Sometimes it feels really good to be self-deprecating. It's much easier than giving myself praise or compliments but I think it's time to challenge myself to do the hard thing. I've often been told by family, friends or therapists, "you're too hard on yourself". I usually try to accept it but find that secretly, I don't agree and I end up beating myself up even more. What I've been noticing more and more is that a lot of people in my life do the same sort of thing. We're all hard on ourselves, we push, we struggle, we punish ourselves and we get down on ourselves all the time for every little thing. We hold ourselves to unhealthy and unrealistic standards when it comes to beauty, our definitions of success, how much we accomplish in a day, week, month, year... and where does this negative reinforcement get us? It seems to me that we end up with a mass case of low self-esteem.
Obviously we can agree that low self-esteem is not a good thing but there seems to be an aversion to "self-help" and "new-age-hippie-bullshit-self-esteem-building". It almost feels uncool to try to be happy. But why? I admit, I don't want to start shitting unicorns any time soon, but I do see that when I feel bad about myself a bunch of other negative emotions spring up and start to affect everyone around me. It's not just about me being happy or unhappy but how quickly one or the other state of being can spread to my friends and even strangers. When I'm feeling bad about myself it's easy to feel things like jealousy, anger, resentment, bitterness and fear. Living with these things in my heart and mind mean I usually end up taking it out on someone else whether it's just a negative thought I think about a friend or a comment I make.
So here's the deal, my mom is one of those peace-and-joy-love-and-light types and even though she lives across the country in tiny house surrounded by a garden twice its size, she seems to have a psychic connection to me (or something) and sensed this problem on my mind. She called me up and after a long discussion told me to, "make a list of 27 things you love about yourself and make you worth loving to others". OK mom. Well, I decided to humor her and just try something different, I'm always open to new things.
It took me a week! Every time I tried to sit down to make the list I would find some reason not to. When I finally got down with my pen and paper I felt embarrassed, uncomfortable and just plain weird. But I did it. I made the list. I thought very carefully about each thing. It was hard at first, I know I have good qualities but I'm not used to putting them down on paper and acknowledging them to myself. Surprisingly, with each item it became easier and easier, I tried to search for deep and true qualities, things I really believed and by the end of it I felt amazing!
The day after I made the list I woke up feeling different, I felt peaceful, happy(ish) and I was even smiling. This feeling has carried on for almost a week now and it's spreading. This feeling has helped me take better care of myself. I've been getting more sleep, healing my back, I cleaned and organized my room, I even feel more productive at work! I have more energy to put into my friends and loved ones and I've been getting back to meditation which perpetuates the feeling even more. It must be a combination of factors but I know the list didn't hurt. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't want to start walking around with an over-inflated ego and I don't think that I'll stay in this mood forever, at least not at this point in my life, but it was a nice little reminder: It feels good to feel good.
So now I want you to try it too! Please, please, please! Roll your eyes, call me crazy, scoff and pshhhhaaa and then suck it up and try something new. Something hard. Make a list. 27 things and leave ONE as a comment on this blog post. You can leave it anonymously but try it! I would love to hear what makes you so awesome and even if you can't do the whole list see how it feels to admit one of your good qualities to yourself. I'll start it and you know it's fucking embarrassing so please don't leave me hanging...
I DARE YOU!