“The truth about life is, when all is said and done, each of us is responsible for our own happiness.” – Dr Alex Yellowlees
Self responsibility, in my opinion, is not something you can decide to have. It is a seed you plant in your mind that takes months and years to grow. The idea that the things happening to you in your life, the emotions you have and the troubles you face are at least partly down to yourself, is overwhelming. It is also not an idea you can truly embrace unless you love, accept and forgive yourself because if you don’t, the self responsibility will be internalised as blame: “I shouldn’t have done this…”, “It’s my own fault this happened…”. Internalising blame is a very damaging thing, especially when it’s to do with your wellbeing and happiness. Now that we’re on the subject of blame, I’m going to explore a time quite recently when I was blaming myself for my own mental health issues and the detrimental effects this had.
As I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog, I dealt with a particularly bad episode of depression over the summer. I don’t want this to be another story time post because I’ve indulged in those quite a lot recently so I’ll keep this quite brief. Basically, I started to believe the depression I was experiencing was my own fault and that I wasn’t implementing the right lifestyle changes to overcome it. This was untrue – I was actually meditating, walking and eating healthily everyday. But due to my suicidal thoughts and urges to self harm, my loved ones were worried about me and were pressing me to make changes because they were scared. In my compromised mental state, I started to internalise this as blame: “If you did this, you wouldn’t be depressed. You’re not trying hard enough”. This is what my subconscious was communicating to me through constant pain in the pit of my chest and waves of pure anguish as I sat alone and tried to resist the urge to self harm. At the time I was unaware, but I now know this feeling comes from thinking everything, especially the way I’m feeling, is my fault. Maybe if I punish myself, it’ll get better. Maybe if I let the pain out through my skin, it will go away. And it does, for a while. But every time you hurt yourself, you are taking ten steps back. All the progress you make, sitting with excruciating emotional pain and letting it be there; all that is erased when you hurt yourself. It is not my intention to shame anyone, I’m simply being honest. The idea that it is truly in your power whether or not to self harm is something I started to come to terms with when I was seeking self help. One website dedicated to helping those who struggle with self harm had a page about how self harm is ultimately a choice. I was slightly bewildered to see this initially. I thought it was a bit cold. But it planted the seed.
Now when I have this urge – and I still do from time to time – I remind myself that these uncomfortable feelings are not my fault. In fact, I make a mental list of all the things that are not my fault, which calms me down. Ironically, doing this is a form of self responsibility. I’m taking responsibility for the urge by not letting it escalate, and I’m diffusing the situation by recognising that the urge in itself is not my fault. A paradox, I know. But it seems to work. I wanted to explore this to show that some people in certain circumstances are not ready to take responsibility for themselves but that this can change. The main transformative factor in exalting blame to responsibility is self acceptance. It’s a strange thing that happens when you accept a seemingly negative aspect of yourself – clouds begin to clear and you are able to bring about change from a place of compassion. Not because you are discontented with yourself, but because you love yourself enough to believe you deserve better. It’s a really beautiful thing.
Now that I’m in a place where I feel I am able to take responsibility for myself (at least most of the time), are there ways in which I could learn to do this better?
Better managing my time. This is an eternal task for me and if you’ve read a few of my posts you’ll be sick of hearing me say it! But I think it’s important to show that although I’m dedicated to bettering myself, it isn’t always successful. I have bad habits like everyone else that I struggle with on a regular basis. But now that I’ve gone back to using my weekly planner, I feel in a better place to manage my time. Today I said to a friend about how “there’s not enough time” and she responded saying “well that’s always going to be an issue”. And she’s right. There are three main ways in which I can proactively better manage my time:
- Taking responsibility for my creative endeavours. Now that I’ve started playing guitar again and I’ve started producing a new song, I’m going to set myself the task of either: completing a song before Christmas and uploading it; or playing an open mic before Christmas. I’d ideally like to do both and that is what I’ll aim for. But if I even do one I’ll be happy. 🙂
- LIMITING. PHONE. USAGE. Yes, I’m still battling with this. And I’m sick of calling it an addiction. I’m not going to blame it on that anymore, I need to take responsibility for it myself. The power to change this habit is in my hands and I WILL defeat it. There is no one else that can do it for me and it’s only going to be as hard as I let it be. I want this to be the last blog post where I mention I’m still struggling with overusing my phone.
- Making time for properly taking care of my skin. I’ve been a bit upset recently with a difficult eczema flare-up which can be attributed to not taking off my makeup thoroughly enough at night. It has meant that I can’t enjoy wearing makeup because I can’t really wear it during a flare-up. Depriving myself of this joy needn’t be an issue if I take better care of my skin. 🙂
I’m excited to see what I can accomplish in this week of self responsibility. Next week’s post will be a roundup of this one! Thanks so much for reading! 🙂
– SMUT. ❤ xxx