How to squash morning depression

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How to learn self-value even when the people you love treat you like rubbish

The door slams shut.

Carla stands, heart pounding, a mere spectator to the hurtful words that linger in the air like a suffocating fog.

Her family, the ones who should be her champions, have become her critics.

In their eyes, she is never enough.

Their harsh words are like bricks, piling up and forming a wall that grows taller and sturdier with each passing day.

She thinks, "I am the problem. I am the reason they're unhappy."

It's an easy trap, this self-blame.

It's like quicksand. The more she struggles against it, the deeper she sinks.

Unknowingly, Carla clings to their words.

The criticisms echo in her mind, a broken record on repeat.

"You're too loud," they say.

"You're too sensitive," they complain.

"Why can't you be like your sister?" they lament.

Each comment chips away at her, creating a void where her self-esteem once resided.

The quicksand pulls her down. She starts to believe them.

She tries to change, to mold herself into their image of perfection. But the perfect image is like smoke, elusive and ever-changing.

Striving to please them, she ends up losing herself. Her dreams fade into the background. Her own needs and desires become foreign.

The vibrant girl she once was now feels like a distant memory.

The quicksand is up to her neck.

Carla's world narrows down to one thing - validation from her family.

Her happiness hinges on their approval. But it's like chasing shadows. The more she tries to grasp it, the further it recedes.

Her efforts remain unnoticed, her achievements unacknowledged.

She is a ghost in her own life.

Why am I sharing Carla's story with you?

Carla found herself in her own echo chamber, where her self-worth was being distorted by the amplified voices of others. 

She struggled to realize that her true value was not a byproduct of validation, but a self-contained entity, immune to outside influences.

And here is the crucial point...

You see, when you surrender your worth to the hands of criticism, you essentially imprison yourselvef with self-constructed walls of a mirrored glass. 

You see your reflection distorted by others' opinions, unaware that it's merely a trick of the light.

Essentially, your value isn't dictated by external validation but is inherent and independent.

We're the architects of our perception, curators of our identity, and keepers of our worth.

The real power lies not in earning our value but in recognizing it.

Like the sky not needing the earth's approval to exist, our value remains constant and unassailable.

But how do we learn to recognize our value practically?

Glad you asked...

Sticking with the archtiect metaphor, this is...

How  to practically learn to value yourself even when the people in your life treat you like rubish.

Imagine yourself as an architect of an Invisible City.

A magical metropolis representing your self-worth.

This city isn't built with bricks and mortar, but with intangible elements that are key to recognizing your value.

And the intangible elements that your city is made up of are...

  1. The Map of Authenticity
  2. The Gravity of Uniqueness:
  3. The Doors of Discretion
  4. The Mirrors of Reflected Reality
  5. The Language of Self-Belief

And th big point here is that when you practice using these elements regularly, you will notice your sense of self worth increase.

Now let's break these elements down one by one to help you see how you can use them  practically in your specific situation.

Element 1. Your Map of Authenticity:

This is not a traditional map, but a shifting blueprint of your true self.

Authenticity isn't static, it evolves, and so does your city.

Your authentic map changes its landscape as you grow and change, reflecting your true, evolving value.

Becoming fully aware of your Authentic Map helps you beging to recognize your value.

Here are practical techniques that can help you become aware of your authentic map

Technique 1.1) Micro-Moment Mapping:

While major life events often take center stage in our self-narrative, the quiet, mundane moments can be revealing.

Pay attention to these micro-moments, like the book that caught your eye in the store, or the song you hummed to in the shower.

They can offer surprising insights into your authentic self, akin to noticing the subtle alleyways and tiny parks in your city.

Technique 1.2) Converse with Your Past and Future Selves:

Our past and future selves are parts of who we are.

Engage in an internal dialogue with them.

Consider a diary entry from five years ago, reading your own thoughts might feel like meeting a stranger, yet that stranger is you.

Similarly, pen a letter to your future self.

This dialogue can help you trace your evolution, a step closer to charting an authentic map of self.

Technique 1.3) Reverse Bucket List:

Rather than writing down what you hope to do, create a reverse bucket list of things you'd never want to do.

This exercise can reveal your limits and values in a profound way.

Perhaps you'd never want to bungee jump - it's not the fear of heights but the aversion to unnecessary risks that characterizes you.

