I have a confession to make: In my journey of working on self-care, I’ve discovered that I’m in a toxic relationship. With myself.
It’s incredibly difficult to admit and say this out loud. And it’s harder when it’s your doctor that makes you realize that the real battle that you have is an internal one. I’ve discovered that I am the hardest on myself and set unbelievably difficult standards and expectations that end up harming me in some shape or form.
In the past couple weeks, I’ve been working on being mindful of how I speak about myself in my head and out loud and it’s crazy how harsh I am. I’ve called myself: lazy, unmotivated, a complainer, a bad friend, bad partner and the list goes on and on.
Because of the pressure I put onto myself, I have an incredible amount of anxiety when it comes to the job search. I graduated from business school in May and without fail have mentioned to myself everyday that I still don’t have a job. It’s a depressing way to approach the job hunt especially when I’m in a unique position. This is a time in my life when I can decide to live anywhere. Instead, I’ve experienced anxiety about receiving rejections and have beaten myself up relentlessly.
Having anxiety attacks has been the hardest aspect of this job search. I have dealt with anxiety for a few years. I feel weak admitting that this is where I’m at, but I also feel like I need to stop acting like everything is fine. The negative self talk I have has been debilitating and has caused me to overanalyze every application I submit. I think back to the toxic work environments I experienced and want to avoid them, and yet I also have been incredibly overwhelmed if I don’t receive an offer.
The last anxiety attack I had really made me realize that this is a problem I need to face head on. I received a rejection for a job and was told that I was great, but the company went with an internal candidate. Logically, I realize that rejection is part of the job hunt.
But in the moment, I got so upset and the rest of my day was a hurdle. By the end of the night, I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t do simple tasks. Responding to friends? Forget it, it was too much. Answering phone calls? Nope, I could barely breathe. I felt so light-headed and in the moment, I truly felt like I was dying.
But if there’s anything anxiety has taught me it’s that the feelings and pain goes away with time. I just needed to wait it out. But it often takes a couple of days or weeks before I feel like myself again. After the experience of this latest anxiety attack, I was far from loving to myself. Right after it I called myself a failure, a loser and a hot mess. I wanted to disappear in my own thoughts and not interact with anyone, but my thoughts have been far from welcoming.
I had one interaction that opened my eyes to how awful I am to myself. As I was getting ready for yoga class, I looked in the mirror and thought that my shirt looked bad on me. I thought it was too tight, and showed all the parts of me that I’m insecure about. I didn’t have time to change, and went to the studio. As soon as I got there, the instructor said I was “body goals” and complemented me on my muscles.
I was shocked. How was this person able to see the complete opposite in me? It has made me realize that I have a distorted sense of who I am.
So where do I go from here? I know if my friends spoke to themselves the way I speak to myself I’d be upset with them. I’d constantly tell them how wonderful they are and tell them about their accomplishments. So that’s what I plan on working on. I’ve been drafting the negative things I say to myself and writing a response to myself that is more compassionate. Ultimately, I’m planning on writing a letter to myself that combats all the negative thoughts I have. Stay tuned.