Being myself…and liking it

Do you like yourself?

I don’t. I don’t remember over having done so. Even as a small child I can remember telling my mum that if I were someone else, I wouldn’t be friends with me. I was seven years old, and already convinced that I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t understand when my mum got upset, but I hated seeing her cry, so I never mentioned it again. But I never stopped thinking it. Even when I wasn’t in the grips of depression, I still hugely disliked the person I was. Of course, I realise that depression magnified these feelings, and that past experiences definitely contributed to low feelings of self worth, but I always thought that this baseline ‘dislike of self’ was normal.

During a chat with a friend one day I said “nobody likes themselves” (or something similar – I don’t understand how people can quote conversations word for word months/years after the fact!). His reply that this wasn’t true, that most people were at least ok with themselves even if they weren’t completely in love, startled me. Subsequent conversations about the idea of self worth have been a revelation. I had never really thought about how extreme my thoughts about myself were. It was when I started unpacking them, thinking about the whys, and trying to think things through rationally, that I realised that this was a big problem for me.

Once, at an appointment, out of the blue, my counsellor shared something with me. Based on our past conversations, she’d written a list of positive things about me. As she read them, I felt tears begin to fall, and I couldn’t make them stop. When she asked me why I was crying, I couldn’t answer. I’ve been thinking about it a lot since then, and I’m still not entirely sure why I got so upset, but I know it had quite a bit to do with my own attitude to myself. This is something I’ve been working on a lot lately. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Changing thought processes takes time, and a lot of hard work. It’s a huge struggle to maintain the level of effort needed to make lasting changes. And I fall short a lot of the time. But I am working on it.

I know that the way I feel is pretty extreme, and that not everyone feels like I do. However, through conversation, I have discovered that a lot of people seem afraid to like themselves (or at least to admit to liking themselves). We’re told by society that it is wrong to think ‘too much’ of ourselves. Being accused of loving oneself is seen an insult. Girls (and boys…and women and men) stand in front of the mirror, listing all the things that are ‘wrong’ with their bodies. Job interviews are a struggle to find a balance between showing our strengths and selling ourselves, and being self depreciating enough to avoid the appearance of boasting.

Of course, I do realise that there is a line between liking who you are and thinking that you’re the best and most important person in the world. Narcissism is a hugely unattractive personality trait. But it would be great if more people felt that it was ok to openly think and say positive things about themselves.

So. Have a think. Do you like yourself? Are you at least ok with yourself? Do you automatically put yourself down? Or do you see the good in yourself (as well as the bad – nobody’s perfect!). Also, do you allow the people around you the space to feel good about themselves? If you’re a parent, or spend time around children, it is especially important to model this kind of behaviour. It’s much easier to develop a good self image as a child, and retain it, than to change thought patterns as an adult. And how a person views themself can have either a negative or positive effect on how they live their life. Believe me, I know.

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6 thoughts on “Being myself…and liking it

  1. I totally get this. I’m comfortable in my own skin, not bothered how I look and yet I hate myself. I’m waiting for the world to see me as I really am, as the bad evil person I know myself to be. I question constantly why people like me, why my team works with me, why they can’t see what I’m really like. But I am slowly starting to realise that maybe my team know more than me. Maybe, just maybe, I’m not wholly evil after all?

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    1. You’re not evil at all, love. But I know from experience that just me saying that isn’t going to change it. I’m so glad that you trust your team to tell you the truth, and it might be shifting, if only just a bit.

      There are so many people I’ve spoken to who feel like this. It’s really awful, cos I can see what wonderful people they are. Just need to learn the same about myself – somehow!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I also assumed no one liked themselves. I can’t remember ever being happy with who I am and don’t know how to undo 37 years of thinking that way 😦

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  3. I really loved your post. This is something that I have struggled with for years. Recently I made a huge breakthrough that has completely shifted my sense of who I am. (Yes, I am very lucky =))

    First, I had a short course of therapy a couple of months ago and I discussed this idea of “core beliefs” with my therapist. I was getting really frustrated that I could know something with my head but not feel it with my heart (you get that, right?). I asked him if he thought it was really possible to get rid of these core beliefs; his response was that instead of getting rid of them, what you can do is install new ones. Do you see the difference? The emphasis is not on working against something, but instead, creating something new. It turns the problem on its head and leads to all kinds of things you can do, instead of what you can’t. I think that change of emphasis helps.

    The really big breakthrough though was one of those “penny drop” moments that you don’t fully grasp until you really experience it but maybe I can plant a seed with you.. With guidance from my therapist I recently started investigating meditation (something I’ve been extremely resistant to in the past). We did a short meditation on compassion which I realised is a wonderful antidote to self-loathing and depression. I’m a bit obsessive so I started listening to loads of online talks given by meditation teachers and I came across this ludicrously simple idea. There is nothing wrong with me. Sounds ridiculous right? But, if you really drop down below all your ideas, thoughts and beliefs about yourself, there is an essence of who you are. If you can sense into that essence, your “real self” which exists independent of your thoughts (and the feelings your thoughts create) you start to see yourself for who you really are, and when you do, you finally grasp that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that essence – the real you that’s been buried under all the suffering for as long as you can remember. This doesn’t mean we don’t make mistakes, that’s inevitable right? But mistakes don’t change who we are. That idea might sound a bit bizarre, but try mulling it over and letting it sink in and see what happens.

    Oh, and between you and me, I do love myself 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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