Positive Affirmation Memes. Stop. Just please stop.

Oh God, if I never saw one of those positive affirmation memes again it would be too soon. It’s not that I’m down on flaunting positivity (although I am down on ‘awesome’ possibly being the most overused and misunderstood word in the English language, closely followed by ‘literally’), it’s just that they seem to be thrust at me in every which way I turn.

Really? Will it? Like the time I needed my mobile bus ticket and my phone ran out of battery, leaving me with little option but to walk the five miles home? Or the time I went to make bread and realised I’d forgotten to buy yeast? How about the time I ran out of the medication I needed because the pharmacy made a mistake and I ended up in a dysphoric mania that lasted weeks and almost resulted in my arrest? What about when the Astrid, the beautiful heroine in Homeland needed those bullets in that gun but Quinn threw them into the lake which meant something Very Bad happened?

No, neither would I. A year ago I was in a happy, stable relationship planning a French ceremony with my partner. I was sailing through my medical degree and my grandmother could still remember the last time I spoke to her. Today I’m nursing a bottle of wine, eating instant noodles (possibly a plate of overcooked brown rice, if I fancy a change) because I can’t be bothered to cook, suddenly thinking that prostitution may be an appealing career option, and am certain I’m destined to become a spinster. My dear grandmother is still alive but it saddens me that she can’t remember the times I’ve travelled hundreds of miles to visit her. Oh, and after five years of being smoke-free, I’m now vaping nicotine like oxygen.

This post is intended to be lighthearted. However, I know I need to learn how to ‘self care’. I know this, I really do. Each day I get up, brush my teeth, shower, put on clean clothes, but what I do beyond that is rather neglectful.

I’m critical of myself. I’m cynical. I don’t breathe deeply enough. My posture is crap. I don’t stick to routines. I drink too much. I spend long periods of not eating well, and sometimes not enough. I make promises to myself that I don’t keep. I start books and never finish them. I ruminate.

See? I told you I was critical of myself.

So what can I do about it, I wonder. Well, for now I can’t really stop the booze or the nicotine, but I can try to cut down. Meditation has always struck me as a bit ‘woo’ and yoga has never inspired me, but I can get back to my Body Balance classes, which have the bonus of helping with my posture. Practicalities aside, what can I do to change the way I feel about myself and world around me?

I’ve bought The Little Book of Self Care, by Mel Noakes. Hopefully it is little enough that I have the will to finish it. So far, one passage in particular has stood out for me:

When someone offends you, ask yourself these three things:

  • How much of this is about the other person?
  • How much of this is about me?
  • What do I need (if anything) to stand up for myself in this situation or to regain my personal power?

– The Little Book of Self Care

I believe these three questions could help re-evaluate so many areas of my life. The Queen of Self Doubt, I spend days repeating conversations in my head, hearing the same unpleasant words spoken to me over and over and over and, ultimately, blaming myself and holding myself solely responsible for the outcome. In childhood (not to get too deep here) and well into adulthood, my father ingrained in me that it was always my fault, regardless of the scenario. A falling out with a friend, the loss of a job, an end of a relationship, the breaking of a bone. I can only imagine what he’d have to say about my bipolar disorder.

So, from now on, I’m going to ask myself these three questions and I’m going to work on applying them to my life retrospectively. And I’m not going to create a fucking meme about it, I swear to God.

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