May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which focuses on our psychological and emotional wellbeing. One way to improve your mental health is evaluating your internal self-thoughts and feelings. How we see ourselves greatly influences our mental health. For many, having negative feelings and thoughts about yourself can seem normal, or even deserved. However, negative thoughts and feelings have the ability to overtake one’s internal and external experiences altogether, and negatively impact overall mental health and wellbeing.
It can be an ordinary human thought to wonder if we are significant, if we matter, or if our existence as one in over 7 billion individuals is something of value. It can feel natural to discount ourselves and believe that we are less-than. This can sometimes even come out in our actions and behaviors, and it may leave us apologizing for our very existence.
Are you a person who finds yourself saying “Sorry” to others quite frequently? Do you apologize for things that are not even your fault or that you have no control over? Do you ever feel guilty or ashamed when you tell someone “No”? These over-apologizing tendencies can create a negative view of one’s self, which can negatively impact personal and relational circumstances due to feeling like a burden on others.
Are you the person that berates yourself for saying something you wish you hadn’t? Do you ever worry so much about what others think of you or if they like you that it becomes all consuming? Does your uniqueness get overshadowed in order to simply fit in?
Each individual person is made up of a unique set of experiences with various family systems, cultures, educational experiences, environments, relationships, traumas, and triumphs, impacting who each of us is. Finding a sense of purpose and gratitude for the who of you, rather than apologizing for not being smarter, thinner, prettier, stronger, more successful, or fill-in-the-blank, can be a challenge that we all face at times in our lives.
What if we did not allow these thoughts to continue, but rather stepped into new territory toward positivity? What would happen if none of us were sorry for our existence, but rather grateful and proactive toward having an existence that matters?
Here today, you have the power and ability to start exchanging some thoughts and feelings you have about yourself and choosing to move toward positivity, self-acceptance, and gratitude. This shift may begin to move your mental health toward improved wellbeing. Perhaps you could adopt new statements that empower your presence and existence rather than criticize it. How about shifting the “sorry” statements to “thank you” statements as a small start?
Instead of, “I am sorry for being late,” you could say, “Thank you for your patience waiting for me.”
Instead of, “I apologize for feeling so anxious or down,” you could say, “Thank you for being with me in my current state without trying to fix me.”
Instead of, “I hope I am not bothering you,” you could say, “Thank you for lending a listening ear.”
Instead of telling yourself, “You are so dumb,” you could say, “This is difficult because you have not learned that yet.”
These are just a few examples of how you can make a change to improve your overall mental wellbeing. It might also improve how you and others see yourself and put your existence in a new, more hopeful light.
How will you change “sorry” to “thank you” this week?