Self-love and god I hate coming up with titles

Self-love sounds like something dirty or new agey. In college, my roommate befriended a 25-year old theatre major who had a YOU ARE SPECIAL sign taped to the inside of his car’s sun visor. We saw it one day when he drove us to the health food store for a terrible meal of split peas on brown rice. Self-love sounds like that.

But self-love isn’t something bad, and I’m starting to realize there’s something wrong with me for possibly not having enough. Lately I’ve heard too many people say “don’t be so hard on yourself” when I report something that just feels like fact. My husband has mentioned more than once “it must be really hard to be you” when I’m berating myself over gaining a pound or not running fast enough. That’s just what I say out loud…thankfully he doesn’t hear my internal dialogue.

Let me be clear that I rarely call myself an idiot and I don’t think I’m a failure. I don’t think I suffer from low self-esteem so much as a scathing case of realism. I know my flaws painfully well, but I also know what I’m good at. I’m wonderful at untangling earbuds, for instance. I have to be because I’m forever throwing them in the gym bag because I’m lazy. See? It’s like that. The good with the bad. It’s honest, I swear.

This type of self-honesty, though, might be self-defeating, and I’m starting to see that. Maybe I don’t hurt my own feelings when I’m being self-deprecating, but I am certainly concerned about what others think of me. Why is it okay for me to call myself lazy but the mere suggestion from someone I love would hurt something terrible? Is it possible I am deflecting, beating someone else to the punch just to avoid real work on my flaws?

I’ve always been good at forgiving myself, which is another reason I thought my self-esteem was healthy. But what about proactive forgiveness in the way of asking for help and not settling for something that isn’t good for me? Forgiving myself after the fact is less of an issue anyway because it’s much easier to make better decisions sober. I have more time and energy for self-improvement. Fortunately or unfortunately, I also notice every time I slip up.

All of this gets easier, I’m sure. If I look back on the last year, the changes in my life have been pretty incredible. I still slip up regularly and eat junk or waste my time or talk trash about others. I do not use this as an excuse to give up and continue backsliding. I do try harder to do the right thing the next time. (most of the time.) This is something I don’t recall doing before. It’s the subtle shift from negative, realistic thinking to positive, realistic thinking.

Sometimes when I think of all the changes that happened in the year since I stopped drinking, I am blown away. Grateful is such a small word, but the only one that comes to mind.

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6 thoughts on “Self-love and god I hate coming up with titles

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  1. This post got me thinking. I feel the same way you do in that I think I’m just being realistic. People tell me I’m being too hard on myself but I think I’m just stating the obvious. I can never seem to figure out the right balance. I don’t want to be a braggart (my good points) and I don’t want to be self deprecating (my bad points) so I wonder sometimes if I should just keep my mouth shut. lol

    I hear ya, sister.

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  2. I hear ya too. I like to think of myself as a “realistic optimist.” It sounds more cheery than a “pragmatist.” I absolutely think you are on to something with your introspection. The pragmatic side of me would suggest asking yourself *why* you feel a certain way when you feel it (being mindful of yourself and your thoughts)- what’s your motivation? Are you getting a reward out of those thoughts or are you avoiding consequences were you to feel a different way? Why does it matter what someone else thinks? Usually if we keep doing something, we are either getting something from the behavior, or we are avoiding something.
    I am definitely not a perfectionist in that department, LOL, but I am making progress, at least in my awareness.
    Your post really made me think. Thank-you!

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  3. The title of this post made me laugh, thank you for that. 🙂 I know what you mean about the campy-ness of self love as a concept. I started reading GalaDarling.com a few years ago and love her insight on how to appreciate yourself from a younger, female perspective. I’d recommend reading some of her older stuff.

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  4. ‘Gratitude’ is one of the biggest words in the langage, right up there with ‘love’.
    If I think (or know) I have a certain fault and get upset/hurt/angry when someone else points it out, it’s a pretty good sign that I haven’t been addressing the fault, or at least not effectively. Yeah, I know the feeling.

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  5. I had no idea what self-love or its close cousin self-care meant. For years, I thought they both meant “getting what I wanted,” which was invariably another drink (or food or sex or 7 hours of video gaming or whatever). This created this wonderful/horrible/devastating cycle whereby taking care of myself guaranteed I would remain sick requiring more self-love and/or care.

    I think there is a better way (classic recovery understatement, eh?). Self-love doesn’t mean getting my way, it means being honest about the things I find unacceptable about myself, accepting them (with gratitude for the things I genuinely love about myself), and then moving on to do what I need to do.

    At least, that’s what it looks like on paper. Ask me how often I actually do those things. I should take some comfort in the fact that I can do them more NOW than I did six months ago, or a year ago, or when I was a drinking. That is a beautiful, blessed gift.

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  6. Oh boy does a lot of this ring true. I will joke about a fault of mine in a self-deprecating way to brush it off, and I know it is partly true and worry that I should be better at x or y but if someone else makes a comment then the old angry is there “How dare you say that of me…” etc.

    One thing – I did some work with a counsellor on this stuff in recovery as I realised I did have an issue, still do, still work in progress. The best bit of advice I got in that was from a book I read on it (Hold Your Head Up High by Paul Hauck, I’d recommend it). Anyway in there it talked of self-worth not esteem as removing the need for comparison with others and not setting too high an ideal for ourselves.

    As I say – work in progress. Today I wrote a list of all that I’d achieved over the weekend 11 significant things off my to do list – but still I thought, I’ve not done enough! Stupid, I’ve done a lot and the best I can… the list help me rebalance my view.

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