All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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Thursday Thirteen: Thirteen Happy Places

For the last several weeks Thursday has been Top Twenty day but from now own (shamefully stolen from Sare at Restless Vagabond) Thursday’s will be Thursday Thirteen day.

Why? Well…

THursday THirteen flows much easier from the tongue, primarily because of the TH in each word! (Something I didn’t consider when I came up with my short-lived THursday TWenty idea)
– I’m bored with writing top twenty lists.
– There’s only so many top twenty’s I can write. What next? My top twenty cheeses?
– Because it’s my blog and I can do want I want to :p

So today, carrying on from last week’s self-esteem posts, I present thirteen of my happy places.

Thirteen Happy Places

Okay, hands up who thought of Fight Club? However random the Ice Cave avec penguin is, there is a grain of truth to the happy place mentality. Once you’ve worked out what you’re happy places are they can be a source of great power when it comes to fighting off the confusing, painful and disturbing thoughts that often plague the minds of someone lacking in self-esteem and/or combatting mental illness.

Over the years I’ve used dozens of happy places to keep me centered in times of great stress. Here, in no particular order, are thirteen of the most powerful:

1. Warmth
I’m lying on a single bed in a hotel room in Glasgow. The walls are plain peach decorated with random artwork that looks like it’s been painted by a drunken raccoon. The carpet is a grubby cream with several items strewn across it; a black and red dress, a pair of stockings, a wooden hairbrush, black shoes, a few second-hand books, spiral printed underwear and an empty bottle of vodka from the minibar.

I’m spooning a brown-haired woman who has pressed herself close against me; one hand hugging her stomach, the other dipping into a tub of ice-cream that she gobbles up before it can reach my mouth. On a laptop screen resting on a chair beside us plays the Japanese anime My Neighbour Totoro. She reaches down to my hand and kisses it gently, whispering ‘thank you’, the first words she’s spoken in nearly half an hour.

2. You comfy?
I’m eight years old lying in bed on a nondescript evening on a nondescript day of a nondescript year. Out of nowhere a tiny ball of fur flies up onto the bed and pounces onto my stomach with a soft meow. The black and white kitten hops up my torso and licks my chin before diving under the duvet to start pounding my stomach with her paws. After several claw digging moments she curls herself into a ball and begins purring noisily as I tickle behind her ears with a smile.

3. Heaven on Earth
It’s a balmy four degrees with the sky a dark grey spitting rain. I’m sitting on a rocky hill. Behind me is the Glenfinnan Viaduct; in front of me the vast expanse of water that is Loch Shiel with the monument adorning its closest shore. I close my eyes and for a moment touch what can only be called bliss.

4. Morning Breaks
The sky in front of us is a tapestry of colour; hues of red, purple, orange and yellow blend together as the sun rises to erase the ink black sky. I’m smoking cherry menthol tobacco rolled in a licorice paper and two beautiful women are sitting beside me. We are deadly silent, lost in this moment of perfect serenity.

5. Kiss me
We are lying naked on a bed beneath a window overlooking the Sound of Harris.
HER: Kiss me.
ME: Okay.
I slide up her body and begin kissing her lips gently.
HER: Not there…
ME: No?
HER: Could you kiss me down there?
ME: Oh. Kay.
I slide down her body and began kissing her lips gently.

“I’m spooning a brown-haired woman who has pressed herself close…”

6. Common People
Beside me a brown-haired woman looks like she’s about to vomit and/or piss herself with laughter because I’m dancing like a lunatic in front of a crowd of drunken Glaswegians whilst attempting to sing Pulp’s Common People. If I’d been watching me I would have been having the same fight with my bodily functions as well!

7. Bald Eagle
There is a bald eagle flying through a pristine blue sky and a head moving gently on my stomach. I glance to my right and see her shifting her body into a more comfortable position, telling me not to move as my belly makes the perfect pillow. She, nor I, cares about the sharp stone sticking into my right buttock.

8. SLAP!
Her hand flies out of nowhere and cracks across my face so hard I fear it’ll leave her fingers imprinted there for months. “For fuck sake Addy,” She snapped. “Pull your head out of your arse and realize how fucking awesome you are. Now go buy me another whisky and tell me every goddamn thing about her,”

“I’ve been writing non-stop for nearly three hours… and loving every moment of it.”

