort in my effort to create change. Its true – I didn’t like having anxiety issues – but I did appreciate my own effort in trying to create recovery. Overall this really was a tremendous step in helping me to recover.
The second stage where I learned to be kind to myself came after I created recovery for myself – and actually I was in the process of becoming a certified counselor.
Even though I was recovered and living an unrestricted life at that point – when I thought back to some of my behavior when I was suffering badly – I would get embarrassed – I regretted a lot of things that I had said & done because of my anxiety.
I was carrying around regret and hostility towards my behavior in my younger years when my life was primarily dictated by my anxiety.