Hi, I am a 27 y.o. woman who is having trouble dealing with life. I had to let go of a past love, whom I thought would be the one for me forever. I have lost all my friends because I believe in Jesus, and I am going to be living alone for the first time ever. I know I have to grow up, and I know I have to deal with my issues. Its just been hard, and when I think of my ex not wanting to be with me, I feel less than I am and very low self-esteem as well as a depressed feeling. Its ironic because I am beautiful and have a nice body, and most guys always fall in love with me. All that doesn't matter and sometimes I want to just go into a dark room and stay there. Anyway, I deal with life and also not knowing what I want to do in my life. Any tips?
It sounds like you are feeling really alone. It is hard to deal with the grief of a relationship that has come to an end, and this is compounded by losing your friends as well.
You are not alone in your experience - many people are faced with feelings of self-doubt in situations like this. You're right about the irony in the situation. The fact that someone who is deserving of self-esteem and happiness is feeling depressed and lacking self-esteem is ironic. The negative thoughts are not at all true, but you are thinking and feeling as if they are.
Despite the sadness and grief you are going through, it sounds like on some level you know that you are far more worthwhile than you have been feeling lately.
There is a difference between knowing intellectually that you are beautiful and valuable, and believing on a gut level that these things are true.
There are ways of changing the negative beliefs that lead to depressed feelings. Here are a few I suggest:
1. Strength through faith. You mentioned that you lost your friends because you believe in Jesus. How hurtful this must be! Jesus understands this completely: he was rejected and betrayed by friends, too. Your belief can be a source of strength and comfort as you go through this. Do you have any friends or acquaintances who also believe? If so, perhaps they can help you realize how valuable and important you are. If you do not know anyone else who believes, you may find it helpful to connect with a group such as a Bible study or church, where you can meet like-minded people and receive encouragement.
2. Changing the content of thoughts. A variety of techniques are available to change thoughts, such as:
- write down the negative thoughts, and evaluate how realistic they are
- determine if there might be another way to look at the situation
- ask yourself what you would say to a friend who is just like you
For example, maybe you have had some negative thoughts such as, "My boyfriend doesn't want to be with me because I'm not good enough. I'll be alone forever."
Would you tell a dear friend, "your boyfriend doesn't want to be with you because you're not good enough. You will be alone forever"?
What would you say to a dear friend who was just like you?
Write down the things you would say to a friend.
If your response is true and realistic for a friend, it is also true for you. Remind yourself of the new, more realistic thoughts you came up with.
3. Changing beliefs. The negative thoughts and beliefs that are making you feel down and depressed are lies, not reality. You can change these beliefs through techniques such as:
- prayer (see below)
- talking back to the negative thoughts by replacing them with more realistic thoughts
- examine the evidence for the negative beliefs and for the positive beliefs to evaluate which ones are actually true
There are over 50 different techniques for changing thoughts and beliefs. Usually around 15 different techniques are required to effectively change beliefs. This means that you will need to try a number of techniques like the ones listed above - the first technique you try is not likely change your beliefs completely. Neither is the second one, or the third...but if you use a variety of techniques to create new habits of thinking, you can effectively change your beliefs. In turn, you will change your feelings and your mood.
I recommend the books, "10 Days to Self-Esteem" and "the Feeling Good Handbook" by David Burns. These books walk you through the techniques and skills needed to turn around a negative outlook and depressed mood, and appreciate yourself for who you really are.
You may find the following prayer relevant for your situation.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I know that you understand my sadness and care deeply about me and every aspect of my life.
I thank you for being with me, and I take comfort knowing that I am not alone.
I am aware that the negative things I have been thinking about myself are lies, and that these lies are not from you. Psalm 139 says that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and I know that this is true.
I ask that you remove the lies that have been put upon my mind, and you replace them with your truth: that I am loved, that I am valuable, that I am worthwhile, and that you have plans for me that include wonderful things.
I accept your truth, and ask that you help me to see myself as you see me; as a wonderful, valuable, precious human being. Your truth conquers all lies.