Have you ever felt trapped in the happiness illusion? Choose happiness! Hold your head up high and don’t you ever let them see you cry! These performance demands are imposed on us by our Instagrammed, staged, and photoshopped culture. Today, I want to share with you how to be fully human and even practice self-pity in order to heal.
Let’s be honest. Everywhere you look, there seem to be perfect people with perfect bodies, perfect partners, perfect children, perfect homes, perfect pets, perfect vacations, perfect hobbies, perfect cars, perfect wardrobes, perfect finances, and perfect life.
Have you ever wondered: is all of this real?
It’s staged. It’s a pretense.
No one’s life is perfect.
No one wakes up with makeup on, dressed up for a runway show, with a flat stomach and visible six-pack after partying all night and eating junk. Everyone experiences bloating, black under-eye circles, hair loss, and farting. Yep, this is a very honest blog post.
Everyone’s life sometimes rocks and sometimes sucks. People just don’t show you the sucking part. They focus on the rocking part, and often even make it up. Everyone is trying so hard to make this unrealistic and unnecessary impression that life rocks all the time.
This is dangerous. Why?
This make-believe culture of unrealistic and unreasonable happiness obsession leads normal people to suicide. I personally used to conform to the pattern of this world. I chose happiness and held my head up high, despite the tremendous adversity in my life. I never let anyone see me cry.
It worked. Until it didn’t.
Full disclosure: while living out the happiness illusion for decades, I escaped feelings through alcohol and sex. I talk openly about my story on this Christian blog for women and even wrote a series of articles about sex addiction.
READ: Sex Addiction
I was covering up my humanity with makeup, designer clothes, high heels, beauty pageants, sophisticated career, and lots of alcohol. After I met Jesus, He taught me who I am and how to live my life.
Jesus revealed to me what my life is all about.
The journey has been tough, and a lot of emotional trauma and pain surfaced. With it, came also true joy, peace, contentment, and life satisfaction. That’s why I believe we all need to be like Jesus.
READ: Who Is Jesus?
Today, I want to share with you my journey to becoming fully human. The picture on the cover of this blog was my starting point to the breakthroughs I’ll share here. That day, May 14th, 2016, I hoped was the beginning of the part of my life where it would rock. But… the day of my wedding was the entry into a season where my life truly sucked.
Let’s talk honestly about all matters of human life.
Everyone’s Life Sucks Sometimes
Everyone’s life sometimes rocks and sometimes sucks. Accomplishments come accompanied by adversity. Let me make it very clear: accomplishments and adversity travel together. I didn’t know it…
My tough journey began in childhood where I was abused, hated, rejected, mocked, bullied, harassed, and violated. Yet, I chose happiness and held my head up high. I never let anyone see me cry.
I never allowed myself to feel sadness. I preferred make-believe maniac happiness and, in the meantime, I coped with life’s struggles by becoming a goals-obsessed high achiever.
I was born to a mom who rejected me. She dressed me up as a boy and called me a boy’s name Anton. She screamed at me regularly: “I hate you and I just want you dead!” She always compared me to others, humiliated me, and made fun of me. My mom used me as her scapegoat.
I grew up without a father. I endured emotional abuse and physical violence. I was raped. I experienced teen pregnancy. I suffered a miscarriage at 17.
In the midst of it all, I chose happiness and held my head up high, focusing on achieving my goals.
I graduated with high honors from high school, college, and two universities. I spoke at business conferences and won multiple awards.
Some of my friends got offended by my new life where I talk about how my life also sucks, not just rocks. They felt as if I were discrediting the high achiever me who accomplished many great things. No, I’m not, actually.
I’m here to be honest and show that high achievers also suffer, and that suffering must be processed properly because high achievers are also humans.
Though, frankly speaking, many of my Russian friends used to call me “tank” after a military vehicle that is able to go through any tough obstacles and remain unshakable because it’s built for adversity.
Well… I am not a tank. I’m fully human.
It took a while to realize my humanness though.
- My Suicide Story
- My Depression Story
- My Narcissist Mother Story
- My Sex Addiction Story
- My Story of Coming to Christ
- My Domestic Violence Story
- My Narcissist Marriage Abuse Story
- My Identity Transformation Story
- My Spiritual Warfare Story
- My Story of Becoming a TEDx Speaker
- My Story of Faith and Fortitude
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Life was miserable growing up in Russia, and there was no safe place for me at home or anywhere around. There was adultery, alcoholism, and violence at home. I was bullied by the neighborhood gang of boys every day on my way to and from school, which I walked alone. At school, we’d have naked men masturbating outside our home economics class’ window. Same was in a hospital where I often had to go because I was pretty sick growing up. And coming back home, in my old dark neighborhood with no lights, I would often walk into the condominium building and be attacked by men who’d often be naked masturbating right in my condominiums building.
