Find Your Wise

Okay, not wise.

Why.

*eye roll*

Forgive a goofy writer her wordplay.

*wink*

 

We’re pretty familiar with a situation like the following:

A person tells you how great you are.

You don’t believe them.

Said person is then miffed as to why you don’t believe them. Why can’t you see how awesome you are, they wonder.

 

Most of us have been on one end of this conversation. Many have been on both sides.

We’re living in a world where we hear things like the following much too often:

They kept texting her to kill herself, so she did.

He couldn’t make the pain stop any other way, so he jumped.

She buys all that stuff for the rush of feel-good chemicals.

He buys all that makeup because he thinks he’s ugly.

She won’t marry him because she thinks she’s too fat to be loved.

 

I hear all the time that my parents’ generation has a hard time believing in things like anxiety, depression, mood disorders of all sorts, and suicide rates.

I’m not here to figure out why suicide and depression and things of the like are on the rise. I’m not here to argue about what we need to do in order to stop them.

I’m here today to offer some insights on self-hate and what to do when you find yourself suffering from it.

 

If we are ever to stop allowing self-hate to color our daily behaviors, thoughts, motivations, etc., we first must figure out why we treat ourselves this way.

 

Why do we tell ourselves we’re fat, ugly, not tall enough, not skilled enough, that everything we’ve done is trash?

Why do we constantly talk to ourselves in our minds like we’re not worthy of love, respect, compassion, patience, etc?

 

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Our self-commentary can turn deadly. We know that.

So why do we do it?

The answers vary from person to person, year to year.

Perhaps we grew up in a not so great family situation.

Maybe the shouts of the plastic society we live in got to us.

Possibly something traumatic happened and we learned (incorrectly) that we were wrong, bad, or not enough.

There are an endless amount of variables and often times we find that there isn’t just one reason we treat ourselves so unkindly.

But we need to be willing to poke at ourselves, to peel back the painful layers of low self-esteem, low self-confidence, cruelty to self, and simple self-hatred, and pick at the reasons behind them.

If not, we’re not going to find the answers we need to move forward.

 

Now, don’t expect these answers to be logical.

More than likely, we’ll find our “why”s are emotional. Rooted in emotionally painful experiences, situations, upbringings, conditioned behaviors, and so on.

Don’t go looking for reasonable answers. Go looking for the truth.

 

I’d challenge you to write it out as you go.

Why do I treat myself this way?

Write down the reasons. Talk them out with someone you trust.

Do they seem less realistic now that you’ve shined the light of day on them?

I certainly hope so.

 

Accept that these are your reasons. That you’ve allowed these things to define you and the way you think about and talk to yourself.

You don’t have to approve of these truths.

Simply accept that they are.

 

Now congratulate yourself!

It’s insanely hard to look at these things!

But you are. You’re trying. That’s what matters, what counts.

We can’t pull out a weed and expect it to stay gone if we leave the roots.

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What to Do About Shame

If you want to know the difference between shame and guilt, check out my blog on it, here.

Now the only question is what to do with the information.

My advice?

 

Positive Affirmations

If you want to clear our negative thought loops, you must integrate new positive thought loops. Write down and say out loud every morning, “I eat in a way that makes me feel physically good. I am kind. I am positive. I am changing for the better.” Whatever your thing is.

Fill your head with positive thoughts.

How often do we go around calling ourselves ulgy, fat, not good enough,  not smart enough?

You’re feeding your brain the only food it has to eat from.

Like Kristen Lamb said, “The mind cannot tell the difference between truth and lie. What we tell it, it simply accepts and obeys.”

If you want a positive life, get your mind out of the negative thoughts you’re soaking it in.

Seek entertainment, music, books, people, situations, and activities that are positive. Not filled with more junk.

 

Physical Proof

If you want to change, you need to prove it to yourself that you can. More than that, you need to prove to yourself that you are changing already.

Every time you don’t drink? Get excited! (if that’s your negative behavior) If it’s unhealthy eating habits, find healthy alternatives that taste good. I have a chocolate problem. Seriously, don’t laugh, it’s unhealthy. So I’ve replaced it with chocolate, bone broth, plant-based, crazy healthy protein shakes and bars. It’s working! I now get excited about getting to eat and drink those things. Because they taste good and feel good.

