How to fall in love with you: step three

Happyplace This next step is a timely one for me as I’ve been needing to actively do it the last few days, which in turn has been a good reminder that it’s all very well me talking about how to do this stuff, but walking the talk is still a daily practice. Because i don’t think we ever really get to a point where we love & support ourselves, no questions asked, no more doubts, tra la la the world is a magical place filled with rainbows and unicorns.

Some days the world is a crappy place. Some days it just sucks to be breathing the same old air.

Despite the great news from the Impossible Project, this week i have been on a downer (still am, actually), the unfortunate combination of some end-of-project blues, hormones, bad weather and some unexpected criticism which i wholeheartedly take on the chin while also feeling it as a punch in the gut. There are some days when i wish i could ‘go to work’ and then come home, because right now work is my whole world – there is no separation between where i end and where work starts. It’s all the same thing. Which is not healthy, i know, but it is what it is. All of this is so important to me; my work IS me; it’s an emotional thing.


When the blues hit it’s even more imperative to be kind to myself, particularly when it’s so tempting to kick myself while i’m down. I mean, i’m already down there – why not heap some more doubt and insecurity and crap on my head? Some days i really do have to drag myself from breakfast to dinner to bed to just get through the day in one piece – who has the energy for that happy skippy claptrap i see on the internet? But when i can muster some kindness, i try to make an effort, however small, to do something nice for me… because it does help, even when i am at my most resistant.

Over the years I’ve watched friends with kids keep treats and games in their bag so when they’re away from home there’s always something to keep the children occupied and comforted; as adults we need the equivalent of this. Our own bag of comfort. In mine I have: books that lift me up, new songs to be found on iTunes, sofa + blanket + DVD, a hot bath, a Chinese take-away delivered to my front door (did this last night and it did help), my journal where i can rant or sob or attempt gratitude lists. I also have friends and a sister I can email or call and talk it through with, but when they are not around, i only have me to turn to, and if i’m finding it hard to sit through the fear/discomfort/pain/upset i let myself switch off with a film and a gigantic cup of tea. I let myself be distracted. Because as much as i want to always be brave and feel any shittyness i am feeling, sometimes it’s okay to just push it to one side and let it run out of steam on its own.

Sometimes being your own best friend, aka falling in love with yourself, is knowing when it’s okay to just let yourself off the hook, being kind and gentle, especially when you feel broken. And an early night helps too, because nine times out of ten things look a bit better in the morning.

How to fall in love with you: step one :: step two :: step four

56 responses
  1. Mel

    I agree some days are just shite. Maybe even some weeks. But in the end of the day, you know what’s going on and you know it will pass. Shit when it happens but something that in the big scheme of things will soon no longer matter.
    I like the Buddhist approach: Would this be something I think back to on my deathbed.
    I have no doubt though that you will be fine. More than fine actually. I see you being interviewed on This Morning and writing a regular column in a newspaper and I will be sipping champagne at a Polaroid exhibition of yours. Or whatever YOU dream of.
    Sending you a hug, because hugging is something I am good at!

  2. Nathalie

    I hear you! I think we sometimes feel pressure to be always doing something, to be busy, busy, busy, to deal with stuff, to work through it… when sometimes what you need is a nice cup of tea and an evening of burying your head in the sand with a great DVD. Think I’ll pick up An Education on my way home this evening and do just that.

  3. lisa h.

    Great post, timely.
    I try to be nice to myself, or do little “comfort bag” things for myself. But in my case it never really seems to help.
    But I will try to keep your advice in mind.

  4. Karen D

    Oh I have many of these days my friend, even with my work and life being seperate. Is it human nature to take the critisms so much harder than the accolades? We all do it, and I don’t know why.. All I can say it you made a positive difference in my life and all you can add that beautiful unravelling birthday video (wish I was a part of that!) into your back of comfort and treats. Hugs, Karen

  5. Tor

    Oh Susannah, I feel, feel, FEEL where you’re coming from. I just wish that when I’m feeling as you are now I could turn to a private journal or blog to offload my inner most angst. Instead I leave it all in my head and wallow in tiresome negativity. It’s like I shut down and all motivation grinds to a stuttering halt. Thank you for this post – writing it helps you and reading it helps me :)

  6. Karen D

    PS: The damn internal critic made me re-submit this with corrected typos.
    Oh I have many of these days my friend, even with my work and life being seperate. Is it human nature to take the critisms so much harder than the accolades? We all do it, and I don’t know why.. All I can say is that you made a positive difference in my life. You can add that beautiful unravelling birthday video (wish I was a part of that!) into your bag of comfort and treats. Hugs, Karen

  7. Amisha

    Yikes, so I am not the only one who has days like that :-)! Comedies, mint tea, some sleep do it for me. And I generally avoid tragic books and movies – they can make me successfully miserable any time.
    Thanks for talking about this, it isn’t the easiest thing to talk about – the blues. And sometimes I do honestly think that others have a perfect life.

