26. Embracing The Self (And Self Love)

“Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.”– Parker Palmer

This is the final post in my series on relationships. As previously mentioned, the time has come to get this all out coherently, so bear with me. It will be broken down into three separate posts (1. Learning To Be More Open and 2. Accepting Fear) so that this isn’t too overbearing.

Self love

Caring for Others

Currently in my life the self comes second to caring for others. I know I need to change that, although I still feel the need to care for those around me as a higher need. I’ve been caring for a sick parent to varying degrees (dependent on where in the UK I was) since I was 16, making that almost 7 years now. I don’t regret taking on this responsibility (gosh no!), as I see it as my duty? Our parents do so much for us in ensuring that we are supported during the start of our lives (well at least most of them do), so it almost feels logical to help them when they need it.

The need to serve others also comes to mind when thinking about the self. I don’t just mean those close to me, as then I’d just be repeating myself. I mean feeling the need to help others in whatever way humanly possible- anything to simplify life after all. A Mormon teaching on the importance of serving comes to mind when discussing the need to serve others; having said that, being helpful has been in my nature long before religion came into my life.

What forms the self?

Two words immediately spring to mind if I use ‘self’ as my base point.

The first word is solo. Solitude and being ‘solo’ gives you time to look internally and discover. Discover who you truly are and learn to accept/love who that person is that you truly are. Of course that can be clouded by self doubt, but love wasn’t formed in a day!

The second word is selfish. I know what you’re thinking. ‘How can learning to accept and love yourself make you selfish?’ Fun fact: It doesn’t. What I’m in fact saying is the opposite- not taking the time to accept and love yourself is selfish. If you’re not willing to take the time to be at one with yourself and accepting of who you are, how on earth can you expect anyone else to?

Self Love is Essential.

Taking the time to accept each morsel of you and ensure that you are balanced is essential. I know that if I don’t take time out for myself to do the things that I love (such as writing on this blog!) then I will quickly slip back into a deep depression, making me useless to both myself and the people around me that I wish to care for.

Let me make this clear. Self love doesn’t have to be materialistic! It could be as simple as writing in a journal or singing along to your favourite music; as long as it relaxes you, that’s all that matters. Dedicating time to build lego kits is self love for me because it’s a focused topic with eye catching results, but what you do is your choice!

That’s all for now! To conclude I’d like to say this:

Be selfish. Say no if you have to. Your ‘self’ is more important than anything else, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

25. Accepting Fear

“Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.”- Karl Augustus Menninger

This is the second post in my series on relationships. As previously mentioned, the time has come to get this all out coherently, so bear with me. It will be broken down into three separate posts (1. Learning To Be More Open) so that this isn’t too overbearing.

Fear graphic

I’m such a scaredy cat.

Putting my diagnosed anxiety on the side for a moment, I’m still scared of everything. Fun fact- I cried heavily (to the point of struggling to breathe) before building up the courage to get on the back of a motorbike. Fear has consumed a portion of me from a young age. As a child, being told off by adults was one of my biggest fears, as it would bring me to tears. Eighteen years of academia later and I still get like that; lecturers, I’m sorry– not sorry. I fear shadows that aren’t there in reality but are very much real in my mind; I fear finding bones in my food- a reason why I shouldn’t consume meat in my opinion and I fear prolonged loneliness.

A quick Google search has revealed to me that the latter fear of prolonged loneliness is in fact monophobia. That’s not to say that loneliness cannot be withstood, in the same way that many of my fears can be withstood. My fear of spiders can be withstood thanks to a handy gift from one of my best friends. I can withstand being alone if I know that someone will check I’m alive from time to time.

Moving Forward

As I get older I’m getting more aware of my fears. It’s also apparent that I need to be able to work with or around them as opposed to against them.

Of course, I can avoid public speaking for as long as humanly possible. But, I’ll never improve at it or conquer my fear of public speaking unless I try. In a way it’s similar to my fear of riding a motorbike; only overcome by trial. I don’t expect to completely overcome the fears that make me who I am. But if I can get even one fear under control then that’s good enough for me for right now.

fear

24. Learning To Be More Open

“The mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work unless it’s open.”- Frank Zappa

Trying to get this post into words has been a challenge. Being open and frank is a struggle of mine. Not because I’m unable to string a sentence together, but because I want it to be the right thing to say. I’ve never really considered discussing relationships, be it friendships or something more, as there is safety in solace. But now the time has come and it will take me a while to get this all out coherently, so bear with me. It will be broken down into three separate posts (2. Accepting Fear) so that this isn’t too overbearing.

The Past

The past could be likened to doors; after opening it, it must be closed again to maintain some mystery. In opening so many doors as a child, attempting to form everlasting bonds closed by newfound distances, it in turn shut and locked the internal doors that once allowed myself to be open and trust others. I was (and still am) a safe when it comes to being open around people, even to those that I love dearest. Even after finding the right key, fingerprint recognition and combination code it would still be an ongoing challenge to prise me open. My intentions were good, in that all I wanted was to remain protected in case I got too comfortable too quickly. Change is inevitable, but nothing scares me more than the final goodbye.

The Present

At present I’m learning that being open holds its place beyond friendships, spanning to acquaintances, business and romance. The extent to which I open the metaphorical door depends on my intentions; by allowing myself to begin to trust, what is it that I want to achieve? Whether it’s for creating a degree of trust between myself and a member of staff, or for strengthening the important friendships and relationship in my life, I need to be able to justify my decision to trust.

I’m a master of concealing thoughts and feelings to avoid being open, but with a little time I am learning that trust doesn’t have to be terrifying. If I feel that I’m in a safe space to be more honest and upfront, then of course I’ll jump at the chance! Don’t we all want to be emotionally free in the end? I’m also more accepting of distance not having to be a reason to close doors, which I wouldn’t have considered when I was younger. Having strong bonds that cross both cities and continents has proven that, as these are some of the people I’m most open with.

I’m still scared of opening up and being totally honest at present, but I’ll get there.

The Future

The future? Who knows! Just kidding. I’m hoping that I won’t be afraid of being open, but at the same time not be walked all over for being authentic and honest. All I do know is that until I can openly accept my own character and quirks, then I will continually struggle with being open with others.

relationships