Do you have those days where you feel down in the dumps? Everything seems to go wrong and before you know it, you are starting to tell yourself you are no good? You are not alone. On World Mental Health Day, I thought this would be a great time to refresh this very important blog post – about just 10 reasons why YOU matter. There are many more, but this is a start.
I have spent some periods of my life living in deep holes of depression and anxiety, where everything frightened me, and I felt trapped. I lost sight of the story of my life that is about the brave Helen, the courageous one, the one who can hold her own and stride out into the world. But by reaching the lowest, deepest, darkest hole there could ever be in my life, I looked up, because there was nowhere else to look. And I saw a tiny point of light. A small beacon that reminded me that there were other options, other ways to live, other stories where anxiety and depression and fear did not have to hold me with their vice like grip.
I chose to step across to this other story and looked back to see those problems falling more and more away from me. Now they are the ones down the deep dark hole. If I wanted to I could crouch down and peer down into the hole and look them in the eye. They are still there, but they are no longer dominating my story. I do not hate those feelings, or regret that part of my life, for it was when I was in that deep dark hole that I got clarity. I learned how to see the rest of the world instead of what was going on in my head. I found I could look outwards as well as inwards. I learned how to be mindful and stop worrying so much about the past and the future. I understood that the experience of my here and now is in my hands, and that through visualising what I wanted, rather than what fear and anxiety told me to expect, I held my true feelings and desires in my hands, with the power to make a choice.
All of the most uncomfortable feelings are part of life and they are important, even the really difficult ones. How you handle them and how you care for yourself is key. It is important no matter what, to take time every day, every week and every month, to do things that are totally unrelated to work and being busy. You must get offline and focus on you. Being connected to everyone and everything that is happening in the world, is like having all the radio channels and all the television channels on at the same time. It is far too much noise. You need to step away and breathe. For me this includes a daily walk in nature, looking at the sky every morning and night, taking one day of the weekend totally offline, reading books, writing, and spending time with my children, husband and my cats each day.
If you don’t take time to be mindful, to stop and notice, you can become so focused on the story of where you “should” be going in life, that you can no longer see all the other stories about who you are and your journey. Comparison is a prick. Too much looking at what everyone else is doing can be soul destroying. You also need to share your feelings – both men and women. We have to stop telling boys that they shouldn’t cry, or to “man up”. We have to stop telling girls to stay quiet, “be a good girl”, not to stand out too much. I remember being told I was too loud, too rough. Now I treasure this part of myself. Each and every person feels. Each and every person matters. Let’s celebrate our uniqueness.
Think about this. You may be a parent, a partner, a small business owner, a dancer, a friend, the owner of pets, a fabulous baker, an average singer, an impeccable driver. These are the ways you describe yourself to people. You see your goals ahead to sell more of your products, to reach for higher profits, get seen in the big magazines, win awards. You get bogged down in this story. You find yourself comparing your achievements with that of your competitors. You sit up at night worrying about how to get noticed. You stop going to dance classes because you have to keep working on making more products to sell. You are too busy to take the kids to the park on the weekend. You grab takeaway more than you would like. You start to doubt yourself, you falter, you argue with your partner and then, you stop. You feel burn out, anxiety, worry and sadness. You think you will never make it.
Along the way, you didn’t see that you baked the best batch of scones ever known to human kind on the weekend. That your daughter climbed on your lap and told you how much she loved you, the way your husband looked at you when you woke up and the sunlight fell across your face. You didn’t see the story about the woman who loves her family, who cares deeply and feels so much. You lost track of those stories. Noticing the alternative things in your life, the ones that may not seem as important to you right now, will also nurture you. By expanding your vision, opening up what you see about yourself, you open up possibility to feel the way you want to feel, and be right where you want to be, no matter what is happening.
At our beach shack we have a photo on the wall with the quote ” Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” My youngest son Maxwell loves that quote, and he reads it out when we are there. I always think that the things I do to make a living are my life – I am so very passionate about my writing and working to make changes for our planet – but I still get too focused on work, on the pushing forwards of it all. Whether work is your life or not, make sure you stop to do plenty of living – be a human being, not always a human doing.
Here are 10 things about why you matter
1) You are here. You are one of the millions of little humans wandering around the planet, you have a role to play because you exist. You are here. You are one of us. You have a life.
2) You have something to offer the world. We all do. Take some time to work out what your thing is and then do that – it doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as you are happy and it feels right.
3) You have the opportunity to do something great. Whether that be helping an old lady across the street, babysitting for a friend, caring for an animal from the shelter, helping out a friend, discovering the cure for cancer, leading the world into peace, or teaching your child how to play footy. You are the one to do it my friend.
4) You have visited me! Right now, in this moment, reading this blog post, on this day. How amazing is that timing! Today may be the day you take a step towards the life you dream.
5) You are funny! Yep, we all are. We may share different types of humour, or find it hard to muster a smile on some days but you have the capacity to make someone laugh. Nothing feels better.
6) You care. You care about something. Whether it is yourself, another human being, an animal, your job, the planet – you CARE and this is amazing.
7) You can change. Human beings have the remarkable ability to develop and change. We can make choices and our brain can keep growing and developing. You are never going to be stuck in one place. This too shall pass.
8) You can make things! Our hands and brains give us the ability to create so many things. You have a talent that nobody else has. Maybe it is baking the best scones ever, building a chair, painting a picture, telling a story, knitting, writing, skating. You have talents. Tap into them and celebrate them.
9) You can love and be loved. Love really does make the world go round. If you have no family or friends, or workmates or pets to love in your immediate location, find some friends online, join a group or club, go to the shelter and pick a cat – you can love and be loved and that is pretty special.
10) There is NOBODY who is exactly the same as YOU. You are unique and that is awesome.
**update from a post originally shared in 2015