Play your X's: on caring for yourself through self-trust
February 4, 2019
You've got the "X" tile in your hand. The triple word score space sits open, hanging on the edge of an open "U."
I'm about to crush this game,you think. Call me Abby, Builder of Words and Destroyer of Dreams.
...except wait. Shit. Is "Xu" a word? I swear it is, I remember looking it up last time I played! ...but maybe we just made those rules up. Maybe they let me play it because they felt bad for me? What if we're playing with different rules this time and then I show my letters and have to take it back and look silly for thinking "Xu" is a word...*
Ugh. This is too much. I'm playing "run" instead.
Have you ever psyched yourself out of 18 extra Scrabble points? Have you ever stood in line for the build-your-own sushi roll you've been craving all week only to doubt yourself into ordering a rice-less sushi salad bowl that wasn't at all what you wanted? Have you ever forced yourself out of bed with too little sleep to take on the day and then spent that day fighting your exhausted brain, forgetting your grocery bags in the cart and daydreaming during meetings?
Loving yourself isn’t a game. There’s no triple word scores for extra workouts and eating a salad doesn’t score you a touch down. The one way it is similar to a game, however, is that it require a certain level of trust.
Caring for yourself is a day-to-day evolution, a series of asks and answers, an endless stream of testing and creating boundaries. Caring for yourself also requires being able trust: trust in what you’re feeling, trust that you’ve got this shit (and trust in your support systems when you don't feel like you've got this shit) and trust that you do, in fact, know what you need.
Healing my relationship with food and my body and understanding my mental health required some deep diving into the topic of fear, so you might have heard me say before that I'm not against fear. Fear keeps us on our toes, it helps us navigate dangerous situations and teaches us to be more self-aware. Anytime I feel fear arising, whether it's walking into a dark house or being asked to try something new like drive an ATV---yes I was scared of driving an ATV----I grab a notepad and prepare for the lesson that follows. I know, growth is kind of obnoxious like that. Fear is a necessity---but it's a necessity that we have to actively engage with and challenge or else it festers and spreads and starts to ruin all of our Scrabble games.
A great deal of my life was spent in fear and doubting. Doubting my choices, doubting my abilities, and doubting that I was deserving. I didn't trust my body's natural ability to hunger and process food, so I manipulated it with restriction and dieting. I didn't trust in my self-worth so I hustled to earn it back by people pleasing. I didn't trust that I deserved the same things those around me had, so I kept myself stuck with limiting thoughts like: you can't afford that and you're never going to be successful like that and you're level of privilege doesn't allow for that.
Time went on, I got older and older, and that self-doubt never resulted in the approval I was looking for. The hustle for worthiness never fixed the fear that I wasn't good enough. I had played all my safe words and still a Scrabble tray full of unused powerhouse letters.
I had to start playing my X's. I had to start trusting myself, because letting other people dictate my moves wasn't working anymore. I had to start being brave and trying out this thing called "trust."
The thing about self-trust is that it does't have to come all at once. As I said above, it's a daily activity. One day learning to trust yourself might look like sleeping in instead of getting up for a 7am Saturday workout because you're exhausted and that cold just won't quit. It might also look like trying a new boxing workout because running has lost it's joy. The following day, it might look like ordering a snack at the coffee shop because even though breakfast was only an hour ago, you're hungry. For me, self-trust this weekend looked like buying a car. I had to actively work on trusting that I deserved the ease and comfort I was craving. I had to trust that I'd done the math right and that I could afford the payments. I had to trust that I not only knew what I needed but that I was capable of going after it.
What could self-trust look like for you this week? What Scrabble words have you been wanting to play?