I’ve noticed that recently, I haven’t given myself a break. I’ve been too harsh on myself trying to get everything done and focus on everyone else and this has always been a character flaw. I worry too much about what others think. But here’s the catch. After a conversation, with my brother of all people, he made me realise that this was still centred around myself. Say what? I’m not selfish! Well, I worry about what others think of ME. I worry if I’VE said the right thing. I worry if someone isn’t talking to me because of something I’VE said. Someone was rude to me – guess what? It was ME that made them that way.
My brother, who’s younger than me by the way, explained that people really don’t spend that much time thinking about me in that way and I’m wasting a lot of precious cognitive time on it. Don’t get me wrong, anxieties and life-long habits don’t just disappear over night but boy was this a revelation and somewhat of a lifted weight. I’m assuming some of the above things still do happen; some people may genuinely avoid speaking with me because I’ve somehow upset them. I’m not blind. I don’t intentionally hurt people, but my actions, thoughts and words could have been misconstrued or indeed, just vastly differ from that person.
I have been so consumed with other’s perceptions of me that I rarely stop to consider my own perception of me. Does it really matter if not everyone we meet likes us? (Inner anxiety girl raises head and nods it vigorously). No. It doesn’t. Not everyone is going to like us and this is just one of those facts in life. I spend too much time worrying about others – admittedly this does stem from a rather self-centred approach – that I rarely think about me. This doesn’t help me to be very ‘present’ in my family’s lives or my friends. This actually makes me a rather sucky person.
Wait! I hear you say. Isn’t it a two-way street?
Yup. But we’re human and we tend to forget/compartmentalise/lose interest if things aren’t presented to us constantly. If I give out more to those I care about, I should receive the same back. No, this isn’t a tit for tat situation, but it is a give and take. How can I expect anyone to be there for me if I am not there for them? We can’t all be Mother Teresa!
Confessional time: I felt, and this person probably has no idea I felt this way, like I was losing one of my closest friends, my best friend. Want to know why? She wasn’t acting or behaving or supporting me in the way I ‘expected’ or ‘wanted’, and I felt like she didn’t care. But the truth of the matter was, I was feeling entitled (and I can’t really explain that, I just was). She should just know I needed more support, right? I would cry to my husband all the time, who would then encourage me to speak to her, but me and my stubborn ‘inner anxiety girl’ were very much in sync. Nope. She should just ‘know’. She should just contact me.
Really, Rhian? Your friend a mind reader now? Course not. She’s human and had her very own inner anxiety girl that she was dealing with. At the time, I felt like my things were more important than her things and it was this thinking that made me a person I’d rather not be. I nearly lost her because of me.
Hopefully, she didn’t feel like any of this and was blissfully unaware (inner anxiety girl puts her hands together and prays). This does have a happy ending, or at least, a happy present. We have begun communicating far more often; we chat on whatever ‘face-time’ medium works at the time and we have hours long conversations about everything and nothing. I ask about her because I want to know how she is. She asks about me – I assume, because she feels the same way. We talk about our worries and concerns where nothing is too stupid (and this is key because everyone’s concerns and anxieties matter, to make someone feel theirs don’t, is to contribute, negatively, to mental health problems – this is something I feel quite strongly about and yet I was part of the problem; ‘inner anxiety girl’ hangs head in shame). Recently, she’s become an excellent confidant in my writing, I have some epically stupid ideas sometimes which she helps to weed out, and we are both avid readers of the same genre so we spend a large proportion of our time talking about books. Nerds.
I suppose I’m talking about two things here that connect with each other. By giving myself a break, looking into myself at what makes me happy, I was able to give more. I’m still not perfect, but I feel like my friendship is back on track and this friendship means a lot to me guys. I’ve stopped being so self-centred by being kinder to myself. That sounds weird doesn’t it? We don’t have to perfect all the time, we don’t have to brave and strong all the time. We need to give ourselves a chance and the time to be kind to our inner selves, and for me, that’s being kinder to my ‘inner anxiety girl’.
This coming week, my advice is that you take a moment to look within and assess what’s making you happy and unhappy. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a moment for yourself. It’s okay, not to be okay. Speak to someone, reach out. The more you take care of yourself, the more you can help others too.
For me, I will be spending this week trying to contact a few more people and ask how they are, especially if I haven’t heard from them in a while. If nothing else, I just want those people to know I think about them, even if I don’t show it all the time and like them, me and my ‘inner anxiety girl’ are working double time at the moment, it doesn’t mean I don’t care, it just means I suck as showing them this whilst I’m dealing with things.
I don’t want this to be about all my anxieties and 'things' I’ve had to deal with recently, that’s not what this is about. It’s about taking a breather to understand that how I’m feeling is okay and I need to let go of what others think of me. I need to focus on what matters to me because the more I take care of myself, the more I am able and capable of being a better mother, daughter, wife, friend, colleague.
Good luck guys and be kinder to yourselves. You deserve it.
Inner anxiety girl signing out x
The mental health foundation website is a great resource for connecting with help and support. There is an abundance of information and ideas about how to promote the kindness theme too. I’ve linked it within this blog and also (here) so you can check it out if you wish.
P.S. If my best friend is reading this, I'm sorry. You are a big part of my world and I'm sorry I went into such a self absorbed bubble. Love you dearly!