Throughout my twenties, I was lost. I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t believe in myself. My head was a jumbled mess of negativity and insecurity from a painful childhood. I lost myself in any relationship I found.
Despite my journalism degree, I worked as a waitress and an administrative assistant because I was scared to take a risk. I used food to fill my emptiness. My depression eventually led me to talk therapy.
While weekly therapy wasn’t a quick fix, it gave me lasting tools and coping skills that helped me fight my way out of depression and anxiety. I hope they’re of use to you, too.
1. Seek professional help.
I found someone who validated my painful past, who helped me understand why my parents were the way they were, and who called me out on how my current behavior was fueling my depression. We identified issues I had from growing up with an alcoholic parent — fear of abandonment, unexpressed anger, people pleasing — and how I could work through each of these issues. I tell anyone who will listen to find a good psychologist, because talk therapy can have an incredibly positive impact on your life. It could even save it.
2. Practice self-compassion.
Learning self-compassion means learning and choosing to be your best friend more often than your worst critic. Catch yourself. Interrupt negative thoughts. Stop them in their tracks. Forgive yourself quickly for mistakes. Set out to tell yourself kind things and coach yourself with positive pep talks when you need ’em. Ask yourself, at random intervals, whenever you think of it: Am I being a best friend to myself right now? Self-compassion builds resilience because eventually you realize you have your own back.
3. Take responsibility for your choices and your circumstances.
When I was in my twenties, I thought I had bad luck. A possessive boyfriend with lots of drama, credit card debt, a job below my skill level, toxic friends, etc. Then I realized I was the common denominator between all my problems. As I made began to make healthier decisions — about relationships, finances and my career — each area started to improve. Take responsibility for your decisions and their consequences. If you don’t like the outcomes, choose differently.
Read the rest of my article on MindBodyGreen.