The Evidence Says I Hate Myself
Renegotiating the distance between who I am and who I want to be.
The more I learn about self-esteem, the more I realize that it’s not about taking care of what I want, it’s about taking care of what I need. It’s less about treating myself and more about parenting myself (read more from Heidi Priebe). Staying up late, ordering takeout because I don’t have any motivation to cook for myself and I’m feeling like a stubborn child — eating things that I know will make me physically ill — holing up in my house like some kind of sage-hermit-hybrid — letting my living space remain cluttered — putting off fixing my car — convincing myself I’m too weak to work out and — just one more rest day couldn’t hurt — are all pieces of evidence telling me that I don’t, in fact, love myself. I hate myself.
Clearly, loving myself isn’t something I have figured out quite yet…
I’m absolutely brilliant at loving other people, and giving them advice on how to love themselves. But as soon as their affirmations and affections fall back onto me, I squirm uncomfortably while every thought in my brain is whispering fervently — “lies.” A stream of excuses and rationalizations will fill my mind, saying that if they really knew me they wouldn’t be telling me these nice things. That once they really find out how much of a failure I am — how bad I am at meeting my own needs and prioritizing what really matters to me — then they would finally understand….They would hate me too.
I see the good in others regardless of whether they can see it in themselves. I marvel at how kind and intelligent and giving and loving they are, and I worry about whether or not they believe what I tell them. Despite what I’ve practiced, I’ve always outwardly preached and understood that no one can save me but myself. I know from experience that telling someone how great they are doesn’t matter unless they find a way to believe along with me. The more I understand about how self-esteem actually works, the more I buy into the idea that it’s less about shifting my mindset through affirmations or positive self-talk, and more about taking actions that actually demonstrate the effort that I believe I’m worth.
At the end of the day, I only have control over my own…