🤡A Year of Living Mindfully: Week 20. Embracing your inner weirdo🤡

What things do you avoid because you have become attached to a particular label or idea that you have about yourself?

I always label myself as shy and awkward. I get nervous infront of large crowds and I stutter when I am under pressure. 

These labels and ideas can become part of who you are- how others see you and how you view yourself. This can prevent you from growing, from shedding out-of-date dislikes, habits, and behavior.

Exercise:

What is on your list of things to avoid? Choose something from the list and try experiencing it as if it for the first time. 

Giving presentations to large crowds and any other form of public speaking. 

Explore it with as many of your senses as possible. Pay attention to any resistance that arises in the form of thoughts, memories, emotions, and bodily sensations. Tease out your experience. What do you notice? This not about forcing yourself to like it- you stil may not- but rather to see it with fresh eyes. 

Thoughts:

 Everyone is staring at me and judging me. Why am I so awkward and cringey. 

Memories:

 I stuttered handing over in that meeting. I forgot the words of a prayer on my confirmation. I always go roaring red in the face and can’t make eye contact. 

Emotions: 

Embarrassment, anxiety, nervous, apprehensive, overwhelmed. 

Bodily sensations: 

Tightness in chest, short of breath, nauseous in belly. 

This weeks exercise was about viewing the label or view you have of yourself in a different light. I decided to go the extra mile and face the label head on. On Wednesday I had to speak infront of an audience and tell them about myself and my single life. I done a lot of yoga and meditation in the weeks leading up to this event to keep me grounded. I done a million and one deep belly breaths beforehand and decided not to say out loud that I was nervous, even though I was. I didn’t want to feed into my emotions but I did acknowledge them to myself. Sometimes I find if you tell a friend you feel nervous, they feed into the emotion with you. “Don’t worry, no need to nervous, it’s ok, it is a scary experience……” They just help you overthink the whole “I feel nervous”, instead of just acknowledging the emotion and letting it pass. I try not to zone in on my emotions because I don’t want to magnify it and bring it to a head. It works for me anyway. 

This event was something I had never done before and naturally I felt apprehensive about the whole thing. I tried to stay away from coffee as this can heighten my anxiety levels. I organised and planned everything in advance i.e. Hair and make up. I made sure I was ready a few hours early so I wasn’t running around making myself sick with anxiety. I ensured I done everything at a slow pace and done my belly breaths all throughout the day. I know from past experiences that I tend to speak faster when I feel anxious. Therefore, I decided to focus on speaking slower and taking breaths throughout my sentences. 

Right before I walked on stage, I felt very overwhelmed by all the bright lights and I could feel anxiety raising just a little. I got to the top of the steps, walked towards the stool, sat down, had a giany belly breath and instantly I felt at ease. I didn’t make eye contact with anyone in the audience and just pretended I was a lot more confidence than I was. IT WORKED. Of course there were times when I got a bit awkward. A few years ago I would have given myself a hard time of this and spoke very negatively towards myself during and after the awkwardness. The whole event went great and I didn’t stutter once. I was as calm as I have ever been. 

I did also put some more ground work in. I find researching new ways of viewing myself and getting tips for building self esteem very useful. I found a video on YouTube and watched it while I was waiting around before the event:

https://youtu.be/0Tk82hEHNnY

It spoke about the Deutsch scholar and philosopher Erasmus and his view on humans. He believed that everyone, no matter how important or learned they might be, is a fool. He even viewed himself as a knit-wit. He described himself as shy, awkward, makes bad decisions, lets things fall at fancy dinners, says the wrong thing at the wrong time. It helped normalise these traits. 

“Being weird and awkward doesn’t make us unfit for society, it makes us just like the greatest scholar of the Northern European renaissance.”

The video also spoke about Pieter Bruegel, who painted the picture ‘The Deutsch Proverbs’. The painting shows many different parts of the human being. He wanted to send out the message that “We are all deranged”. 

“The key to greater confidence is not to reassure ourselves of our own dignity. It is to grow with peace of the inevitable nature of our ridiculousness. We are idiots now. We were idiots in the past and we will be idiots again in the future.”

I remember I spoke to my friends about the event a few days before and I explained I was worried that they would make me out to be weird and stupid. One of my friends responded “Julia, it will be you who will make yourself out to be a weirdo because you are a weirdo. I don’t think you need help with showing the audience that you are one”. This strangely made me feel at ease. It really didn’t matter if I was made out to be a bit foolish or weird. Naturally as a human being, I am weird and foolish. This experience will not make me more or a less a fool. Being weird and foolish is the norm. Each and every one of us is a complete fool. This gave me greater confidence that day. 

Message: Self acceptance is key. Accept your weirdness and accept the fact that no one is prim and proper and everyone makes mistakes and acts absolutely ridiculous sometimes. 

Reflection: This weeks exercise has helped me immensely. The event was obviously a bonus but my god I have learned so much about myself. The label I had of myself as “shy” and “awkward” has completely lifted and I now see myself as a weird, confident, complete freak and I absolutely love it! 

