Have you ever been caught up in the self-loathing spinning wheel when you allowed everything unfavourable you believed about yourself to come up to the surface, to the point that you saw yourself as the most unworthy or flawed person on the planet?
“You are so stupid,” “You are ugly,” “You are a failure,” “You can never keep anyone good in your life,” “You deserve the miserable life you have…” The list can go on and on. Our self-hate inner dialog can be very colourful sometimes and it’s always charged with so much negativity and self-resentment.
We, people, are very interesting creatures. Why do we deliberately put ourselves down, despise ourselves for our shortcomings (be they real or imaginary), and sometimes even punish ourselves for being less than “perfect”—whatever this means really, as perfectionism, as any other quality or tendency is very subjective.
And what’s the end game for this vicious spiral down the path of self-denial anyway? More dislike? Making sure we never have a chance to feel happy?
The point is that we often fail to acknowledge that we are human. And humans are not flawless. No one is. True—some have it messier, less easy, more challenging. But nevertheless, we all make mistakes, we all have kinks, weaknesses and foibles.
What distinguishes the ones who make it in the world from those who don’t, I believe, is self-acceptance. That is, are you willing to move on, chase your dreams, unfold your potential, knowing that you are not impeccable, but that it it’s not the deal-breaker? That self-belief and drive are more important than anything else.
Or, alternatively, you can spend all your life licking your old wounds, trying to sweep your darkness under the rug, so that the world can see you as the shiny person you want so much to be. Have you been successful so far with such strategy? My guess is not.
And how do I know? I’ve been there. Everything I described above was me a while back. I so desperately wanted to be “normal,” to fit in, to blend in, that I would scold myself every time I wasn’t up to standards (whose exactly, I wasn’t sure, maybe so fictional society). Ah, the absurdity of it all!
What we often don’t recognise when talk to ourselves in a derogatory language is that we rob ourselves of the chance to be happy, to enjoy life, to be at peace with the man in the mirror. Not only this, but our desire to be like everyone else, on the surface at least, makes us too unremarkable. Trying to hide our uniqueness is not the winning ticket in life.
However, what makes us unique is the blend of our positives and our darkness—our imperfections too, our failures, our skeletons in the closet even. It all comes together to create You. And this is what makes you stand out from the crowd, not the fact that you wear the same clothes as everyone else, that you speak the same words, that you behave artificially every time you think you must project a certain image.
It’s your vulnerability that can make you proud of who you are, not your blend-ability.
Just think about it. How can we hope to achieve anything in life if we act out of a place of no kindness and love for ourselves?
Think of someone you dislike—how willing are you to do voluntarily anything nice for them? To want to make them happy? My guess is: not much. It’s the same with yourself. If you don’t like You, if you are denying to accept who are are—the good and your demons—you can’t expect to move forward and achieve the things you aspire.
You’ll be forever stuck in the self-loathing rut—where there is no exit and no end. It’s just a pointless exercise.
So, here is my advice. And take it from someone who’s lived with unhealthy sense of perfectionism for years, who’s talked herself down every time she sensed life was getting a bit skewed from the symmetry she was so fixated on—be it when she got less than an A in school, put on a couple of pounds, went through a break-up or didn’t get the promotion at work.
You must learn to life with your shadows, your quirks, your failings. They are part of you. They are part of your life too. Sometimes, they make you stronger and better—so that you can pick yourself up and keep on going.
And remember—just because you can’t see someone else’s “skewness,” it doesn’t mean that it’s not there. So, don’t compare.
But the question for you is this: how much more of your life are you willing to waste punishing yourself for being you, rather than helping yourself get better, reach for your stars and be happy?
*This post originally appeared in Lust for Life.