After last month's f*ckboy spring cleaning, I found myself increasingly lost.
I didn't realize just how much toxicity I had in my life until one Wednesday morning around 3 am, when I had the closest thing to a mental breakdown I've ever had. My body stiffened, my chest closed up and I had trouble breathing.
All of a sudden, every bad decision I've ever made came flooding back -- it was like I was watching my life flash before my eyes.
I was afraid I'd die a slow, painful death, but thankfully, I didn't. Instead, I got up, reached for my computer and emailed my boss and told her I needed to take a mental break from everything.
For as long as I can remember, I've suffered from low self-esteem. The thing about having low self-esteem is that it spreads like wildfire and affects every other area of your life: It led me to make the wrong romantic decisions, and I even struggled with body dysmorphia (and still do).
Low self-worth threw me into a horrible slump, and I realized that if I wanted to see improvements in all areas of my life, I needed to first tackle my self-esteem issues. This meant asking myself a few questions: Who am I? Who do I want to be? And how do I get to who I want to be?
I knew I needed to reboot, but I didn't know exactly how to do that. So I took a long weekend to center myself and get back on track. To gain clarity, I got away from my work, my friends and my love life (of course) ... and listened to a bunch of podcasts.
Disclaimer: If, like me, you've made a ton of recent life adjustments, you'll probably need more than podcasts to help you through it all. Exercising a few times a week, seeing a therapist weekly and meditating every night before bed have all personally helped me, in addition to listening to these motivational speeches. As long as you're truly committed to bettering yourself, you'll see the progress you want to see.
I've listed the names of the speakers I'm currently loving below.
Helen Fisher, for when you're trying to figure out if you're in love
"Would you die for him or her?" This was the question anthropologist Helen Fisher forced me to ask myself when I was trying to figure out if I was in love with one of the f*ckboys from my past. The answer was a clear "no," and just like that, I found it easier to move on from him. She also helped me understand why men think the way they do and how that plays into their (stupid) decisions.
A friend recommended me to Helen Fisher's TED talk "Why We Love, Why We Cheat", in which she talks about how you can, in fact, fall in love with someone you're just having casual sex with, regardless of the presence of an emotional connection. Fisher confirmed for me that the decision I made to cut out men in my life undeserving of my love was indeed the right decision. Let her help you navigate the musings of your heart.
Geneen Roth, if you're struggling with an eating disorder
The book "Women, Food and God" was Roth's claim to fame, but my editor suggested her to me for general well-being, too. Roth is slowly saving me from myself. I'm still working to get where I need to be, but listening to her keeps me grounded.
She's struggled with binge-eating and anorexia, making her relatable to listen to on those topics. She takes an incredibly emotional approach rooted in personal experiences towards meal planning and weight maintenance, stressing the importance of mindful eating, and even gives specific tips on how to manage binge cravings when they strike.
Sandra Aamodt, for ditching binge dieting
Aamodt opened my eyes to just how screwed-up the mentality behind dieting is in her TED talk "Why Dieting Doesn't Work."
Aamodt takes a neuroscientific approach toward food. She talks about how our palettes change according to our age and environment. She convinced me that dieting is fruitless, with her theory grounded in the logic that there are two types of people in the world: “intuitive eaters” and “controlled eaters.”
Intuitive eaters are less likely to gain weight, while controlled eaters -- the dieters -- are more likely. After making the New Year's Resolution that she would finally stop dieting, she lost 10 pounds. The woman is living proof that everything you know is wrong.
Gretchen Rubin, if you're depressed or just want to be happier
Rubin wrote "The Happiness Project," which is about a journey she embarked on to lead a better life. In it, she examines the importance of doing little trivial things every day -- singing in the morning, cleaning the closet, working out -- and how they relate to harvesting inner happiness.
She also lays out successful ways to develop new habits for the four different types of habit-formers: the upholder, the questioner, the rebel and the obliger. Every one of us is each one of them.
You can order a copy of her book on Amazon.
Erin Tillman, if you're single and dating
There's a LOT of stories on the Web for the single girl, but I enjoy listening to radio shows when I want to learn about dating smarter. I find that I can both learn from and relate a lot to the people who phone in and ask questions. Basically, they make me feel less crazy.
Tillman is super pro-single girl; she even had a show about giving Valentine's Day gifts to yourself. That's the kind of self-love I can get behind.
Tillman's radio show is free (yay, because I'm broke AF). You can find and subscribe to "The Dating Advice Girl" radio show on iTunes.
Paul Colaianni, for building self-esteem and confidence
I love this guy because you can listen to his podcasts right on your iPhone through the podcast app. Seeing as I'm a lazy person, this is very convenient for me.
I've been listening to his stuff because he examines self-esteem and self-worth, and how they play into the choices we make for ourselves. I wish I'd found his stuff sooner because he's able to put a hugely abstract concept into simplistic terms. You don't need to be a psychologist to follow his logic: The more you value yourself, the less you'll f*ck up. Plain and simple.