9. You’ve got Marin
The 8-Bit music coming from my Gameboy disappears into the wind as I watch the cut-scene playing before me. Out of nowhere the familiar anthem chimes through the speaker as Link raises Marin into the air and proudly proclaims You’ve got Marin…!?

10. Show Message?
It’s a cold, windy night. Sprawling into the darkness in front of me is the ocean whilst around me is nothing but sand and emptiness for miles around. I’m holding a knife to my wrist, hands shaking, tears cascading down my cheeks, when out of nowhere my phone beeps to life: One New Message. Show Message?

11. Writer’s Cramp
I’m lying face down on my bed wearing nothing but an oversized Superman T-Shirt and a pair of black boxer shorts. In a neat stack to my left are seven sheets of A4 ruled paper, each line filled with pristine hand-written blue ink. I lift my hand and shake out the cramp before putting biro to paper and continuing to write as quickly and neatly as possible. I’ve been writing non-stop for nearly three hours… and loving every moment of it.

12. Anything
Her hand squeezes around mine and she stares directly, deeply, into my soul. She can sense it, the pain I try to keep hidden from the world, the pain I’m too scared to tell anyone about. “You can talk to me, you know. About anything.” She squeezes my hand again and smiles.

13. A Part of Something
Words are firing around the table faster than anyone can keep up with. Two people are talking to a woman three seats away, the person on one side of me is talking to the woman on the other side of me and she’s talking to someone on another table. Each person frantically searching for the answer to the latest brain teaser that could – possibly – see us win a jug of beer, and with it, the honor of being the greatest trivia team of the night, if not the world. For a moment the person opposite me catches me eye and smiles, asking if I’m okay because I haven’t said much so far tonight. I’ve never been happier, I say.


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Fifty Shades of Addy: The evolution of a spanking fetish…

UPDATE: 11 July 2015

When I first wrote this post on 2 October 2012 I had no option but to password protect it. Family members read my blog, friends read my blog, and I was ashamed – no, terrified – of such people finding out the intricacies of my internal psyche. Three years later and I am not so ashamed. I have grown and evolved as a person. Although I don’t want my family to read this post (and they won’t if I ask them nicely!) I am no longer scared of how other people may perceive it. That is why I have decided to lift the password protection. If people know my deepest, darkest secret, so what? It is nothing to be ashamed of. It is nothing I should hate myself because of. As Samantha used to say, it is simply one small thread in the multicoloured tapestry that is me.

So strap yourselves in for a journey through the kinkier recesses of my mind. A journey fraught with self-doubt, self-hatred and immense, unwavering passion. A journey that will, undoubtedly, warm the very cockles of your heart posterior.

Note: Meadhbh has convinced me to lift the password protection on this (epic) post with one proviso: family members are politely asked to read no further. Thank you! :)

Continue reading


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Exercises to build self-esteem: #6. Setting your goals

The past, the present…

Have you ever looked at another person and wonder how they do it? How they overcome all forms of adversity to become someone brilliant, someone talented, someone the world looks up to? The answer, unsurprisingly given the theme of the week, is confidence. It doesn’t matter whether you conform to societal ideals of beauty or if you have a piece of paper with a few letters scribbled on it, what matters is how you see who you were, who you are and who you want to be.

This week we have examined exercises that deal with both past and present. The things we are grateful for; the many things we love about ourselves; the simple joys and pleasures of life. Today, it’s time to think about the future.

…and the future!

Quite often, those with low self-esteem have a difficult time believing they will ever amount to anything. Their mind is too busy holding the mistakes of the past against them to allow them time to think of the future. In those rare moments when we do think of the future, it is always clouded with negative statements like I’m not good enough to do that or there’s no way I can become this, negative statements that sabotage us into not even trying in the first place.

A method which can be used to focus our mind onto what we want to become is to set some reachable goals. Nothing outlandish, we’re not talking I want to discover the location of the lost city of Atlantis here, just simple things that can help us believe in ourselves and push us toward attaining our desires, all of which we deserve.

Setting your goals

1. Take a clean sheet of paper. It wouldn’t surprise me given how many times I’ve written that this week, that sooner or later it will become a major search term that brings people to this blog!

