Self-Deception is the Worst Deception

You know what really sucks? Self-deception.

Why do we lie to ourselves? Is it because of fear? Anxiety? Hesitancy? What are we really getting out of this?

Due to self-esteem and confidence issues, I lie to myself often. One lie that I keep reminding myself about is a lie from last semester.

When I was accepted into graduate school, I was flooded with emotions. Excitement, yes. But, unfortunately, one of those emotions was self-doubt. I repeatedly thought to myself, “Grad school is a big deal. Am I grad school material?”

I took my first two classes and did well, which eased my feelings of doubt and fear, however, last semester, those feelings changed. One of the classes I was taking was Social Justice, Welfare Policy, and Professional Legacy. The name of the class made me want to throw up. I repeatedly told myself that I knew nothing about social welfare policy and began to feel as though I was not smart enough for this class.

These feelings turned into actions during the semester, which made me begin dreading going to class. I refused to raise my hand or participate much in group activities because I told myself that I was not as smart as the other students. In my mind, I was the dumb one.

Being that this class was about policy, there were very interesting hot-topics being covered, which were always followed by open discussions. I love open discussions in a classroom, and part of me wanted to voice my opinion and talk with my classmates, but the lies I was telling myself took over and told me that I was too stupid to hold an intellectual conversation with them, so I very rarely participated in these discussions.

All of these self-deprecating thoughts caused me to have an extreme amount of stress and anxiety during the entire semester. I made each assignment more difficult than it actually was by reminding myself that I was not smart enough to do the work, which resulted in a ridiculous amount of late nights in the library and all-nighters.

Let’s fast forward to the end of the semester. When I checked my email for my grades, I was shocked when I saw that I received a 4.0! I was beyond thrilled because I have not received many 4.0’s in college, and the fact that I did in grad school made me feel like I was on top of the world.

**Cue more self-ridiculing thoughts**

Nowhere to lie, not even a few minutes after celebrating my grades, I began to tell myself that there was no way that I earned a 4.0. I began recalculating my assignment grades from my classes and questioning if both my professors made a mistake.

{Insert exaggerated eye roll/face palm}

As I write this, I struggle with the fact that I actually questioned my intelligence and ability to earn a 4.0. However, even though I look back on this experience with annoyance and I acknowledge that I was lying to myself, I can not say that I won’t do this again, because I’m human, but that does not mean that I have to accept these lies and make them true.

Last semester did not need to be so stressful. I made it that way. This semester, I am going to be more confident and remind myself that I am in graduate school because I am smart enough and I am good enough. No one, not even myself, will tell me otherwise.

Sometimes, we are our own worst enemies in life. We tell ourselves lies and then we believe them, even though deep down we know they are exactly that – lies. It’s time to stop the self-deprecating talk, and believe in ourselves, because if we don’t, who will?

Sincerely,

Olivia

Olivia has her bachelor’s degree in Human Development & Family Studies, with a minor in Psychology, and she is currently working towards a master’s degree in Social Work. Her dream job is to work with service members and their families to help them navigate through military life and daily challenges. Olivia is an avid reader who loves a great murder mystery, a die-hard Fleetwood Mac fan, and will never miss an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, of course accompanied by a box of Kleenex.

Assess Your Motivations

You want to change something about yourself or something in your life.

So… why haven’t you done it yet?

Why hasn’t it happened?

Ask yourself why. Do you have any motivations? Or do your motivations not feel important enough to pursue the change?

If I asked myself 6 months ago, or a year ago (or at any time whilst I was in denial about EDNOS), I would have said that my main motivation in life was be thin and stay thin. After all, I thought that being thin was the route of my happiness. But at what cost? By damaging my mentality and wellbeing? Just because somebody appears to look healthy, or happy for that matter, it doesn’t mean that they are. If you are happy with every aspect of your life within your control then you, my friend, have won your inner battle and faced your fears. If you are sat questioning why you aren’t, then ask yourself whether you’ve allowed ambivalence to steal your power for too long. Why are you afraid to make the change?

Think of something in your life that you aren’t completely happy with. Make a list of what motivates you to change it. Now write down all the reasons why you haven’t started to make that change yet. Are the reasons listed in front of you actually good, or are they simply just excuses? What are you afraid of? Something in your brain is telling you what might happen, what might go wrong, how it’s not possible. Stop listening to ambivalence and take note of what you could be faced with, what you can overcome, how you will pursue it. It is possible.

If I ask myself what motivates me to get over this eating disorder I could say several things. My partner is the main one – I don’t want to lie to him anymore or cause him any more upset. Our relationship is better than ever. I don’t want my hair to fall out again now it’s started to repair itself. I want children at some point and considering I now don’t seem to have periods and have been recently diagnosed with polycystic ovaries (PCOS), I realize how important it is to keep my body healthy.

