The Great Outdoors

“Ugly Thoughts”

“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until it gets so ugly you can hardly bear to look at it.

A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”

This beautiful quote from Roald Dahl has always stuck with me. Throughout life, it’s inevitable you’re going to come across a few people that are overflowing with “ugly thoughts”. If you have a thick skin and immovable self confidence, you may not be too affected by these people. But if you struggle with keeping yourself afloat in terms of mental health, it can unfortunately cause real damage.

Mental health is something I’ve always struggled with and been very open about. I’ve tried for years to correct the malfunctions in my brain, but at the start of this year I committed to really tackling it. It’s been tough – every day is a huge effort to just live life without getting derailed by the smallest things. The specific disorder I deal with means I obsessively check things, and for a long time now this has meant checking specific things because I knew I would find what I wanted: ‘proof’ that I am a bad person and don’t deserve to be happy. I have very little control over this, so it’s incredibly frustrating for me when I’ve made so much progress and then physically can’t stop myself from sabotaging it all by engaging with a handful of people who, for some reason, don’t want to see happiness in others. I know in my heart that my loved ones know the person I am, and yet I absorb the “ugly thoughts” of people who do not know me, and believe them.

The problem with humans is that we are hardwired to compete. Many of us thrive on competition, on ‘winning’, on beating others down until they give up, and this is especially rife in girls. It’s not great knowing that someone is putting energy and time into making you feel bad, but it’s even sadder for me to see girls so comfortably using their words to hurt rather than uplift – regardless of whether those words are directed at me.

The lack of love for other life in the world affects me to the point that I cannot read the news because one headline will make me unable to get out of bed. This is the reason I went vegan, cruelty free – the reason I work in a zero waste shop and study wildlife conservation. Because ignoring or even funding cruelty allows it to seep into you. Some people even believe that eating meat is absorbing the pain the animals went through to put that meal on your plate, that you are actively causing hurt to Mother Nature and that pain becomes a part of you. When I lie in a field, or feel my bare toes in the soil, I truly feel as though I belong to it. It is the most pure feeling of content, as though nothing truly matters and I am fundamentally happy. And yet, this feeling is still broken every day by the actions of myself and others.

So, this piece of writing is a promise to myself to stop allowing outside influences to dictate how I feel. Some people want to focus on their ugly thoughts and channel all of their energy into that, but you don’t have to feel the weight of that too (and I’m not just talking people in your life – I’m talking the idiots running the world flooding your news feeds too). You can do all you like, but you’ll never ‘win’ against these people.

What I find helps when I’m having a particularly bad day, is writing down everything you are grateful for. Despite COVID-19, this year rocks!! I have just bought a home with the love of my life, we’ve finished converting our campervan and are just about to go on an adventure, and we know when we’re getting our little puppy!! But knowing these happy things still doesn’t stop the darkness from creeping in and overshadowing how lucky I feel most of the time.

All of these thoughts have led to something new for me, and are partly why I’ve been training in sex education this summer. My current goal is to become fully qualified, and use my knowledge in that and in nature/wildlife to create retreats, courses and weekend experiences combining female connection to nature, sex education and feminism to try to combat the competition so many girls seem to feel against each other. I truly believe that if people are encouraged to appreciate things that are much more important than us from a young age, they’d be less willing to so confidently target others. Society pits us against each other, capitalism benefits from it, but NONE of us do. We never win when we cause hurt to another living being.

On that note, I’m gonna direct you all to a song that encompasses what I hope to strive towards in life, that just happens to be by my daddio. I am proud to be my parents’ daughter, to have been raised by two such loving and open minded people, and to be able to plug in my earphones whenever I need it most, and listen to my dad telling me love always wins in the end… https://nickharper.bandcamp.com/track/global-nation

“My eyes may not see what my dream relates 
But my heart knows it’s coming and celebrates 
With gladness I give all my voice’s weight 
To the power of any love humankind makes”

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