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The SELF Series: Signs you are Battling Insecurity

Hey,

Despite the current global state of affairs, we hope you are well. What a time to be alive…

A lot of us are stuck indoors with not much to do during this time. We want to encourage you to try and find the silver lining in every day, stay as active as possible and stay connected with your loved ones.

With all the time we now have, it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of doing everything for others, picking up the never-ending to-do list you had made whilst you had a commute to work, or even just find yourself binge-watching Netflix (but that ain’t no problem).

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But we would love to add that we think it’s important to use the more time you have to yourself wisely. Now it’s not our thing to say – learn about investments, stock, trading getting an online degree, although if these are things you want to do, by all means, do so.

Howeveverrrrr, what we will say is with all this time to yourselves, it’s the perfect time to do the inside work. To really take a look at your inner thoughts and feelings and see how you are really doing, not just what you are selling to everyone else.

We really believe each and every one of us should have a healthy amount of self-compassion.

Self-compassion is the extension of kindness, care, warmth, and understanding (instead of beratement and criticism) towards oneself when faced with shortcomings, inadequacies, or failures.

Many people can extend compassion toward others but find it difficult to extend the same compassion toward themselves, so we thought we’d start a mini-series helping you find a way to love and admire yourself first, in the same way, you love and admire others. The first way to do that is to analyse where you are.  Knowing your weaknesses can only ever be a good thing, as it shows you your blind spots and knowing these show you where to begin first in your journey of growth.

Below we have touched on some tell-tale signs that show you may be dealing with insecurities…

  • Trouble looking at yourself / Not wanting to take pictures 

You may find looking in the mirror is difficult, especially in your natural state. Looking at your pictures or attempting to take pictures brings about discomfort and you may result in avoidance in an attempt to not have to experience those feelings.

It’s crucial to remember that you are formed of so much more than your physical, in the words of Emma Watson “feeling beautiful is nothing to do with what you look like”. The problem is not with your body, the problem is what you think of it and how you think of yourself.

  • Social Anxiety / Not wanting to be seen 

Some of you have been on lockdown and social distancing way before the pandemic. This one is not just for the introverts, extroverts too… liking your own company is not a bad thing in fact it is the very thing we want to encourage with this series. However, avoiding being around people for a fear of the unknown relates to a deeper problem. If you are struggling with social anxiety you may find it difficult to socialize, make eye contact and form new relationships. You may be overly self-conscious about the way people perceive you or what they think of your looks/ personality. So you would rather not be seen. In this current day and age, it may not always be physical socialising, it may manifest in ways like having a low social media presence / or just avoiding posting any pictures of yourself because you fear being seen and therefore judged. 

What many of us fail to remember is that the people we converse with, the people at the party, the people on the train, and the people you on Instagram that just posted 10 pictures today are probably thinking about themselves just as much as we are and often don’t even care to notice the things we so desperately want to hide.

  • Comparing yourself negatively

Comparison can be detrimental in many ways, especially because we usually compare ourselves negatively and perceive the other person as better in one way or another. In other words, in a room filled with others, you are keeping score.

The saying “Comparison is the thief of joy” isn’t just a renowned saying by chance, think deeply about this and consider what you may be stealing from yourself.

 “Comparison is an act of violence against the self.” – Iyanla Vanzant

  • Your internal voice is negative

Your internal voice is essentially your thoughts. They are often negative. You are often critical of yourself and never really give yourself any praise or when you do acknowledge your achievements you discount them by offering an additional external reason as to why it came about. Your internal voice always feeds you with a narrative that you are “not good enough”; “not worthy” or “undeserving” – this shows up in various areas of your life.

Censoring and invalidating yourself is common here when your internal voice is critical, you limit yourself and your capabilities. A tree never grew large by having a tiny planter, give yourself room to spread out and grow, this starts by not limiting yourself and feeding yourself with positive thoughts.

  • You self-sabotage

This could relate to any area of your life especially those that require you to build and maintain relationships. Because of your insecurities, you tend to push people away, overthink things, lack trust and find a flaw in everything, you undo your good because you are fearful of experiencing the disappointment you expect.