It was life and me, one-on-one, every day.
I knew nothing about what it felt like to have a safe neighborhood or home or feel safe, peaceful, and relaxed. I was intense, guarded, and defensive. Of course, because I had to defend myself every day from everyone just to survive another day.
To want to live, I focused on my future, not present. So, I escaped a lot into my headspace and also into my dreams and goals. I used my imagination to fuel my excitement about life because, frankly, as it was, my life was unbearable.
I became obsessed with goals and performance.
My optimism was high, and I persuaded myself that I will be successful and free one day. There were ten people in my condo, sleeping with other people’s husbands, making and selling moonshine, screaming, fighting, and hating each other. At night, I used to dream to someday t live completely alone, in silence, and be the only one having the key to my home. I’m living that dream now. But during the day, I didn’t dream or pause – I was on the go to achieve, achieve, achieve.
I spent no time reflecting or getting to know myself.
Anywhere You Go You Follow
In the midst of the everyday mental trauma, physical and sexual violence, and emotional abuse at home and in school, I had to somehow go on. So, I checked out in a way: I stopped feeling and focused on doing.
From early morning till late night, I was pursuing my goals and working hard. I held my head up high and smiled through it all. Everyone believed that I was happy. Everyone believed that I was a tank. Everyone believed that I had my life together.
I was running around with my head cut off. I was busy. I was accomplishing big things. I was successful. I was on my way. I was making it happen.
But I had no relationship with myself.
Yet, anywhere I went I followed. No matter where I’d go, there I was! Tropical exotic vacations didn’t save me from myself. Expensive spa salons and beauty procedures didn’t save me from myself. Fancy shopping didn’t save me from myself. Spending 22 hours getting 272 braids didn’t save me from myself. I was living with the person I was afraid to get to know, yet, anywhere I went she followed.
I continued living out the happiness illusion for a long time. That’s how I ended up suicidal, unable to fake it anymore and so I didn’t want to make it.
I didn’t know how to face my humanity because it felt so weird since everyone around me was so photoshopped and multi-filtered to perfection. I found myself surrounded by the people who were what I was used to: always looking to have a good time, always appearing to get it together, always optimistically choosing happiness, and always faking it in hopes of making it someday.
I felt out of place, weird, and unable to fit in.
I was afraid to explore my humanity because it was not anything I had ever seen around me ever. I was afraid to spend time alone with myself because those weird things called feelings would surface, and I’d run away by arranging to constantly be busy and around other people at professional networking events, at clubbing parties, or any gatherings aimed to separate me from myself in at least some way.
Guess what? You can’t run away from yourself.
If you try for too long, the consequences are severe.
And I had to eventually face those consequences.
I had to come face-to-face with myself and start exploring who I actually am, why I am the way I am, what I’m thinking, what I’m feeling, how I’m making decisions and why, what I actually need, and what I want my life to look like without fakeness in it, without the unreasonable cultural demands of the happiness illusion.
Obsession with Happiness
We are persuaded today by the media and literature that perfect, constant, maniac happiness is what we are supposed to feel. We believe that we deserve to be happy all the time. We pursue happiness and we obsess about it.
We try to fake it until we make it. We pretend to be happy. We put on and wear a mask to cover up our true selves. We are not known by anyone. And we ourselves don’t know who we actually are because we are afraid to even try to find that out. We are strangers to ourselves.
Our fake lives feel surreal.
Yet, we keep faking happiness hoping to make it one day into the happy-land where finally we can relax and be our happy selves all the time without having to pretend. Unfortunately, that time never comes.
Nevertheless, we are forced by our fakeness-idolizing culture to choose happiness and keep our heads up high, disregard our feelings, run away from getting to know our hearts, minds, and souls, and conform to the pattern of this world.
That’s how we get trapped in the happiness illusion.
The Happiness Illusion
As a result of the pressure we experience from our unreasonable culture of maniac happiness, we’re unable to cope with any adversity. At the first sight of problems, we shoot or hang ourselves.
