For as long as I can remember, I have always been extremely critical of myself, from my body image to my personality I find it extremely difficult to find a good word to say about myself. There are two schools of thought from here, I am the hunchback of Notre Dame with the personality of a gnat bite or I have some psychological issues I need to work through.
When I am unwell it is difficult to put into words the self-loathing I experience, my thoughts become consumed by fear, doubt, resentment and hate. I bully myself, run over life experiences with a negative pair of glasses. This is not only emotionally draining but also physical exhausting, my head is actually ends up in pain and my body starts to stop functioning as it would.
There are a number of reasons for this self-loathing, and I am not sure I have the patience to sit here and type them all out but I believe that some of it is a sub-conscious act to protect myself. Having confidence in yourself is a risk, that confidence may have been misplaced and it opens up an avenue of attack for people with less than sincere motives, the thinking is if I am at the bottom, how can I go any lower?
To an extent, this self-defence mechanism is effective, I do not risk looking foolish if my confidence is misplaced and it gives me the option to deflect any compliments with self-deprecating humour. The question is what are the side effects of this thought process?
Hating yourself consistently comes with a cost; it slowly saps your motivation and wraps itself up in depressive thinking. Aside from the physical and emotional impact it makes social situations challenging, there is nothing that strikes fear into my heart more than a compliment.
Compliments are tough; if you compliment me you usually end up with a retort of self-deprecating humour or a complete denial. People often find it challenging to accept that I have such a low opinion of myself, and will persist in trying to be positive. This can feel very patronising, because in my head I genuinely believe I am that horrible person.
How do I overcome this barrier? What steps do I take to function? I firstly have to accept (even If not publicly) that I do have some positive character attributes. One cannot over-estimate the time and energy it takes to get to this point, for me to accept this was a defining moment in my journey.
Accepting that I have some positive character attributes is one part, having a positive foundation ensures that I can fight of depression and psychotic thinking, but a bigger part of the puzzle is accepting that is okay to think about myself in a negative way. Negative thinking is part of who I am, being critical of myself is okay too, one can even go as far to embrace my negative thinking and see it as a positive.
Being self-critical, being negative and accepting that it is okay works extremely well for me, it helps stop destructive thought processes but it has to come with the acceptance that I have positive character attributes.
Do I hate myself? A lot of the time, but that’s okay, it makes the brief moments when I am able to like myself incredible powerful and rewarding.