I went to the doctor recently to get a check up. I’m really tired, waking up every few hours and struggling to get anything finished. Is probably just the menopause and hot flushes but I had a blood test in case and after a little chat she casually asked if I’d like to do something about my low self esteem.
I’d not realized it before she mentioned it but years of not sleeping, various injuries, stress and eating all the carbs because I have zero will power mean I’m the biggest I’ve ever been and I hate myself. Not only do I hate myself for how I look, I also hate myself for not having a tidy home, not finishing off the wallpaper stripping, having windows that rattle, not noticing it was cold last year because the glass had slipped 5mm out of the frame, not having menu planned everything in the fridge, having no idea what is in the freezer, still using bad for the environment bleach on the mould in the bathroom, cooking terrible bread and inedible biscuits and generally living a disorganized life. I wake up and start looking for things to criticize.
This is clearly no way to live a happy life so I’m working out some strategies to think more positively.
What do you do well?
We all have something we do well, although sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. I’m intending to build on small wins. Very like decluttering a few things a day, if I can think 5 positive thoughts a day, it will mount up to thousands over the year.
Today I have been good at:
- Cutting up vegetables
- Keeping at least one plant alive
- Stoking a cat
- Putting a load of washing in the machine
- Cleaning my teeth
I’m going to write these down somewhere as proof I am not totally useless.
Replace the internal dialogue
I am ignoring the bitter little soul in my head that is saying I’m not good enough because I didn’t floss my teeth and my bread is a bit flat. I talk to myself in a way I wouldn’t talk to someone I despise and it is not helpful. So, my strategy is to replace a nasty thought with a positive. I didn’t floss my teeth but I did remember to put toothpaste on the shopping list. My bread didn’t rise well but at least I had a go at making it. The trick here is to catch and challenge the criticisms rather than indulge them and let them win.
Accept beauty in imperfection
Without glitches, mutations and mistakes we would not have evolved to be the incredible creatures we are today. The first fish with legs was probably seen as a total freak by his little fishy friends but without that imperfection we wouldn’t be humans today. Navajo weavers and Islamic geometric artists deliberately added imperfection, and it is fun to spot the lines, shapes or colours that look a little wrong. There is a Japanese concept entirely centered on errors called Wabi-sabi where objects that are unfinished, asymmetrical or chipped are celebrated as having flawed beauty.
Seek out supportive friends and ignore anyone negative
I’m very fortunate to have an incredible community of supportive people in the less-stuff Facebook group. We celebrate little wins and empathize and relate with each other when stuff is overwhelming. This is sadly not the norm though and there are many other groups filled with people who’s ancestors probably knitted at the guillotine and love to see people failing. If you are in such a group voluntarily just leave, at least for a while. If you are forced into a group of negativity because of work identify the bad eggs and avoid them as much as possible. Make excuses and protect yourself.
I’m a work in progress, and as I come up with more strategies to stop this self sabotage I’ll write about them. Meanwhile please connect with me on Facebook or Twitter if you have any ideas, tips or thoughts about this post.
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I'm Lisa Cole. I'm a designer and writer who lives in Bristol. Less-stuff is about my journey to live a more organised life. I document little things I can change to live more sustainably. I'm not a minimalist!