I could go on, but my list would still be missing one significant thing at the top. ME. You can’t change yourself for anyone or anything but yourself, no matter how important the other factors may seem. You have to want to do it for YOU. Yes all the other motivators are an important part of the change but ultimately, if you don’t actually want to do something, you’re never going to do it and it will never change. You must be driven from within. I will learn to defeat ambivalence and I will change.

It’s hard to picture a new way of life when giving into your ambivalence is all you’ve known for so long. I’m still coming to terms with it myself. But aren’t we stronger than that doubtful voice muttering inside our head? Think about it…what do you really have to lose? There is so much more out there if you open yourself up to the possibility of something new. Make a new list of what you WILL achieve with change. Happiness is only the very start of it.

Amy Whittle

My name is Amy, I’m 22, and I’ve been living with an eating disorder on and off for 9 years. A few months ago I was finally honest about it with my loved ones. I am now on my challenging journey through recovery and have started an online blog to help aid me along the way and hopefully provide some positivity and motivation for others who are going through a similar thing.

The Unsocial Reality of ‘Social’ Media

What’s actually social about ‘social’ media?

Sitting behind a screen and flicking through other people’s lives is far from ‘social’, and if you’re anything like me, I feel far from sociable after a fair few scrolls.

Another night of half watching TV whilst numbingly swiping through my Instagram and Facebook feed and I’m wondering why I’m feeling low all curled up in bed on an evening…again.

It’s taken me a long time to realize there is a pattern establishing here, but tonight, as I’m reflecting more on my thoughts and feelings, I’m 99% sure that I’ve seen a skinny girl in an amazing dress and that has triggered my current pit of despair.  Oh yes, there she is. Wow, and another angle.

Either consciously or subconsciously I’ve probably done this more times than I can even remember and I know I’m likely not the only one. You can’t help but compare yourself to these people online. Whether it’s a mate, or a celeb, or simply someone you haven’t seen since school, for some reason we feel the need to follow their life publicised via social media. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticising these people for uploading body shots. Hey, who doesn’t enjoy posting the odd selfie? But it is this readily available platform for comparison and self-criticism that enables individuals’ body image and self-esteem to plummet day-in-day-out. It’s a force of habit. I don’t even flick through these ‘stories’ out of interest, (the art of scrolling seems to have become second nature), so why am I letting it impact on my self-esteem and body image so much?

I’ve decided to help myself on my journey of recovery. I’m putting down my phone and I’m banning myself from the torture of scrolling through endless feeds every night. I need to take back control of my emotions and start accepting that if I can’t stop comparing myself to every other girl out there then how am I ever meant to accept myself for who I am. We should embrace individuality and learn to love ourselves for ourselves. I should be able to appreciate other peoples’ attractiveness without feeling threatened. I should be able to walk into a bar, confident with my appearance, without feeling intimidated by every other girl in sight. Stop comparing your ‘likes’ to hers. What the hell does a pixelated number count for anyway? Your thoughts are what makes you, and with the right set of positive ones, you might just start to recognize how amazing you really do look today, and every other day for that matter!

 

 

 

 

 

Amy Whittle

My name is Amy, I’m 22, and I’ve been living with an eating disorder on and off for 9 years. A few months ago I was finally honest about it with my loved ones. I am now on my challenging journey through recovery and have started an online blog to help aid me along the way and hopefully provide some positivity and motivation for others who are going through a similar thing.

My Angel on Earth

I’m sure you have all heard the phrase life works in mysterious ways. I really do believe this saying with all my heart. However, in the case that I am about to speak of, I think this is a matter of fate rather than mystery. For this blog post to be written appropriately and properly, I must force myself to think back to when I was 17 years old. I will admit quite openly that my later teenage years are years that I look back on with disdain and hurt. It is already hard enough to be a hormonal teenager in the first place, with these raging thoughts just floating freely around in your head. This is a time when you are trying to figure out who you are and what it is you want to do with this huge hurdle in front of you called life.

Unfortunately, when I was 17, I had an even bigger monster that was suffocating me. That monster was called depression. You know the thing that leaves you broken and down in the dumps? A lot of times depression will come along to us sufferers with no reason. When I was a teen, though, I knew deep down why I was so broken apart, so sad, and so lonely. Essentially, all of it boils down to be being in a wheelchair. I never imagined that life as a disabled person would be as difficult as it was in high school. It is extremely hard and disheartening when everyone around you is going on dates and having the time of their lives communicating with the popular boys and the football players. I was an average looking girl in a wheelchair. No able-bodied person in the prime of their adolescence is going to want to date a girl who requires extra help to function! I wasn’t kidding myself either. It was the truth. As you can imagine, this made me feel like an unwanted piece of garbage.