2. Make sure you are in a comfortable and relaxed situation.

3. Upon the paper, begin to write down realistic goals that you would like to achieve in your life.

Some tips to help set your goals:

– State your goals in the positive. There’s no place for negativity here, send all that to the naughty corner.
– Don’t overcomplicate your goals or make them completely unattainable, this will only bring you down.
– Make sure you have full and total control of your goal. This is a reliance free zone!
– Remember, it’s all about the details. Make each goal as detailed as possible.

4. Once you have pictured you goal, try to list a few things you can do to realize it. Don’t worry too much if you can’t at this stage. The important thing with this exercise is to practice focusing on your needs and desires, to allow yourself to believe you can have the future you deserve.

5. Once you have written your goals pin them above your desk, put them in your journal, keep them in your nightstand so you can return to them in the future and keep them updated.

My goals

When it came to setting my goals I decided to set six of them, as I like the number six and lots of wonderful things happen in sixes, like…ummm…chocolate hot cross buns usually come in packs of six, and…umm…well, it’s just a nice number okay! A neat half dozen dreams!

Although from this point on they are not dreams, they are things that will happen, with a bit of hard work.

Goal #1: To obtain the Disability Support Pension

Why it is important to me:
(Try to list as many reasons as you can)

1. It is impossible for me to balance mental health, housing, bills and food on the Newstart allowance.
2.
I believe the DSP will allow me to get some form of humility (and then life) back.
3.
It will help me stabilize my mental health problems as I won’t have so many hoops to jump through.
4.
Being on the DSP will help me view myself as ‘no longer being on the verge of homelessness 24/7!’

What do I need to do to make this goal a reality?
(Once you have the goal in your head, try to jot down a few things you can do to realize these emotions)

I need to make an appointment to see my doctor and have him fill out the relevant paperwork before handing over my application at the nearest Centrelink office before twiddling my thumbs for several weeks (months?) whilst they faff around trying to make a decision – all whilst I continue hovering over the abyss of homelessness because hey, that’s what bureaucracy is all about!

Date goal was set: 30 September 2012

Date goal was accomplished:

Goal #2: To get a haircut

Why it is important to me:

1. Because it is too scruffy and makes me look ugly.
2.
It will help me win a victory in my battle against anxiety (as I have major issues with hairdressers)
3.
It will increase my self-confidence.

What do I need to do to make this goal a reality?

I need to spank my anxiety and distrust of humanity into submission long enough to: walk down the road, enter a hairdressing salon, speak to the (usually gorgeous female) hairdresser, sit down and allow someone to be all intimate with my hair. This is a lot harder for me than it sounds! I also need to achieve goal #1, for without it, I can’t afford a haircut and cutting it myself is a really bad idea!

Date goal was set: 30 September 2012

Date goal was accomplished:

Goal #3: This one’s personal, sorry, but I’ll tell you why it’s important…

Why it is important to me:

1. It would be the realization of a lifelong dream.
2.
It would be a major victory in my battle against anxiety.
3.
It would be a major victory in my battle against depression.
4.
It would be a major victory in my battle against the trauma of abuse.
5.
It would increase my self-confidence.
6. I would be honoring a promise I made to Sammi.
7. It would make me so very happy, and I need more of that.
8. It would give me something interesting to write about on my blog.

Date goal was set: 30 September 2012

Date goal was accomplished:

Goal #4: To attend a social event (where there are other people, obviously)

Why it is important to me:

1. It would be a major victory in my battle against anxiety.
2.
Because I miss socializing and being around other people.
3.
It would make me happy.
4.
It would increase my self-confidence.
5.
It would give me something interesting to write about on my blog.
6.
I’m tired of being alone.

What do I need to do to make this goal a reality?

I need to spank my anxiety and distrust of humanity into submission long enough to: communicate with people online for a sufficient enough time to be invited somewhere, walk to the somewhere, be in a room full of people for several hours and talk to people whilst in that room without having an embarrassing (and ultimately humiliating) panic attack. I also need to achieve goal #1 and goal #2 otherwise I won’t be able to afford to go anywhere and I’d rather not look like a yeti if I did.

Date goal was set: 30 September 2012

Date goal was accomplished:

Goal #5: To write and have published online a short story or article

Why it is important to me:

1. I have loved writing since I was a child and it physically hurts when I can’t do it.
2.
There are so many stories inside me I need to get them out before they eat me from within.
3.
I believe I can write well enough for people to enjoy.
4.
It would be an achievement.
5.
It makes me happy.

What do I need to do to make this goal a reality?

