“Promise me you will always remember.
You’re braver than you believe,
and stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think.”
~ Christopher Robin to Pooh
I have a sign in my living room with this phrase on it. I love this sign.
In part, my admiration for this phrase goes back to my being a child. I had a stuffed Pooh bear that I would carry around with me. I see pictures of myself with it and instantly feel more at peace. I associate Winnie the Pooh with comfort. So much so that when my daughter outgrew her stuffed Pooh bear I kept it for myself. I never out grew Winnie the Pooh.
The other motivation in this is because I have grown to realize the importance of a Christopher Robin. Having someone who believes in me when I don’t believe in myself is critical to my mental health. I don’t think this falls into the category of an unhealthy codependency necessarily, but more along the lines of having the reminder of the value that has been placed on me by God.
I wouldn’t call this codependency because I really don’t care for the most part if someone likes me; if a person doesn’t like me that is their problem. I don’t go out of my way to make people not like me, but I don’t place my value in that opinion either.
For instance, I don’t like snakes. I think they are nasty little creatures, and even when I see them on TV I feel a creepy shiver go down my spine. I am not afraid of them, I just think they are horrible. That all being said I can still appreciate the role that they play in the ecosystem, eating mice and whatever other little creatures smaller than them. I realize that they have value. Snakes, as much as I hate to say it, serve a purpose.
I don’t have to like them to see the value in them. (Although if I were God I would just introduce more owls to the world but whatever, not my call.)
While I would prefer if people liked me, more importantly, I want to know that I make a difference. I want to know that the world is a better place with my having been here. Not because I am of a higher value than someone else, but just because I have value.
My mental health tells me the exact opposite. My depression says that I am not good enough. My depression says that I don’t matter. My brain tells me every day that I am a screw up and the world would be better without me.
I need a Christopher Robin to tell me those things are not true. I need to hear that I am making a difference. I need to hear that I do serve a purpose. I need to be reminded that God put me on this planet for a specific reason and that reason is not to be a “good example of a bad example.” I need to be reminded that I am in fact braver than I believe, and stronger than I seem, and smarter than I think.
My Christopher Robin changes from day to day. I won’t rely on one person to dictate my value, that would be unhealthy. And because of the severity of my mental health issues no one person could meet those needs anyways. Instead I listen when people say good things. I may not say, “Yes you’re right. I am a good person.”, when someone offers me their perspective but I at least stopped telling them they are wrong . I notice the impact I have on others even if they don’t know I was the one who impacted them. I search for the good that I do. I have invited people into my life who speak truth into me. And they do speak into me, even if my mental health issues make it difficult to believe it.
This didn’t happen overnight, it took years. This didn’t happen by accident, it is intentional. I have had to be open and vulnerable. I had to ask for help. So if you are in a position like me and you are reading this thinking, “I wish I had a Christopher Robin in my life.” You can. It is possible. Please keep reaching out. Please don’t give up on yourself because of the disconnection to others. I BELIEVE YOU CAN DO THIS!
And know that whoever you are, you can be a Christopher Robin to someone else. Never underestimate the importance of acknowledging the light that is inside those around you. That is the basis for respect.
A person who feels respected will feel their value.
A person who feels their value can change the world.
National Director of Mental Health for Celebrate Recovery