In 2018, I started seeing a therapist. I initially wanted to see someone for my anxiety that had only gotten worse since Alec arrived in October of 2017. I didn’t know what to expect during my first visit, but my therapist ended up being exactly who I needed. On top of anxiety, I was diagnosed with PTSD. This year, we realized I also have depression.
I’ve been working hard during my mental health journey, learning how to cope and working through my trauma. There have been several “lessons” that have been helping me along the way; some people may call these alternative thoughts or affirmations. They have greatly helped me almost daily. In an effort to keep breaking the stigma around mental health, I wanted to share these alternative thoughts with you on the blog today.
1. I am loved and lovable.
I feel so silly listing this one, but it’s honestly the most important.
I have struggled with feeling loved and lovable for most of my life. My father and I no longer have a relationship after years of traumatic experiences from childhood to my wedding in 2018. I struggled with thinking there must be something wrong with me if my own father can’t love me. This compacted with a tumultuous, abusive relationship that spanned from age fifteen to twenty really tore my self confidence to pieces.
I started therapy and have repaired a lot of these feelings. I can’t say I’ll never feel that way anymore. Regardless, I tell myself daily that I am loved and lovable, because I am. I have family and friends who love me. I have an amazing, supportive husband who loves me so much. I am loved. I am lovable.
2. I don’t need others to validate my self worth.
In the age of social media, I can’t help think that things have gotten so much worse for teens when it comes to seeking validation from others. Me? I sought validation through everyone. I wanted to be teacher’s pet, I wanted to be your best friend, I wanted to be the best girlfriend ever. Others’ words of praise defined me.
But I didn’t always get praise. Sometimes I got harsh criticism. Sometimes people didn’t like me for no reason. I took it all to heart, and let it tell me how much I was worth. Now, I know what I am worth. I know what kind of person I am. I don’t let harsh words tell me I’m less than a person… most of the time. It continues to be something I am working towards. I’m learning that I don’t need anyone to validate my self worth because I am worthy.
3. If things are out of my control, it’s going to be okay.
Having anxiety, depression, and PTSD can be a bit of a triple threat some days. When my day isn’t going to plan, when I feel like things are getting out of my control, I tend to get angry or just emotionally shut down. The last thing I want to do is lash out at my loved ones, so I adopted this alternative thought to tell myself when things aren’t exactly going to plan.
I still don’t feel my best when plans get changed or when I’m in a crowded space feeling like I can’t get out. But then I tell myself that it’s going to be okay. And, eventually, it is. For someone with anxiety, this alternative thought can be the difference between spiraling or moving on with my day.
4. Others do not control my emotions (I have power & control).
Confrontation is one of the things I avoid the most. I will do whatever else necessary to avoid it. I know this isn’t healthy so I’m working on it slowly. So what exactly makes me avoid confrontation? I can say without a doubt that I’m afraid of the other person’s reaction. Whether it’s anger, sadness, or invalidation of my feelings, it’s enough to make me try everything else I can first.
My alternative thought comes in when I feel myself getting emotional in response to their negative reaction to the confrontation. I want to control my response so I can handle it in the most healthy way for myself. When I feel like they are taking my power and control, I can lash out which isn’t a solution to anything. Instead, I repeat my mantra that I have the power and control then I take my time to respond in a way that conveys what I actually want to say instead of letting my emotional response get the best of me.
5. If someone doesn’t want to be my friend, it doesn’t mean I’m a bad person.
The sad truth is we can grow past friendships and relationships. Hanging onto people you have outgrown can turn toxic and build resentment. It’s so hard not to take it personally when you stop being friends with someone. I used to equate losing friends to being a bad person which is totally untrue.
The same can be said of making new friends. Sometimes you don’t click with people, and I’m learning that doesn’t mean I’m unworthy. It just means we weren’t meant for that kind of friendship right now or maybe ever. People grow and change along their journey. I have grown and changed more over the last three years than I ever have before. Remembering my alternative thought for these relationships helps me remember that I don’t have to be a bad person to let go of a friendship.
What are some lessons you’ve learned on your mental health journey? Let me know in the comments!
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