I’ve had a terrible epiphany recently. I’m a bit of a self-loather. Yep, horrible, huh? No matter what I accomplish in my life, I focus on the small mistakes and let them fester.
I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. I can still remember bad things people have said about me from middle school. I can remember incidents at various jobs where I’ve done something or said something I regret, and I still beat myself up over it, including one specific incident from 2005 – almost 12 years ago!
But, as this article from Huff Post states, self-loathing is learned. One sign, says the article is that, “you set your hopes low to decrease the chances of failing.” I do this every day, but I refer to it as “self-preservation from disappointment.” I recently applied for a prestigious fellowship but I’ve already told already, “Don’t expect me to get it. It’s very competitive.” Or, I’ve applied for jobs in the past and said the same thing.
The article also says that you are self-loathing if you “You apologize for every little thing.” Holy shit. I’ve always thought I do this because I’m a women in leadership and have been put down pretty much my entire career. This is why I think I work so hard – to overcompensate for the cruel treatment I’ve received from some previous managers over the years. But I do apologize a lot! If I earned a dollar every time I’ve written “Many apologies…” in a work email, I’d be independently wealthy!
The article next discusses: “You try to motivate your work using tough love.” I am constantly punishing myself, making myself work harder and harder because I never believe what I’m doing is good enough. I am tough on myself! And then I make myself feel guilty when I take a break from work..or plan a vacation..but the good news is that I enjoyed my vacation this past September with no baggage. Pure joy!
Sign. Next up in the article: “You place emphasis on the times you are wrong.” Yep, yep, yep, and yep. See above.
Ok. We get it. I am a clear cut case.
Now, what do I do about it?
Simple. It’s called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and it’s all about forgiveness and self-compassion. One of the things I try to do is put myself in other people’s shoes…it helps…and also to recognize that just because my mind is going there, doesn’t mean it is fact.
This article gives some great tips, including embracing being “good enough.” Still working on that.
The other thing I do about it? I write about it here – admitting it openly is a big step for me towards letting it go.