There is a dis-ease that is rife in our society today. Many of us-myself very much included- are all too familiar with it. It’s name? Self contempt.
Thing is, the symptoms of this dis-ease are as varied as we are and so we often see the symptoms as the problem, and try to resolve these, not what has caused these outer signals in the first place.
Some typical I –feel-rubbishy-about-myself- signs are manifested externally by abusing drugs and alcohol, getting caught in violent or destructive relationships, social anxiety, eating too much- or too little- compulsive shopping, perpetual stress, self harm, endless cosmetic surgery, creating dramas and engaging in gossip. These are just some symptoms, mind.
Personally as a child I expressed my absence of self esteem by retreating into my shell; I whispered my words and I felt lonely much of the time. I favored the drug and alcohol route as I got older as a way to blot out feeling the way I did about myself. Doing so allowed me to check out of my life and escape-at least temporarily-my self defeatist thoughts and feel visible, more ‘normal’, more confident, more entertaining, less…me.
I also attracted abusive partners. They were simply doing to me externally what I was doing to myself internally. Similarly the disrespect I showed rules- be it school rules, my parents,’ the law- was a way to act out in the outer world the disrespect I had for myself inside.
But, as we said, how we choose to self sabotage is oftentimes unique. Take main character Gru from our namesake title, ‘Despicable Me’. In this popular children’s 2010 movie he chooses to manifest his inner discontent by stealing the moon: Novel!
If you don’t see yourself in the mentioned symptoms of self contempt you may recognize the feelings that provoke these destructive actions: Feelings ranging from minor inadequacy or self embarrassment to despair at being you. Ten or so years ago I recall being so buckled with pain from a lover who cheated-again- that the thought of throwing myself in front of the London to Dover train I was due to catch that evening made me feel a sense of peace, not fear. I recall sobbing in the doctor’s office as I opened up my bleeding heart to him and begged for some chemical relief from the psychological pain that was just engulfing me. I recall the punched in the stomach feeling, the physical ache from the constant shrug of my shoulders, the feeling that I didn’t deserve to stand on the ground beneath me, the taunts of the scolding bully I lived with inside of my head. I remember the sore ulcers ballooning on the inside of my cheeks, chewed in a state of overwhelming anxiety. I recall always wearing my hair down so that it might hide more of me.
Little did I know at the time that this internal dis-ease was the source of my outside woes. I kept attracting the same miserable situations because I. Would. Not. Listen. I just tried to shut that persistent voice inside of me up which longed for change by drowning it in alcohol or whatever mind-numbing substance I could source. Opportunities for positive change surrounded me but I couldn’t see them, as Anastasia Soare says:-
“Opportunities are in front of everybody, everyday. It’s almost like a train station; everybody is in the station, there are trains that stop in front of people, but they have their eyes closed. They don’t have their eyes open to see and get onto that train. Opportunities are everywhere.” (page 34, ‘Hero’ by Rhonda Byrne)
Like Gru, I was utterly self-absorbed. I was so consumed with my own insecurities and my own self-created dramas that I had no time to develop morals or ideologies and so I had no scruples, no discernment. How could I when I was so tumored with self dis-ease?! My incapacitating feelings had me in a headlock so I couldn’t see who might need me or what good I might do in the world.
This, THIS is why we hear tooted around that you cannot love another until you love yourself. It is not some spiritual woo-woo nonsense. I’ve inhaled and exhaled the truth of this, as many have too. The deeper your capacity to love yourself, the deeper it is to love others. The deeper you excavate and discover what you have inside of you, the more you’ll realize what treasures you have to offer the world.
I called this blog the ‘Bright Side of Life’ because now I really feel I am on the bright side after all that pain and mess.
Adopting self –loving behaviors has been the ticket to the happiness I now relish. People often look at the outer circumstances of my life- my happy Facebook posts, my family, friends, my bright and breezy attitude, the things I do-and presume I’m ‘lucky’. Because I’ve lived in so many different locations, friends who know me now see an ambitious, energetic, health/fitness conscious, very responsible yet adventure-driven girl. It makes me smile inwardly as they grow wide eyed-aghast-at how my life once was.
I’m not proud of what I did in the past, but I am proud of how far I’ve come. And I know all this outer good stuff is credited to beginning to love myself because that’s when it started to pour into my life.
Loving myself has given me this clean, shimmery energy that just seems to bubble out of my auric field and spill into other people’s. People fill me up; I smile, I laugh, I give, I console, I surprise, I treat, I bless, I pray for those I know -and those I don’t- in a way that was foreign to me during my self abuse days. My urge is to help and to heal and, by goodness, that is what I’ll do.
My friend, I spent years trying to run away from who I thought was me (I am discovering I am far, far more than I ever gave myself credit for). But you can’t escape yourself, you know? Everyone else on this earth you can, but not yourself. This is why they say your relationship with yourself is the most important you’ll ever have. But from realizing this there will come a sense of ‘ok, so this is the seed I have to work with,’ then this can bud into self acceptance, then self liking can peek out and finally self love blooms-open-faced- into the radiant, warm sunshine. And you will flourish in a way that no one else on this planet can ever or will ever bloom.
Know this: It’s a journey. Some days-of course- I feel low, anxious, like hibernating, I stew over mistakes and regret actions I have or haven’t taken. This is called being human. The difference is now I extend myself the same courtesies to myself as I would my own beloved children; I’m patient with me, I understand my reasoning’s for certain behaviors, I lick my wounds, I take further action to help myself where I think necessary because…and this is all important…I come from a backdrop of self love, not loathing.
The following 8 weeks are as applicable to those of you who simply need to top off your self love tank as they are for those who’s tank is all but empty.
Next week we’ll start removing any obvious (and sometimes not so obvious but equally obstructive) blockages to you loving yourself. Sometimes we can’t accept the way we look, or something we might have done in the past that we just can’t forgive ourselves for. Sometimes those people in our immediate sphere are holding us down. We’ll look into the pasts of some of the most renowned self help teachers in the world today and see what they might have done ‘wrong,’ yet how these seeming barriers can ultimately be flipped into positives. As always they’ll be a resource section, giving you the exact tools I used to feel better about me in this particular department of self love.
What I lack in professional psychological qualifications I will make up for in experience, in passion, in determination to serve you.
Until we convene again in the name of self love next week, do look at the resources below which really illustrate how- yes- you can make wonderful happen for you, whatever you might feel about you right now.
Louise L Hay explains in this wonderful book that she “… grew up in a family that taught you were no good, you were useless, nobody loved you and nobody would love you. And when you have that belief, life gives you those experiences.” Yet she is an example of just how far a person can come in life and all her subsequent successes she attributes to learning to love herself. Think you can’t change? This lady will show you otherwise, and if she managed change from such a desperate space, then we all can.
Lisa Nichols (a teacher from ‘The Secret’) has, like Louise, come from very challenging circumstances yet has now really triumphed in the field of self help. Again she demonstrates that your lack of self love may not come from what you think about you but from other people’s limited or ignorant beliefs about who you really are. Sadly those telling us we’re no good are sometimes authority figures whom we look up to. In time these insecure thoughts can seep into our belief system too.
I hope you know you are not alone in this dis-ease. If you have any comments-at all-do let me know.