I won’t sugarcoat the truth – I’ve been horrendously down lately. From paid work falling through, to problems at work, to a mortgage meeting going badly, to visa prices being raised (yet again), to massive self-confidence issues, to feeling like a blogging failure: I’ve run the gamut of emotions lately. One of the things that I find massively triggering (obviously for personal reasons) is when people say “if you want to be successful, hard work pays off” or “just work hard!”. I find that to be offensive and utterly dispiriting to anyone who is working extremely hard.
I’m usually reasonably able to shake myself out of a rut, but this week I couldn’t. It involved me eating cake in bed (and pizza, and bizarrely, stew one night), crying and simultaneously watching “Moana” and “Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds”. I didn’t want to snap out of it.
I wanted to f*&$ing wallow in it.
I’ve been living in this ever increasing spiral of not being good enough, not accomplishing enough, never being able to have kids (or ever afford to retire) and it’s been a dark place. So this will 100% not be a blog post about “10 things to do it shake of the blues” or “self-care when you’re feeling down”.
Instead I want to talk about what my feelings are teaching me. Because emotions deserve to be felt and listened to. (Even the seemingly negative ones.)
When I feel overwhelmed by inadequacy, I need to take a step back and realise that I am once again chasing perfection instead of excellence. I am a recovering perfectionist. Perfectionism drove me into a constant state of anxiety, eating disorders and sleepless nights filled with constantly working, going over conversations in my mind and studying. There’s a difference between perfect and excellence. No one and nothing can ever be perfect, but excellence is something to strive for honourably. Perfect is unachievable, which sets up a never ending cycle of failure. It’s self-abusive. Excellence is still undefinable, yet it’s a far easier state to accomplish.
When I feel jealousy, I think it’s a good indicator that one of my basic emotional needs isn’t being met. If I’m jealous of someone’s holiday or travel plans am I really jealous of their travel or just with the idea of relaxation or escape? And if that’s the case, what is making me feel so stressed or trapped? Investigate it and solve it if at all possible.
Discouragement / Resignation
If I’m feeling discouraged or resigned about failure, it’s usually because I already feel like I am maxing myself out or trying as hard as I can or don’t know if I have anything else left to give (whilst still feeling like I’m not good enough). If that is the case, identify what exactly you feel discouraged about (working hard with no promotion, blogging hard with no readers, not saving enough money) and talk to someone else about it. As the listener in this situation, I’d recommend agreeing with the discouraged person’s feelings. Don’t correct them or minimise their worries. “It’s not that bad” etc is demeaning not encouraging. I like to find someone that I can bounce ideas off of and help guide me to actionable steps for improving worries.
I’ve taken to wearing a rose quartz crystal to amplify my own feelings of compassion, tenderness and healing so at the end of the week, I gave it a good cleanse and concentrated on all my negative emotions and let them go. (I know it’s a bit woo woo sounding but it made me feel better.)
So the key isn’t to continue to ignore your negative feelings until they build and build and build and you fall into a week long shame-spiral like I did, but to confront them head on when they first arise. Negative emotions are a natural part of life and denying them is forcing you away further from your true-self and prompting you to generate positive change; accept the negativity and remind yourself that it will pass.
(This is separate from medical depression. And of course, it by no means guarantees easy or clear solutions to problems you’re anxious about.)
We are human beings who feel a whole gamut of emotions and there’s no need to deny yourself a good cry.