Have patience with all things but first with yourself. Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being. You’re a perfectly valuable, creative, worthwhile person simply because you exist. And no amount of triumphs or tribulations can ever change that. Unconditional self-acceptance is the core of a peaceful mind.– St Francis de Sales
This month, as I tread the path of deliberate self-discovery, I hit some patches that weren’t easy to traverse. When you dig deep, you find spots that aren’t necessarily pretty. One of these, at least from the vantage point I was viewing it, was anxiety and other related issues. While I knew of anxiety before, I hadn’t quite known that I had other, deeper issues too. Over the last week, a couple of incidents really brought this to the fore. It surprised me to find how much resistance I had towards those parts of me. I felt ashamed, guilty for my behaviour, and as if something was fundamentally off about me. I felt like I wasn’t ‘normal’ and thought that other people would judge me because I have a ‘special brain’. I felt so helpless. So trapped. If you’ve ever experienced this, know that you’re not alone. And there certainly isn’t anything wrong with you.
Accepting yourself with your special brain
How do you get to a place of self-acceptance when you are in the middle of self-defeating thoughts and emotions?
Process your emotions
The short answer is that you don’t. You can’t jump to self-acceptance. The first step is to process your emotions. Sit with them. You won’t be able to do much else until that’s done.
It took me some time to process my feelings. It involved quite a bit of crying. But after a couple of hours, I started to feel better. I texted my therapist about what had happened and started looking up on Google what my behaviour could mean. After an hour of searching and reading, I thought I’d found my answers…at least the starting point of my answers. I’ll obviously need to talk to my therapist to get to the bottom of the issue and know how exactly to deal with it, but just reading up and educating myself was empowering.
And that’s the second step – educating yourself. Knowledge is power. Once you understand what’s going on, it gets easier…you will often experience a huge feeling of relief. Why’s that? Because you are no longer dealing with an amorphous blob of confusion and wondering, ‘what’s wrong with me?’. Now you know what’s happening! That takes out the confusion and ambiguity leaving behind clarity. And when you’ve figured out what it is that needs to be addressed, you can go about addressing it.
The other thing about educating yourself is that it helps to know that you’re not the only one. Millions of people across the world have experienced the specific kind of issue you might be facing! If you dig further, you’ll discover many celebrities who’ve been through the same roller coaster as you. That piece of information can be liberating. Because you are not alone.
It’s more than possible to manage this!
I’ve found that embracing this mindset is very helpful. When we discover that we suffer from some sort of a neurological condition – whether it’s anxiety, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder – we might feel a sense of despair that it’s all out of our hands. The truth is that it’s not. Every condition IS manageable with the right kind of support. All you need to do is reach out and seek it. But first, you need to believe that you can successfully manage your condition and lead a thriving life.
Steer away from framing it as ‘abnormal’
Every person has issues that are unique to them. So if you think about it, this isn’t really abnormal…it’s normal to have issues. It may be neurological…or it may not. When you reframe what you’re going through from being ‘abnormal’ to something that’s softer such as something that’s a part of you that you can manage, it becomes easier to embrace.
Help is available. Reach out.
I’ve made the mistake in the past when I’ve manage my inner world by myself in seclusion. That’s not the most effective way of handling things by any stretch. When I reached out for help and allowed people into my world, suddenly, not only did my problems seem solvable, they even started feeling far less intense. These days, I make sure that I reach out to my therapist when things start feeling intense. I like knowing that someone’s there for me. I know for certain that I’m able to gather myself together in a faster and better way.
You are so loved. With all your warts and all.
This is one of the toughest lessons to learn. As St. Francis de Sales said, you are valuable simply because you exist. Just because you have some sort of an issue doesn’t diminish your value or how loveable you are. As cliched as it sounds, you are so loved, warts and all notwithstanding. The neurological condition you’re suffering from only adds to your uniqueness. You have a unique story to tell because of it.
It took me a whole day, but at the end of it, I felt my chirpy self again. I know that I have work to do and this newfound ‘condition’ to integrate. But you know what? I’m going to be fine. So will you.