  8. ABCcreativity

    oh i love this.
    i would be a basketcase without my early nights!

  9. darlene

    thinking of you and sending you love and kindness … i know those days and so glad you are taking time to give to you, hugs love, xo

  10. doorways traveler

    beautiful and real, love. just like you.

  11. Brigitte

    Hi Susannah – This is really great advice. I am overly apt to pick at a wound, and I tend to make things worse by trying to immediately address things. Or seek validation from the wrong people.
    I don’t know anything you haven’t shared here (very little!), but I do feel that criticism is a natural evolution for your creative business. I imagine that in the beginning most of your students/clients were already fans of your writing here. And now you are achieving greater success and reaching a wide audience, so some may have a more critical eye. Perhaps there is something to learn, perhaps not, but if you’re reaching beyond your loyal base, then criticism is a measure of success.

  12. Brooke

    I hear what you are saying about blurred, merged boundaries between work and home, for I too work from home (as an artist.) It seems like I’m never “off.” And then sometimes I’m never fully “on,” as I get distracted by the house, the weather, the dog, the refrigerator, a book. It’s a fine balancing act. And sometimes it would be easier to have someone else than myself, telling me what to do, and when to do it, and how, and when it’s been enough. But I don’t think I would like that very much. :) In the end, this is me ~ and I’m glad I know me and I’m glad I’m here. Just like most of us. :)
    I don’t know why life struggles so hard. I don’t know why there are ripples, rumples, lumps and bumps. But for me, today, it helped to hear that you have them too. I wish for you, clarity, acceptance, gold and joy and maybe even some rainbows and unicorns. :)

  13. Mary-- The Yellow Door Paperie

    This is so true. So true. I carry around juice boxes and coloring books in my purse. But is there anything comforting for me? Not really.

  14. Lu

    Hate to tell you this, but that baby is feeling very comfortable in his momma’s womb. Did she practice the art of the squat as I suggested?! LOL
    I am praying and sending good labor vibes her way.

  15. linda

    Oh, I totally love how you said “feeling it as a punch in the gut” – because sometimes you can understand or reason out things…but it still hurts to the core. I definitely think having a bunch of go-to comforts really helps, because everyone goes through those downtimes and funks in life. Great post and definitely hugs all around! The tummy to tummy contact is naturally comforting…seriously, science says so :)

  16. Swirly

    Sending you a big hug.

  17. Brandy

    As you always say, be gentle with yourself.
    It’s raining here, grey and miserable. I too have been wrestling with moody moods. Maybe it’s because it is spring, a time of renewal. Hugs xx

  18. DawnS

    Sending a :) your way!

  19. Square-Peg Karen

    Thank you SO much for this — so timely, so important, so easily-forgettable – sigh. And JUST what I needed. Bowing!

  20. rowena

    “happy skippy claptrap” made me LOL. I’m all for being positive, but all that skippy stuff feels pretty alien to me sometimes.
    And I agree with your idea of treating ourselves. Unfortunately, the treats often make us feel worse about ourselves– I’m thinking of you, chocolate. Maybe it’s about moderation.
    I do know that recently I spent some time on a message board that I used to be addicted to but haven’t visited lately, and when I was done, I felt energized and calmed. Just a little time to waste felt freeing (but more time chained on the site would have felt entrapping.)

  21. Debi

    Oh. That bag made me smile – I have one at work + one at home. You never know, and since I’m part owner, I can just close my office door and lay on the floor with the work cat (another plus to having your own business).
    It will pass, but you know that, and since you are HERE right now, that’s what you have to deal with. Love that you are loving yourself unconditionally and wrapping your own arms around you. Sometimes they’re the best.