Figure yourself out. Implement a change. Congratulation yourself when you do, each and every baby step!

If not, then you’re telling yourself it doesn’t matter when you do make changes, because somehow you’re just never going to make changes and you’re a loser.

That makes no sense.

 

Find Your Why

No one makes lasting changes if they don’t have a solid “why” backing it. The science behind this is so staggering you couldn’t hold all the books on it from last year alone without falling over. And for good reasons.

Why do you want to change? Why does your current state make you feel emotionally and physically (because emotions manifest in our bodies) gross, uncomfortable, not okay? What values are attached to this?

To go back to my own issue of food. I’ve eaten that whole box of donuts. Why? Because I was emotionally eating to fill a void or deal with stress. So I need a new way to deal with stress that is healthy and fits me, and I need a healthy way to fill all those emotional and psychological voids. What value is attached to this issue? I value eating healthy, fitness, and enjoying small amounts of dessert. So now I eat healthily and feel good about it, exercise the way I want to, fill myself up with good books, psychologically informing youtube podcast thingies, enjoy desserts, eat protein bars and drink protein shakes that make me feel like I am eating/drinking a dessert, etc.

We need to know ourselves before we can change ourselves.

 

 

Get Help

Seriously. People you can trust and who will have an idea of what you’re feeling or going through. We are social creatures. Think about a pack of wolves or a pack of dogs. We thrive in healthy relationships. Which is why we all crave healthy relationships.

Pick who you ask for help from wisely. If your problem is a relationship, don’t go to the person in the relationship to get help or clarity of perspective.

Talk about it with trusted friends and family.

Seek out support groups. You might laugh but I was surprised how much it changed my life. How much going gave me the strength and courage to change myself.

Seek out therapy. There’s talk therapy, art therapy, etc…. LOADS of types of therapy.

We all need help through life. It’s called being human.

 

Get Articulate

Write it out. Don’t simply harp or complain. Harp and complain and then slog through the uncomfortable emotions, feelings, thoughts. Analyze yourself. Ask all these questions. No better way to know yourself and find your ‘why’ than to write it all out.

As a writer, I’m not joking when I say – speaking about genre fiction here – that I learn what I have to say once I’ve already written it. Write out all the stream of consciousness you’ve got going on in there. Writing is a huge decluttering tool. You don’t have to be “good at writing”. Who said you had to write in complete sentences? Simply get it out in words and I promise you, you will gain some clarity on who you are and why.

Talk it out. This helps immensely too. But as mentioned above, only with someone who is trusted and will be able to understand your specific issue. And don’t harp. Don’t go to this person and complain about something for a half hour every week. Talk it out. Establish what’s wrong and vent. Brainstorm possible fixes, solutions. Study those out. Talk about progress. Failures and why. Successes. If all you’re ever doing is complaining, well…. you’re not getting anywhere. Get out the gunk and then start working on solutions to the problems.

Don’t forget we are humans and need to rehash some things more than one friend really needs to hear. Therapists are great tools. Utilize them. They care. But find the right fit for you.

 

Feel Without Reason

Also, we need to feel our emotions. Don’t assign a story, truth, reason, or seek understanding for why you are feeling what you are feeling. I know this goes against what I just said, but we need both.

Just feel it.

By yourself. This is for you and you alone to be responsible for. Feel it. It’s not going to go away. In fact, it’s going to build and build while you’re not paying attention and come back stronger and nastier next time.

Deal with it NOW. Or continue suffering worse and worse.

Accept it. What you’re feeling is part of YOU. It is not going to go away or be ignored forever.

Painful emotions are YOU screaming for YOU to hear YOU. Pay attention. Feel it. Don’t always have to look for a reason. Sometimes we simply need to feel it.

Shame vs. Guilt

Shame is bad.

Guilt can be good.

 

Shame is when someone eats an entire box of donuts and someone says, “You’re disgusting.” Or, “You will never be a good role model for kids”. Or something else equally shaming.

Guilt is when someone eats an entire box of donuts and someone says, “Eating all of those donuts in one sitting is kinda gross.” Or, “Eating all of those donuts isn’t something you want to model for your kids.”

