Tag Archives: Mental Health

How Can we Practice Self Love?

Two weeks ago I went out to dinner with an older male friend, and we spent a significant amount of time talking about love and relationships. He, due to our age difference, is at a different point of his life than I; I have a fresh pair of eyes and he carried wisdom in his. I started to confide in him about my lack of confidence to love (I’m sure I sounded like an over dramatic 20-something-year-old), I expressed to him how I was scared that I’d never figure it out (Yup, over dramatic 20-something-year-old). The more I opened up, the more I had questions:

“What’s wrong with me?”

“Nothing, you’re 20-something”

“Am I unlovable?”

“From where I’m sitting you seem very lovable.”

“I don’t think he ever loved me, what even is love?”

That’s when he said something that really hit me, in ways defining love for myself never could. “I think that love is having faith.” I’d never heard love defined as that; so simplistic yet it forced me to pause and view love from a new perspective. “I don’t think he ever loved me. He spent so much time trying so change me, he never had faith in me… I don’t think I have faith in me.” At this point my friend probably felt like a guru, he had that feeling we all get when we blow someone’s mind. I think it’s fair to say that love is one of those indescribable, intangible, multi-meaning kind of concepts, but the concept of loving yourself meaning having faith in yourself hit me in a unique way.

In relationships and friendships I’ve never had issues having faith in people, I always assume the best in others. If I am slighted I like to think that people aren’t perfect, and if I speak to them then maybe positive changes will result in that. I’ve had no issues investing in those I care about, because I believed in them as well as the bond I have with them. So much so that I really started to compromise myself; I gave so much to others that I forgot to give to myself. I think I’ve always struggled with believing in myself, and having faith in things outside of my control. When I was in school I would obsessively apply for jobs because I had so little faith that I would have one post grad. In relationships I’d try to hard to adapt to the needs of my significant other that I rarely voiced the things I wanted, until the end.

I am making conscious changing to invest in myself more, and I am practicing the act of having faith in myself. I go to the gym everyday now, even if I don’t feel like it, because I do believe that I can consistently commit 30 minutes a day to the body I want to have. I created this blog and stopped posting on thought catalog, because I think it was important for me to believe I have a message and it’s worth investing in my dreams of being a writer. I am also being more mindful of the friendships I commit myself to, I wrote down a list of friends who seem like they mesh well with me and now I am going to be a better friend to them.

I think it’s easy to fall into a pattern. If most of our lives were were used to feeling like we messed things up, it will take conscious decision making to raise our self esteem. I think having faith in myself, having faith in my ability to have healthy relationships, and my ability to achieve my dreams is an act of radical self love. Failure is inevitable, but in order for my to increase my self love I think I have to view myself as someone to have faith in.

Maybe you’re struggling with the ability to love yourself. Maybe your self esteem isn’t where you’d like it to be. I challenge you to think about the one dream that you have, or one aspect of your life that you’d like to change. Thought of one?

Change it.

How Do We Fill the Empty Feeling?

One of my best friends texted me last week expressing that she was “Sick and tired of being sick and tired.” That quote resonates with me all too well, both from experience and observation. Life is hard, and when you’re young it can be so overwhelming because you’re just starting to figure things out (I don’t think we ever totally do). In high school we might be facing difficulties fitting in, and social relationships might seem intimidating. In early adulthood we are a bit more self focused, trying to chase enjoyable moments and career prospects. In young adulthood, I’ve found that now life seems to be a balancing act. I am juggling my personal health, relationships and dating, friendships and social relationships, my career, my free time, and a ton of social responsibility. Admittedly, I am still trying to figure it all out.

For most of my life I found that I seemed to be carrying this empty feeling inside of me. I felt like an ominous Black hole that was unwilling to be fed; and even if it was hungry I didn’t know what to feed it. I carried that feeling with me when I hung out with my friends; “Do they really want me here?” I had the feeling when I was with lovers; “They are all just going to leave me, right?” I think I even became familiar with that feeling when I was around family; “I’ve always felt pretty alone.” I’ve tried to fill the feeling with food, sex, money, shopping, and alcohol; “I think these things make me feel worse about myself.” I did try less dysfunctional ways of fulfilling myself, I would confide in friends, attend group therapy, individual therapy, take medication; “I still feel so f**king empty.” Depression was something I’ve faced for the majority of my life, then with age came anxiety. College and graduate school were difficult for me for a number of reasons, I felt like I wasn’t represented and I felt misunderstood. With experiences though, came the ability to put words to my frustrations. I could pinpoint what made me feel empty:

  • Lack of representation
  • Lack of community
  • Being around toxic people
  • Not making enough time for myself

Then I learned the importance of self awareness, understanding self, and expressing self. I realized that yes I may not have control over the circumstances I am under, nor may I have control over the events that unfold before me. But what I do have control over is my ability to exist in the present, and my attempts to plan for the future. I realized that a lack of representation and community went hand and hand, so I decided to intentionally befriend more Black women around me. Being around toxic people in many cases is inevitable; “Sometimes you just have to grin and bare it at work.” But other times you can either cut those people out of your life even if it’s difficult; “Call it radical self love.” Which led me to not making enough time for myself, this was something I could control. I’ve been filling my space with plants, which requires me to take time out of my day to care for them. I find it peaceful, when I give to them it feels like I give to myself. I am also learning not to make solid plans on weekends, and I am forcing myself 30 minutes every day (sometimes I skip) to exercise. Even though it seems like a small amount of time, the time we allot for ourselves adds up, and I think that pieces of our self esteem do as well.

It’s been 3 months that I’ve made changes for myself, and I don’t feel so empty anymore. I don’t feel so depressed, and I don’t have such high levels of anxiety. Mental health and wellness isn’t an easy, and I’d argue it’s a life long effort (as we change the way we love ourselves may have to as well). There are going to be days where you’re going to be rocking it with mental health; “I’m so happy for you!” Then there are going to be days where you’re just too tired to heal yourself; “That’s ok, there’s tomorrow.” But I hope that you start to see yourself as worth putting other aspects of your life on hold, and deserving of treating yourself with the love you are seeking to receive.

I welcome you to comment ways you can exercise loving yourself; “what’s worked for you?”