“Don’t let insecure thoughts ruin something amazing.” – Unknown

  • You lack trust / You need a lot of reassurance

As mentioned because of your lack of belief in yourself you tend not to trust others. Especially those kindest to you and showing you the most love (it’s to do with feeling undeserving, consequently making you skeptical). Because your first love should always be yourself, it can feel unfamiliar and dishonest when someone claims to love the things about yourself you are accustomed to taking for granted. Often this disbelief means a person needs to reassure they still hold these feelings more often than not, as you equate silence to the feelings no longer existing EVEN IF they are expressing love in other non-verbal ways. Whew.

Verbal reassurance holds a lot of weight in these situations, but essentially this is unsustainable. Complacency and comfort occur in all areas of life and as much as it would be lovely to have a cheerleader on our shoulders at all times, it’s not possible. So if you are dealing with insecurity in this way, before your confidence wanes, switch your method and make your voice of reassurance the loudest – stay with us, more to come on how to do this throughout the series!

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” – Wayne Dyer

  • You have unhealthy forms of “escape”/ You always need an escape

From drugs to alcohol, to excessive sleep and bad relationships. You may find that being alone with yourself is too much and so you constantly distract yourself with the examples we mentioned, or you keep yourself occupied by constantly being on the phone or out and about with others.

The sheer idea of being left to just you has you believing you wouldn’t cope or you don’t want to deal with what you may think about.

  • You are sensitive/defensive which can lead to projection

You often take a lot personally and to heart. Even when the perceived negativity is not directed at you you often feel that it is. Psychological projection can occur as a result of this, this is a defense mechanism that makes you attribute undesirable feelings unto other people, as opposed to admitting or handling the unwanted emotions by yourself.

First-step, face the issue head-on. Approach with understanding and compassion towards yourself and the other. Think of the facts and do not become defensive

  • You often feel anxious

You often feel a fear of the unknown. You often have this overwhelming feeling that something bad is going to happen or is happening. You often feel like your goals and aspirations for the future are farfetched and unobtainable.

  • You often feel jealous 

JealousyFeeling or showing an envious resentment of someone or their achievements, possessions, or perceived advantages.”

Whew. I know no one likes to talk about this because frankly, jealousy is UGLY. But jealously does NOT make you evil or a witch and it’s not an incurable disease. When you feel a lot of the feelings above – being that you do not look at yourself or your achievements positively and you often compare yourselves to others. It is actually a very fast and slippery slope to feelings like jealousy.

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not”. – Ann Brashares

  • Overcompensation becomes second nature

Because of your internal voice telling you, “you’re not good enough” or you don’t deserve to be here when you find yourself in situations where you feel underserving you take extra measures to prove your worthiness. This can also occur in relationships/ interactions, where you find yourself doing more to satisfy the other.

Don’t!

  • You have difficulties enforcing non-negotiables

You may find that your boundaries are not fixed and so you are easily swayed and/or often overstep your own boundaries. Or worse, other people overstep your boundaries. Some things in this life shouldn’t be negotiated, especially those that are put in place to protect you, by you. Respect the importance of your boundaries and do not trade these for nothing.

Reflect…

Now have a real one on one talk with yourself. Which applies to me? If only one applies to you, you are still facing some sort of insecurity. The next couple of posts will focus on how we can move away from these negative thoughts about ourselves and really move into a state of self-love, confidence and self-compassion.

Sometimes the hardest battle is against yourself. But believe in yourself, you can win.” – Unknown

One of the greatest journeys in life is overcoming insecurity and learning to truly not give a shit.
– J. A. Konrath

Till next week Friday & Lots of Love,

Eni & Tami x

Check out Eni’s page on Instagram @HerWordsTheirMinds. 

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A Tears to Laughter Story #5: Oyin Morgan

Tell us a little about yourself…

Hey! My name is Oyin, I am 26 years young and I genuinely love deep and meaningful conversations. My friends would describe me as passionate, thoughtful and extremely impulsive (though that’s changing this 2020!)