All I need to do to achieve this is research a market and focus myself for long enough to write a piece that would fit the market; whether it is non-fiction, fiction, opinion or random diatribe. I have the intelligence and talent, but at this point in my life, I just don’t have the focus. Arg!

Date goal was set: 30 September 2012

Date goal was accomplished:

Goal #6: To develop and maintain an exercise routine

Why it is important to me:

1. It would increase my self-confidence and self-esteem.
2.
Because I want to be able to look in the mirror and be happy with what I see.
3.
It would help with my mental health.
4.
It would no doubt make for more embarrassing and amusing blog posts.

What do I need to do to make this goal a reality?

Get off my lazy, good for nothing, worthless ass and just start moving!

And that sentence is hardly embracing the lessons I’ve been imparting this week, so, I shall rewrite a little more positively.

Get off my gorgeous, highly spankable, magnificent ass and start making myself look even hotter than I already am!

I’d also need to find a bicycle as I miss cycling so very, very much!

Date goal was set: 30 September 2012

Date goal was accomplished:

Although I have not set an official time-frame for these goals, I am working toward having them accomplished by the end of this year. Each time a goal is accomplished I vow to write a blog post detailing how I went about it, what happened and how awesome it made me feel.

Coda

Self-esteem doesn’t come easy, nothing worth anything in life ever does, but if you suffer from low self-confidence please do not give up. I know how painful and debilitating having low self-esteem can be, I live with non-existent self-love every day, but I know that things will never change unless I make them.

Undertaking the exercises I’ve written about this week may seem silly and pointless, but I assure you it’s not. After completing each exercise I felt strangely calm and contented. Not only did it feel good to release some of the negativity, but allowing myself the honor of loving myself made me smile, laugh and for a few moments filled me with the belief that I do deserve things. That I am worth something.

Even though the negative thoughts may return it’s important you keep believing how brilliant and beautiful you are.

Because no matter what anyone tells you – you really are someone wonderful :)

 

Other posts in this series:

 


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Exercises to build self-esteem: #5. Write a gratitude list

That will never happen to me!

There was a point in my life where I took things for granted. I had a relationship, friends, a reasonable income, relatively stable mental health and no physical ailments to worry about. My life was full off laughter, smiles, regular sex, all the hugs you could imagine and a future that anyone would be proud of.

If you had told me six years ago what was about to happen to me I wouldn’t have believed you, in fact, I would probably have paraphrased Spike and asked if you were stoned!

Like the vast majority of us, I took my life for granted. Like most I thought ‘it would never happen to me’.

Today, and for many years now, I am eternally grateful for everything I have.

Most have heard the phrase you don’t realise what you have until it’s gone because it is 100% true. We spend far too much time obsessing over what we don’t have or what’s wrong with our lives when we should be grateful for what we do have.

Which is why today, we’re going to write a gratitude list.

Writing your gratitude list

1. Take a clean sheet of paper (or brand spanking new blog post) and get comfortable.

2. Write down as many things as you can think of that you are grateful for about your life (no matter how insignificant it may be.)

3. When you have finished, read the list aloud and allow yourself to feel the gratitude.

4. Keep your list somewhere safe so you can add to it in the future when new things you are grateful for come to mind.

My gratitude list

As with each of the exercises this week, I am leading by example for one of my pet hates are people who expect others to do as they say, but not as they do. Today, I am aiming for one thing for every year of my life:

I am grateful...

