These are the words I would have liked to have told myself when I was a young girl, around the age of ten. I was brought up in what was, and may still be seen as a traditional Indian household – we didn’t talk about the elephant in the room, and if I had to cry, I mostly did it alone, in private to spare my Mum and to maintain a false sense of omnipotence as ‘Big Sister.’ (I have eventually learnt to cry with family and friends).
You may wonder what would cause such anguish at such a young age. One word ‘divorce,’ oh so taboo back then. To which I would add another two words, ‘Crohns Disease,’ which when described in Punjabi as ‘diarrhoea’ sounds even more awful than what it is, so I won’t phonetically spell it out!
Fast forward to my ‘terrible twenties,’ and destructive behaviours kicked in, if anything good was happening to me, I had a way of destroying it. It all stemmed from low self-esteem and low confidence, which were masked by a vivacious personality.
In my thirties, when I thought ‘I would have made it,’ (whatever that means), I had the worse Crohns flare up of my life that nearly destroyed me and took my life. To the present day in my forties, life continues to challenge me as it does us all, so what gets me through it? What helps me maintain positive mental health?
1. Bhakti – belief and devotion to a higher power, be it the Universe, God, whichever label fits with your being.
My yoga teacher once told me when things get tough, to relax and surrender into God’s arms. How beautiful and comforting is that?
I know there is a higher force at work, and that everything is exactly as it is meant to be whether I like it or not.
2. Meditate – I find it really hard to meditate when I am feeling sad. I don’t want to surrender my tears in meditation, but sometimes that is what it takes to make a shift internally.
3. Spend time in nature – the best medicine for me. The colour green (colour of the heart chakra) is incredibly healing for me, it soothes and uplifts me.
4. It’s OK to talk, to seek professional help – aside from my yoga practise, my therapy, (on a proper couch!), has been the biggest gift I have given myself. A safe and contained space to surrender and talk through my thoughts and feelings.
5. Stop creating destructive narratives in my head – sometimes we inherit narratives, hello Bollywood! Sometimes we torture ourselves with our own narratives. I have to keep reminding myself to get out of my head and get in touch with reality.
6. My yoga practise and my teacher training – another of life’s great gifts. I initially turned to yoga to manage my stress and keep me calm, but the work has gone much deeper as I continue to tap into soul wisdom to navigate life.
7. I let myself feel uncomfortable knowing that I can be scared, I can be vulnerable and I can fall hard, many, many times but I know there is no black hole that I cannot climb out of.
8. I have found my tribe, my soul family, my soul sisters – I let myself fall apart and be held by Sangat (community). And it’s OK, I survive, the world did not end!
9. I have learnt what self-care and self-love means and that it is not a selfish act. You can read more about that in another blog post of mine.
10. I indulge myself in the naughty – I may be a yogini but this last week, when I was feeling depressed, I may have indulged myself in one or two junk food meals – it felt so good at the time!
11. It’s OK for me to lose my shit. I don’t aspire to be a sweet angel, I aspire to be the best version of myself in my rawest form, and sometimes that means I lose my shit, I can get angry and frustrated but there’s a very fine line in hurting myself and others in the process. I don’t always succeed.
12. So I forgive myself. I mess up many times but I am learning not to be so hard on myself, to trust that I will do the right thing and to keep moving forwards.
13. I recognise myself for the wild woman that I am – not in the conventional sense of the word as in ‘crazy,’ but as a woman of ‘shakti’ of soul power, with a deep innate wisdom that runs through my bloodline.
Does any of this resonate with you? I would love to hear your thoughts. Together we are stronger.