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Putting Yourself First

I recently spoke with someone very close to me and could tell that something was off. I think that because I have done the same thing of putting on a front when I am not okay, I picked up on it straight away and mentioned something about it. They were quick to withdraw and try and change the subject which normally I would allow because that is what I would want to make me more comfortable, however, I challenged them to open up about what it was that was bothering them because someone did that for me when I was really down last year and it helped me feel like I was no longer bottling up all this anger because someone truly wanted to hear me out. I think there is so much negativity in this world and we are all scared to share our feelings because we are afraid of potential consequences or timid about opening up in what can be a pretty harsh world. This not only impedes our happiness on a personal level, but it also makes our mental stress increase and causes the things we all detest including overthinking, negative self-talk, etc.

There have been a few days as of late where I have not felt like myself; I have felt unfocused, unmotivated, the need to be on my phone to take up my attention, and a bit sad at times. I am sure millions have felt the same recently or for a long time and the things I do to help my situation are not instant fixes or band-aids, but they help me manage my emotions by doing actionable activities. The strategies that I have developed to combat these feelings with actions include cleaning up my room and kitchen to make myself put time and effort into something productive, deciding to go to the gym to complete a workout, or going to practice not giving myself the option. I also like to meditate; sitting with my thoughts and a rhythmic breath to try and simply observe and reflect. Finally, talking to my loved ones as much as I can. I have not found many healthy habits much better than these that help me feel better and combat all this negative mental narrative that we all tend to overwhelm ourselves with.

I sometimes sit and wonder how we are all so different, how some of us feel the need to drink to feel better, some smoke cigarettes, and others like myself have a dopamine addiction where we feel the constant need to be on our phones and having some sort of stimulation. I think that there is no real way of combatting our negative emotions healthily for the rest of our lives as we are all human. We all have our vices and in moderation, it is not the end of the world; with that being said though, I felt the worst I have ever felt in 2020 and tried to numb my pain with alcohol or other unhealthy habits such as nicotine. This only made me feel worse over time and have to dig deep inside myself to quit these habits eventually. The best example I can think of is that I used to vape on and off for a couple of years and could never get off of it; today marks two months vape free and I can promise anyone that the rewarding feeling of not doing something is much better than the short term release you get from doing it. The thing I am proud of most of with regards to my story is that I took initiative and responsibility for my faults and bad habits to better myself in the long term which is something I have always struggled with because I did not believe in myself enough to make these life changes.

The thing that comes along with this personal responsibility that I have begun the journey of taking is that you start to understand what makes you truly feel good for longer periods and start to become addicted to things that have a positive impact on you instead of a negative one. I never really was into working out and still would probably prefer to not be lifting all the time, but the way it puts a callus’ on my mind and makes me feel when I complete a tough workout is far more desirable to me than any sort of another vice to use when I am feeling down or just daily to stay healthy, fit and help improve my golf game. I have also had conversations with my therapist where she describes how these make you feel great. After all, you are deciding to put yourself first and show yourself compassion because you feel like you deserve that. This hit home with me because a lot of time in the past I felt like I was not deserving of compassion and would do these things to myself to impede my self-development progress and make myself feel numb for a little while so I did not have to feel bad for myself temporarily. The beautiful thing about taking some time for yourself, or making yourself a nice meal, or completing a good workout, or reading a good book; whatever it Is that makes you tick makes you feel like you won a little trophy for yourself and from personal experience, it is a very satisfying feeling.

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