Element 2. Gravity of Uniqueness:

The city, although invisible to others, has a gravity that keeps it grounded.

Your uniqueness is this force.

It's the revelation that your individual qualities give weight to your worth, unseen yet powerfully grounding your city amidst storms of criticism.

Technique 2.1) Nuturing your Nebulas:

Nebulas are the birthplaces of stars.

Similarly, nurture the raw, nebulous aspects of your character that hold potential for growth.

This could be an interest in philosophy that you've always relegated to the sidelines.

Delving into it could lead to a newfound passion or even a career.

Technique 2.2) Embracing your Black Holes:

Understand that black holes – the aspects of self we avoid due to fear or discomfort – are also part of your gravitational field.

For instance, Someone who often avoids conflict might perceive this as a weakness or a failing. 

But, in pinpointing this 'black hole', the individual can come to understand that this tendency stems from a deep value for harmony and peace.

Thus, this 'black hole' isn't a flaw to be corrected but an insight into your fundamental character, showcasing their desire for serene and balanced environments.

Technique 2.3) Resisting 'Planetary Pulls':

Just as planets exert gravitational pull on each other, societal expectations and opinions exert influence over us.

Resisting this 'planetary pull' involves discerning between what is externally imposed and what genuinely resonates with you.

This could mean opting for a career in music when everyone else sees you as a lawyer.

Technique 2.4) Looking Out for Comets:

Comets are unexpected events that briefly light up your sky before disappearing.

They represent the fleeting moments when you experience something outside of your comfort zone that surprisingly resonates with you.

Perhaps a pottery class you took on a whim revealed a love for tactile creativity.

This emphasizes that we should not limit ourselves to what's comfortable or familiar. 

Instead, by welcoming and embracing unexpected opportunities, we can uncover more about who we are, thus leading us to a more profound understanding and valuation of our unique selves.

Element 3. Doors of Discretion:

Within your city, there are countless doors. Each represents your right to open or close yourself to others’ opinions. Astonishingly, these doors aren't for others to knock on but for you to control, a boundary that shields your city's quiet streets from the noise of judgment.

Technique 3.1) Recognize the Doors:

Firstly, it's vital to comprehend that these "doors" exist – they are our personal boundaries.

Recognizing these metaphorical "doors" is the first step towards understanding that we have control over our emotional responses.

We can choose what and who we allow to influence our sense of self-worth.

Take the example of becoming defensive at family dinners due to unsolicited advice.

The moment you recognize this as a "door" - a point of emotional entry that can be influenced by others - you're already one step closer to handling it more effectively.

This awareness is important because it signifies a shift in perception from being a passive recipient of others' opinions.

It gives you the ability to discern which comments or criticisms you will take on board and which ones you'll leave at the doorstep.

Technique 3.2) Master the Keys:

Next, you need to learn how to operate the keys to these doors.

"Master the Keys" emphasizes the significance of discernment and active control in managing our personal boundaries. 
The ability to decide what influences us is crucial in preserving our self-worth and authenticity.

Consider the given example: your sister casually comments on your attire. In this situation, mastering the keys would entail acknowledging her opinion without letting it control your sense of style or self. You learn to respond without internalizing the comment, maintaining the integrity of your individuality and personal preference.

Mastering the keys grants you the ability to control access to your self-esteem, ensuring it remains unscathed by unsolicited judgments, thereby reinforcing the strength and resilience of your unique identity.

Element 4. Mirrors of Reflected Reality:

Scattered around the city are mirrors, not to reflect you, but to refract external negativity.

These mirrors take the harsh sunlight of criticism and reflect it away, leaving your city basking in the soft, kind glow of your own self-worth.

Technique 4.1) Understand the Mirrors:

The first step is to comprehend what these 'mirrors' represent.

They are your cognitive reframing mechanisms, tools that transform negative inputs into constructive self-reflection.

For instance, if your boss criticizes your presentation, rather than feeling inadequate, reframe it into a motivation to improve your skills.

Technique 4.2) Place Your Mirrors Strategically:

Position your mirrors in areas of your city where the sunlight of criticism often strikes.

If you frequently find yourself criticized in your relationships, work on reframing those criticisms into lessons for personal growth.

This isn't about becoming impervious to critique but about understanding it from a growth perspective.

Technique 4.3) Polish Your Mirrors Regularly:

Like physical mirrors, these cognitive mirrors require consistent maintenance.

