10 things I figured out when I learned to like myself

1. Trying to please everyone doesn’t please anyone, most of all you.

I was a healthcare social worker for 18 years. The job of the social worker is to basically tie together all of the other departments working with a patient to ensure all of their goals and needs are met. When multiple departments are involved, multiple people need things. Most often, multiple people need things right now. I did my best to try and do everything for everyone. At the end of the day nothing was completely done, everyone was mad and I was burned out. Don’t do that. Focus on the order of importance and some other people will have to wait.

The same goes for family. Every holiday was Mom’s family and Dad’s family who wanted time. Then it became the parents families of my significant others. It’s impossible to be in four places at once, no matter how many desserts are offered. Plan your schedule with what works for you and work on compromise. If someone refuses to cooperate then that is their choice. Some may be mad but they will get over it. Do not ruin your holiday trying to appease everyone else’s. Make your effort definitely, you can’t blow off your family but if someone is unreasonable and behaving badly then it is okay to choose not to interact with them.

2. It’s okay if people don’t like you

A supervisor once told me 10% of people will love you no matter what. Another 10% will hate you no matter how hard you try. Do what you can for the 80% in the middle that can go either way. Not everyone is going to have warm and fuzzy feelings toward you and that’s okay. A friend of mine was self conscious about her legs. She’s a beautiful woman but she doesn’t see herself that way all of the time. She told me it was 90 degrees out, her air conditioning was broken and she was wearing sweatpants. Our conversation went like this: “Why?” I asked her. “I don’t like the way people look at me when I go out.” she said. “What people?” I asked her. “Oh I don’t know, whoever is around” she replied. “So, strangers?” I asked. “Yes I suppose so.” Girl are you listening to yourself? “What effect does the opinion of a stranger, who you will never see again have on your life?” “None” was her answer. “Exactly. put some shorts on.” Now of course you have to follow rules of society but wear what you want, do what is right. If someone has a problem with you, that’s exactly what it is: their problem.

3. Love what you do or find a way to do what you love

Day one of social work school I will never forget the professor saying if you’re here to make money or change the world I can tell you to start off that you won’t. Pssshhhh…. that’s because no one has done it yet I thought. The professor was right. There were weeks I would sit in my house that needed repairs, stirring my hot dogs and ramen noodles and looking at my empty bank account thinking how did I get here? I would go into work and, well, see number 1. Years upon years of the same, in a job that couldn’t go anywhere wears down on a person. Now I love the field of social work, I do absolutely love solving problems, making goals, meeting varieties of people and helping people out of bad situations. Some people didn’t want to be helped. Some people blamed me for their problems, some people thought I could create a solution that doesn’t exist. It was my job, I was told. Eventually you wear out, you need a break, you burn out. I needed a break long before I was told I needed a break. Rock bottom came when I wound up in intensive care and the diagnosis list was so long the doctors couldn’t figure out how I was functioning as well as I had been. I can’t anymore. I can’t hold an office job, I can’t be available at a moment’s notice and I have my health to worry about. Writing was always my outlet. Most of my writing I never let people read. Now that I’ve been out of the workforce, I’ve been writing. I published a book. Another one comes out in a few days. People read my work and they liked it! Guess what? I love writing! Now, writing doesn’t currently pay the bills. It may never pay the bills. I am still having to file a disability application and sacrifices are being made but my stress level is mostly manageable. I still have panic attacks, I don’t like to leave my house much but now I don’t have to. Lesson learned: There is always a different path you can choose. If you’re not happy with the one you’re on, take the fork in the road.

4. Your parents were right.

Rules? I don’t need their stupid rules. When I grow up I don’t have to clean if I don’t want to, I can stay up as late as I want, I don’t have to go to school. I’m never going to treat my kids the way they treat me. I was about 25 and had lost both of them before I realized I was in way over my head and should have listened. There’s so many things I do today that I wished I had learned more from them. Managing money, cooking, deep cleaning, self care, the list goes on and on. Bottom line: no matter how old you are, you still need Mom and Dad in whatever shape they may come in: single parents, two moms, two dads whatever. Remember them, talk to them if they’re still here and most importantly learn from them.

5. Living for anyone but you is not living

Your. life. cannot. revolve. around. other. people. the end.

6. just because you were trained to do it, doesn’t mean you have to.

I graduated college in 2002 with a Bachelor’s degree in social work. I did that job for 18 years, I physically can’t anymore. Sometimes I feel my degree was a waste but in reality it has helped me in so many other areas. Just because I have a social work degree, doesn’t mean I have to be a social worker. I learned how to actively and passively listen, I learned how to pick out what someone is telling me and make sure I understand it correctly, I learned empathy and how to think outside the box. These skills are things many people lack yet come in handy every day. They also help to create characters, enabling me to get inside of a character, to feel what they would feel and to solve problems. The fact that I wrote the problem into existence in the first place is beside the point.

7. Don’t work too hard, your dog misses you

Once upon a time I lived alone. Not completely alone, My dog Daffy was there. Daffy is my best friend. We walked every morning. I went to work. She got crazy hyper when I came home, we played in the yard, we played with toys and then we cuddled in bed when it was time to go to sleep. My hours became later and later. I couldn’t say my work load was unrealistic, it all had to be done. My hours got longer and longer. I was too tired when I got home. I did a deep clean one weekend and found all of Daffy’s toys under my bed. She’d been trying to play with me for goodness knows how long and I had been too tired. Go home on time. See your family. Play with your dog. Remember what they say, dogs are part of our life but to them we are their whole life. Dogs deserve good lives full of fun with their owners.

8. Want what you need. Needing what you want is bonus.

We as a culture like stuff. We like buying a lot of stuff. There are certain things that we need. We need nutritious food and water, decent shelter, clothing, ways to get places etc. Everything else is bonus. Learn to live within your budget. Save for a rainy day. be happy when you are able to acquire everything you need. When there is extra money for things you want then splurge but learn to distinguish between need and want in your budget. You don’t have to impress anyone with the latest anything. You need to make yourself comfortable.

9. Ask for help

Asking for help is sooooo hard. We feel weak, we feel we should have handled things ourselves. We hate these feelings. Sometimes everything is too much, or we don’t understand. Maybe we’re not strong enough. Maybe it’s addiction, mental illness, Whatever the case may be, a job needing more people is better than a job not getting done. When the task at hand is too much, seek help, if you don’t get it, seek from another source.

10. Be led by leaders, if you can’t find one, be one.

Jobs have a hierarchy system. There’s a boss, there’s managers, there’s employees. That boss is appointed in their position to lead. Managers help the boss do that. Sometimes, we got stuck. Your boss needs to be the person you can go to and say ‘I don’t understand’ or ‘I need help.’ A leader will help you through whatever situation you are in. Help you to figure it out and point you in the right direction. Have you ever had a boss that told you to figure it out yourself when you sought help? Or how about “I’m not doing your work for you.” What about a co-worker that vents to you because they have been to the boss and gotten that reaction. How about community projects? Ever show up to the church rummage sale and find everyone running around like chickens? Leaders create order. They get things done and give assignments to others in order to make that happen. If you leader is not leading you, be the leader that’s needed.

I have struggled with anxiety my entire life. I have had poor self esteem for as long as I can remember. A lot of people in my life have taken advantage of that, some still do. I still have a long way to go to figure myself out and I may never do that, but I’m proud of what I’ve done so far. Never be afraid to change something you’re unhappy with. You deserve more.

To check out my books see my amazon author page http://www.amazon.com/author/catbanks