I’ve never been amazing at having self-confidence. I have always admired people who exude that sort of confidence that comes across as fearless and calm. I’ve learned to fake it, and have faked it many many times, but inside the wheels are turning too quickly and I am just waiting to be exposed as afraid and overly concerned with the opinions others hold of me. Everyday, for a long time, has involved some level of overcoming this lack of self-assurance in order to achieve the things that I have wanted to achieve and to be more like the person I want to be. It can feel, sometimes, like I walk with an emotional limp, a dent in my character.
At times it has been an advantage, lower than desired confidence has led me to become more introspective, which in turn has led to me writing what I think about, and I have had some messages from people who have found what I have written a blessing and a help. At other times, it has stopped me making what would have turned out to be mistakes, my lack of self-belief turned out to be an accurate assessment of my abilities on those occasions. Overall, though, it has still felt like a limp, and I have held myself back from many things I’ve wanted to try. I’ve stood silent when I should challenge people who were being unfair. I’ve allowed opportunity to go elsewhere because I felt that elsewhere would serve that opportunity better than I would. I don’t think I am alone in this experience of the world.
At other times, my limp has had an impact on my faith. On bad days, I’ve found it hard to engage well with the promises of my faith, with the words of value and of being loved by God. On those same days, I have found my focus dwelling upon the ideas that lurk in the background, ideas that suggest that I have no good in me at all. This is something that I don’t actually believe to be true – I believe, we are still the creation that God called good, with a crack of rebellion and sin in our gilding; but we are still golden and full of value. On the bad days I forget the gilding and the value and focus on the cracks.
Thankfully the bad days aren’t that common. As I wrote HERE, I found myself in a bad place last year with anxiety and stress. In the months since writing those words I have found myself reflecting on some of the reasons that I didn’t act sooner for the sake of my health. I think ultimately, as well as the reasons I listed in that blog, the main reason is my limp, that somehow I wasn’t worth it. That is hard to write down, admitting to yourself that you had allowed the lie of low self-worth to creep into your mind and set up camp is one thing, but writing it down for someone else is quite another. I do think it is a healthy thing for all of to share these things though. Superhuman-social-media-person must die.
I didn’t take care of myself because I thought everyone else had a greater value than I did. The church I was serving, my family, my friends and endless other individuals and groups had to come first. I made choices based on that thought for far too long. It was a poor decision because ultimately, in the end, I couldn’t care for anyone at all. I was too tired and worn out to help at all.
I am writing this because this week is Mental Health Awareness Week. I know that there are plenty of people like me. I know that there are plenty of people who don’t want to tell anyone how they are feeling because they don’t think anyone will care because they have allowed that same lie of low self-worth to set up home in their mind.
I know that there are men who think that telling anyone that they cry a lot and aren’t sure why, that they are lonely, that they are being sick before work and get chest pains etc. just isn’t manly and they just need to man up (for those who’ve heard me say that phrase in the past and mean it, I am truly sorry.)
I know that there are women who feel that they haven’t time to talk to anyone about their breathless moments of fear, their sleepless nights of worry, because their career is just on the edge of breakthrough.
I know there are men and women who can’t talk about their struggle because they are focussing on their kids right now. Women who look at their kids and feel nothing but pretend it isn’t true. Men who lie awake, sweating with their hearts racing, afraid that they are a failure to their family, they can’t see the evidence to the contrary.
I know that there are teenagers who are turning to self-harm to take the focus of the pain in their souls for just a few moments of escape. Others who feel nothing, ever, who walk around in a world of muffled noises and greyscale, incredibly sad and afraid that there is no hope for them.
I know that there are people who are pulling their cars over in lay-bys until the anxiety attack passes. Brave facing it for the board meeting or the classroom or the family dinner because that’s just what you do, and nobody can know.
I know that there are people who just need to talk who are not just afraid to talk, but are convinced that they aren’t worth being heard. I’ve been there. I’ve felt that. It is a bad cycle to be in, it leads to nowhere at all, just back to the same dark spot.
I stopped to restart 6 months ago. I found myself recovering quickly. I found that people really did want to listen. I was loved even more than I already knew I was. I am finding ways to silence that voice that stabs at my self-confidence. The hardest moment in recovering was the first moment, telling the first person, admitting that I wasn’t in a good place and needed to change.
I don’t often tell people to be like me for a number of reasons but if you recognise yourself in what I’ve written here please, please, please talk to someone. It is perfectly ok to not be ok but please don’t believe you have to stay there. Please don’t believe that you aren’t worth hearing. You are. You are as full of things to be celebrated, much more than you are with pain.
You’re far too important and valuable to not tell someone. You’re even more loved than you think you are. If you’re struggling and you can’t think of anyone else, tell me. I can’t promise that talking takes all of the pain away, but it does help, it really does. Getting help is a strong move, it isn’t weak, every person on earth needs help at some point.