Thursday, August 16, 2018

Anxiety Part 6: Fallout

Part 6 of the mental health series - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

A short follow up to last week's question: How do you "love your neighbor as yourself" if you don't really love yourself?

First, it is absolutely possible to love other people when you don't love yourself.*** 
Nobody feels great about themselves every single day. We all have bad days. But on those bad days, we can still show love to someone else, even though we may not feel good about the person we are. Everybody has bad days where they still want to help and show love to other people.

However, we generally don't have a lot of love to pour into others if we constantly and consistently feel down on ourselves.

I do a lot of self-care practices, meditation, etc., to try and make sure that I'm emotionally filled before I try to show love to other people.
However, lately my therapist and spiritual director have both been encouraging me to do something else. They are pushing me to focus more on the positive things that happen in my life and the positive interactions that I have with people, and to focus less on my negative thoughts and interactions.
This is unnatural for me.
I don't like to hide from my problems and troubles. "Focusing on the positive" feels to me like ignoring reality. 
It feels like pretending.
I don't like to shy away from the unhappy or terrible or painful parts of life. Those parts of life are real.
I don't like to pretend.

But I've been told to do so. Evidently, trying to focus more on the positive things in your life than the negative is not pretending. Rather, it can be beneficial for your mental health.
It can be a way to love yourself, so that you're emotionally available to show love to other people.

So I'm working on it.
I'm still kind of skeptical.
At the very least, though, it can't hurt to focus on the positive things in my life.


***One small bit of language in the video. If you don't want to hear it, you can mute at 1:51. Or just don't watch it at all. Whatever. You do you.


  1. I am there with you in the sense that I feel that I am a realistic person. I like to know that I am not just looking at the world through rose colored glasses. However I have honestly found that a gratitude practice, which allows me to honor the good in my life on a daily basis has made a huge impact in my life. I tend to look at the negative things in my life to verify the already negative view I have of things. Brene Brown once made a statement that if we are looking for proof of the negative opinions we have of ourself and others we will always find that proof. It is in focusing on the positives that we can reclaim some of that and move forward with a new perspective.

  2. My therapist encourages me to consider and challenge the weight my brain gives to the negative. As you pointed out a couple of posts ago, your brain is fighting your brain, and for me, recognizing that my brain has a bias is helpful in moving through my ever-present fear. My brain's JOB is to keep me safe, and my brain thinks the most effective way to do that is to be afraid of everything all the time and therefore to worry about everything all time. "Thank you, brain, for thinking; now move on," helps me acknowledge what my brain is experiencing while also basically forcing my brain to let something else be in charge for a moment. Eventually the moments add up, and my brain learns it's possible to cling a little less tightly all the time.

    Brains are wild.