As someone who experiences depression on a fairly regular basis, I struggle when it comes to the concept of choosing. I forget about my power to decide, and how those choices can directly impact my well-being. After so many years of experiencing mental illness, the power to choose feels like a theoretical concept at this point, but I don’t think I’d realized just how much I was limiting myself until the pandemic hit. Remembering the power to choose can go a long way toward building up confidence and self-esteem, which is why it’s an extremely important thing to remember when you’re experiencing mental health challenges.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that for the past two years, the pandemic has shifted the way we live. How we go about our day is different than it used to be, and what is safe or best for us has also changed dramatically.
It’s different for me now than it was earlier in the pandemic, I don’t think I’ve truly reflected on just how little choice I had in March and April of 2020. There’s probably a lot of other reflecting I have to do on that period of the pandemic, but for now, we’re talking about choices. In those few months, I never felt more powerless in any choices I made. And in the past two years, that anxiety and fear around choices has only grown.
When things were in peak shut-down, I started asking different questions about how I spent my time. It went from “Do I want to?” to “Can I?” – as in, “Can I do this thing safely? Am I able to do this in the age of COVID?” Though I believe this was the best way to guide my decision-making, I got into the bad habit of taking myself out of the equation, which is not ideal since I work hard to build up my confidence and self-esteem.
I am working my way back toward putting weight behind my choices, but it’s hard. For some, this pandemic is the first time that choices were taken out of their hands, but as someone who has always experienced self-worth issues, this feeling isn’t new to me. I don’t always feel like I’m making choices for me, and I want to experience the confidence of making those decisions.
Part of that is growing in my self-confidence, but I also want to grow in self-compassion. Caring about myself is an active feeling that I have to engage with every day – it’s not a default feeling. I’m hoping to learn more about myself in this way in the future. For now, I just want to remember that whether or not I choose to do something, I am making a decision that is best for me as a person, and there’s enormous power in that.
Now I want to hear from you! How do you think self-worth and self-esteem play into the way that we make choices? Let me know in the comments!