Valentine’s has been and gone, but how much do we like ourselves? I recently ran a workshop specifically to encourage people to celebrate their positive qualities and achievements. This was no mean feat and required creative methods to coax the good stuff out of people.
We are programmed to believe that singing our own praises is somehow, big headed, boastful or being, “full of ourselves.” As a therapeutic practitioner I see many people from diverse backgrounds who struggle with low self worth and are all to keen to level insults towards themselves, which they would never conceive of doing towards another human being. I’m not sure if British culture has a part to play, if so, I wonder if an extra layer of self-deprecation is added when hailing from Yorkshire.
I am rapidly approaching my 50th birthday and I can genuinely say I think I’m alright, not perfect by any means. I often refer to myself as a work in progress. I am, however, much more comfortable in my own skin these days and have a more forgiving and accepting outlook about my flaws.
I am overweight and strangely enough feel better about my physical appearance than I ever have, I am now able to appreciate my own physical attributes, which I was unable to do as a size 10. I have been guilty of using humour to mask discomfort about my weight, referring to myself as ‘the size of a small village’, looking for clothing in ‘moose size.’ Interestingly, negative feelings about my physicality only tend to bubble up when I’m experiencing challenges or difficulties. When I’m happy as a spring lamb I’m all embracing.
During my mid twenty’s I thought I was the bee’s knees, there was an arrogance and intolerance attached to me that makes me shudder to reflect upon. Looking back at photographs from that time, reed thin, dyed black hair, leather pants and crimson lipstick. It is so transparent to me that I was striving to be alternative and searching for some sense of identity. Being pregnant at 18 probably meant my teenage transition to adulthood was deferred. For the first time in my life I experienced positive attention but for all the wrong reasons. My feelings about myself rapidly altered from omnipotence to self loathing. This led neatly on to many years of people pleasing and attempting to be the fourth emergency service for people in crisis. In trying to please everyone I ended up pleasing no-one, least of all myself.
Thankfully, I realised with some harsh lessons that my resilience and self belief was my responsibility. I continue to learn and strive to be a better person, I guess this is one of the reasons I like myself.
A recent death of a loved one threw me for a loop. Just when I thought I had a handle on this well rounded, liking myself, malarkey. I found myself reverting to a feral child with zero ability to process and manage my emotions. It’s about acknowledging that life’s inevitable ups and downs have an impact on our mood and view of ourselves.
Every single day I make conscious decisions about the person I’m going to be and I actively seek out positives in every situation. I don’t always nail it but I learn from it, avoid giving myself a hard time and move on.