Did you know that suicide is the second leading cause of death in America for ages 10 to 34?
At 34, I contemplated killing myself.
Have you ever compared your inside to someone’s outside? That’s how we fall for the happiness illusion. We often get stuck in the comparison trap.
We fantasize about others’ rainbow-unicorny lives filled with confidence, happiness, butterflies, confetti, and pink glitter everywhere. We compare that happiness illusion to ourselves in the mirror when we wear pajamas, our gut is bloated, and our partner betrayed us.
Real life with its real struggles is rarely featured on Instagram. Yet, there’s plenty of staged, photoshopped, and multi-filtered life on social media.
Recently, a magazine reached out to me to do a four-page article about my life. They asked me to share how I’m living out the American Dream.
I did share with them that I’m an award-winning author of a goal-setting book, that I built a successful career in marketing, taught myself English, graduated with an MBA from GA State University, that I’m a Christian speaker who gets to touch the lives of many people, and that I’ve struggled with suicidal depression, anxiety attacks, complex PTSD, and I’m divorced three times, and that I suffer with an imposter syndrome praying every day for more confidence.
Whenever you see a person whom you consider happy and to whom you want to compare yourself, remember the gap between your perception of their reality and their actual reality.
Don’t conform to the pattern of this world by indulging in the happiness illusion and spiraling down into the comparison trap. Everyone’s life sometimes rocks and sometimes sucks. If your life is like that, congratulations, you’re a human.
Now, let me tell you about the American Dream.
I always hoped for a happily-ever-after. I accepted my tough life growing up and dealt with it, yet, I believed that sometime soon, things would change forever and I would finally be happy for real.
I was confident that all adversity would stop and I’d enjoy life. I’d have a perfect husband, four perfect children, a perfectly clean and organized house with a perfectly clean and warm pool, and, of course, I’d be perfectly skinny, healthy, and active.
In 2008, I emigrated from Russia to America to live my happily-ever-after with an American Prince Charming. He beat the life out of me.
READ: Domestic Violence
I was rescued by the police and taken to a shelter for victims of domestic violence in 2009. I became homeless in a foreign country without speaking the language.
Life was very hard but I chose happiness and held my head up high, focusing on achieving my goals. Within 18 months, I taught myself English and was accepted to GA state university in 2011. I graduated with an MBA in 2013 and published an award-winning book about goal-setting.
In 2015, a man who worked at the mega-church I attended began courting me for marriage. Four months after our wedding, he filed for divorce saying he wasn’t interested in me anymore and wanted to be an IronMan instead. He called his bicycle “My other wife I cheat on you with” and I felt disoriented, devalued, and discarded. I was longing for love.
READ: What Is Love?
All that haze, cruelty, and abuse I experienced led me to accumulate so much trauma, I ended up is a disaster. I had never experienced such a crisis as I did when married to Michel who broke me mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
During our marriage, I was diagnosed with Complex PTSD. The mental cruelty imposed on me left me depressed and suicidal.
It was a season of a total emotional breakdown.
That marriage crushed me in every aspect of my being. I just didn’t want to exist anymore. My heart was completely broken. My mental capacity to deal with a lot of adversity at once was diminished. I had an emotional breakdown.
Yet, I held my head up high and smiled.
Here’s how I truly felt.
"No Aspiration, No Motivation, aka Suicidal Ideation" #PoemsFromGod
I feel stuck in life and I don’t care about the future.
I have no desires of any kind, I’m numb, and I feel no motivation.
I searched inside myself, but my broken heart I can’t seem to suture.
I just don’t care and for nothing do I have any aspiration.
Why can’t I strive for something great and aim to be important?
Why don’t I have at least some kind of meaningful goals?
Why are my hope, my drive, my aim all completely distorted?
Why am I not interested is playing any social roles?
I want to want to want some kind of wanting.
I want to want to live, and matter, and achieve.
Only I don’t. And knowing this is daunting.
I’m being honest: all I do is grieve.
My life is not at all like everybody else’s:
They have their past, their present, and their future.
I am my past. And all I am is helpless.
My heart is broken. Can it I ever suture?
© Anna Szabo, JD, MBA
Now, I will explain my emotional breakdown to you so that you can witness why I take so much time to share how to be fully human. I want to demonstrate to you what the happiness illusion and faking it till making it do to the human psyche.
Full disclosure: things are about to get complicated.
The poem above was written by Anna Szabo, me.