Tell us about a challenging time in your life…

If I could choose a challenging time in my life, hands down the award would go to years 2017-2018; my life (in every area) came crashing! So, to give bit of context, in 2016 I graduated from University. Life was seemingly happy – girl goes to Uni, gets a 2.1, gets the grad job of her dreams and makes her parents proud. What could go wrong? I mean everything seem to be working perfectly, I was making good money, someone’s son was making me happy (for the most part ha) and my skin was glowing. Things were genuinely making sense as they had been for the past 22 years. But then (and I don’t know why) I began feeling anxious. Anxious about everything but mainly about work. ‘You got this job by accident’ and ‘You’re not good enough’ were anthems on shuffle in my head. These words started getting to my head so much that I remember working from home for 4 weeks straight just because I wasn’t prepared to face any of my colleagues. This feeling was new to me, I was confused as to what was happening. Was I experiencing the preliminary stages of depression or was I just lazy? Was it just a bad day? A low mood? Can prayer fix it? and if I share will I be paraded with a bunch of “aww’s”, “sorry’s” and ‘I didn’t know you were going through that’ These were questions I didn’t have the answer to so I pretended it didn’t exist for a while.

So anyway, I quit my ‘good’ job as I thought it was the problem and trusted God to come through. I had no clue I was in for a journey of patience and resilience. For 7 excruciating months I was unemployed and although my savings were going down by the day, I continued to live a life as though I was employed 😂 I went to interview after interview but would always get turned down after the 2nd or 3rd stage. All in all I think I went to about 18 interviews only to be told that I was unsuccessful. Then one month, I received the news I had been waiting for- a company wanted to employ ME! So, of course I grabbed the offer with both hands, I was sure this was my big break. Boy was I wrong lol. Due to the fact that I was still in a terrible place mentally that job lasted for 4 months and there I was back to square one, unemployed again for a further 6 months.

Other areas contributed to the dark space I was in. In fact, I had no emotional stability which was affecting my romantic relationships. I kept leaving and re-entering toxic spaces that weren’t good for me mentally, but it was all I knew and therefore all I kept finding myself in. And as for spiritually? Don’t get me started on where I was with God. I left my Church for about 3 months and questioned nearly everything I believed to be true. I had no clue who I was anymore.

It hurt more because my elder sisters were great role models, they were married, had good jobs and had two kids each. I couldn’t understand why I, being the last girl was so different to them. Why I couldn’t keep a job? Why I was in situationship after situationship and why my relationship with God was on the rocks. It was no surprise that I thought my life was going to be an endless cycle of short-term jobs and failed relationships.

How did this affect you or make you feel?

My depression hit me bad. Many days I spent hours fantasying about being hurt, injured and dying altogether. It got so bad that I began envying people that would have the balls to hurt themselves, like why couldn’t I run in front of a car? Why couldn’t I overdose? And if I couldn’t, was I really depressed. I began telling myself that I wasn’t that depressed, I mean after all I wasn’t self-harming nor was I actively seeking therapy. I didn’t seem to have the qualifications for REAL depression in my eyes and the mismatch between what I was feeling and what I knew to be depression gnawed at me daily.

Coupled with the unpleasant thoughts, I stayed in my room A LOT and being so susceptible to my emotions, my room was the only safe place for the state I was in. I couldn’t afford to accidentally cry when I was watching TV with my mum or dad so I tried to avoid both parents at all costs. In fact, texting my parents who were just downstairs to confirm ‘I had already eaten’ was the norm for me. I had no energy to do anything- my room would be a mess for days on end and I’d sleep with clothes on my bed, books, my laptop- anything. My room was a complete reflection of my mind- cluttered, hazardous and in desperate need of a tidy up.

And although I’m not really a foodie in general nothing could prepare me for the lack of appetite I had over this period. I hardly ate and dropped two dress sizes. People noticed and kept asking ‘Oyin, how did you do it’ as if I had been on some amazingly life changing diet and I had to brush it off with ‘I don’t know’ when I fully well knew I weren’t eating.

I think the worst effect of all is that I actively self-sabotaged every potential relationship that came my way. There would be times I believed I was happy enough to date, so I would. I’d get to know someone, like them but when it started becoming real and by real, I mean they had a duty to check in on how my job search was going, I’d literally want to terminate the conversation. At the time, my emotions were all over the place and the last thing I wanted to do was talk about being unemployed for more than 20 seconds. But of course, due to the caring nature of who I was talking to, they would probe and press to see how my mental state was. Looking back I can see why any loved one would do this but the truth is, it really just made me feel embarrassed and powerless. So, as a result, every talking stage ended in ‘I don’t think I can do this right now’

Are you in a better space now? How did you overcome this? 

