The common theme coming up in my therapy sessions and what seems to be the root cause of my struggles with anxiety is that somewhere along the way I created a story that I wasn’t good enough. Things like compassion for myself, being patient with myself, not being so damn hard on myself all the time have been showing themselves in visualization exercises and they all circle back to feelings that I am not enough. We have just barely broken the surface on this but I wanted to share what I have realized so far and how I have been working towards rewriting my story.
The first thing we began to work on was my anxiety around falling asleep. We do a visualization exercise to see what parts of myself are causing my sleep anxiety. I think of myself going to bed at night and see what starts to come up. The first thing that ever came up from this was compassion. I sat with the feeling of anxiety and asked why it was there. The first word that popped into my head was compassion. I am an extremely compassionate person, maybe even to a fault. If I really sit with that, I can admit that I may have compassion for others but I absolutely lack compassion for myself. I am always upset with myself for something and I’ve been like that for a while. In the past during my college years, when I was dealing with a control based negative relationship with food I would be upset with myself if I ate something I didn’t deem approved. I would be upset with myself if I felt I didn’t push hard enough in my workout, didn’t sweat enough. I was upset with myself for not getting the internship I need to pursue my RD. Instead of handling these situations with compassion, telling myself it was okay and I was doing the best I could, I was extremely hard on myself and would get angry. Somewhere on my path I convinced myself I wasn’t deserving of self-compassion.
Another thing that came up was patience. During many years of teaching sailing to children and nannying I developed some skills in being patient. I definitely do not apply the same level of patience to myself. If I want to change something and it doesn’t happen instantly, I get frustrated with myself. Take therapy for example. After my first session, I had a few nights of anxious sleep where I had trouble falling asleep and I was extremely frustrated with myself. Like anyone could be “cured” after one therapy session. But of course, I felt I should be. Another example is if I set a goal for myself, something measurable, I get frustrated if it doesn’t happen as quickly as I think it should. This lack of patience with myself just negatively spirals me to my lack of self-compassion.
The last thing I have uncovered so far, something I’ve deep down always known, is just overall being so hard on myself. Nothing I do or say feels good enough. I’ve tried to be more conscious of this and I constantly catch myself having such bad negative self-talk. In a yoga class, instead of feeling strong and open, I tear myself apart. “That pose looks weird.” “You have armpit fat sticking out of your bra.” Really harsh things that are so far from true. I am my own toughest critique. I will leave a yoga class I just taught and think to myself “that could have been better.”
I have realized that I keep myself from going out and being social, especially in large groups, because I feel inadequate. I feel like I have nothing to offer and I’ll be judged. In reality, the only person judging me is me.
I don’t know when or why I have created this narrative. I can’t pinpoint a specific time or event that may have led me to believe I wasn’t enough. I am hoping through continued work I will be able to uncover where this all came from. Figuring that out excites me and also terrifies me.
So far through my journey with therapy I have realized a great deal. I am now working every day to create a new positive thought pattern. If I catch myself thinking something negative I will turn around and follow up with something positive. I breath through my frustrations with myself. I constantly remind myself that it’s ok, things take time and I’m doing my best. I come up with daily affirmations. I am working towards loving my body and knowing I am so much more than just a physical being.
I am strong
I am worthy
I am enough
I am smart
I am deserving of self-love
I am only human
I am doing the best that I can
I will fail and that’s okay
I am grateful for a body that allows me to do the things I love