J x


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🍵Self-esteem🍵

“It is not what you are that holds you back but what you think you are”

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Self-esteem is the foundation for maintaining positive mental health. Those who experience mental health difficulties usually have underlying self-esteem issues. Our self-esteem starts to develop from birth. How our loved ones, friends, teachers speak to us as we develop as a person effects how we view ourselves as we get older. For example if your parents don’t appraise you for your successes and don’t tell you how proud they are, how well you have done in your spelling test, how amazing they think you are, then how are you supposed to believe in yourself, when those closest to you do not believe in you either? Culturally, Irish people don’t do well with receiving compliments. American’s on the other hand are really good at self-appraisal and self-belief. It’s something we should all be aware of. Our beliefs and thoughts about ourselves.

 

What is self-esteem?

 Its about how we value ourselves and what we perceive we are worthy of.

How do we recognize low self-esteem?

 When we cannot recognize our own value as a person. When we feel ‘sh*t’ about ourselves. We feel we are not good enough when faced with a difficult situation like’rejection, criticism, being judged by others’. No matter how much appraisal others may give you or how much you have achieved this feeling of ‘not being good enough’ does not lift.

What are the signs of low self-esteem?

  • not feelings good enough
  • feeling un-likeable
  • feeling unsuccessful
  • feeling anxious, tense, unhappy
  • comparing self negatively to others
  • feeling powerless
  • needing lots of reassurance
  • easily influenced by others
  • being withdrawn of uncommunicative
  • being oversensitive
  • blaming others for my own problems or failures

 

Ok so I have low-esteem how do I fix it?

  • By identifying and re-evaluating negative self-beliefs. A person with low self-esteem is active in interpreting reality in ways which lead to feelings of low self-worth.
  • By developing coping strategies for dealing with situations which lead to feeling ‘not good enough’.
  • By engaging with humour
  • By developing wider interests. Get involved in an activity that takes the focus away from your-self.
  • Learn relationship techniques to develop objectivity
  • Set manageable goals. Write them down and decide on steps you need to take to achieve these goals.
  • Exercise well, eat well and rest well.
  • Talking to a supportive person provides the opportunity to
  • Explore these and many other ways of working to increase self-esteem.

Specific strategies to improve self-esteem:

  • Thought Stopping – when you notice that you are giving out to yourself, tell yourself to stop or distract yourself (Listen to music, go for a walk, whatever you’re interested in).
  • Identify your strengths – Identify one thing every day that you feel good about (Keep those thoughts in a jar and reflect back on them at the end of the year).
  • Repeat affirmations and coping statements to yourself everyday (below are some samples of affirmations you can use).

Some benefits of high self-esteem:

A person with high self-esteem could experience some of the following:

  • Self-acceptance; the ability to accept and live with personal strengths and weaknesses
  • Coming to terms with past behaviours
  • Feeling likeable
  • Having a strong sense of self and of personal belonging
  • Being able to act independently and take responsibility for one’s own actions
  • Feeling confident and empowered
  • Being relaxed and able to manage stress
  • Being able to communicate their feelings
  • Being able to ask others for help when necessary
  • Feeling happy and having a good sense of humour
  • Feeling proud of personal accomplishments, big or small

Unhelpful Thinking Styles:

 We are all prone at times to ‘distorted thinking’ but when we are either under excess stress or are depressed these distortions become more exaggerated.  When people experience mood difficulties we can tend to use unhelpful thinking styles all the time such that they become an automatic habit.  It is something that happens outside of our awareness and can cause great distress.

Some of the following will sound familiar. Have a read through and see how many you can relate to. 

Jumping to Conclusions:

 

You make negative interpretations even though there are no definite facts.  You start predicting the future, and take on the mantle of ‘mind reader’.  “They must think I am a really boring person”.

 

Black and White Thinking:

 

You see only one extreme or the other. You are either all wrong, or all right, or all bad or all good etc.  There are no in-betweens or shades of grey”.  There are no second places, there is only one winner”

 

Negative focus:

 

You focus on the negative, ignoring or misinterpreting positive aspects of a situation.  You focus on your weaknesses and forget your strengths, looking on the dark side.

 

Shoulding and Musting:

 

Sometimes by saying “I should…” or “I must…” you can put unreasonable demands or pressure on yourself and others.  Although these statements are not always unhelpful (e.g. I should not get drunk and drive home) they can sometimes create unreasonable expectations and lead to unnecessary guilt, frustration and disappointment.  “I should always get things right, I should never get upset with my partner”, “People shouldn’t get angry at others”.

 

Personalising:-

 

You take responsibility and blame for anything unpleasant even if it has little or nothing to do with you.  “It’s my fault”.

 

Catastrophising:

 

You tend to magnify and exaggerate the importance of events and how awful or unpleasant they will be, overestimating the chances of disaster; whatever can go wrong will go wrong. “What if…..”

 

Paranoid thinking:

 

You blame other people rather than chance for bad events happening without any evidence and assume people are more interested in you than they might actually be. e.g. “the government did this”; “they are following me”.

 

Emotional reasoning:

 

The only evidence you have that something bad is going to happen is that you feel like something bad is going to happen.  Feelings aren’t facts.  “I know this isn’t going to work out well”

 

 J x

Affirmations