by Teresia Smith
Life is really hard sometimes. There’s no denying that truth. It’s impossible to live a life without enduring some level of hardship or adversity. The past few years have been very peculiar and somewhat overwhelming to many as people have experienced job loss or financial insecurity, fear of sickness, loss of loved ones, loneliness brought on by isolation, food shortages, anxiety from world events, and just a fear of the unknown. This scary and uncertain time can allow worry to seep into our everyday life and fill us with unhappiness. Sometimes, with so much to deal with, just getting up each day can feel like a chore. How can we find our resilience and rediscover our joy?
One great lesson I have learned over the years is that our feelings are fickle. They cannot be trusted without examination. Feelings can be influenced by the weather, what we eat or drink, people we hang around, hormones, our physical health, etc. How you feel today does not necessarily determine how you will feel tomorrow. When your feelings seem to be getting the best of you, it is a great time to self-check and determine if you have neglected yourself. It is of vital importance that you practice healthy self-care techniques so that you are equipped to deal with hard times, pain, and disappointment as they come your way.
There is a huge difference in experiencing a passing season of feeling unhappy and living a consistently unhappy life. Often a person who lives a chronically unhappy life lives in perpetual self-neglect, ignoring the little voice inside who is telling you something is wrong. Self-neglect is a negative behavior that more often than not, holds you back. Neglecting your own feelings and emotions does not serve you well. Staying in an unhealthy relationship because you are afraid to deal with your emotions will not make the situation improve. You may not want to process the negative feelings you are experiencing; however, by ignoring your emotional needs, it may lead to additional stress, physical illness, broken relationships, anger, anxiety and depression. It is important to allow yourself to feel how you feel, name your feelings and work through them determining what they are based on, to find your peace.
Do not sacrifice yourself because you are trying to pretend to be what someone else thinks you should. If you have to minimize yourself, stifle your feelings, become smaller or less than to be with someone, is that person really worth it? If you have to ignore your needs, lose your own opinions, work to feel wanted and worthy just to keep the peace, please know that is not a healthy relationship. Angel Chernoff says, “It’s not your job to change who you are in order to become someone else’s idea of a worthwhile human being. You are worthwhile. Not because other people think you are, but because you are breathing your own air, and therefore you matter. Your thoughts matter. Your feelings matter. Your voice matters. And with or without anyone’s approval or permission, you must be who you are and live your truth. Even if it makes people turn their heads, even if it makes them uncomfortable, and even if they choose to leave. You may have been broken down by adversity, but YOU are not broken. So don’t let others convince you otherwise.”
You start to heal the moment you are free from an unhealthy relationship, refusing to shrink yourself anymore to fit someone else’s mold. It’s like taking that first full breath of air after being under water. You must choose to live a full life, honor your feelings and emotions, and allow yourself to meet your own needs. Make the decision that self-care will be a top priority. Until you love and care for yourself, you are not able to fully love and care for others.
Crisis Services of North Alabama offers free and confidential services to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. If you are experiencing domestic violence or if you are a survivor of sexual assault and would like to speak with an advocate, you may reach our office at 256.574.5826 or our 24/7 HELPline at 256.716.1000. You are not alone.