My life in 2020 and my life at the beginning of 2019 were unbelievably different — in ways that I could not imagine and not even related to the pandemic.
At the beginning of 2019, I was hitting rock bottom.
I was deeply insecure and painfully anxious. Riding emotional rollercoasters was an everyday activity while my relationships and my job made me want to sleep and never wake up again. Simply put, I saw no light ahead. I thought of death frequently.
In 2020, I’m secure and stable.
I’m in a happy serious relationship and I’m making four figures a month from my writing while working a corporate job I enjoy during the day. I feel grateful every morning I wake up and anxiety has become a thing of the past. I know I’m solid and I’m no longer unsure about my future.
Life’s amazing beyond words.
What has changed within a short year?
The answer is simple — I worked my ass off on myself.
Two most important things that I did:
I went to therapy.
I took a dating hiatus.
I’d never done these two things before 2019 and, while I had some idea, I’d never realised the extent to which they were so interconnected — my psychological issues and my relationship patterns, which then bled into all other areas of my life.
In hindsight, all the shitty things happening to me throughout my early twenties were a direct or indirect result of my choices which always seemed innocent and well-intentioned enough. But they were awfully flawed.
They were flawed because I operated from a place of fear and insecurity. I had many inner issues, but I didn’t understand how to resolve them within myself. So I picked up habits and got into relationships that would help silence the pain and distract myself, without thinking through where those decisions would take me eventually.
I ended up with horrible people and traumatising experiences, piling on top of the core issues that led me down that road in the first place. Now, back to the question “What has changed in 2019?”, by doing those two important things — therapy and dating hiatus — I finally looked straight into those core issues and stop running from myself.
Being present with myself to understand my needs and validate my experiences has completely transformed my life.
I learned that my relationship with myself is central to everything I do. My physical reality is a reflection of my inner world.
So, when my relationship with myself was unstable, flimsy, and abusive, my relationships with others didn’t save me from myself as I had hoped — instead, they amplified these negative qualities and my inner issues. I became extremely vulnerable to short-sighted choices and toxic influences.
However, when my relationship with myself is strong and healthy, my life gradually straightens out and it becomes more solidified each day. I can peacefully work through my core issues and don’t get distracted by new superficial ones. Good decisions come by easy and things finally work out for me.
It’s like magic. But it isn’t.
It’s the hard-earned lesson I wish someone had taught me growing up.
The 2 Things Any Person Need to Learn in Life
Having a healthy relationship with yourself can mean many things but it comes down to valuing yourself and acting in your best interests.
In order to achieve this, you need to have two things in order:
There are two types of boundaries: External and internal.
External boundaries are the boundaries you set with others while internal boundaries are the ones you set with yourself.
I have explained these two concepts in my previous articles in more detail.
All in all, boundaries are essential because they guide how you treat yourself and allow others to treat you. They determine the quality of your life and relationship experiences.
You can’t have boundaries without self-trust.
Self-trust is the trust you have in your ability to meet your own needs, make good judgments, and do the things that are good for you.
When you have self-trust, you will be able to rely on yourself and draw clear boundaries instead of giving in to external influences or following others mindlessly — especially at your own expense.
The benefits of having strong boundaries and self-trust don’t stop at relationships.
They act as the framework for every response and decision you make in all areas of your life.
Imagine that you’re out of work and need to decide your next step.
Some people give you advice while others express disappointment and negative judgments towards you.
Having boundaries means not letting your inner critics drag you down (internal) and telling negative people to stop (external).
Having self-trust means knowing that you will find a way and you will be okay.
Combined together, these two internal skills then translate into real actions — both to maintain your well-being and to move your life forward.
Having strong boundaries and self-trust helps create a safe space for you to work through your inner issues and heal while protecting yourself from new potentially damaging experiences.
The Foundation of You
The reason why having strong boundaries and self-trust is so important — especially when growing up — is because of the hard foundation it forms for you regardless of who you are and what you do in life.
You know yourself best.
When you are young, your schools, your practices, or even your friends might come about as a result of your parents’ decisions. But ultimately you are the one who lives your life and learns about yourself through those decisions. You’re the one who is with you 24/7 and knows the inside out of what happens to you.
That self-knowledge, even at a young age, is already unique and invaluable. When you leave your parent’s home and explore the world for yourself, it’s even more abundant. It makes you the person most capable of making the best decisions for you.
Enacting your boundaries and trusting yourself means taking the driver seat of your life and tapping into this self-knowledge.
Are you ready?
It doesn’t matter what you do in life — it’s about “how” you do it.
When a person has good boundaries and self-trust, it doesn’t matter what path you choose — you will be able to march forward with confidence because you know it’s the path that works best for you, which also gives you the highest chance of success. You will be able to take a strong stance against external influences and build a life that you love.
That’s how you also increase your self-esteem and self-respect, which will have a trickle-down effect on all areas of your life such as your romantic relationships.
Step into Your Power, Now
I personally believe the best time to learn these internal skills is during the growing years, but it’s never too late to build a relationship with yourself and turn your life around.
Whether you’re in your mid-twenties like I am or you’ve recently ended a marriage in your forties, your life is worth fighting for and your future can get better. Every minute of that future, you’ll be grateful for the decisions you make today to become your best friend, best advocate, best supporter.
Start with a small decision today.
Self-trust takes time to build and setting boundaries takes time to practice. It also requires increasing your self-awareness and living intentionally. But it starts small and it can start today.
For me, that “small decision” was to delete dating apps and call the therapy clinic, which went a long, long way towards getting me the life I’ve always wanted.
Whatever it is for you, there’s hope.