How do you stop hating yourself once you’ve started?
My biggest problem, the one I need to overcome the most, is hating myself. I don’t say this lightly, in the self-deprecating way I used to talk about myself. This is a deep self-loathing that’s always, always lurking somewhere in the back of my mind.
It’s hard for me to reconcile my brain on this subject. On the one hand, I don’t want to admit to being one of those people who is heavily influenced by the airbrushed women on magazine covers, but I do have to admit that it’s hard to deny that I look at a lot of celebrities and think “you’re so beautiful, charming, and clever, and I’m not any of those things.” But those people are so exaggerated (no offence, famous people!), and the bar for “excellence” has been set so high, that there’s almost no option but for me to fall somewhere short of the mark. I’m not trying to say that all my problems stem from society idolising beautiful people, only that maybe I’m kind of giving myself an unfair disadvantage.
A few years ago – I think five or six – I came to terms with one of the biggest things I’d ever tried to deny about myself up until that point: I’m high maintenance*. It wasn’t exactly a slow process at the time; I sat at work one day and realised, hey, I’m high maintenance, and it’s alright. Someone will really enjoy “maintaining” me one day. So with that in mind, I’m trying to apply the same sort of practice here, by listing the things I dislike about myself and then making a second list of much more objective responses that will hopefully help me come to terms with the things I think of as awful.
OK, here goes. Things I dislike about myself:
- My looks.
- I’m not good at anything. I’m OK at a lot of things, but I’m not good at anything.
- I get everything wrong.
- I’m lazy and I procrastinate.
- I’m always either too scared or too anxious to do anything.
- I’m a bad friend/relative.
Right, so there’s the list. I would like to note that it did not take long to think of and write those things. Thinking of the things that disgust me about myself is easy, what comes next is the hard part.
- I don’t look like a movie star, but I can be super cute and there’s absolutely someone who will think my looks are lovely.
- There are actually a lot of things I’m very good at, like baking. Unfortunately, ‘thinking of things I’m amazing at’ is one of the things I’m really bad at. That’s OK! I’m also still pretty young and there’s a lot of time for me to figure out not only what I’m really good at but also what I love to do.
- I don’t get everything wrong. I’m very smart and I learn quickly! I won’t always be predisposed to pessimism and one day, when I don’t expect to fail at everything, I won’t.
- I am lazy and I do procrastinate. But, I’m also coping with a lot in life and I shouldn’t blame myself for letting things slip, or getting things done a bit later than I meant to. As long as I do get them done, I’m on the right track.
- Anxiety, fear, stress, anger, and every other negative emotion are all part of everyone’s life. The key here is to live in those moments only as long as I need to and then move on. As I get healthier, I’ll begin to need to be in those moments less and less.
- Where I fail as a friend/relative, I make up by being attentive, caring, and supportive. I’m not as communicative, or present, as I picture the ‘ideal’ family member being, but I’m thoughtful, considerate, and generous with people in my life and I know that the people who matter see those qualities in me and love me because of them.
I call these objective responses because right now, while not in the pit of depression, I can see positive things about myself. Probably not as many things as I should, but I really believe that when I’m less blinded by my own mental issues, these things will be part of the road to recovery and learning to care about myself again.
Honestly, I keep writing these posts and right now I’m really wondering if I’m moving forwards at all. I did my first weigh in today and I’m not sure how I’m feeling about it, or me, or what I’m doing. Maybe I’ll look back on this in a month and think “that was stupid, you’re stupid, never do that again.” Or maybe I’ll still be here and trying, who knows. I don’t know. I’m scared shitless, with no idea what I’m doing here. But I have to keep trying. Right?
*Oh, to be back in the days when being high maintenance was my biggest problem.