As I explore ways of tending to myself as Spring is in full swing, I notice my self esteem getting chipped away as I am repeating a few old habits.
The loops of patterns seem to be in their classic “healing is non linear” phase and to be non poetic : it feels annoying. I am annoyed at the ways parts of me still seem activated by space in relationships, income dips, and stepping away from my practice.
Friday Threads are where we come together as a community to share ideas, visions, and resources
P.S. I’d love to see you this Sunday at The Art of Beginning live on zoom (and recorded if you can’t make it live)
Starting mid June we will be using threads to have a book study for each week of The Artist’s Way : exact dates coming soon, and we will have two zooms to gather live and discuss.
I'll kick us off :
This past week I have really leaned in to the importance of "telling on myself"
When I am going through an old pattern and hard on myself for it happening again, it is so helpful to have a dear one reflect back to me that it is not Earth shattering, and to even see the lesson in it.
Showering is helpful in that it gives me a chance to adorn myself in ritual : putting oils on my body, washing my hair, feeling hot water on my body
And remembering that SITTING DOWN TO DO THE THING instead of waiting for my self esteem to be there, helps me to feel more centered in who I am.
Oh also traveling! I am noticing when I am away from home I am getting out of practice with some of my rituals, and REALLY holding steady to them keeps me with myself (daily gratitude list, drinking my herbs, morning pages, etc)
This topic is timely for me personally! As of late, I've been reflecting that I'd like my sense of self to be a little more unshakeable. I'm still working on my rituals for self esteem, but here's the first thing I thought of as I read your prompt:
As someone in the midst of Really Big Life Challenges who is also in a bit of a dip of self esteem, I write down my "One Degree" for the day. When things feel particularly tough, I need to find just one sliver of action that moves me toward the direction I want my life to take. Over time, single degrees add up to a lot more, and so it's nice to see them over time. Some samplings of one degrees:
+followed up about XYZ opportunity that's interesting to me (a degree that propels my career/vocation!)
+wrote one page of brainstorm about the creative idea that you want to get off the ground (a degree that adds to my creative practices)
+paid a bill (a degree that propels my financial wellbeing)
+made a meal that nourished my body (a degree that propels my wellbeing)
+wrote a card to a friend (propels the meaningful relationships in my life/community)
Over time, I've amassed a lot of degrees in different areas in my life that have great meaning/importance to me. I try not to let my mood dictate what I do, and when I'm feeling like garbage, I'm often still able to choose and do a single degree in some arena and prove to myself that I can still care for myself despite how I'm feeling that day.
When my self-esteem is fucked it's usually about returning to my body. Getting in a few sun salutations, or doing a pose right on my growth edge, or walking especially if there's a hill or two involved. This reminds me that my body is awesome and wild and that I exist inside of it and can do hard things. A favorite outfit can really help, sometimes nice but sometimes favorite pajamas.
And also, honestly? Listening to Mar read the Validation/Imposter Syndrome chapter of Getting to Center, which might be weird for Mar—ha—but great for someone else. "Who sees you? Who makes you feel safe? Who loves you unconditionally? Who loves your art? Make a list and keep those people close and remember YOU ARE GOOD."
Oh! And the Inner Guide affirmation on the Chani app.
Waking up from a nightmare with the same emptiness that haunted my dreams just makes me ask WHY?! Here I am again, when I think I've come so far. Then seeing this thread at the exact right moment to help ease the pain of feeling so alone in these big emotions.
My current struggles lie in feeling despair from a partnership that ended three years ago. I am repeatedly asking myself, how dare I still feel so broken after all this time?
Everyday I tell myself, tomorrow the sun will be out and this will be cleared out of my heart and soul, but this shame, self-doubt, and desperation are parasites that I haven't found a remedy for.
I'm usually concocting a mixture of these things to seek momentary relief: Grounding myself by the river. Calling on friends who don't quite "get it", but offer support in their own ways and help me remember just because I don't share that Love with someone any longer doesn't mean it won't happen again. Sitting with plant medicine. Praying.
This is new to me, but now I will add engaging in this digital community space to the list. Thank you, community, for showing up in this way and offering your bits of wisdom to help us all along on our healing journeys.
Getting as far away from the internet as possible is important when my self esteem is low. But also, then: away from the internet and toward (as others have already mentioned) something I'm good at. So if I move to the couch and work on my novel, I feel much more right about the things I'm doing. Even if what I write sucks. A tough writing session that is still a writing session always feels better in my body than anything internet-based, to me.
