Are you a critical, sensitive person? You may be plagued by self-hate. Many of us are. You may find yourself judging all the annoying things you do on a daily basis. “Why did I send that email?” you may ask yourself. “Why did I make an awkward wave at that person on the elevator?” you may think, compulsively. It’s exhausting!
While self-hate (or self-meanness) is maddening and horrible, it’s also extremely common, and many of us never talk about it.
But worry not. There are many ways to combat that voice in your head that just doesn’t like you. I have done this myself and guided many of my clients through the process. From experience, it feels amazing when that voice is quieted down and you can think of other things – like how to defeat global warming.
Here are some ways to move toward quieting down that voice in your head so you can actually enjoy being yourself:
1. Write 3 things you like about yourself every day.
They can be as small as “I like my smile” or “I have a good taste in plants.” This is a muscle you can hone as you build up this skill of actually liking yourself.
Treat yourself like a small child that you are taking care of. “I should really feed May. She’s hungry.” “May needs a bath.”
This will enable you to do nice things for yourself, irrespective of whether you “like yourself that day” or whether you “deserve” those nice things. When you think of yourself as a small child that you are taking care of, you can’t help but give yourself some love (and snacks!).
3. Let the thoughts go by like clouds in the sky.
If you tell yourself, “don’t think mean things about yourself,” you will inevitably think mean things about yourself.
Sometimes, it’s better to let those mean thoughts run in the background, without taking them as fact. Treat them like comments on an article online – you know they’re there, but you don’t necessarily have to read them.
When I let go of my mean / weird thoughts – I am no longer scared of them. I sometimes find them amusing instead of being scared that they will actually affect my day to day. And when I do this, I don’t have to self-censor my brain, which is a big relief.
4. Sit by yourself.
Don’t call your friends and ask them to cheer you up. Don’t try to get sexual attention. Don’t watch TV. Just sit with yourself and with your feelings. Listen to yourself, by yourself. Feel your feelings. Journal what you’re feeling without self-censoring. Try to do this for a full evening. At first, this may be incredibly tough / almost impossible. But it’ll feel good to actually hear yourself.
5. Notice what makes you happy and fulfilled.
Think of a time you felt happy. What was happening in your life at that time? What qualities were involved in the happy experience – qualities that made you feel fulfilled? For some people, stability feels amazing. For others, power is the ticket. As for me, I need independence.
When you hone in on a few qualities that you value (i.e. “values”), think: how can you bring that value into your life today, even in a tiny way?
Perhaps, you really value independence, but at your current job, your boss micromanages you. Perhaps you crave stability, and the current instability of the world has you scared shitless. That makes sense!
Check in with yourself and think of one small way to bring you into alignment with your values this week. For example, if you need serenity, build a meditation habit. Start small at 5 minutes a day.
By doing this “one small thing,” you'll be building the skill of living your life in alignment with your values. If you keep building this skill, you’ll be so busy doing things you enjoy, that the mean voices will recede into the background.
This “step” can often lead to some pretty big realizations. Perhaps you need a big life change. Perhaps you have to move countries (been there) or destroy the patriarchy (also been there). This stuff ain't easy.
Ergo, the next step: Get some support.
You don’t have to suffer alone and you will not get a reward for doing it “on your own.”
If you want to delve deeper into living in alignment with who you are at your core, or if you know that a big life change is most likely in order, consider working with a transformational coach (like me, hi!). You may also consider working with a psychologist.
Comments? Questions? Tips? Tell us in the comments. <3