  22. ToLiveInspired

    I totally understand, I was in a really crappy place this last week, so I declered a mental health day, I was not going to put any pressure on doing anything “productive” just to sort of follow my soul in what it needed. I wrote down Soul Questions, just writing those out was helpful. I also made a play list ( as in fun playful things to do.. ) But there are also times where we just need to be in the shit, to just go through the feeling and not try to get past it, fix it or figure out where it came from.. It’s not getting stuck in that place that is really important.. Be nice to yourself, just be where you are , crap and all. it will pass.. Sending Hugs and Positive, healing thoughts your way..

  23. Jillian

    Thank you, reading this has brought me much comfort in knowing that I’m not alone =). Many well wishes to you from across the sea!

  24. Cathy

    Wow…is there something in the air? I have been unkind to myself this week – beating myself up a bit over things I haven’t gotten done. But after reading this, I feel better knowing it happens to others too.
    I love the bag of comfort idea. And Chinese takeout. My food savior is a local fresh Mexican restaurant. Even my husband knows when I need him to pick up dinner from there.
    Hugs to you.

  25. charlane

    I so identify with this and it think that in letting ourselves off the hook that sometimes I bounce back faster than to continually beat myself up.
    sending warm thoughts for better days.

  26. Amanda {Mocking Bird}

    Just hold on…
    I guarantee that when that little bubba comes along, some of these things will disappear, at least for a little while.

  27. leonie

    yeah babe. i love the idea of putting it to one side and letting it run out of steam naturally.
    on the other hand, right now i need to learn to sit with myself and be very clear about not letting all my current anxieties get the better of me. because they would, given half a chance!
    sometimes wish i could take away your pain (as well as giving thoughtless commenters a punch in the belly), but that wouldn’t really solve anything, probably just create more problems!
    i love you

  28. jane

    when things are shit
    call them shit
    when things are great
    call them great
    the truth will liberate you from shoulds
    and bring you home to yourself

  29. jeanine

    i couldn’t have said it better. i’ve been feeling the same lately and find comfort in knowing that i am not alone and the ride will go up again. love you. and feel free to call on me any time.

  30. Jet Harrington | scatterbeams

    Been going through some of this lately, the death of a thousand cuts – no one big thing, although some of them FEEL big, but in aggregate, they are HEAVY.
    I was so great as a run-around mum with the comfort bag – all sorts of treats, snacks, puzzles, books, what-have-you. I think I could do with a comfort bag for ME now. I think it will stock it with a journal, tiny coloured pencils or markers, a snack, and something funny: maybe bubbles to blow? or a frisbee?
    Thank you for the reminder to be as good to myself as i might be to others. Hugs to you.

  31. Marianne @ Zen Peacekeeping

    I’m all for the couch + blanket + tea + DVD + early night combo. Or, if I can be bothered hauling the wood and stoking the fire – a bath puts me back together like almost nothing else – unless it’s lovely out and then a walk will do it.
    Learning to being kinder to ourselves is most of what I think and care about these days.
    Love you x

  32. Rachel Cronin

    These posts have been so great. I have been feeling so exhausted and bored with myself but this week the mean reds have lifted slightly.
    I find that a splurge in Hotel Chocolat, Jo Malone baths and sewing something (anything) helps. They are my little treats.
    I think being creative somehow makes you more sensitive to criticism. Whenever someone elses thoughtless comments lay me low I remind myself that it’s this sensitivity that makes me a great artist and teacher. Wow. I managed to type that without too much self doubt…

  33. Leana

    Your post hit home on several levels. Sending you a big hug over the web!

  34. zsíta


  35. Elizabeth Scott

    Your post today is exactly what I needed…also a hormonal thing paired with some other stuff…guess I have to pull out my bag of treats…which is very similar to yours + a chocolate cream chip from Starbuck’s(hot weather over here!:)

  36. Angela Vular

    So sorry you’re feeling blue. I’ve been feeling down lately also. All of those stupid insecurities and self doubt keep creeping in. It’s so hard to free yourself from these thoughts.
    I say if someone is not giving you constructive critism…to hell with them!
    I think you are a wonderful person…smart…creative…insightful…excellent photographer and an amazing writer.
    I love the idea of a comfort bag. Never thought of it that way. I tend to go for Chai tea or a glass of wine and any Meg Ryan movie.
    Keep doing what you are doing…you are greatly appreciated and loved.
    Hugs, Angela

