To make this change has probably been the biggest game changer in my life.
If you’ve never said this to yourself, you may move to a different post.
But for those of you, who have said or thought that they hated themselves, or still do so, know that I feel you.
What it was like to hate myself
I remember waking up in the mornings, thinking: I hate myself.
This was usually prompted by simply remembering all the things I didn’t do the previous day, which I could have done.
Thinking that because I didn’t do them yesterday, I will have to do them today.
Thinking that because I failed yesterday, I will fail again today.
Disappointment was lingering above me, before I had even left the bed, before barely opening my eyes.
I told myself that I hated myself after a conversation, when I didn’t actually say what I meant.
I told myself the same thing, when I felt I had let somebody down, and again, when I forgot about something, when I underestimated time again, when I forgot to bring something home from the supermarket.
I saw failure and me not living up to my potential wherever I looked.
And in a way I was right to be upset, something was clearly wrong.
I was unhappy because I knew I was perfectly able to do all the things I didn’t do and say all the things that I couldn’t say, but something stopped me from it – and that was my mind.
The mind that thought it was OK to say: I hate myself.
My mind was bullying me.
Why did I talk to myself that way?
I thought that my worth was related to my deeds, and if I was unable to do the most simple things (which I knew I could do theoretically, but somehow was unable to), I didn’t deserve to be treated nicely.
It’s a terrible state to be in. If you are there, or have been – know that it’s OK and that you’re loved no matter what – and that things can change.
I hated myself and my life for any possible reason, really, and while I did, nothing changed.
Caught in a loop
At that time, I was under the impression, that I’m only worthy of love or acceptance if I’m doing the things that are expected of me.
I also thought that it shouldn’t be that way, but I was unaware of that conflict, of believing two opposing things at the same time, so I remained in that conflict and depressed.
I’ve written about why we believe the conflicting things here.
What, I felt, was expected of me, wasn’t even anything extraordinary: A nice job, a great partner. 🙂
But here’s the catch: if we believe that we have to be something, before we can have something: it keeps us caught in a loop.
We constantly feel like we have to prove ourselves, while running after things, not because they are the things we want, but because we feel we need to have them in order to… get something else.
I need to have a partner, so I can be happy and work on the things I have to work on to find the right job.
I have to have a good job so that I can show up worthy in a relationship.
As long as we think that way, we won’t find either because we also feel like we don’t deserve whatever we feel we need yet.
And so, it goes on and on.
We keep looking for things in the world that need fixing, for us to be happy or free, or to live up to what we expect of us, or what others expect of us, or whatever it is that you tell yourself.
But we can never fix or find that as long as we don’t believe we can. So, we have to fix is the way we think, and speak to ourselves, which is the only thing we can do.
What renders us unable to do things, is that we believe we should do things to feel better and we also have to feel better to do them.
It’s almost impossible to get out of.
And in this, we’re bound for more disappointment and failure. We continue to feel unreliable, and every time we fail ourselves again it gets worse.
It’s easy to slip into really dark places from here, it was pretty dark for me.
Photo by Austin Guevara on Pexels.
I’m not quite sure if it was a book I read, or something that I listened to. But from somewhere the information came through, that the way we speak to ourselves changes how we see the world and how we are in the world.
And honestly, I simply thought it’s worth a try. At that point, I felt like I didn’t have much to lose.
But I also didn’t think I could just change my mind about things to make them work. Or that ‘positive thinking’ would help with anything, either.
So if this is where you are, I’m not going to try and convince you.
I will, however, offer the suggestion to try to talk differently to yourself for a change.
As an experiment. If it doesn’t work, you can always go back to being mean to yourself.
Just give it a week or two.
Every time my mind would start to go to I…
I didn’t let myself finish and instead said: I’m not very happy with what I did yesterday, but I can do better and try harder.
Or I’m not very happy how I handled this, but I will see if I can handle things differently next time.
You might not use the h* word for yourself, but say other things, that somehow link your actions (or inactions) to your identity.
If you start linking your dislike or disapproval to your actions instead of yourself, you’ll find out that the pressure you put on yourself will lessen.
And then it becomes easier to simply start to play out in your head how to react better next time.
And by practising situations, even if only in our heads, we build new neural pathways and can slowly break out of the loop.
Studies show that thinking about practising to play the piano, or tennis, is about as effective as actually doing it. And that works for everything.
So instead of beating yourself up about how you didn’t do certain things, you can start to practise thinking about how you would like to do them.
Until you actually do.
But the first thing is to simply stop before you go to h* word or say anything else that is mean or hurtful to yourself. Just don’t do it.
Say you’ll do it better (not be better) next time. Whether you believe it (yet) or not.
Once you’ve started, you will see how it’s not (seemingly unchangeable) you who’s been boycotting yourself, but your inner voice.
You are quite capable to change, if you learn to handle your inner voice and start saying different things to yourself.
And then little by little space opens up for more lightness, you can regain your trust, and eventually, your mind, doesn’t even go there any more.
So, what are you going to say to yourself, next time your mind takes you there?
(I know it can be difficult. Try it anyway!)