∞ …for a roof over my head, because no matter how dodgy this place is, I know what the alternative is like…and it ain’t pretty!
∞ …for my inner-strength, because I don’t know where I’d be without it.
∞ …that I have such a creative and imaginative soul.
∞ …for my computer, however old, snail-like and lumbering it is, for without it I know I wouldn’t be here!
∞ …for having parents who are so giving and supportive.
∞ …for the existence of chocolate, because of  the myriad of benefits it can bring to physical and mental health.
∞ …for Sydney Newman, because without him the world wouldn’t have one of its greatest heroes.
∞ …for superglue, because without it I wouldn’t be able to fix my shoes and I’d be walking around bare foot all day!
∞ …for that moment of calm just after a thunderstorm; the smell, the calm, the stillness, all merging together to create something sublime.
∞ …that women aren’t the same as men, because otherwise the world would have descended into chaos and destruction eons ago.
∞ …for WordPress, because without it I would be completely disconnected. Ditto for Twitter.
∞ …to have had the chance to know so many beautiful people throughout my life.
∞ …that I have so much passion coursing through my veins.
∞ …for rainbows, because they never fail to make me smile. Ditto for sunsets, sunrises, lightning and wombats.
∞ …to all the people who read my blog, it makes me feel like I’m doing something productive rather than babbling to myself.
∞ …for my bottom, because I think it’s awesome.
∞ …for women’s bottoms, because I think they’re all awesome!
∞ …that even if people try to make me feel like one, and they have done in the past, I know I’m not a misogynist for typing that last sentence.
∞ …for my dreams, because they give me something to work toward.
∞ …for organisations that try to make a difference in the world; homeless services, anti-abuse movements, helplines, soup vans etc.
∞ …that I know how to read and write.
∞ …that even though I know they won’t help now, I keep pushing myself with posts like this because I know they will help one day.
∞ …for Runrig, Serena Ryder, P!nk, Paul Mounsey, Nina Simone, Kate Miller-Heidke, My Friend the Chocolate Cake, Capercaillie and the countless musicians that have created the soundtrack to my life.
∞ …that I always try to see the beauty in everything, rather than searching for every minor flaw and fault.
∞ …that I understand the meaning and power of silence.
∞ …that I never judge anyone, ever, and try to accept someone for who they are rather than a label that is placed upon them.
∞ …for Mark Schwahn, who created the show that once upon a time saved my life!
∞ …that I can admit to making mistakes and having regrets, because if I couldn’t, then how could I ever learn anything?
∞ …that I always try to stand up for what I believe in (even though I fail sometimes!)
∞ …that I always remember people’s birthdays. And anniversaries. And Valentine’s day. And any important date.
∞ …in fact, I’m grateful that I think more like a woman than a man.
∞ …for libraries, because without them society would be a lesser place.
∞ …for my courage, because it allows me to be as honest as I am.

So why don’t you give your own gratitude list a try? You’re more than welcome to keep your lists private, but feel free to link them up in the comments field below so we can all share in the inspiration :)


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Saturday 9: Nobody knows you when you’re down and out

Saturday 9 is a weekly blogging meme hosted by Crazy Sam Winters (she added the crazy, not me!).

Every Saturday there will be nine questions – sometimes they will be around a common theme, other times completely random – to be answered however we like.

1. When did you last feel down and out?

Given I’m a mentally ill, socially isolated, (ex) homeless man the last time I didn’t feel down and out was February 2007.

2. What do you do to feel sexy?

Think. There is nothing sexier than the power of the human mind. Although honey comes close…lots of possibilities with honey ;)

3. Do you think people think you are normal?

Bipolar…check; homeless…check; wake up screaming in the night courtesy of PTSD…check; a predilection toward dropping the word spanking into every blog post I write…check; no friends…check; a bit kinky…check; far too honest for my own good…check.

If there’s anyone on the planet who would classify me as normal I’d love to meet them!

4. What have you always wanted to do?

I have always wanted to walk into a bookstore and pick up a copy of a book I’ve written.

I have always wanted to do a Q&A at a film festival screening of a film I wrote and directed.

I have always wanted to watch the woman I love walk down the aisle toward me (or vice versa, why is the woman always the one who gets to walk down the aisle?)

I have always wanted to hold my child in my arms.

But more than anything I have always wanted to be accepted for who I am, rather than have someone change me into somebody I will never be.

5. What do you appreciate the most about your life at this time?

My time homeless and isolated from society has taught me to appreciate what you have before it’s gone. Too many people think they are invincible, that disaster will never befall them, but this isn’t the case for bad things happen to everyone all the time. All it takes is one or two actions outside of your control and your life will never be the same. So learn to appreciate what you have, who you have and the things you currently take for granted before you lose them completely. And trust me, when that happens, you’ll know what pain is.

6. If you could be somewhere else, where would you be and why?

It’s difficult for people to understand the scale of loneliness I feel so I don’t care where (Melbourne, Scotland, Canada, Paris, Prague, Barcelona, Outer Mongolia, a village in North Wales no-one can pronounce the name of) as long as I wasn’t alone.

7. Have you ever made a fool of yourself? If yes, spill.

Many times!

