I got back into yoga for the first time in months just a few days ago. It was pretty amazing, I felt proud of myself, but I had a recurring thought throughout the whole thing:
“Dear God, why did I stop doing yoga in the first place if it makes me feel better?”
There have been some other good habits I’ve picked back up as well, and I keep asking myself that same question: “Why did I stop [healthy activity that makes me feel mentally better]?”
Over the last few days, I didn’t have a clear-cut answer to my question. I did have some vague hypotheses:
I lost interest in these activities?
I didn’t have the mental energy for these activities?
I forgot how much these activities helped me?
I do believe all of these possibilities could have played a role in why I stopped doing yoga and so many other good-for-mental-health activities. However, in my case, I believe it’s deeper than that: I stopped doing things that make me feel good mentally/emotionally because I am a bully. Against myself.
I realized recently that I’ve been a bully. And I’m finally owning up to it. I’m taking responsibility for my bullying ways.
I’ve gone through many times where I chose unhealthy coping skills instead of tried-and-true healthy ones. I’ve been involved in toxic, unhealthy relationships (and gotten myself back into those toxic, unhealthy relationships). I’ve engaged in negative self-talk that steadily increased in viciousness in recent years.
I’ve attempted to fight back against the bully. But at times, the bully was stronger.
It’s easier to cut ties with another entity who’s bullying you. You can put things in place to make sure the bully has a more difficult time reaching you.
But what do you do if you’re the one punching yourself in the face? The one hurling the threats? Ripping you apart? How do you fight against yourself?
I’ve learned that I have to think of the bully within me as a separate entity entirely. I have to separate the “healthy” me from the “bully” me. They’re not one in the same. One wants good things for my life; the other wants to kill me. Those are two oppositional forces. I have to choose which one to listen to.
You would think this decision would be simple, right? Why would I choose to listen to the bully? Why wouldn’t I just do things that make me feel better rather than continue doing things that make me feel worse?
That’s an excellent question. And it’s a question I don’t yet have the answer to. But it’s finally dawned on me that even though I’ve gone through times in my life when I’ve listened to the bully, my healthy voice is always there waiting for me to come back. My healthy coping skills are still there waiting for me, no matter how much time goes by.
Yoga is there.
Poetry is there.
Long walks are there.
Healthy people to talk to are there.
Music is there.
My blog is there.
No matter how much time I spend away from hobbies and activities that make me feel better because I’m too busy listening to the bully, I can always come back. I can always listen to my healthy voice again and learn to ignore the bully. It’s all a process. It takes years of practice. Slipups will happen. But that’s just a part of life.