This might mean regular introspection, time spent understanding how you can transform negative inputs into growth opportunities.

When a friend comments on your 'stubbornness', polish the mirror to see a person firm in their convictions.

Technique 4.4) Trust the Mirrors:

In times when criticism is harsh and it's tempting to remove the mirrors, stand firm. They are your first line of defense against external attacks on your worth.

A partner saying, "you're too emotional," could make you question your sensitivity.

Trust your mirror to reframe it, seeing your ability to empathize as a strength.

Technique 4.5) Add More Mirrors as You Grow:

As you change and evolve, your city will expand and new areas will be exposed to the harsh sunlight of criticism.

Recognize these areas and install new mirrors.

For example, if you've started a new job and face criticism, install a mirror there to help you reframe these new experiences and grow.

Element 5. Language of Self-Belief:

The city hums with its own unique language, a symphony of self-belief that resonates through its silent streets.

It’s the unexpected twist where the city sings your worth, a resonant melody that drowns out the discordant notes of external disapproval.

Technique 5.1) Listen to the Melody:

Acknowledge that your self-belief has a voice, and it's quietly singing a melody of worth. Suppose you completed a challenging project at work. Instead of downplaying your success, listen to the quiet song of accomplishment that's resonating. You did it, and you should be proud.

Technique 5.2) Learn Your Lyrics:

Identify the words and phrases that echo self-belief. This may sound as simple as "I can do this," or as complex as "I'm capable of overcoming the challenges that lie ahead." For instance, when faced with a daunting task, rather than instinctively thinking "I can't," learn to sing, "I'll give it my best."

Technique 5.3) Compose Your Symphony:

Actively contribute to the melody of your city. Amplify your voice of self-belief by composing your own affirmations. For example, if you're often self-critical about your looks, write a mantra like, "I am more than my physical appearance. My worth stems from my actions and values."

Technique 5.4) Conduct Your Orchestra:

Understand that you are the conductor of this symphony. You decide how loud the melody of self-belief plays. If you find yourself in a situation where others are undermining your achievements, choose to turn up the volume on your self-belief. Remember, their voices don't get to drown out your song.

Technique 5.5) Harmonize with Dissonance:

Encountering disapproval is part of life, but it doesn't need to silence your melody. Instead, create a harmony that incorporates these discordant notes. If someone belittles your aspirations, don't let it silence your song. Instead, add a verse about resilience and determination.

This language of self-belief allows us to counteract the noise of negativity with a melody of affirmation. It's a radical act of self-validation, an act of saying, "I am, and that is enough."

Embracing the Invisible City Within You

The essential truth then, isn't about constructing this Invisible City, but about the astonishing revelation that it has existed all along.

It's the cityscape that reflects your individuality, the streets that resonate with your unique melody of self-belief, the gravity of your authenticity, and the mirrors that refract negativity while illuminating self-love.

The Invisible City is an emblem of your inherent value, a testament to your inimitable worth.

In the face of outside disapproval, it's easy to lose sight of this city.

We often find ourselves wandering aimlessly, the city's vibrant landscapes overshadowed by the imposing skyscrapers of criticism and judgement.

Yet, this city never ceases to exist; it merely waits for you to see it again, to traverse its streets and reclaim your place at its heart.

The challenge then is not about learning to value yourself.

It's about rediscovering your Invisible City and acknowledging its innate worth. 

It's about nurturing this personal metropolis, tending to its unique landmarks, and maintaining its boundaries.

It’s about realizing that your value doesn’t waver with others’ approval or disapproval. 

It’s constant, resolute, and unassailable.

Like the steadfast sky that doesn’t need the earth’s permission to exist, your worth is irrefutable.

Your self worth has been there all along, waiting for you to come home.

So It’s really about saying, “I am, and that is enough”.

It's about embracing your Invisible City, a City that, in its silence, sings the most resonant song of self-worth.

The rest of the articles in this series:

Why am I such a failure?

Why positive affirmations might be breaking your self-esteem

How to learn self-value even when the people you love treat you like rubbish (This article)

How to learn self-value: The key to an authentic self

Breaking Through Personal Barriers to Reclaim Your Self-Worth

Unlock Your Ultimate Confidence: 100 Game-Changing Self-Esteem Tips

Rewire your brain and rebuild your self esteem

Written by Adewale Ademuyiwa


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