I’m really miserable. I know the things I SHOULD do to be happier/healthier/a better person but they are impossible. Or I do those things like try to lose weight or read more and I always fail. I just can’t seem to get my shit together and it feels like everyone around me is having no problem. I know it’s not true but it’s how it feels. I’m sick of feeling this way but everytime I try to change I end up sabotaging myself. I don’t even really know what the question is but help.
My Own Worst Enemy
Dear My Own Worst Enemy,
I have great news: the best enemy you can have is yourself. If your enemy was a fiendish sorcerer stalking your family, there would be little you could do to make him stop turning your loved ones into toads. When you’re your own worst enemy, you have the ultimate advantage over your nemesis—you have control.
That being said, changing is not as easy as simply deciding to. Every day you have to wake up and choose to do things differently, and after a lifetime of doing things one way, you’re not going to be able to completely change your habits overnight, nor should you. One of the quickest ways to set yourself up for failure in self-improvement is to throw yourself so wholy into it that you lose all of the coping mechanisms you used to know. Pretty soon, your new habits feel like a too-tight turtleneck that is slowly suffocating you. When you cut yourself free and return to those old behaviors, it feels like a sweet release, until that familiar misery creeps back up again.
So sometimes you skip the gym and forget to call your mom. You eat things that you know make you feel sick and you watch more TV than you want and you drink more than you should. It happens. You are human. You don’t have to think less of yourself because you aren’t sucking down kale smoothies and running 10 miles every day and reading classic literature and being the perfect partner/friend/employee/offspring. While self-improvement is something we should all strive for, that doesn’t mean you have to beat yourself up for not sticking to new healthy habits. What is does mean is that your current strategies aren’t working.
If you are going to make changes, they need to be realistic. It’s the difference between vowing to never eat junk food again and limiting your junk food intake to twice a week. If your daily breakfast is Cheetos right now, it’s not fair to expect yourself to never touch them again. It is more reasonable to begin by cutting this habit back by eating a healthy breakfast most days of the week and saving that cheesy indulgence for a once-in-a-while treat.
That being said, it’s hard to be reasonable and fair about your goals if you don’t love yourself. There may be aspects of who you are that you feel a lot of hatred for. Despite your instinct to dropkick these parts, to argue with them, or to shove them down and never let them see the light of day, I encourage you to do the opposite instead. Embrace them. Love them. Don’t judge them. Give them space to breathe and to tell you what they need you to hear.
“People need loving the most when they deserve it the least.” – John Harrigan
When you accept yourself for who you are without any conditions, your worth isn’t reliant on how successfully you are able to stick to your goals. Though change isn’t any easier, it’s worth it. When you love yourself, you want to do what is going to make your happier and healthier. You’re not changing because you think it is something you should do, you’re changing because you want the best for yourself.
It won’t be easy at first, especially if you have been mean to yourself for a long time. Something that helped me combat negative self-talk is seeing a counselor, and you might find it helpful as well. If you need help with finding one, check out my previous post about how to find a therapist.
That being said, you don’t need a therapist to begin being kinder to yourself today. Start by giving yourself a compliment right now to plant a seed of self-love. Do this daily and let it grow further. It might seem like a small and awkward gesture, but it is an easy step towards combating negative thoughts about yourself. As this gets easier, add a daily act of kindness for yourself to your routine. When your thoughts and actions show compassion and appreciation for yourself, real self-love grows, making it easier to take care of your body and mind, and pretty soon, you’re not your own worst enemy anymore: you’re your own best friend.