“Your outlook on life is a direct reflection of how much you like yourself.” ~Lululemon
I recently started going through what has been the most difficult situation I have ever had to bare in my life: the end of my twelve-year relationship.
I have gotten to know the darkest and most hidden places inside me, and pain so deep that I did not know we as a species were capable of feeling it.
It has been through this process and my will to endure, survive, and overcome that I have had to dig deep to find meaning and answers.
I went through a long period of negativity and was unable to find reasons to come out of my misery.
I became obsessed with the idea of having what I desired more than anything in the world, and nothing else in my life was worth living, or even good enough, if I couldn’t share it my life with the man I loved.
Little by little, I started finding joy in little things. I smiled to every stranger I passed by and created deep eye contact whenever I said “thank you” to someone. I began eating again (I pretty much had stopped).
I achieved this by accepting what was happening instead of desiring things to be different. I wanted to stop hurting and knew that the only way was to be fully present and to stop obsessing over things I couldn’t control.
It was only because I moved from my place, took a few steps to the side, and changed my perspective that I was able to understand what was happening and where it was all coming from. This understanding gave me peace.
Having perspective helped me see that everything that happens is a reaction to something else. Symptoms are only that; they are not the cause itself. Being able to focus on motives instead of responses gave me awareness.
Then it wasn’t so much about the final process itself but more about what I can do now with what I have this instant.
I began a very intimate process of gratitude. I started thanking the universe for absolutely everything that was happening in my life and even went back to my earliest memories. I started acknowledging every small moment of joy that I was fortunate enough to savor.
When I stopped trying to ignore my deep feeling of emptiness and anxiety and started paying attention to why I felt it, I was able to wake up in the morning without feeling what I called “the black hole.”
I realized that my body was trying to tell me something: relying on someone else for happiness, well-being, and joy was wrong. These were all things that I needed to provide for myself. It became very clear once I put it into action; the emptiness started dissipating.
Through my great effort I got to a day when I could again breathe calmly and deeply without having that sense of suffocation that had paralyzed me for the last five months.
I am happy to share with you a few things that I engage in daily that I consider to have saved my life.
Practice daily gratitude.
I express my appreciation every night for everything that goes on during the day. I thank the people who offer me support, the people who love me, the people with whom I am lucky enough to be able to talk to or share some insight, even the people that represent a challenge.
Gratitude helps us cherish what we have right now and see life as a truly amazing gift.
Let people know you care about them.
If I care for someone, I immediately tell that person. I don’t hold back.
When I open up to people, it creates a mirror effect and people open up to me. Even people who find it challenging to express their emotions give love back to me, through words and actions.
Giving love and then receiving it helps me feel less alone and a lot more appreciated.
Appreciating all this loving and kindness helped me rid my attachment to the one person I wanted to give me love.
Write love letters to yourself.
Listing virtues that I am happy to have and reflecting on the things I’m not proud of helped me love and accept myself that much more, and build confidence and strength.
For example, I’m happy to have a clear view on what I’m willing to accept into my life and what I’m not. I’m happy to know that I’m a good listener, that I’m responsible, and that I am capable of taking care of myself.
I’m not too proud of my lack of patience, my intolerance, or my need to control—but I accept myself, flaws and all.
Writing things down in this way engraves them and makes them more present and real, and not so intangible and unclear.
Get to know yourself.
I spent more time alone than I had ever before in my life. I went to the movies on my own, I ate dinner at places my ex and I went on a regular basis, and walked everywhere. Being alone with my thoughts helped me understand what I needed to do to gain peace.
That was remembering that I am who I am by myself, and not who I am in response to someone else.
This translated in me falling in love with who I really am instead of the recurring thoughts and fears of not being good enough for someone else.
Through being alone I got to understand my values and my worth. This reinforced to me that we don’t need someone else to be complete; we only need ourselves.
This helped me shift my perspective, to know that I am good enough, and there is no need to convince or prove to other people that I am worth their love.
Once you start feeling love for yourself and are able to see the world as a truly magnificent, beautiful, and sacred place, you will notice how it gives back. If you pay enough attention, you can see how you are receiving gifts, constantly.
The key is in thanking and being grateful for being alive and for the fortune of what we already have.