A much better space. I am at PEACE.

If I’m to be honest, I think it all happened so fast that I’d be lying if I said I knew the day things got better. However, I do remember having a deep conversation with my Pastor in which I just cried. Literally there were no words just tears (he must have thought I was mad lol) but he literally encouraged me that all would be well. That week I must have had extra faith boy because I went from having 0 offers to 3 offers and even one from a job that had previously turned me down. I’ll spare you the details but the takeaway from here is that I knew that my story was about to change because my job breakthrough came with such heavy vengeance.

I had seen the results of faith so this allowed me to further trust in God even though areas in my life still needed improvement. I went back to my church, I got involved in serving and committed to coming every week despite how I felt. Low moods became manageable because I realised, I had power over it and it didn’t have power over me. Having a job gave me an in-explainable confidence boost because I was interacting with people for 7-8 hours a day again and not to mention how the pay rise made me feel lol.

My family and friends played a HUGE part in my growth too because they constantly encouraged me, were patient with me even when I was unresponsive or snappy. They took time to educate themselves on what was going on with me and I can honestly say every single person in my life was helpful in their own little way.

What good came from your challenging period? 

Now, I can honestly say I am genuinely happy with where I am in life, I mean I have my ups and downs as any human would but I’m honestly in a great place. I’m in a better space with God, love my job and I’m in the process of healing from emotional scars. That’s a sentence I thought would never come out of my mouth!

Upon reflection, I learnt that I had to be patient with myself and let God do his work in me (Read Philippians 1:6). I didn’t create myself so I was sure he had the manual for ‘fixing’ me. As unsettling as it sounded, my job was just to be STILL. I didn’t need to force conversations about my situation or update people on how I was feeling because that  wasn’t therapeutic to me – and that was OK.

A big one for me was I had to unlearn my impulsive nature. I verbally told myself “you can’t just quit a job because you aren’t feeling it Oyin”. I pushed myself to ‘dig deeper, what don’t you like? What can be done to improve how you feel?’ Because in life, you’re gonna face trials and sometimes it be your own personality type preventing you from overcoming.

All in all, I learnt that with depression, the help you receive is so dependent on how well you can communicate your pain but many people (including myself) do not understand their pain let alone know how to articulate what they’re feeling to someone else. They just know it’s heavy, it’s real and can’t seem to get out of it. So I put together some bullet points for anyone going through a hard time below.

What advice would you give to someone currently going through a difficult time?

  • Tell your loved ones to be present but not intrusive
  • Write down things you’re grateful for and make it visible
  • Don’t force yourself to be happy (You’ll be frustrated at yourself)
  • Take a social media break for at least 28 days (Too much of social media when you’re depressed is unbelievably damaging)
  • Most importantly PRAY (I can’t stress how much this changed my life- God hears and cares)

Remember: what you’re feeling has an expiry date

Any last words?

Confession: I took a while to write this because writing in the past has never been therapeutic to me. I used to hate writing and cried as I did it because it reminded me that my pain is real and isn’t just some thoughts I’ve put together. It’s a compilation of my realities and the experiences concerning the not so nice things life has thrown at me; ones I’d rather forget. I also felt at one point in my life that writing made me feel like a baby, a baby for even feeling the way I do, a baby for complaining and a baby for needing help. But writing this has honestly stirred up a well of gratitude in me, I have been able to reflect on my journey through this one piece and hopefully I have given hope to those who are on theirs. It gets better – I promise you.

Kind Regards,

Oyin & Tami

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A Tears to Laughter Story #4: Renee-Louise

Hey,

I hope you are well.

My name is Renee-Louise and I’m a 23-year-old Economics graduate and serial traveler! My friends would describe me as a brave, adventurous and definitely spontaneous.

While I was at University, I went through some character-building and life-changing experiences. The biggest change that happened and potentially knocked me while at University was my parents splitting up. I never saw the day coming as they had been married for 21 years. Besides, that was all I knew (them being together). Being young and naive I obviously took my mum’s side and got way more involved in my parents’ relationship than I should’ve done.