During a Canadian backpacking trip I decided to try to speak the native language of the French-speaking provinces. Arriving into Montreal after a long train journey I checked into the backpacker hostel requesting a bottom bunk as it would help me sleep better. The twentysomething receptionist looked at me with a slightly shocked, slightly confused expression before sliding me the key and saying nothing but directing me toward the room. Confused by her reaction I checked a french-english dictionary the following morning and learned I’d asked her if she would spank me as it would help me sleep better and I’d greatly appreciate it.

I’ve also streaked down a major shopping mall, karaoke badly on dozens of occasions and stripped to Britney Spears more times than I can remember; not always whilst intoxicated! [Note to self, consider writing “100 embarrassing things I’ve done” blog post]

Montreal

8. How often do you feel guilty?

Every second of every minute of every day of every week of every month of every year for the last five years. I feel guilty for being the victim of an emotionally abusive relationship,  for the suicides of friends, over not being there for my friends when they needed them, for being the victim of rape, of assault, and for being homeless. My mind, fuelled by the emotional abuse, has decided I must constantly remind myself of this guilt for the rest of eternity and no matter how hard I work, I can’t forgive myself for any of the mistakes I’ve made.

To say it’s exhausting is an understatement.

9. Give us an example of what you’ve done when feeling low self-esteem.

Bwaahaahaa! Sorry, given I’ve been writing about self-esteem all week I just find this incredibly amusing that it come up here. I’ve suffered low self-esteem my entire life, so unfortunately I’m not the greatest source of advice, but things I have done to try to improve my confidence involve: writing pleasure lists, allowing myself to love myself, focussing on positive instead of negative experiences and accepting that sometimes I just need a time out.

Note: the links in the above answer will take you to the exercises I’ve been doing this week to improve self-esteem. Feel free to do them yourself and let me know how you go :)


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Ten inspirational self-esteem quotes

It’s time you had a time out

Contemporary life can, at times, be somewhat stressful.

We fill our lives with Twitter, Facebook, the need for twenty-four hour a day contact and blogging. There’s traffic congestion, inbox congestion, nasal congestion and artery congestion. The eternal quest to eradicate wrinkles, lines, body hair and blemishes. Does my bum look big in this? Does my cleavage look too small in this? Does my toe look like it has a fungal infection in this? There’s the endless balance between work, home, family, friends and random strangers. Electricity, food, medication, gas, water, rates, taxes…those bloody taxes! Every day of our lives is an endless stream of stress and tension, relieved only when we chance upon some time for sex, cuddles, massages and cunnilingus. But only if we’re lucky enough to have them.

And then there’s physical health, and mental health, and emotional health, and at some point we need to stop.

Breath.

And take a time out.

This week has been such a week for me. I’ve tried to balance the mood swings, the loneliness, the insomnia and anxiety as best I can, all whilst undertaking exercises to increase positive thought and work toward better self-esteem. I’ve sought support (no change yet), completed dozens of forms, argued with Centrelink and found little joy in the long, cold nights.

There have been triggers galore trying to sabotage me, rivers of tears trying to humiliate me and flashbacks aplenty to some of the most traumatic, painful moments of my life. There has been servings of victim guilt, survivor guilt and man guilt mixed liberally with grief, sadness, worry and a pinch of depression with a heavy dollop of isolation.

So today, I am leading by example, and choosing to stop. Because if I don’t, my mental health will collapse and my self-esteem with it.

Although I cannot advise you on how and when you should stop – as you know your life and mind better than I – please take some time to work this out for yourself. I cannot say it strongly enough, but one of the key things with building self-esteem is knowing yourself. Of being aware of your triggers, of your moods and the balance with everything that makes up your life.

When you have the courage to pause and admit you need some time to relax away, to remove the stress and focus on joy, you’re well on your way to better self-esteem.

So for today there are no exercises, no lists, no technical worksheets requiring work and thought. There is only me, telling you to go and do something nice. Run yourself a bath, cuddle with your loved one, eat some ice-cream, go for a walk, pet your dog, phone a friend.

It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it puts a beautiful, calming smile on your beautiful, worthy face.

Inspirational self-esteem quotes

 


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Exercises to build self-esteem: #3. Personal positive experiences

Send you negative thoughts to the naughty corner!

So far this week we have looked at what self-esteem is; the value we place on ourselves and how we see ourselves in general, what low self-esteem is; when we as individuals hold deep-seated negative beliefs about ourselves, and how we can work toward improving these beliefs through altering our perceptions of who we are.

