Falling in Love with Myself
And it took cutting back the prettiest parts of myself to finally realise that this shell does not define me. For I am so much more than the flesh and bone that case the beautiful tragedies of my heart and mind.
My relationship with myself has been a difficult one. I am my own biggest critic; and little that I do is ever good enough. Due to some challenging incidents as a child (see here to know more), I have always felt that somehow, I was not good enough. This has resulted in me developing two very dangerous habits.
The first habit was to do everything possible to be invisible. In high school, I perfected the means to be ordinary. Perfectly mediocre. Nothing special. I found that being regular and “grey” would allow me to blend in and not draw any attention to myself. Before high school I excelled academically; but that brought me ridicule and teasing. My sensitive nature couldn’t handle the abuse, so I withdrew into greyness; into the ordinary. I got really good at being the clone of the average. This meant that in high school, I was always safe – never the subject of bullying; but it also meant I was never acknowledged or praised, as there is little to praise in the normal.
The second habit was to take every decision with the backdrop of what others may think. Since as far back as I can remember I couldn’t take a decision without considering whether others would approve. My need for acceptance coupled with my fear of rejection were so great that my own needs, wants and opinions did not factor into my choices. Even things that seem simple like, what clothes to wear; or what meal to order in a restaurant; or what movie to watch – it was never truly me. Now, it didn’t come across that way. I was a master as packaging everything as if it was my own choice; but the truth was it seldom was. So, this ensured that when attention was drawn to me (which happened often as a result of the career I had chosen) I would be accepted.
What I didn’t realise until only a few years ago was that by withdrawing into the grey; and adjusting to what I perceived others’ opinions to be; I was hiding my light. My light that has been bestowed on me in the form of special talents and passions unique to me. They have been awarded to me as tools to serve a greater purpose. This is true for all of us – each of us has something special and individual about us – something that each of us as individuals can contribute to the world in service of something far greater than us. Serving that purpose takes courage. It is impossible to be brave without a belief in one’s self and one’s abilities. And, that belief is rooted in our sense of worthiness to be loved – first-and-fore-most to be loved by ourselves. When we don’t love ourselves, we hide our light. And without that light we cannot live a life of purpose.
This was an epiphany for me. The realisation that I was, in a sense, wasting my life by not living authentically. This led to an identity crisis. I found that at 38 years old, I had no idea who I was. I had spent so much energy cultivating this person who met other people’s requirements that I never took the time to get to know who Alex really was. The past few years have really opened my eyes; and the journey of getting to know myself; and more importantly learning to love myself has be epic.
The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself.
Top points from the podcast
How are you treating yourself? Do you treat yourself with the same respect that you treat others? Do you treat yourself as you would expect others to treat you? Too often we have a very low bar of what is acceptable behaviour towards ourselves; but, how can we reasonably expect others to treat us well if we don’t do so ourselves.
What language are you using with yourself? How critical are you? Are you spending an inordinate amount of energy highlight the bad and therefore not seeing (and acknowledging) the good? When you are critical, how harsh are you? Do you speak to yourself gently or do you use condescending, disrespectful and hurtful words? When this happens:
- STOP yourself immediately
- Apologies to yourself
- And immediately say something nice to yourself.
- Additionally, take a little time every morning and every evening to compliment yourself. Look yourself in the eye in the mirror and stand there until you have something good to say about yourself to yourself. Every time it needs to be something different.
Give yourself some “ME” time. We often spend so much of our time looking after others, whether it be our children, partners, in our work environment etc. But, this can come at the expense of looking after yourself. Schedule every week as alone time to nurture yourself. This needs be time spent meaningfully with yourself; not on social media, the computer or the TV.
Say “YES” to as many invitations as possible. Put yourself out there and you will soon see that others love and accept you.
Meditate. Give yourself some time everyday with stillness and mindfulness.
Practice Conscious Kindness
She remembered who she was and the game changed.
It’s easier said than done
I was exceptionally fortunate to be in a position of being surrounded by great support when I went through this life-changing journey. Perhaps had I not had that support, things may have turned out differently; and today, I could be bitter, negative, sad and living a life of little meaning. It’s my mission to share what I have learned the hard way, so that you too can find the meaning, fulfillment and joy you deserve.
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A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
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What are your thoughts?
I would love to hear from you. What has your experience been with this topic? Do you have some tips or strategies in addition to the one’s mentioned above? Maybe you have a burning question? Perhaps you have the solution to someone else’s question.
The best growth and learning comes from engagement and sharing, please comment below and share your thoughts, questions and personal experiences.