This became a major distraction and had a knock-on effect on my degree. I felt so overwhelmed at the time since I was consumed with negative emotions that I ended up failing a module and taking an involuntary gap year. At my University, you are not allowed to progress to the next stage unless you pass ALL modules, so I took it on the chin and turned lemons into lemonade.

Within the next week of learning that I would not be progressing to my 3rd year, I landed a job. This was a sales role that I found online with attractive pay. I mean, I’d never done sales before but since I like trying new things I thought, ‘why not?’. Initially, I was only supposed to stay at the job temporarily until I found something in my field that would at the very least contribute to my experience later down the line. However, once I got going in this job, I quickly became one of the top saleswomen and ended up staying there for the majority of my gap year. At one point I was earning more than my own mum and she’s a dentist, so you do the math!

At the time, I was so comfortable in this job and the money, that I even started having thoughts of just doing this sales thing full time and quitting University altogether. However, God had other plans.

After being at the company for about 9 months, sales started to take over my entire life since the job was very demanding. It was so bad that I even forgot about my own personal business that I had at the time and even ended up missing my retake exam because I was so consumed in making money and traveling.

Once I realised that I had missed my exam, I was actually petrified. I thought ‘RIGHT, that’s it I’m getting chucked out, they’ve had it!’. All of a sudden, when my University degree was almost ripped away from me I wanted it more than ever and I was willing to do whatever it took to get it.

I frantically enquired with my University about whether there was another opportunity to resit before September started and thank Jesus there was. At this point, I knew something had to change. Despite the good money I was making from being a sales consultant, I decided to step down from this demanding role so that I could focus on my exam. I moved to another role within the company I was at. This role was far less demanding and target driven so I was able to focus on studying for my exam more.

After a while of being in this role, It was made clear to me that I wasn’t that valuable to the company anymore, so when things started getting a little tight for them financially, they had no problem letting me go. Of course, I was distraught by this because that was my main source if the income at the time. However, again I turned lemons into lemonade and used those months of being unemployed to travel some more and focus on my upcoming exam.

Soon after being laid off, I visited Doha in June 2018 for a solo trip and then went on a family cruise in August 2018. The day before my family cruise was the day of my final chance to retake the exam that I had missed. So, my nerves were all over the place. It wasn’t long before I got back my results and had secured my place I third year again. I had a major sigh of relief because I’d never felt so close to losing my degree before. It was definitely the wake-up call that I needed to value my degree again and regain focus.

When I rejoined University in September, I knew it was time to SMASH it. I wanted to finish with a 2:1 at the very least and to do this, I had to put in serious work because I ended up with a 2:2 in my second year due to just not caring anymore about my degree.

For 9 months, I had to suspend all travel plans, put my head down and actually WORK. I also got closer to God at the start of the academic year which really really helped to give me the drive and determination I needed to take me to the finish line. My third year is when I truly saw what God was capable of doing. He gave me a forgiving heart and I was able to move past my ill-feelings towards my dad and he even rewarded me with first-class grades across the board which helped to drag my grade all the way up to the 2:1 that I’m so grateful to have achieved.

If there’s any advice I’d give to anyone reading this or been in the same predicament as me it’s this:

  • Never take an L as a loss but as a lesson
  • Talk to people on your travels. You have no idea what you could learn
  • Turn lemons into lemonade always. Looking at the brighter side of things always leads to better outcomes!
  • Try new things that are out of your comfort zone, because you have no idea what could be waiting for you outside that zone
  • Don’t get involved in anyone else’s dramas while at University. FOCUS  It’s only 3 years and anyone that loves you will understand that.
  • Travel at any chance you get!
  • Take everything one step at a time while at University. There’s plenty of time to live out your dreams the way you REALLY want to when you’re done!
  • ALWAYS have faith that God knows what he’s doing, even if it doesn’t feel like it. (He wants and knows what is best for us)
I’ve now graduated and living out my dreams of being a travel content creator and it feels great! In fact, as I write this I’m currently on a plane on my way to Nigeria to see my dad and make up for the lost time. So, head over to my blog and follow my journey where I post daily travel, lifestyle and news content.
Thanks for reading!
Kind Regards,
Renee x