The stress of starting a new job and being in a new location has been getting to me the past week or so. There are a lot of unknown variables going into a new situation. What is the workload going to be like? What are the people I work with going to be like? I wonder if I can do this? I wonder if someone is going to yell at me? All these thoughts and questions swirl around in my mind and it’s easy to develop feelings of inadequacy and worry. It’s in those moments that I realize how unkind I am to myself, and that I so desperately need to change the way I think about myself.
The thoughts that arise in moments of doubt and worry are a reflection of my internal state and my personal relationship with myself. The worries and the fears spawn from my own ridiculous standards I set for myself, and my fickle attitude towards my own sense of worthiness. I don’t like myself a lot of the time I have come to realize.
I have certain beliefs about myself and my tendencies and attributes that I find less than desirable. I ridicule myself much of the time, far more often than I would anyone else. I never hold this kind of standard and pressure to anyone else so why do I do this to myself?
I’ve been writing in a casual journal that I keep on hand and scribble in occasionally. I decided to write down a list of things I don’t like about myself, for clarity’s sake. These are a list of beliefs that make me feel unworthy, unlovable, and simply not good enough. Here is a brief list of some of things I wrote down:
I am lazy. I am clumsy. I am shy in certain situations. I am introverted. I am quick to anger sometimes. I judge others unfairly sometimes. I make excuses. I am inconsiderate. I am detached. I am scared to show who I am to certain people out of shame. I am ashamed of certain behaviors and vices. I have a hard time with anxiety. I am unassured at times. I can be inauthentic around people. I am selfish.
If you are feeling unworthy, it can certainly help to write a list of things you don’t like about yourself, things that make you ashamed, and things you wish you could change. It really is a cathartic exercise and puts things into perspective when you literally take time to write out these feelings. There are more to the list than what I wrote above. As I was writing down these things, I realized how many items I had listed and it was shocking to think that I harbor these beliefs about myself under the surface. It’s crazy to think of the effect they can have on my confidence, my attitude, and my behavior and motivation going forward.
The thing too about these beliefs is that often they are either oversimplified or just plain not true upon logical consideration. I found it helpful, once I made this list, to go through each item and address them individually. Like the “I am lazy” statement. I would read that and then logically consider it. “Yes, I certainly can be lazy at times but that is okay. There are plenty of times when I am not lazy, but motivated, ambitious, and hard-working. Besides, being lazy sometimes doesn’t make me a bad person nor does it take away from my worthiness. I accept who I am right now and it’s okay! I can certainly work to be more mindful if I am being lazy and to learn to discipline and dedicate myself more but again, I accept myself right now and I am worthy regardless!”
I did this with each item and slowly I found out that these negative beliefs about myself are unfounded, lack nuance, and have nothing to do with my value as a human being. This is a great exercise to expose the irrationality of some of our deeply held beliefs about ourselves. It helps paint a clearer picture into where our minds are and can show the toxic mold that’s been festering below our awareness in times of challenge, stress, or ridicule.
We can be so cruel to ourselves. If I were to take that list and imagine applying it to anyone else, it would be a ridiculous series of accusations to assert on another human being. It would certainly seem unfair and cruel. None of us are perfect and there are things we would like to change, but the root of positive change starts with self-acceptance and self-love. It has to start there and it has to be practiced every day. I have been talking down to myself for years and it will take some time to slowly change the paradigm of my mind to a more positive, constructive, forgiving, and kind one.
The exercise above is a good start and is quite revealing. You can keep coming back to the list every day or have them in your mind and whenever a thought or emotion arises that is self-harming, challenge it. Call it out for the irrational entity that it is and slowly cultivate a self-image that is more compassionate and actually based in reality. This is a great way to practice building a more positive self-image. We deserve to feel the best we can about ourselves. We are beautiful and we each carry a light within us. Life comes and goes before we know it so be kind to yourself. We all make mistakes, we all have short-comings, but paradoxically we are perfect and beautiful and absolutely worthy of love and admiration. Believe it and work on it every day. You are worth the effort. Let your light shine! ❤