Throughout all my years of learning about improving my mental health and acknowledging my own personal growth, I sometimes think about how things in my life has happened for a reason. I love to self-reflect because it's a reminder of how far I've come since my days of kicking the dirt on the ground feeling defeated. Things happen for a reason. There's a cause and an effect, and if we choose to see an opportunity, greater things will come to surface given some time and patience.
In the last several months, I've made a conscious effort to put myself out there to broaden my peripheral view on life. I not only feel a boost in my self-esteem, but I also feel that I'm socially more comfortable in my own skin than ever before. I've attended a number of social functions where I knew very few to know one at all. I've gone to business seminars and conferences that I normally would have turned down the moment I heard they were taking place, and I went on a number of dates just for the hell of it. A dear friend once told me that going on dates is like going for a series of job interviews: you gain practice and experience hoping someday for that perfect match. As it stands right now, I remain unemployed.
As my collection of friends begin to show their age (with knee problems, high blood pressure, cholesterol challenges, balding), I sometimes think about some of my own aches and pains including my lower back and knees after playing intense games of basketball. And when I think about recent celebrities passing away at the young age of 75-80 years old, I begin doing the math of the remaining time I might have on this planet. So at the turn of the New Year, I reached several conclusions. Not resolutions. Conclusions.
My delightful millennial coworker Stella often teases me at work about my Gen X philosophies and idiosyncrasies. When I was in my 20's I never would have imagined going to bed at 8pm and that's one of the many things about me that she banters about. When I explained to her that on my dating profile, I included that I like to have meaningful conversations about life, she exploded in laughter pointing out that it's far too serious and a turn-off to say that. After her brief 101 on dating, I stood back and said yikes...she's right! Thus, I elected to save the meaningful conversations about life for a blog or with my close friends only.
I woke up again in the wee hours of the morning, unable to get a decent night's sleep. I desperately tried hard to fall back asleep, but restlessness became my blanket and soon my eyes were as wide eyed as my cat's. I rolled over and fumbled around in the dark for my phone and saw that it was only 4:03am. Another 57 mins to go before my alarm is supposed to wake me up to go to my bootcamp class at the gym. Unable to find interest in any of my apps on my phone at four in the morning, I for no other reason than boredom began scrolling through my list of phone contacts.
Without an ounce of doubt, self-discovery has changed me and the way I think. I thirst for it now because it liberates me from who I was before. My perspective on life has shifted and this gift I was given is an opportunity for personal growth and a healthier wellbeing. Collectively this improves my mental health.
It's never easy to look ourselves in the mirror and see where we struggle with our behaviors. Yet, when we ask the question whether there's room for self-improvement, the answer is often times a yes. How do we make those changes in ourselves? How do we take those difficult steps? I learned the hard way through my own struggles and losses how to make those self-improvements happen. A life plagued by anger, abuse and mental health struggles, I discovered ways to get out of those unhealthy patterns and into a life that's focused and clear.
Kindness begins with how we see ourselves. Much of this depends on how we were treated as children. Unfortunately, childhood abuse survivors often grow up as adults who a have hard time seeing themselves with kindness. We don't realize the subconscious voices telling us that we're unlovable, we don't deserve happiness, we're ugly or we're useless.