I had always lived a life trying to be there for people in times of need. From miniscule problems such as help running some errands to major life-changing decisions, I had been there for my near and dear ones. If my friend is not in a good mood, I would voluntarily take it upon myself to make her happy. I believed that maintaining a healthy relationship with everybody is the key to a happy life. But as time passed, I began to feel a sense of melancholy inside me. I felt as if even though everybody had me, I had no one. After a rigorous and pensive introspection of myself, I came to the realisation that I had forgotten my life and my priorities for the sake of ‘being there for others’. I began to think, ‘If I faced any mishap, would somebody be there for me?’ The ambiguity in the answer itself was enough to make me realise what I did wrong.
Expectations create space for insecurities
When you do something for someone, there is always an expectation that the person would also reciprocate the same in similar circumstances. But does that always happen? No. People are selfish. That’s what pops up into your mind immediately. But imagine this scenario. What if you had done something for someone which s/he cannot reciprocate? Any feeling towards somebody can only be just if the opposite person feels the same way. Otherwise, it is just shooting blanks at someone. Even if the opposite person wants to equate your doing, there is always something lacking. This creates insecurities and hampers a perfectly fine relationship.
But you know, who can always fulfil your expectations? You, yourself!
The Art of Self-love
Self-love or self-care is the process of redeeming oneself from the shackles of control. It is the only way of not letting external circumstances affect your mood. It is about creating a balance between the acceptance that you deserve better, and then working towards it, because you are the only person who can stand up for yourself in times of turmoil. It is the art of being true to yourself.
Let us consider a hypothetical scenario. You loved somebody deeply, but they did not reciprocate the love. You felt betrayed. You expected them to do the same for you, but they didn’t. The reason for betrayal was that an equalisation was not achieved. In this scenario, what was affected directly? Your mood. This leads to further overthinking which leads to deterioration of your mental health. The major lesson from this scenario was to alleviate your mood to a further happy state. It is not wrong to grieve but grief should not become the cause of further suffering. Let us take an example. When an organisation registers a loss, it tries to mitigate its losses by innumerable ways possible. Your mind is like an organisation. You must not allow a few negative incidents to affect your mind completely.
The most effective activity which you must do in times of mishap is introspection. Find the inherent reason which is affecting your happiness. Think about your day in general which includes the emotions you felt at a point of time. An efficient activity which will ease introspection is keeping journals and a diary entry of your day-to-day activities. It serves as a mood tracker for you because it transfers your feelings and emotions onto a well-kept journal.
Journal: An effective way for a better life
Keeping a journal is the first step of your journey towards self-love and self-care. Believe it or not, journaling has numerous health benefits.
- An able stress reliever: Don’t you wish that after a hard day you would have someone to listen to? Well, you can’t expect people to be there for you. But your diary would be there for you. Dump your anxieties onto the diary. I assure you, it will ease your pain. In fact, a study showed that expressive writing (like journaling) for only 15 to 20 minutes a day over the course of a four-month period was enough to lower blood pressure and improve liver functionality.
- Improves Immune Function: It is a known fact that a healthy mind is the key to a healthy body. Those who keep a record of their day in the form of journals boast of an improved immune system as well as lessened symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Expressive writing improves liver and lung function and can help combat certain diseases.
- Keeps memory sharp: Journaling improves cognitive processing which in turn helps boost memory and comprehension.
- Strengthens EQ: Emotional Quotient (EQ) is a vital indicator of patience and ability to comprehend situations and undergo appropriate analysis. Journaling evokes mindfulness and helps diarists keep a sense of perspective. Research even proves that journaling can help individuals develop more structured, adaptive and integrated schemes about themselves and the world.
A daily diary is an apt reflection of your day. It helps you in:
- Organising your thoughts: It is a great way to organise your personal thoughts at one place. A daily diary entry could consist of your feelings, emotions and even your opinions about something.
- Setting goals: Keeping a journal is a great way to jot down your goals and dreams. It is a known fact that humans seek validation for any task they want to accomplish. By recording your goals onto a journal, you are validating yourself and giving yourself confidence that it can be achieved.
- Planning your day: The next step on the path on self-care is being able to comprehend that you can be the best version of yourself. What better way to be the best than to plan your day then recording it on your personal diary?
- Celebrating your achievements: Learn to give yourself credit for all the good things you have done in life. Don’t expect that others will always appreciate you. Give yourself a pat on the back for every goal you achieve. Record your achievements in writing as notes or a log in your personal diary daily. Reminisce those achievements when you are not in a great mood. It would help you alleviate your mood and motivate you. You are your biggest source of motivation.
Writing a daily diary entry may seem exciting at first but as time passes, it may seem as a daunting and painstaking task. This is because we are so engrossed in our day-to-day lives that we don’t have time to keep a journal. It is not the only reason. Sometimes, our days don’t go well. There are many incidents in our life which we don’t want to remember. We feel no reason to record those days in the form of writing as we feel that it would leave an indelible mark of sadness in our log. Sometimes, it may be just lethargy that is just holding us back.
The digital revolution has given birth to innovation in every aspect of life, including mental health. There are many mental health and journaling apps which help you keep track of your day and daily mood. Apps like Chiku – Journal, Diary and Mood Tracker serve as your personal online diary. Unlike a hard-bound journal, Chiku serves as a mood tracker and diary which assesses the reason for your current behaviour. If you don’t feel like writing, Chiku also has visual representation of various moods in the form of images and themes. An excellent emotion tracker, it has helped me immensely in my self-love journey.
Self-love is not selfish; you cannot truly love another until you know how to love yourself. You are the universe in yourself. Don’t let external circumstances be an obstacle in your journey.