I found myself. I couldn’t figure out why I’ve been feeling constant confusion, frustration and discomfort in my heart and mind. It is because I had jumped back on the hamster wheel and didn’t realize it.

A while back, a few of my friends recognized and pointed out to me that I have lived most of my life in denial. Well, actually, it was a therapist in a group therapy session. After taking my turn to “tell my story” but then expressing my sadness for others and their struggles while somewhat convincingly (so I thought) explaining that I was blessed and I was just fine, the therapist said…”tomorrow we will talk about denial”, everyone laughed. I looked around and said, “I’m not in denial, I really am fine”, they laughed some more. I genuinely thought they were all just slow and clearly didn’t know me. I was fine…. wasn’t I?

Since that day, approximately a year ago, I have (thankfully) realized that I actually was in denial. I also learned that I spend a lot of time on hamster wheels in my head. I learned that I am afraid to feel what I deemed to be negative emotions….anger, hurt, fear, sadness. I knew I was strong… everyone told me how strong I was… but it was the wrong kind of strong. Over the course of the last year I have learned that I very seldom live in the present. I steal from myself by living in regret of the past and in fear of the future. Through a lot of soul searching and learning to feel truth in my body, through yoga, I realized that because I didn’t like myself I never wanted to BE with myself. To avoid feeling and to avoid being with myself, I stayed busy and distracted. I seldom stayed present in my body, utilizing all my senses, instead, I ran from hurt, fear and sadness through a whole slew of distractions.

Another observation I’ve made is that when I’m in my head I live from a place of ego, and ego is finite. Ego is that place that sells the idea of life beginning and ending here on earth. For me, personally, that’s a dangerous place to be. When I’m living in my head, or in an ego based belief system, ultimately, nothing matters… what’s the point? When I’m in my head, I feel picked on, rather than knowing who I am and taking my trials gracefully to learn from them. When I’m in my head I avoid the tests life offers and therefore will never learn, grow and progress to know my best self. When I’m in my head I stop feeling truth in my body and start turning to others, who’s opinions start to matter more than my own…. I don’t trust myself.

The good news is, last night I found myself again. I realized I had reverted back to my old ways. I thought I could do this life alone, and yet, I refused to BE with myself and stay present. I started being mean to myself again, finding every fault and weakness I could, and repeating negative affirmations of self hatred over and over. Who wants to BE with themselves when they cannot even stand themselves ? And the more important question, who can feel the love of others and even more importantly, the love of the Savior, when you don’t love yourself?

So, here is my plan. I am going to choose to STAY! I am going to have the courage to face each emotion that comes my way. When the hurt, fear and sadness become too much for me to bear, rather than run, I’m going to choose to stay with myself and be kind to myself, offering the same compassion I would offer a dear friend. Each time I choose to stay and get to the other side of that painful emotion, I’m going to feel the empowerment that comes from staying. I recall the feeling of self love that comes from choosing to stay. Each experience of staying built upon the one before caused me to like myself…. and the most amazing thing that came from all of this…. was that when I had courage, chose to stay, and loved myself, I could actually feel, for the first time in my life, that the Savior and Heavenly Father love me too.

I’m going to keep an eternal perspective, remembering the truth I have felt in my body…. this life is eternal, this earth life is short, God is in charge, I am not in control and cannot control anything. I am going to peel away the layers of protection from my heart and be vulnerable. (some might call this a broken heart and a contrite spirit) I’m going to resume asking myself what there is to be learned from each life experience and understand it is an opportunity for growth, moving one step closer to finding out what my full potential is.

I’ll be honest, I’m a little frustrated at myself for not learning all of this a whole lot sooner. It makes me wonder if I wouldn’t have needed quite so many trials if I’d have learned it sooner…. I don’t know the answer to that…. BUT… I can’t control it, and so I will simply stay present and observe that thought, trusting in God and having patience with myself as I do my very best.

If ever there was a time in my life that I needed to be my best self, to love my self and to feel the love of the Savior, it is now. It is time for me to stop running away from myself and the Savior and instead, run to Him.