Thoughts of the future daunt me on an almost daily basis, along with a base of anxiety that tells me I should be doing bigger and better things with my life. It’s something I’ve struggled with for years, and it’s why I dread the onset of wintertime as I’m stuck indoors for most of the day with those hypercritical thoughts whirring around my mind. It’s so easy to become complacent with just how far you’ve come and instead obsess over how far you have yet to go.
Being in your twenties or thirties and struggling with the prospect of building a life out of thin air can be such an incredibly isolating feeling, but trust me, it’s doesn’t need to be. I got so fed up with my constant need to validate my own existence by comparing myself to everyone of a similar age that I knew I’d either have to switch social media off forever or flip my outlook on its head. Now I tell myself that the unknown doesn’t need to be feared, and instead its something to get excited about.
To reach a true state of complete acceptance for the person you are today, it takes a huge amount of unlearning negative patterns of behaviour and thoughts that most of us have been completely conditioned to. Why is it more normal to hate parts of ourselves than to love them? Why are most of us forever stuck in a state of thinking that happiness will come with a set of circumstances over a change of mindset?
For me, being content with the present is reminding myself that I deserve my own kindness through daily rituals. Anything that is expressing a form of gratitude for your mind, body or environment. Taking a long bath is thanking your muscles for supporting you through the day, listening to relaxing music is thanking your mind for being focused and cooking a healthy meal is thanking the earth for providing nourishment. It’s a really powerful way of changing your thinking to always be grateful for what you have here, today, and to maintain a sense of balance. If you have gratitude for the small things, you’ll no longer need to rely on the prospect of something bigger and better to make you happy, and therefore can be truly content in the present moment.
Learn to get comfortable with solitude and being in your own company. No longer being reliant on others to make you feel any certain way is the most liberating learning curve and changes the way you spend time with others. Instead of putting the burden on them to cheer you up or to brighten your day, see it as a chance to connect. Stop thinking that one day someone will come along who will change your world, and come to terms with how great you can be in your own right, right at this moment.
If your mental health has ever taken a slip, you’ll know that simply functioning at any capacity is a battle enough never mind the rest of the challenges life throws at us. Keeping going should be reason enough to muster self-worth, everything else is just a bonus.