Prior to marriage with Michel, I was an award-winning author of a goal-setting book, and my name was Anna Stevens.
Just to check in with you real quick here: Anna Stevens and Anna Szabo are both me. Anna Szabo and Anna Stevens are one person. These are the names I had before and after Michel.
Anna Stevens despised Anna Szabo.
Anna Stevens was an immigrant with no English skills who built her life in America from the ruins of domestic violence, aspired to have a better future. She even graduated with an MBA from a prestigious American University, just four years after being homeless and living in a shelter for battered women.
Anna Szabo was a US citizen who spoke English, had an American education, successful career, her own car, home, and money. Yet, she didn’t care about her future and, instead, she wanted to die.
For me, suicidal thoughts were an inheritance received from my mother who often threatened me with suicide. She hated and rejected me from a very young age. She abused me and damaged me in a big way. None of it was in my awareness. In fact, I believed that I was totally fine and my mom had no significant influence on me since we have been separated by thousands of miles for over a decade.
READ: Narcissistic Mother
I was troubled by my mother’s abuse and cruelty early in life. I wanted to free myself from those troubles by committing suicide. My mother repeatedly said to me: “I don’t want you, I hate you, and I just want you dead!” Feeling trapped in unbearable pain, I attempted suicide twice: at 11 and 12.
Let’s now go back to Anna Stevens and Anna Szabo.
The conflict between Anna Stevens and Anna Szabo was due to the fact that Anna Szabo was abandoned by her Christian husband who filed for divorce four months after their wedding declaring that his IronMan bicycle was his actual wife. He rejected Anna the same exact way her mother did for years.
He said he didn’t want to be married and wanted to be an IronMan instead. Anna Szabo was a woman traded in for a bicycle. And that was incomprehensible.
Michel The IronMan was sitting in the marital bedroom on the floor one late evening a few weeks after the wedding, looking Anna Szabo straight in the eye and saying: “I just don’t want you and I don’t want to be married anymore!”
Michel also began threatening Anna Szabo with suicide saying he was thinking how he could get hit by a track while going to work. That was exactly what Anna’s mom used to do when she was little.
So, Anna Szabo was enduring a much too familiar kind of cruelty. She was in the same exact situation with Michel two decades later as she was with her mother earlier in life. She was feeling trapped in unbearable pain, and the temptation to escape troubles by suicide was strong.
At this point, you might be wondering if I’m completely crazy because ultimately you know that it’s me who is talking about myself as if I were two people. Just bear with me. Here’s the thing – we all have two sides to our human brain: a modern brain and a primal brain.
The modern brain (frontal cortex) is responsible for problem solving, memory, language, judgment, impulse control, and reasoning. This brain is also called the thinking brain. That for me was the well-accomplished high-achiever Anna Stevens.
The primal brain (hindbrain and medulla) is responsible for survival, drive, and instinct. It is also called the emotional brain. In my case, that was the fed up with abuse and cruelty Anna Szabo. She saw suicide as an escape from her unbearable pain.
When our primal brain is engaged, our modern brain is not working much. That’s why Anna Szabo was dominating, and Anna Stevens hated her. Anna Stevens hated to see how life was fading away while she could do pretty much nothing to save the situation and had to simply hang on to just to be here for her next breath.
Years later, I’m still here with you.
What have I learned from my breakdown?
To not fight myself!
Many people fight their suicidal ideation, hoping that it will go away and there will finally be a happily-ever-after. There won’t, and you’re likely to drain hope out of yourself waiting for perfection in life. Fighting your suicidal ideation is exhausting and is likely to result in death by suicide. Why? The science shows that your modern brain is going to lose to your primal brain every time.
Instead, I’ve learned to alleviate my suicidal ideation through self-negotiation. After analyzing my own journals and observing 23 people killing themselves in 2004 by jumping off The Golden Gate Bridge in a 2006 documentary by Eric Steel called The Bridge, I know that suicide comes with doubt: a part of you wants to die, that primal emotional brain; a part of you wants to live, that modern reasoning brain.
You must get into your mind and figure out the reasons of that part of you that wants to die. You must listen to yourself attentively with compassion as if you were your best friend. You must not judge yourself for wanting to die but, instead, accept your despair and hopelessness as understandable and justifiable human feelings. You’re going through a lot, it’s normal to feel down. You must thank your brain for wanting to protect you from pain by escaping pain through suicide. You must persuade your primal emotional limbic brain that continuing to live life is ok.