I would cry myself to sleep thinking that I would always be alone and never experience love because I had to use wheels to get around instead of legs. This wasn’t my fault, and at my core, I knew that, but it did not make my feelings of loneliness any better. I hated myself because I thought I wasn’t and would never be good enough for anyone. I literally wanted to jump out of my chair and just run for miles, aimlessly, not even caring where I was going to end up. If it took me out of and away from what was making me so unhappy.

It got to the point to where I would cry myself to sleep and I began thinking I did want to live anymore. Of course, these thoughts had me feeling guilty. Guilty because I knew and had heard all my life that God gave me the life of a disabled individual because he knew that I was graceful enough to handle it. I had the super human powers it took to overcome all the hurdles that he lay before me. Even though I knew that I was indeed specially equipped to handle all these extremely difficult situations, that still wasn’t enough to lure the depressive devil away from my mind.

I was a super strong person, yes, and at this point I should probably have had a cape, but I wasn’t sure how much longer I could take this pain. I could withstand a lot of shit, but this load was super heavy and was bearing down on my mind like the world’s worst hurricane. I would just lie awake at night and wonder when this would come to an end. I needed someone to save me from this before I was at the edge.

Enter in October 20, 2001. This was the night that my life would change for the absolute best! Unknown to me at the time of course. Just like people always say life works in mysterious ways, so does God. I feel that He always brings you whom and what you may need at the exact right time. October 20 was not just an ordinary night. It was the night of the junior homecoming dance! I wasn’t going to go at first because I hated the school, and of course, I didn’t have a boyfriend to go with. I thought, what’s the point? However, my friend Samantha called me that night extremely bored and suggested that we go. I, too, was bored and had nothing better to do so I agreed to go.

Boy, am I ever so glad I went now. I decided that I was going to wear one of my sister’s dresses from middle school. (I was always rather small for my age), and I wasn’t planning on going so it is not like I had been to the mall and planning what I was going to wear like much of the school. Turns out the dress fit and looked rather nice on so I just went with that. It was blue, my favorite color, and had sparkles on it. Let’s be real. what teenage girl does NOT like sparkles? I did not have anybody to impress, but I still wanted to look nice.

To be honest, this night was the first night in a handful of years that I thought of myself as being somewhat attractive. In fact, for months, I couldn’t even look in the mirror without feeling a sense of disgust at not only my looks, but my feelings. So, I guess you could say this night was already off to a better start. Tonight, was the night for a thought makeover!
Once we arrived at the dance, I noticed someone out of the corner of my eye staring at me. He was beautiful, he could not possibly be staring at little old me! When he asked me to dance with him, that just showed me how wrong I was! I was so shy and broken at the time so I assume I just was kind of staring at him, in awe that someone for once did not care about the fact that I was not able to walk and move like all the rest! I was amazed and so bummed at the same time because I did not ask for contact details. I did not think I would ever see him again, and I was so angry that I did not think to ask for his phone number or something. For the first night in forever, I was finally accepted and seen for who I really was on the inside! What a great and overwhelming feeling that was!

Little did I know, I’d see Eric again within a matter of weeks and he would absolutely turn out to be my best friend in the world! A couple of months shy of the dance, I was at the mall when I noticed someone waving at me and shouting my name! It was Eric! He worked at the local mall! This time around, I was smart enough and not so shy and decided to get his contact details! He gave me his AOL instant messenger screen name, and this is where our friendship truly took off! He spent the next few months, for hours at a time getting to know each other and what we were all about. I liked this guy. He was very funny and caring. He kind of reminded me of myself on a good day. Turns out, the more we got to know each other, the more open and honest I became. This guy made me comfortable and not afraid to be myself! This was HUGE! I even got gutsy enough to ask him to be my date for both my junior and senior proms. He and I did not go to the same high school so all these incidences happened because they were supposed to. On both of my prom nights, I had the time of my life. Not only did I feel better about myself, but I was starting to really understand what true love and acceptance were all about. Thanks to this one person who did not care one lick about me being in a wheelchair. His acceptance has and still does to this day, 16 years later, taught me that I am so much more than my disability. He taught me everything there is to know about what it means to be truly confident and to love so hard that flaws are not even part of the picture.

Today, in 2017, he is my best friend, my angel, my hero. I will see him as the person who single handedly changed my life around for the better forever. I make sure I remind him each day how much I love him and how much he is appreciated! To be frank, he does not think that the things he does and has done for me as a big deal. He sees it as being a friend, but to me, who has been in the most opaque pits of darkness, I see it as the biggest deal on Earth! I honestly do not know if I will ever find someone as great as Eric. He is irreplaceable to me, and I am beyond blessed to have someone like him as my best friend.