In really low self esteem times I double down on neutrality. I have a seat of neutrality in the center of my head and I make it very cozy, a comfy blue velvet chair. And then I notice and get very specific. Where do I feel my insecurity in my body? like, it’s a gripping in my jaw. I feel into it, that’s interesting. Oh there’s a feeling of fear. I feel it but also watch it. If any needs come up, I just feel it with compassion. The more micro I get with the noticing in my body the better and the more I feel without meaning making the easier it moves through me.
This is such an important read. Thank you to you and everyone who shared. I have struggled so much and felt utterly alone especially in this self doubt in recent days/years/lifetime.
For me, I go and sit in my studio. I sit there long enough I start working on a painting. Eventually I remind myself how much I love doing the thing and then I make a thing and remind myself I can indeed make something and delight myself.
But sometimes, many times, I just take a nap and my perspective is different when I wake up. It is a seemingly never ending cycle of getting back to center regardless of how much work I’ve done to have a healthy relationship to self. This is the way of being a human I guess.
Thank you for being you and sharing yourself with us so we feel less isolated in this art making way of living.
This one is really hitting me. I've been having a trifecta of relationship, situations and experiences which are illuminating parts of me that wish to revert to old habits that ultimately hurt me and others but that are comfortable because they are well worn. It is so heavy and I find myself just being so hard on myself - like I'm soo annoyed that things are sticky and that I'm learning and I wish I was already future me who had healed more etcetc and could be more grounded in integrity in the moment instead of spiraling.
This is what I am trying: 1) showering and paying attention to the water and the ritual of the acts (first shampoo, then conditioner, then wash body, etc) 2) doing a yoga class with jessamyn stanley 3) trying something new 4) attending to the things that are stressing me out and talking about them to people and trying to move towards decisions and affirming those decisions 5) trying to just take it really easy and be like it's ok to just watch silly tv and be distractable all day. give myself space to be a mess - and then some more space after that. it's ok to wake up really early and do random stuff on my computer for hours. these are neutral actions, it's fine to be chaotic.
I am SO excited for the zooms about The Artist's Way book study!! Wahoo!!!
Wow this is a really timely conversation for me! I feel a little less resourced in this area lately and am looking forward to reading what people share.
A thing that is helping me lately is having photos of baby Sara (little me) nearby and extending love to her. (I guess this is a version of inner child work.) When I get small I turn to small me ;) And in general, when my self esteem is suffering, I take the posture of treating myself like a beloved friend - befriending myself (with words, gestures, compassion, etc).
I practice something I feel good at! I’m learning guitar right now, so when I feel like I suck or can’t possibly ever figure it out (hehe) I take a break from a challenging song to play some that I have mastered through previous efforts. Doing that reminds me of how it feels to experience space in a song and the satisfaction of being able to play and create without thinking too hard about it. Sometimes I also just drop a song I’m trying to learn that I may actually not be ready for and find one that is more attainable in terms of the skillset I’m currently working with. I learn new tools in the process and can revisit the harder songs when I feel like it, and reflect on the huge catalog of tunes I’m great at in the meantime.
Get my ass to the beach to just put my feet in the sand and look at the water and the sky. Doing that as many days as I can really helps to ground me.
Something about the vast ocean (or gulf of Mexico in my case) brings me back to my little kid self and I feel the heartache and comforted all at once.
Like so many others already said, get off the internet! But for me the internet is also this conversation, which is wonderful. So maybe I should say, get off the senseless internet, the endless next reel of newsitem. Only look where I want to look. And what always helps me is get outside, feel the sun, if possible. Walk a bit, move the sick body, look at a flower. And the best thing is make something, work on the babypants for my friend, mend the sock for my platonic husband, do the dishes.
I think I feel the most access and priority of my self esteem than what it has been for months. I'm in that stage of my life where people who meet me telling me who I am is something I don't accept as fact since the fact is: they don't know me. While trusting for my friends to show up and provide that bounce back / affirmations if I need them of what they love about me and value about me.
I feel very much in my skin and here versus being absent and kind of here, but not here. But, if I do have a bad brain day (which happens, I had a day of forced rest and was texting a friend, "am I doing enough?") I take it gentle on myself and do things and recognize what can replenish me the best.
My art journaling practice has grown so much in just a year. I recently started keeping a sketchbook for abstract drawing and collaging. Words that inspire me, questions I need to ask myself. That is my practice that helps me reconnect to myself. It’s just a fever minutes here or there to add this or that, or sitting in the evening to play on the pages that truly helps me.
If that is too much, then I have to agree that showering is a really good ritual to reset myself.