Everyone’s life sometimes rocks and sometimes sucks. Yet, it’s worth living. Through self-negotiation and genuine compassion, Anna Stevens accepted Anna Szabo, and I am still here.
I want to share with you this poem, which demonstrates my technique for negotiating hope with myself.
"Dear Anna Szabo" #PoemsFromGod
I'm looking at you - a child of God
And think how sad that so often
Your mind is too clouded with negative mud
And hope that your heart will soon soften.
No plans for the future is not a good thing,
Especially, with all your awareness
Of who you are, whose you are, and your father King
Who gave you this life of true rareness.
I do understand that your journey has been
Not easy, demanding, laborious...
But looking at you, I ask that you cling
To God, who is always victorious.
He loves you. He has real plan for you life.
It's just that you can't fully see it.
You've been through so much. And you're going to thrive,
I promise, you have to believe it.
Stop thinking those damaging thoughts from your past.
They're not even yours, they're inheritance.
You're now an heiress of God, because Christ
His life sacrificed as love evidence.
You're loved. You're accepted. You're precious. You're blessed.
You're special and chosen. You're gifted.
I do understand: you can get depressed,
So what? Even Paul was afflicted!
Be sad and be quiet, experience pain,
But don't let your mind get too clouded.
When life gets too tough, you still can stay sane,
If you just in Scriptures stay grounded.
Do you understand that your life is a gift
From God who created you purposefully?
Keep working on making this spiritual shift,
You've made so much progress, fortunately.
Continue to study the Bible and God,
Continue to build a relationship
With Jesus Himself, who never forgot
To carry you through with His leadership.
Continue to pray. Continue to grow.
Continue to ask for God's guidance.
The fact that He's good you very well know.
With Him, you can face all these giants.
© Anna Szabo, JD, MBA
As you can see, during my emotional breakdown, I’ve learned to negotiate hope with myself, show myself understanding and compassion, and to treat myself with kindness. I’ve learned to be my own best friend.
That led to a huge spiritual breakthrough.
While contemplating suicide, I came across a lecture on depression from a top American university. It was Robert Sapolsky of Stanford. He explained that after about five major setbacks in life, adversity becomes too much, and that’s when people escape by suicide.
I had more than five setbacks in my life.
I felt depleted.
The lecture also explained that depression is known as self-aggression: anger against self. Psychoanalysis tells us that anger is actually unprocessed grief. Anger is unresolved sadness.
My unwillingness to acknowledge and process my own sadness and grief turned into my own anger and aggression against myself.
You see, on the inside, I resented being trapped in the happiness illusion, but on the outside, I felt pressured to choose happiness all the time. I was in conflict with myself. Me, myself, and I did not see eye-to-eye.
I realized that to be friends with myself, to stop depression, self-aggression, and suicidal ideation, I had to ditch the unreasonable demands of our culture of fakeness, acknowledge my true suffering, allow myself to be genuinely sad, process my grief, and become fully human.
After that, I experienced the blessing of self-pity.
The Blessing of Self-Pity
The idea of having to always be happy drives many people to suicide today. Let’s be real! Everyone’s life sometimes rocks and sometimes sucks. No one’s life is perfect, unless it’s staged, scripted, multi-filtered, and photoshopped.
My emotional breakdown led to the most important spiritual breakthrough of my adult life: I am not a tank, I don’t want to be fake, and I refuse to pretend to be happy all the time. I’m a person who experiences a range of emotions, without resenting them, and I am willing to talk about my human experience, share it with others, and empower people to feel without resenting or avoiding feelings. I decided to be fully human like Jesus.
My breakthrough resulted in a letter to myself, which is this poem below where I am asking myself some thought-provoking questions related to my feelings, humanity, and ability to be fully human.
"Feeling The Feelings" #PoemsFromGod
Do you know how to feel sadness and grieve appropriately?
Like sitting down with your sad thoughts and allowing yourself to cry?
Like writing heartfelt entries in your journal openly,
Without pretending and without saying a lie?
And just really pouring your heart out,
Just putting out all your emotions in the universe,
Just being open and vulnerable, without a doubt,
Just being yourself, who you really are, without any rehearse?
Please take the time to be still and feel uncomfortable.
Please make it your priority to focus your mind
On the important intention of being vulnerable,
So you can that special place of humanness within yourself find.
It will feel odd at first. Don’t worry. It's normal.
Self-pity is a skill like learning to ride a bike.