If you are feeling slighted or having a hard time because of depression or your disability, please remember that we all struggle. Struggle is universal among us as human beings, and I promise you, to someone out there, you mean the world, and the world needs you!

Karla Culbertson

Karla is a 33 year old independent writer. She is wheelchair dependent due to Cerebral Palsy, chronic pain, and hip dysplasia, but she does not let that stop her from enjoying life. It is Karla’s goal in life to inspire and uplift others. She loves writing positive blog posts that may have the potential of inspiring others and bettering their lives.

That’s Growth, Baby

Becoming a woman is an interesting process. And when I say becoming I woman, I mean joining the community of women that walk into a room with seemingly the perfect level of confidence, grace and a sense belonging. So much so that you think to yourself, how does she have it all together? Learning what real confidence and self-love looks like, truly does take time and there is no quick way to learn this lesson. It took an actress and a pop star to remind me of that.

As a child of the 80’s, I still idolize Madonna and all that she has meant to women. The ultimate alpha female, owning her power in everything from money, fame, beauty, sexuality, religion, motherhood, business, education, men, friendships, the list goes on, she’s done and had it all. The ultimate smack-you-in-the-face-confidence that women everywhere want to feel. But there’s always been one point of contention with Madonna, and she spoke publicly and privately about that. Respect.

So it wasn’t really a surprise when a news story emerged regarding the private letters of Madonna being auctioned, focusing on one in particular that was written decades ago. In this letter she compared herself to and ultimately, criticized two female artists because…she was jealous. The woman that owned the world in important ways and so many of us idolized, yearned for the respect that she perceived the other women were receiving.

Insert the hero of the story here, the aforementioned slighted recipient of Madonna’s contempt, Sharon Stone.

A day after the story appears, Sharon responds, “Know that I am your friend. I have wished to be a rock star in some private moments… have felt as mediocre as you described. We know, as only those who have survived so long that owning our own mediocrity is the only way to own our own strengths; to become all that we both have become. I love and adore you; won’t be pitted against you by any invasion of our personal journeys. Sharon”

I read that and thought, damn that’s grown! That’s how grown women should act.

What those words meant to me.

–           Hey all you people trying to get a reaction out of me, and women in general, because M once was feeling crappy about herself and was jealous of me, like 30 years ago. <Insert eye roll> Guess what? Sometimes we get jealous! And yeah, we get all superior, too. Surprise! And OMG, we unload our problems to our friends and try to work out those demons. What she probably didn’t know is how I wished I could have been the reigning queen of pop or worse, how much I beat myself up over things I couldn’t control, meaning other people. Duh! Fast forward, we are grown women. We know that being jealous of another woman is unnecessary and self-defeating, but does sometimes happen. It’s called being a human! Exposing this moment in time is laughable and yet another way people try to negatively portray women as adversaries. I applaud the revelation that I was not alone in sometimes feeling crappy about myself and my success. But more than that, I appreciate the flashback to show how much we’ve grown.

Here’s what I want women to know. Sometimes we think another woman has it all. She looks so put together and she has XYZ, so life must be perfect for her. Guess what, no one’s life is perfect. The very thing that people think you have, is just a mirage. And I guarantee someone is looking at you and envying how much you’ve got your sh*t together. Yeah, you. So stop doubting or worrying about what other might thinking and let your own growth take root in your inner most self.

People often comment on my confidence and truth is, I am still working on it. Do I sometimes feel…less? Sure. Do I want more, do I want better? Yes and yes. Self doubt can be crippling, and not everyone gets over it. But there’s good news, maturity helps us, time teaches us. Talk to a women over 40 and she’ll likely tell you that she no longer cares what people think-and means it (for the most part, lol). So, these days, I don’t measure myself against other women. I am confident. I walk in a room and know that I am good enough. I deserve to be there, just like you, just like her, just like anyone. Some days I feel that I still have a ways to go in that enlightenment department but I love, respect and accept who I am in this moment. I am the Madonna of my world.

And while I am forever a Material Girl, I’m now a card-carrying member of the Sharon Stone Fan Club aka Girl Got-Your-Back Club.

I’m taking sign ups at the door.

~L

Linda Rowe

Linda Rowe is a sales professional in Northeast PA & an active community volunteer, earning her the title of Ms Wilkes-Barre. She also has established herself as a lifestyle & commercial photographer, sharing her talents with various businesses and clients. Taking to heart the mantra, “you’re never too old to be what you might have been,” she earned her college degree as an adult and works to promote education, confidence and motivation in others.