First, by focussing on the things that bring us pleasure (rather than pain) and secondly, on how it isn’t narcissistic to love our individual gifts and talents.

Today, we look at our experiences.

As many people who suffer from low-esteem may relate to, I spend a lot of time living in the negative space of my life. All day, every day, I am constantly reminding myself of all the things I have done wrong; of when I let my friends down, of when I failed to get a publishing deal for my book, of what I did to deserve being abused, of my time living on the streets, of every minor mistake and error I’ve ever committed. Rarely, do I look at the positive experiences I’ve had.

But to increase self-esteem we have to look at these experiences, for endlessly replaying the negative is merely feeding the vicious cycle of self-hatred that is fuelling our low levels of self-esteem. By focussing on the positive times we reprogram our brain to think of these first, relegating the negative into the annals of history to be forgotten.

One way to do this is, when you catch yourself dwelling on a negative, twist it around. For example, using the five examples above:

i) Instead of thinking of when I let my friends down I should think of the far more examples of when I was there for them however I could be.
ii) Instead of thinking of when I failed to get a publishing deal for my book I should think of when I had my short story published or that I had the courage to submit the book to publishers in the first place!
iii) Instead of thinking of what I did to deserve being abused I should be thinking fuck you, I didn’t do bloody anything to deserve such vicious treatment!
iv) Instead of thinking of my time living on the streets I should be thinking of all the things this period taught me about life. And that I survived.
v) Instead of thinking of every minor mistake and error I’ve ever committed I should be thinking of every major moment of brilliance I’ve ever performed!

The only problem is that not only is this very difficult to do, quite often we lacking in self-esteem don’t think about the positive things we’ve done in our lives.

Which is why our exercise today is all about that; our personal positive experiences.

Personal positive experiences…

1. Take out a clean sheet of paper and a pen of your choice.

2. Divide the paper into eight sections: Courage, Kindness, Selflessness, Love, Sacrifice, Wisdom, Happiness, Determination.

3. Under each section write about positive personal experiences that come under that category.

4. You don’t have to limit yourself to one example for each, the more you can think of the better!

5. Keep the paper somewhere handy so that (a) you can read it frequently and (b) you can add to it whenever you fancy.

 

Courage is the anwser

Courage is the answer (Photo credit: SIDΔ)

 

My Personal Experiences…

As with the other exercises this week, I lead by example.

NB: These are just the ones that came to mind, there’s probably more buried deep within me somewhere…I hope!

Courage

In 2012, after an eighteen month absence, I began blogging and tweeting to try to reconnect with the world.

In 2010, I happened upon a man who was assaulting his girlfriend. He claimed she ‘deserved’ to be punched and as a man I should understand that. I didn’t, because as a man, I fervently believe no-onedeserves to be punched in the face by their loved one. Rather than walking on by I stood up for what I believed in and ended up having the shit beaten out of me whilst thinking at least he’s not beating her.

In 2009, I became homeless. If you don’t think this requires courage, I suggest you head out and live on the streets for a week and then get back to me.

In 2009, I sent short stories and novel manuscripts to publishers. Given I am someone who constantly fears people reading his work this was a huge and courageous step for me. Although the novel went nowhere, I did have a short story published, which I’ve always been proud of.

In 2007, I began a blog that opened my entire life up for the world to see.

In 2007, on 11 October I chose life.

In 2007, despite Glandular Fever, anxiety and pre-existing mental health problems, I made a concerted effort to re-enter tertiary education. The rest, as they say, is history.

In 2002, I boarded a plane bound for Australia.

In 1999, I had the courage to follow my heart and begin backpacking.

In 198?, I stood up to schoolyard bullies who were mercilessly picking on my sister.

And it should go without saying…from now, until the day I die, I will be living with bipolar; that requires courage!

Kindness

In 2011, despite homelessness, I felt compelled to donate to the appeals raising money for victims of the Queensland and Victorian floods.

In 2010, I gave a person new to the streets my blanket, some food and the last of my money as they had nothing. The next day I took them to organisations that would help them access housing and services.

In 2009, I tried to help Stephanie through her depression and suicidal thoughts.

In 2006, I spent nearly fifteen hours making a playlist for my friend’s 21st as no-one else was willing to do it. No music, no party!

And when I had friends I always tried to remember their birthdays and get them a present (however small it may have been!)

