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Redefining Purpose In Spite of My Intrusive Thoughts

Is it possible to set goals while still feeling content with yourself?

Escrito por Sarah McKinnon

Redefining Purpose In Spite of My Intrusive Thoughts

01 Sarah is a mental health advocate with OCD.

02 She shares how New Year’s resolutions are often motivated by comparison and feeling discontent with yourself, especially if you struggle with mental health.

03 To combat these feelings of inadequacy, she explains how to create goals in “a room with no mirrors.”

A few days before January 1st, I felt this pressure in my chest — a sense of agony and dread. I had little excitement for the calendar change, but despite my lack of joy, I decided to swallow the bittersweet pill of “goal setting” that many of us are familiar with during the new year. 

Upon sitting down to write out my goals, I was hit with anxious thoughts of failure. Last year was mainly a fight for survival after multiple major OCD episodes. Which begged the question: Is goal setting even worth it for someone like me? 

If you’ve wondered the same thing, the answer is yes. But how do we get there? How do we make goals in spite of our loud fears? 

I’d like to answer this question by focusing on something that often impacts my goals and fuels my intrusive thoughts: social media. 

Social media has made its mark on me, causing irreversible cuts deep into my identity. I know this isn’t a battle I face alone. Countless people struggle with the stress and noise of social platforms. It’s normal to have thoughts of unworthiness or jealousy while scrolling our Instagram feeds. But it’s important to remember that after we let these emotions and thoughts pass, we need to come back to reality. 

To avoid the pressures of comparison and dissatisfaction, I like to use a method called “making goals in a room with no mirrors.”

When we decide to pursue a goal, we need to ask ourselves what decision we’re ultimately making. Too often, people think their future self is the only worthy version of themselves. But why must we set goals on the foundation of being so unhappy with who we are?

Too often, people think their future self is the only worthy version of themselves.

As someone living with mental illness, it’s easy to put myself down and let intrusive thoughts dictate who I am. To combat this, I need to make my goals in a space that is not about comparison, aka, a room with no mirrors. 

For example, if you want to write a manuscript for a book, do it because you have creative thoughts and characters bubbling within you, not because you think it will “officially” make you a writer. Don’t wait to enjoy something when you feel valuable and have perfect mental health. Your talent and skills deserve to exist now, as you are. 

When we build goals and thoughts off of the idea that we are not good enough today, we are invalidating our present self, and setting ourselves up for always feeling discontent. 

Many times, we condition ourselves to think that we are not successful or good enough until we hit large benchmarks — like getting a degree, launching a business or losing sixty pounds. But even when we achieve our big goals, we are left with open wounds because of the reasons that motivated us. When we are fueled by negative emotions, we pursue our goals with a sense of vigor that will eventually lead to burnout and exhaustion.

We condition ourselves to think that we are not successful or good enough until we hit large benchmarks.

Instead, I like to think of the new year as a renewal. 

When we want to renew something at a library, it usually means we want to spend more time with it. We appreciate the work, or we want to dive deeper into its message. We’re not renewing it because we want to throw it out, tear it up, or re-write it entirely — we renew it because we think it’s valuable. 

When we decide to renew ourselves, it should be with the intention of stepping deeper into who we already are, not recreating ourselves entirely. As we continue into 2022, remember that your story is valuable, and worth re-reading and exploring. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

You can find Sarah on Instagram @sunwithsundays

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Nuestra misión es cambiar la manera en que el mundo percibe la salud mental.