  37. flowing moments

    I am down there right now so yes, you are right and thank you for pointing that out and reminding me, I am going to give myself some love and tender care today …

  38. Amanda

    this week I decided to to be kind to myself and give myself some treats :0)

  39. Christine

    I’ve treated my own fears/anxieties/depressive episodes with tea (or hot chocolate), movies/tv and a pile of pillows and blankets on the couch. I think it’s a perfectly valid technique for coping, especially when it’s done knowingly. I agree, sometimes the best thing for those moods is to ignore them, and let them fade away when you aren’t looking. Succumbing to the drama is almost never useful.
    “who has the energy for that happy skippy claptrap i see on the internet”
    I love this.
    I am also loving this “How To Fall In Love With Yourself” series of posts. There’s so much I can relate to in them. Please keep them coming!
    As always, love the photo.

  40. Betty Thompson

    Great post Susannah, “happy skippy claptrap” love it! {HUGS}
    Inhale what you need. Hold it in your mind and feel it.
    Exhale and let it fall into place–
    No one said you had to be quiet about it
    Scream if you must
    Complain if it hurts
    Now get back out there and live!

  41. Bea

    FUCK YES to every single word.
    I love you to bits x

  42. joseph

    Hello Susannah,
    What a wonderful place this is….i came in here just out of curiosity , specially, drawn by your blog title…. it resembled so much to a post i had written a long time ago.
    Well, i came in here and began to read…. totally captivated by your pathwork….reading the reasons through which your blog came into existence.
    And then i waas so touched by your poetic and sensitive perception of life and its hidden teachings.
    i must say that coming here has made me discover a very beautiful person.
    NB: i love the way you recite your poems!

  43. Colette

    I love the idea of a comfort bag.

  44. Patty

    A bag of comfort is a perfect idea, can I borrow yours ;)

  45. Jo Anne

    I’m new to your blog – just found it via another source. I had no idea that your post would be speaking directly to me today (as well as so many others, it seems). Anyway, I am encouraged by your words – it is awesome that even while you yourself are down, you can lift someone else up. That alone should give us all hope for better days!

  46. Roxanne

    I could go on and on here, as I can related. Find peace, which ever way you can.

  47. sir

    Hi Susannah
    “A bag of comfort” sounds like a wonderful idea. Especially in the world full of what you called “happy skippy claptrap” (exactly what it is!!!!) Being a mum of three and a part-time teacher I feel intensly the pressure of a “perfect and happy family model” pressing in from the outside world. It’s so easy to fall into the media-created trap and then NEVER feel that you’rew up to it. So yes, dear Susannah, it’s only normal to have the bad days – it’s just that the bling-bling world around us pretends they don’t exsits.

  48. CrowNology

    I wok up this morning. Made coffee. Ate breakfast….Then went back to bed…My fear of being/getting depressed (again) is almost as bad as depression itself. I made the bed…Today I made the bed and left the fear in it to rest…
    xo to you…

  49. CrowNology

    I woke, not wok, this morning…Though a ‘wok’ would probably do me good. ;)

  50. Mindy

    Man I totally know what you’re talking about. I’ve been there for the last 3 months, BIG time. I’m just starting to climb out of my self dug hole… but life still happens and unfortunately sometimes life deals us difficult hands. Hang in there! And for sure love yourself!

  51. Catherine Just

    I wish I lived closer. I’d bring you some home made cookies – or store bought cupcakes and we could sit around and distract ourselves with sugar!

  52. Megan

    A month or so ago, my husband and I were watching “Big Fish” … at the end, I was struck by the similarity between the deep love and wonderful stories that people had for Ed Bloom and all the family, friends, and memories that my best friend Jason left behind when he died a few years ago. I tried to hold it in, but the grief literally choked me… I decided I owed it to myself to let it out; to sob until I couldn’t breathe; until every tear was wrenched out. I cried until cleansed, fully deserving that therapeutic purge… I know that many more of those incidents lie in wait for me and I know that I won’t ever hold back (or in) ever again.

  53. maggie may

    some days a good meal and a good movie are pure HEAVEN.

  54. addie

    Thanks for the honesty… I really needed it today. When I have times like that I get into bed early with a glass of wine and read through my affirmations…

  55. Kitty Douglas

    Wow! It’s like you’re reading my MIND sometimes!
    What a great post!
    I <3 checking out this blog, as you never cease to inspire me!
    Happy Kreating!

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