Selflessness

In 2010, I turned down accommodation so another homeless person (who appeared worse than I) would have somewhere indoors.

In 2008, I turned down the chance to experience something I’d always wanted to experience as I knew it would impact negatively on a friend.

In 2007, I cancelled an important hospital appointment I’d waited months for because my friend needed emotional support. It was three more months of worry before I was able to get another one, but I’ve never regretted it as my friend was upset.

In 2006, I phoned in sick/opted out of four shifts at work so I could be there for my glandular fever suffering girlfriend. (Note: at the time I was on an extremely low-income and needed all the money I could get, but her health and wellbeing were more important to me.)

In 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, I put my own Christmas wishes aside to try to give my backpacking clients the best day possible.

Love

In 2008, I always tried to be there for my girlfriend during her depressive episodes, regardless of my work commitments, regardless of how triggered I became and the subsequent fallout to my mental health as I knew how much worse it would be if she was on her own.

In 2007, I spent eight hours cooking and preparing a three course candlelit meal for my girlfriend before paying my housemates to bugger off for the evening so my girlfriend and I could have some alone time. (Note: she phoned ten minutes before she’d agreed to come over and told me if we didn’t go to the restaurant she wanted to go to she wouldn’t see me that night.)

In 2006/07, I wrote a personalised interactive novella to give my girlfriend as a birthday present (Note: she broke up with me suddenly before I had the chance to give it to her)

In 2006, I organised a surprise day of fun for a friend who was going through a bad-time; we began with the circus, then went ice-skating, a picnic in the park, swimming/sauna/spa/water slides, a theatre trip and then a late dinner in Lygon Street. It cost me a small fortune, but the smile on her face was worth it.

In 2004, I imported an engagement ring from Scotland because I wanted my fiance to have a ring that was unique, special and meaningful.

In 2002, I emigrated to Australia.

In 2002, I lived in my childhood bedroom whilst my girlfriend traveled Europe and returned to Australia eighteen months before her visa for the UK was up, even though it killed me to do so, it was the only way I was able to afford to save for Australia.

In 2001, even though I’d known her for only five days, I let my girlfriend move in with me as she had nowhere else to go.

And I always tried to be there for my partners and friends whenever they had a problem.

Sacrifice

In 2005, I cancelled two adult education courses I wanted to undertake as they clashed with my employment commitments.

In 2002, I sacrificed my family, friends and country of birth to emigrate to Australia without knowing if I would ever see them again.

In 2001/02, I turned down a university course so I could move to Australia to be with the woman I loved.

Wisdom

In 2011 and 2010, I did whatever I could to impart advice to fellow homeless people who were new to the street (e.g. where they could go to get help, how best to keep warm, best places for food etc.)

In 2009, I wrote a newspaper opinion piece containing several pearls of wisdom I’d picked up over the years.

In 2007, I started writing a blog that I hoped would help share the lessons I’d learned with the rest of the world.

Happiness

In 2010, I cuddled a wombat, and thus fulfilled a life long dream!

In 2007, after a lifetime of hard work to get myself into that position, I returned to college.

In 2004, my girlfriend and I were going to get married. (Note: she called the wedding off as she didn’t want to get married until same-sex marriage was legalised. I still think it had more to do with not loving me/not wanting to commit, but what do I know?)

In 2001, I was living in the best flat I’ve ever had.

In 2000, I spent three months traveling Canada.

In 1999 ann 2000, I spent six months traveling in Scotland.

Determination

Umm, really? Refusing to give up…even after giving up! Constantly trying to work toward a better me. Endlessly fighting mental illness with little to non-existent support. Giving stigma the spanking it deserves, regardless of the damage it does to my life. Three years living on the streets. Writing this blog on/off for five years. Challenging myself and the way I think. Never giving up on my dreams. Pushing myself each and every day to get out of bed and keep on going in the hope that someday, preferably before I’m too old to enjoy it, I no longer have to prove how fucking awesome I am to the world, or myself – we’ll all just believe it and eat chocolate cake instead!

Note: At the end of yesterday’s post I indicated that today we would be getting an article about emotional abuse and the effect it had on my self-esteem. After last night’s bout of insomnia and the stream of consciousness that erupted from it, I decided to change tact for today’s self-esteem post. So apologies for anyone who was looking forward to emotional abuse discussion, it will probably be here tomorrow :)