Keep feeling, keep grieving; the process is very informal.
This is how you can get to know yourself and actually like.
© Anna Szabo, JD, MBA
Answering these questions and learning new habits, such as self-pity, self-empathy, and self-compassion, led me to learn how to be fully human. I stopped being irritated with my irritation, anxious about my anxiety, or depressed about my depression. I accepted my humanness and welcomed all my feelings.
Through meditation, I developed a watchful observer in my headspace who helps me now to process anxiety without getting anxious about my anxiety and process irritation without getting irritated about being irritated.
Soon, a burning desire was born in my heart: to teach you these valuable lessons to help you prevent the adversity in your own life from becoming too much and resulting in suicide.
I am here to share with you how to recognize, identify, label, and process your feelings so that you don’t have to build up your internal pressure, compromise your relationship with yourself, or give up on living life.
READ: a List of Feelings
In 2017, after my divorce, I did a podcast episode called “How To Be Fully Human” for my Christian Podcast for Women The Anna Szabo Show. I can tell you: this is the most important topic for my ministry: to help alleviate suicide among women globally.
Today, I’m no longer surrounded by fake people.
I have real friendships with vulnerable people in my life, with whom we cry, not just laugh together. We are honest with each other, no need for maniac happiness obsession anymore. No need to fake it until you make it. We can feel feelings, talk about them, and accept our humanness.
I feel connected and understood.
Of course, I still have stress and pain in life, but I’m not suicidal. I cry when sad things come. I rejoice when positive things happen. I grieve when hurtful memories surface. I don’t resent my humanness. I feel my feelings – all of them. And I don’t seek to escape life by suicide anymore.
To stop suicide, we must learn how to be fully human.
How To Be Fully Human
Jesus was fully God and fully man. He wanted to experience everything we go through daily, so He refused the pain-killer offered to Him at the end of His life when He knew His suffering would be beyond imaginable.
Jesus wanted to be fully human. We don’t.
Matthew and Mark mention that Jesus was offered something to drink before being placed on the cross. Matthew refers to this drink as wine mixed with gall (Matthew 27:33-34). Mark calls it wine and myrrh (Mark 15:23). Both Biblical encounters refer to the same thing.
A mixture of wine and gall was commonly given to criminals before their execution in order to ease some of their suffering. But Jesus refused. He chose genuine suffering to have a genuine human experience.
Jesus also experienced self-pity, which is profound sadness about your own problems, according to the Cambridge Dictionary. He was asking God to perhaps not have Him crucified. Jesus knew what was coming, and He was so sad, he prayed with sweat and blood.
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed,saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.Luke 22:41-50
The Bible mentions some of the feelings Jesus felt in His life:
Jesus desired a genuinely human experience of life but we reject it. We avoid our humanness, disconnect from it, detach ourselves from reality just to maintain our fake happiness illusion. Eventually, we can’t fake it anymore and come to the end of our rope.
Every 12.3 min an American dies by suicide.
What if we normalized self-pity as a coping tool?
Let’s liberate ourselves from the deadly trap of the happiness illusion and experience the healing power of self-pity. Let’s spread this message and be a fully human community!
Here’s how to be fully human.
Explore Your Humanness
Explore who you are, how you are, and why you are. Spend time alone in silence journaling, reading, looking at your childhood pictures, review your accomplishments and failures. Examine your habits, behaviors, and intentions. Study what God says about you.
Look back at what influenced your life, some of which may not even appear significant or impactful. Still, recall your early childhood memories and journal about the lessons you learned about life from your caregivers, relationships, and environment.
Take the time to get to know yourself. Capture insights.
Understand Your Humanness
Understand how you show up in the world and what influences you: what brings you joy, what pisses you off, what aggravates the heck out of you, what calms you down, what empowers you, and what helps you go on.
If you’re suffering from anxiety, like me, why is that? In my case, this started in 2016. I had never experienced it before. It was the direct outcome of narcissistic abuse in my marriage with Michel.
If you’re fighting depression, why is that? In my depression case, the sadness I experienced about Michel’s betrayal triggered many other feelings but when compounded by his daily abuse, it resulted in hopelessness and helplessness, and I was eventually unable to even get out of bed.
If you’re filled with self-doubt, why is that? In my case of struggling with impostor syndrome, my mom’s voice saying how I would never amount to anything is playing in my head.
