Anyone familiar with the TV programme Ru Paul’s Drag Race will recognise the saying “Remember if you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”
All too often we beat ourselves up when we make mistakes and given the past eighteen months, we should more than ever, celebrate our successes and achievements and give ourselves a well-deserved pat on the back for our accomplishments.
How many times have you been guilty of feeling like the elephant in the room and telling yourself one, or more of the following?
· I’m not smart enough!
· I’m going to lose my job!
· I’m such a loser!
· I’m always making mistakes
· They’ll think I’m an idiot!
· Nobody likes me!
· I’m going to fail!
(…if I’m being honest, I can certainly admit to a few of these!)
The ego can be a wonderful thing at the right time and in the right place, but it loves nothing better than melodrama and chaos, feeding off our negative energy and chattering away in our ear, seeking attention like a mischievous child.
Imposter Syndrome is a recognised condition (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome) where people often talk about not being worthy or good enough and making comparisons between themselves and others. Feelings of failure, defeat, and a lack of self-esteem often go hand-in-hand.
There is no ‘one size fits all solution’. The main thing is to start by being kind to yourself. Learn to recognise the signs and when you are experiencing the symptoms try not to subject yourself to unnecessary stress.
Find ways, to calm your mind. Write in a gratitude journal and acknowledge the good things in your life, read daily affirmations and motivational books.
It is also really important to build up a solid support network and find your ‘tribe’ to help you get through any difficult times. This can be friends or family, or found through clubs and social networks in which form is most comfortable for you e.g. online, face-to-face.
If you want to socialise and that helps then socialise, but most importantly don’t feel pressured to be around people if you don’t want to. It’s perfectly acceptable to be at home with a book or a boxset, having some downtime if that’s your ‘happy place’. Make sure you do what is right for you.
Confide in people about how you are feeling, it really will surprise you how many people have experienced similar thoughts and experiences. Do speak to your GP, a mentor or counsellor if you find these feelings are becoming more and more commonplace and your thoughts are beginning to impact on your day to day life. It is so important to reach out for help and there are lots of excellent online services available.
Listed below are few examples of some good resources:
Most importantly, take care of yourself and try to adapt your lifestyle so you have the right balance, especially from a work/life perspective. Factor in the right amount of sleep, maintain a good diet, and take regular exercise.
When you feel under pressure, seek out the simple pleasures in life, embrace nature, dance barefoot, feel the sun on your skin or play your favourite song and sing like no-one is listening! Whatever it takes to re-set your mind and help you begin to feel good about yourself again (I like to practice yoga/meditation and be outdoors whenever I can, but I can also confess to sticking on my favourite 90’s club classics much to the embarrassment of my children!).
Next time the negative thoughts arise try switching things around… start to believe you are smart enough, you are good enough, you are competent and capable and if things don’t go quite to plan (which inevitably they won’t from time to time!), you soon start to develop a comprehensive skillset over time to deal with things calmly and take the necessary steps to recover the situation without allowing that pesky little ego to take over!
Remember… you’ve got this!
Jane Dennis is the Oakland Mental Health Champion