Being Stuck in a Long Distance Relationship with Ourselves
Communication as the human race is something we’ve been participating in for over 300,000 years. Now I’m not saying we’ve been having full blown conversations for that long, but we have been communicating. Babies tell their mothers there’s something wrong, even before being able to formulate sentences. We communicate with people who don’t speak the same language as us, by reading facial expressions, gestures and body language. But for some reason when it comes to communicating with ourselves, despite the perpetual internal monologue we have residing in our minds, we sort of suck at it.
Even though we’re the only person that will ever fully understand us, for some reason we can’t seem to take the time to learn what we want and need from ourselves. Burning out is scarily common, yet we fail to take notice of the warning signs, and end up pushing through, until we crack. We seem to have more of a long distance relationship with ourselves rather than a more intimate one.
If a friend came up to us and told us they weren’t feeling ok, we wouldn’t immediately sit them in front of a funny film, praying it distracts them enough so they forget about how they’re feeling, releasing a silent sigh of relief when we realise it’s worked and we don’t actually have to deal with their shit. We would offer them a hug, a shoulder to cry on, then listen and work through it together until they felt ok.
So why don’t we treat ourselves with the same care we give others?
I find that when we feel things associated with being “bad”, we panic a little and brush them under the rug, praying that’ll be the end of it. But in reality, with a big lump under the carpet, whether we’ve successfully distracted ourselves or not, it’s still going to take us by surprise and trip us up at the most inconvenient moment. But these “bad” emotions are reactions to our experiences and environment, and are just as important to feel as the “good” ones. Getting to know ourselves and how we feel about things, is the first step to having a better relationship with ourselves.
Who can’t admit that after a good unexpected ugly cry, it leaves us feeling a bit better and ready to tackle the problem? Instead of letting them all build up into an unimaginable mess, where we end up breaking down and sobbing, because we put a sock on inside out, why don’t we give those emotions the acknowledgement they need, and give ourselves the tools to help?
The "bad" emotions are just as important to feel as the "good" ones.
Now, I’m not saying we should give in to them all the time and let them take over. I’m saying they’re there for a reason, and should be acknowledged and dealt with in the most productive way. Bad feelings are not always a bad thing. It’s our body's way of being like, “Hey, human that owns me? I need a bit of TLC while we figure this shit out!”.
I get it. It’s much easier to help other people out, to empathise with what they’re feeling and help them to work through it. But once we’ve done that, we’re subconsciously looking for the next person to heal, completely ignoring our own problems which are right there, holding up a neon sign in front of our eyes saying “Please fix me next!”.
Our own problems holding up a neon sign in front of our eyes saying “Please fix me next!”.
What happens when we can’t find the next person? Eventually we’re forced to look at all the mounting problems of our own that we’ve been ignoring. It all piles up, a huge terrifying mess that you know you have to clean up, but don’t know where to start.
We know deep down, that if we’d have dealt with them in smaller doses, we wouldn’t be sobbing over the fact that we just ruined a perfectly good cup of tea by putting too much milk in it. Why can’t we treat our own problems gently when they crop up, instead of letting them pile up and turn into something a lot bigger?
How many times have you put on a happy film when you’re feeling down? How many times have you stopped yourself from tearing up because the “timing wasn’t right”, and you promise yourself you’ll “deal with it later”, but never do? How many times have you avoided listening to a certain song because it makes you feel sad?
Maybe, just maybe we need to listen to that song, and work through why it makes us feel sad. Because the song itself isn’t causing that feeling, the song is a trigger to something more than that, a memory we associate with it.
Maybe we need to take the time to get to know ourselves. Answer the questions we’d ask someone else on a first date. Be true to ourselves about our wants and needs, our fears and desires. Get to know ourselves so we’re better prepared when a problem arises. Learn who we really are, because we’re the person we spend the most time with, so surely it would be beneficial to get to know us, so that our relationship with ourselves is healthy, and we’re not spending all our time with a total stranger.