I got lucky enough to know that my fear had a deadline. To know that at some point I would have an answer. And I got lucky enough to get the answer I had been hoping for and not the answer I had been so afraid of.
But now what? When we are lucky enough to get the chance to leave our fear behind. What do we do next? When our entire life had been evolving around that fear. (It does not have to be fear. It can really be anything you have been evolving around and now stopped.) How can we move on?
I think there are two crucial parts: One is looking back and figuring out what went wrong. And what went well. This is important, but I think it is quite self-explanatory. It allows us to deal with the emotions and not bury them inside us. But we do not want to live in the past. We shall not be devoured by regret. (In fact this could be the topic for a whole separate blog post.)
The other part is looking into the future. And sometimes, when we have been so caught up in something we need to actively create a vision of ourselves. But why would that be helpful? A vision allows us to measure our actions by. If something makes us more like the person we are in that vision, it is a productive action. But why do we need that?
Because we need a direction. Until this point we have been evolving around whatever it is we are leaving behind. Now it is time to evolve around something positive. Around the person we want to be. In my vision I never say: “I am not a self-harmer.” I say things like: “I am a strong, independent woman.” Such a positive vision, a vision of what we want to be rather than what we do not want to be, is very powerful, because it motivates us to go on. And it gives us somewhere to go. Somewhere we want to go. And every time we are able to take a step towards our vision, we will be able to love ourselves a bit more. Because we did something that made us better.
In the self-harm and self-hate context this is so important. Because we tend to be trapped in all that negativity. And I know I could not even have written this post last week. I think us hating ourselves… as sad as it is: It is part of who we are. And yes, we do have to fight it. But we cannot fight negativity with more negativity. We cannot fight the fact that we hate ourselves, by hating that we hate. That’s… recursive. So instead we need to find something about us, that we can love. And that is why we need a vision: because we want to be like the vision. And every time we get a little closer to who we want to be, we are allowed to be proud of ourselves. Love ourselves a bit more. Trust ourselves a bit more. Experience that we are actually not as much of a failure as we always like to make ourselves believe. And that I call taking control of our lives. Actively fueling our self-confidence instead of letting negativity destroy us.
But how can we create a vision? What inspires such a vision? There are many sources for that: People we admire. Ideologies. Quotes. And more mundane: Books, movies, series, music, pictures. I usually work with 4 categories:
- Me and university
- Me and my hobbies
- Me and myself
- Me and others
In each of these categories I determine what is important to me. I write it down and that is how my vision is born. Then I take one or two points in each category and figure out a way to actively improve that point. I make a plan. And most importantly: I try to ask myself on a regular basis: “Is this how the person in my vision would act?” or “Is this bringing me closer to the person I want to be?”. This is not entirely about accounting for the progress we make in becoming the vision, it is mostly about remembering that positive vision. Getting into the mindset of that vision. Because we can so easily forget, what we want to fight for. So reminding ourselves of it is always a good idea.