 

Shame = YOU are wrong, bad, disgusting, an idiot, not good enough, etc.

Guilt = something you have DONE, an action or decision you’ve made, is bad, disgusting, and so on.

 

The difference may be in one word, but the difference is in reality, HUGE.

The difference between shame and guilt is whether or not we hate ourselves or something we’re doing.

 

Shame tells us (whether we heard it from ourselves or someone else) that there is something fundamentally wrong and disgusting about us. It tells us we aren’t good enough, we’re broken, we cannot achieve anything of value. Shame tells us that we have no value and never can.

Guilt, on the other hand, tells us when we aren’t doing something we approve of. Our actions, motives, or words aren’t lining up with our values or beliefs.

 

For example: Bob steals from Sandy.

Bob has three options.

Option A: Feel guilty.

Option B: Feel ashamed.

Option C: Feel guilty and ashamed.

 

Option A gives Bob the ability to say to himself, “hey, self – that was messed up! I don’t believe in stealing. I feel terrible about what I did. I know it was wrong.” This gives Bob the ability to make amends with the person and then make life changes to ensure he doesn’t steal again. This also allows Bob to tell himself that what he DID was wrong and bad and terrible. Bob does NOT believe Bob is wrong and bad and terrible. Guilt allows Bob to condemn his action of stealing, feel bad about it, make amends, then move forward with the intent of following through on his values and belief. Which, in this case, is ‘thievery is wrong’.

Bob also needs to look into why he stole, what his motives were, and so on. Guilt allows him to do that. It gives him the comfort that Bob is a good identity to have, a good person. Simply a person who made a bad decision and now needs to adjust his way of living to align his future actions with his values and beliefs.

 

 

Option B gives Bob a very limited doorway for positivity. This doorway is squeaked open only if Bob realizes he is shaming himself and needs to stop. Then targets his guilt and does the inner work.

If Bob doesn’t do this, and continues to shame himself, his inner monologue goes something like this.

“I stole something. I’m a horrible human being. Who steals from a working, single mother? I’m disgusting. No wonder I’m single, alone, hated, fat, gross, mean, etc. No wonder everyone hates me.” Bob feels disgusted with himself. He feels ashamed of who he is. Bob feels uncomfortable with his own existence and brings up every negative thing about himself, every negative situation, thought, and feeling from his life to back this theory up that Bob is indeed, a horrid excuse of a human being.

Guess was Bob does with this? He hates himself. And will repeat the thieving behavior. And then hate himself more. Rinse and repeat.

Shame keeps us locked in with whatever we hate about ourselves. Shame tells us there is no possibility for change because we are flawed at a basic level and can never be any good.

Shame lies to us and we do nothing to change.

 

Option C is what I’m fairly certain most of us feel.  And our shame smooshes our guilt with a twenty pound dumbbell again and again and again until it’s little more than a twitching inkling in the background of our minds that only further backs up our shame’s reasoning for why we are horrid human beings who deserve to suffer in their horrid human fate because that’s just how life is and we’re all going to die anyway! See option B.

 

We have a choice.

Choose option A.

Seriously.

We all do bad things. We all have and we all will. They’re called mistakes and we instantly recognize we just hurt someone’s feelings or have that liver clenching moment when we realize we forgot our best friend’s birthday.

We all do things wrong. That does not make US bad people. Unless we value hurting people to get ahead. Unless we value chopping people up in little bits. Unless we think it is fun to hurt people, animals, children, etc… we are not bad people.

We make human mistakes because *ahem* we are human. Not robots of unfeeling perfect precision. Thank heaven!

 

When we do things wrong, it is our responsibility to feel our guilt and do something about it for the better.

 

And I KNOW this is hard advice to follow. Three years into a support group and four years into therapy and it’s only now really pinging for me. But it does make sense. I has sunk into my stubborn skull, darting past the negative loops of habit ingrained in my brain.

We can all change for the better.

We have to want to.

And if all we do is shame ourselves, we will never fully believe we are capable and deserving of doing better, of change in the direction we want to go.

 

 

We are deserving. We are valuable. We can change. We can allow our guilt to help us to take a realistic look at our behaviors and spring us into becoming who we want to become. Who we choose to become.