I wonder if you ever struggle with that painful feeling … The feeling that you really don’t deserve to be loved.
And when we’re in that desperate place we often move to self-attack. We turn against ourselves and we recite the countless reasons why we ought to be rejected, disliked or even scorned.
But this self-attack is crazy on so many different levels.
It usually has no bearing in reality.
Also, it serves no useful purpose, and it scars and wounds us deeply as we turn against ourselves with loud, self-shaming accusations.
Why do we do it?
There is a voice inside our head that has been nurtured through the years by negative experiences that left their mark on us. The voices of our parents, or of cruel, unloving people, have gathered evidence that now feels hard to contradict. Words like:
“Nobody likes you.”
“No-one cares about you.”
“Who would ever love you?”
“You’re not beautiful; you’re ugly.”
“Have you heard the way you sound?”
“You have nothing to contribute.”
“You’re stupid, and you’re boring.”
“You are worthless.”
“You’re a loser.”
Something to Think About
But that person in our head – the way we’ve come to see ourselves – is just some fantasy. It isn’t really who we are.
We need to shake off that false image, and to search for our true self. The person who went missing when we listened to the lies.
How to do that?
1. The first thing to do is to start to notice every time you ruthlessly attack, or are mean to yourself. Make a note of what you said, and what was happening at that time. Think about how you were feeling, and why you felt that way.
Usually, a pattern will start to emerge.
2. Think back to other times when you have heard those things being said. Who made those accusations? And why did you believe them? Can you challenge what they said? What could you say to yourself? What would be a reasonable and accurate rebuttal?
Now practice talking back to the voice inside in your head. It will silence that old critic so it starts to lose its power. And you’ll find that, over time, your real self will get much stronger.
3. Notice how your thinking has affected your behaviour. Has it caused you to withdraw. and to isolate yourself? Has it stopped you taking risks, or setting goals for yourself? Has it stopped you being funny, or being natural with new people?
Start to notice these connections. Start to see how you’ve missed out. Then start to change those patterns. One small step by one small step.
4. Think of people that you’re drawn to. Think of why you like that person. You might find them attractive – as you see yourself in them. Because they have some interests that are part of you as well.
“You are standing in the answer. It is when you start to lose yourself that you start to look for yourself in other people … other things. But there is a place and a time in your life that links you to the person you were before all the chaos. All the pain. All the heartache. Before you looked in the mirror and judged the reflection looking back at you. Find this place. Go back to this place. Because, in this place, you knew exactly who you were. You just got a little lost.”
– April Green