If you’re anything like me, during these crazy times of isolation and quarantining, you’ve been doing a lot of reflecting about your life. Maybe about fond memories of being out in public with loved ones, maybe about good decisions that have led to some productive times in your life. Unfortunately, though, you eventually get to the tough stuff. The stuff that you can’t believe you ever allowed yourself to do. The stuff that you just decided to not let yourself think about anymore because you’re ashamed of how it affects you now. It’s a pretty upsetting thing to come to terms with.
One example that comes to my mind is how I’ve let my mental health affect me in the past. I let my depression and anxiety consume every part of my being, and just kind of accepted that my isolation (pre-pandemic, like before it was seen as a helpful thing) was how my life should be from then on. I was convinced that being by myself and keeping it that way was probably better for everyone in my life. After getting help and finding adequate resources, I can’t help but be disappointed with myself for actively making that decision to not help myself sooner. I’m upset with the version of me that clearly didn’t care enough to take care of herself, and I find myself resenting that girl, because I missed out on a lot of opportunities that could have really impacted how I live my life today.
Here’s the thing, though: at the time, I was actually doing the best I could to survive. I was trying really hard to just keep going (spoiler alert: I did) and just because I wasn’t necessarily “thriving,” doesn’t mean I should be ashamed or embarrassed of that girl. Now, I’m able to look at the circumstances, think critically about what I was experiencing and how I was coping, and recognize that while it wasn’t the most ideal way to do things, it’s because I simply didn’t know how. I had no idea how to face my issues like I do now. I’ve written before about how I don’t really like to live by simple quotes, but if I did have to choose one that I refer back to often, it would be this by Maya Angelou: “forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it.”
Looking at treating others how you would like to be treated is a pretty simple concept. Treating yourself how you would like to be treated is, for some reason, much more complicated. It’s really important that we’re patient with ourselves and remember that forgiveness is not something that’s only used when your dog chews up your favorite pair of socks. After all, the person we end up spending most of our time with is our own self, and holding a grudge against yourself tends to be pretty exhausting.