If you are paralyzed by social anxiety, why is that? In my case, my mom regularly told me that people hate me and someone is going to kill me soon. It was a long time ago but, said repeatedly to an impressionable child, it made a lasting impact.
Once you figure out what impact your life experiences, relationships, events, and environments had on you, you will feel like you have a new friend whom you can understand and who understands you. You will stop avoiding your own company and enjoy being with your new friend – yourself.
You will never feel lonely again.
Accept Your Humanness
Accept your humanness. This is the most difficult step. You see, I don’t appreciate my anxiety, I don’t like panic attacks, so when I’d feel anxious, I would resent it and feel anxious about feeling anxious.
When I entered a season of debilitating depression, I was knocked down by my depression about my depression because I was unable to accept how someone like me could possibly be depressed. I wanted happiness. But depression is normal in all humans. There’s absolutely nothing abnormal about depression. In the Bible, David, Elijah, and even Job were depressed. So, once I accepted my depression and stopped being depressed about being depressed, I was able to focus on my healing.
RELATED: Tell Me How You Really Feel
Today, I accept that I have Complex PTSD and sometimes experience flashbacks. I taught my friends about this, and, though it can be freaky, they do sit in my presence compassionately waiting for my flashbacks and panics to pass. I don’t fight my PTSD, I let it pass through me, and move on.
I accept my OCD, sad memories, severe trauma, addictions background, and the need for long periods of solitude. I don’t resent myself anymore.
I explored, understood, and accepted myself. I’m no stranger to myself anymore. Me, myself, and I are friends now. I love it!
You can have a whole new life if you embark on this journey and learn how to be fully human. You can meet and get to know yourself, get the gift of a lifelong friend (yourself), and gain awareness and contentment that can’t be bought at any price anywhere.
Contentment is earned by doing the hard work of becoming fully human. And so is peace.
This journey of becoming fully human led me to experience true joy instead of fake make-believe maniac happiness. I love my life so much now. It’s real. I am real!
My peace and joy are authentic. I am genuine. I don’t have to be fake or live a pretentious life. I have my real life. Sometimes it rocks and sometimes it sucks. But it’s my real, truthful, actual human life, and I appreciate my acceptance of it as is instead of as I wish it could be.
I appreciate the fact that I accept and like myself. This relationship is life-long, so enjoying it is helpful every day. Though, of course, I still wrestle with some aspects of myself and I search to explore, understand, and accept when I discover new parts of me.
In 2017, I founded this ministry, Online Discipleship For Women, to help alleviate suicide among women globally by sharing hope in Christ. If my ministry helps you, please consider supporting it: make a donation now.
“Whoever Brings Blessing Will be Enriched” Proverbs 11:25
Bless Online Discipleship For Women
In this article, I shared with you how to be fully human. I invited you on an adventurous journey with me, starting from my childhood to emigration to America and my marriages, to my emotional breakdown and spiritual breakthrough. This was difficult to share. I hope it helped you.
My purpose is to help you also understand yourself. I’m here to encourage and empower you. If your life sometimes rocks and sometimes sucks, it’s totally normal, nothing is wrong with you, and there’s no need to commit suicide. All you need is genuine self-pity to grieve your losses, trauma, and pain.
As you witnessed throughout my journey, I struggled a lot with my identity: to be an always-happy high achiever or to be fully human.
God led me to an emotional breakdown which led to a spiritual breakthrough. I’ve learned to see myself the way God sees me: fully human, in need of both joy and grief, hope and sadness.
Today, I help women see themselves the way God sees them. In the last few years, I’ve personally been on a quest to figuring out and conquering the negative voices in my head that distort my understanding of who I am. I call those voices the Shitty Committee, and each of us has that special committee in our headspace.
I’ve specifically been focusing on my identity in Christ. From the Bible, I discovered 52 incredibly-positive things God says about us as His children. Those 52 precious discoveries turned into 52 Biblical affirmations I created to encourage and empower Christian women.
To help share this life-changing information with you, I created an ebook called #52Devotionals. Download it now for free.
My free ebook helps you understand who God says you are. Don’t be vulnerable to identity attacks from the mainstream media, relatives, coworkers, your boss, society, culture, and the voices in your head.
Stand firm and know what God says about you.
Anna Szabo is the founder of Online Discipleship For Women, a Christian ministry committed to alleviating suicide among women globally by sharing hope in Christ. Anna teaches how to create a joyful life by embracing God’s word based on her own journey of faith and fortitude.
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