I believe in myself. I believe that I have the power and the courage to change. Self-hatred and self-loathing are powerful and scary opponents. They have the ability to make us question ourselves, our worth, and our significance. Once these “monsters” have beaten, and their teeth have taken hold, it is easy to lose hope.
I remember the first time I felt worthless. I remember the second time and the third. I remember having that feeling so often that one day it was no longer just a feeling, it became a statement. I am worthless. I am undeserving. I am unlovable. It did not matter that I had many friends, that everyone seemed to like me, that individuals of the opposite sex often appeared interested in dating me, or even that I did great in school. I easily dismissed these things as flukes or as being the result of some unconscious trick I had played on that person that had deceived them into thinking that I deserved recognition, love, respect, etc. I hated myself. But even more than that, I hated that I hated myself.
I looked for anything I could think of to make these feelings go away. I tried substances, relationships, excessive workouts, and many more. The only problem was that every supposed “solution” that I tried, was fully dependent upon something external to myself. I looked for things that would dull the pain, take away the worry, and make me feel okay. I looked for anyone and everyone to tell me that I was okay, that I was worthy, that I was loveable. I hoped that by hearing it enough, I would eventually just buy in and believe it myself. Unfortunately, this never happened.
No matter how many times I was told these things, I easily found a way to dismiss them. I would say “Yeah I won, but the other guy wasn’t trying” or “I know I got an A, but the teacher probably just likes me.” As you can see, I was a master of dismissal. I could dismiss or negate a compliment so quick it would make your head spin.
Over the years, I began to suspect that this reliance on external factors was not going to increase my self-esteem. After all, if it hadn’t worked in the last fifteen years, it probably wasn’t going to happen. Unfortunately, this awareness did not stop me from continuing to seek out interactions with individuals who would tell me how wonderful, great, smart, and worthy I was. I was unwilling to give up hope. I was unwilling to give up on my strategy because I did not have a plan B to fall back on.
Thankfully, in the last couple of years, I came to the conclusion that I needed to learn to love myself. I couldn’t rely on others to shower me with love and approval and just sit idly by and hope I felt better. I realized that I needed to take the unconditional love I have for others and focus some of it inward. Through the help of my family, friends, and yes, a therapist, I have learned to embrace this “self-defeating” part of me. I have learned to acknowledge and accept it. It is and always will be a part of me. The harder I tried to get rid of it, the stronger it got. By embracing the fact that it will always be there, I have learned to take away some of it’s power. I have learned to appreciate my own accomplishments, even when others don’t seem to take notice. I have learned to look in the mirror and say “hello beautiful,” even when no one else pays me a compliment. There are still days when my self-critic rears it’s ugly head and whispers all the negative things that I used to believe about myself. When that happens, I say “Hello critic. I acknowledge you and now I want you to be quiet.” This does not always work, but the stronger I get and the more I believe in, love, and accept myself, the easier it gets to silence that voice.
So, as I stated previously, I believe in myself. I KNOW I have the power and courage to change.
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