We invited Clinical Social Worker, Rachelle Mortensen to write a guest post for Omika, for World Autism Day. Rachelle is a Mental Health Social Worker from Happy Me, based in Narre Warren, Victoria.
I’m pretty passionate about embracing our unique selves and giving others the tools to help them feel more confident and happy in their own skin.
I’ve worked with clients over the years in the mental health sector. Counselling many women, men, children and families. Over this time I can honestly say most of us struggle with embracing and accepting our unique selves.
Many of these individuals were on the autism spectrum. Many were not. Regardless, it’s generally something all of us struggle with at times (if not) throughout life.
I hope these tips are a helpful starting place in recognising and embracing your unique self!
Here are my top 4 tips to embrace and accept our unique selves:
- Embrace who you are: find your strengths.
Oh yeah, I hear you say….I can do that, easy (insert evil laugh hahaha)!
Okay, so here’s the thing. This is a skill. This is something that needs practice. Practice as much as you can.
If you know you are going to struggle with this, get some help.
Ask a supportive friend or family member for help. Get a journal to write your thoughts down and reframe some of those negative ones to be more positive. Seek out an appropriately trained and qualified therapist to help you with this – let’s end the stigma on mental health and get the help we need (just as we would for our health). There is no shame in that.
Tune into your thinking and what you say. Ask yourself some questions –
Am I being kind to myself?
Am I recognising what I did well? (and ending on that note, not the negative)
Am I recognising my strengths and building on them?
Am I forgiving myself and recognising my learning?
2. Find tools or ways that bring an internal calm.
Internal calm you say…what is that?
So inside of all of us is a space. A space that I call “internal calm”. When we do specific things unique to us as an individual, it amazingly expands that feeling of internal calm over our body.
It could be tools that help with this e.g. using fidget tools, smelling candles or other sensory experiences, deep breathing, music, or taking our self on an amazing visualisation.
It could be places that expand our internal calm e.g. going to the beach or the forest.
It could be connections that help expand our internal calm e.g. time with animals or pets, cuddles or love and affection from family or friends.
But usually, for most of us, it’s a combination of all of the above and more.
Explore what things might expand your internal calm. Try new things, even if it’s just for a few seconds. Try it more than once and keep trying. Humans are pretty complex and we need lots of practice at things before we rule it out.
Make a list of these things and keep it handy to remind and prompt you. Use it at times when you feel absolutely overwhelmed.
Get into a routine and do something for yourself at least twice a day for just for a few minutes.
We all need more calm and happiness, right? So, go for it I say!!!
3. Do fun things that make you feel good!
It doesn’t have to have a purpose or an outcome, but when we do things that we enjoy, it often boosts our mood and how we feel about ourselves. It helps develop our sense of self and often increases are confidence.
Identify those fun things you can do that make you feel good. Is it:
Going for a walk or gardening
Listening to music
Baking cookies for a friend
Playing a sport
Craft and leisure activities
Dressing up and go out
Or maybe staying home reading and relaxing.
There could be thousands of things, but pick those things that speak to you as an individual.
The more we do these things the more confident we become. Remember, it’s got to be fun though (or working towards it!).
Note: If you have NO CLUE – take a problem solving approach.
Try it a few times. Note how it makes you feel, keep trying, then review and adapt it to suit your own individual preferences and what seems to work better.
Don’t give up. Sometimes it really takes a while to find something that we find fun and enjoy – this is completely normal.
4. Recognise that you are a “work in progress.”
One of my favourite quotes or affirmations that sits inside my head is the following –
“I am flawed and absolutely brilliant”.
There is real beauty and vulnerability in being imperfect. In being a learner.
I think there is even more strength in being able to sit with ourselves in being a “work in progress” AND being able to see our strengths at the same time.
It’s not black and white. It’s not “messing it all up” or “getting it right”. It’s a complex mix of everything.
Just sit with that and be ok with it.
Be unique. Be you. Thrive on this.
And that to me, is the most brilliant thing!
Rachelle Mortensen is a Clinical Social Worker at Happy Me, based in Narre Warren, Victoria.
Rachelle is also the Founder of The Happy Me Shop at www.thehappymeshop.com.au, where you can find therapist recommended toys, fidget tools, gifts and books for children, families and educators. Follow their Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/thehappymeshop.