Me, myself and I like to remain at a distance.
I have moments of feeling totally at peace, utterly happy and thankful for all that I’m blessed with.
I’ve forgiven myself for mistakes I’ve made in the past and let go of anger towards people who’ve harmed me. I have days when I climb into bed at night feeling like I’ve done well, achieved what I set out to accomplish, sprinkled sunshine where deserved and bitten my tongue when someone’s lobbed a dark stumbling block in my path.
But I always beat myself up for slipping up, often wish I was wired differently and I will never really love myself.
Even writing that, I know it’s not what I’m meant to say. I’m meant to say I accept myself, flaws and all, and radiate a glow of self-love. But I can’t. All around us is a growing movement of self-love and self-acceptance, and to a point, I get it. But I’m also not interested in kidding myself.
If you really take mistakes you’ve made seriously, how can you ever truly forgive yourself? You can’t, and you shouldn’t, because from the other side of the fence, when someone hurts you so badly that your heart shatters, you know you never really forget that.
Don’t we all have times when we wish we were a little calmer, more forgiving or less selfish? Don’t we all daydream about being a tiny bit more Oprah? What’s so wrong with being un-okay with those shortcomings?
I certainly love myself more than I used to. My self-talk used to be incredibly negative, I was very dark, depressed and unhappy because I wasn’t on a good path. Now I’m on track, I make sure I pat myself on the back rather than self-flagellate. There’s serenity in my life where stress lived, and dreams are coming true in the same factory that used to disperse drama. I’m not torturing myself and burning the midnight oil playing ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’ with old diaries in my lap. What’s done is done, the past is in the past, and all that jazz.
But self-love is an egotistical step too far for me. It feels itchy and uncomfortable; it’s a very bold statement, and I’m not one for hopping on bandwagons just because the rest of society says I should.
In a recent article on Oprah by Robert Holden entitled, How Self-Acceptance Can Crack Open Your Life, Holden postulates, “At the deepest level, self-acceptance is either complete or not at all, but for most, yes/no feels too limited because you worry about all the things you would like to change about yourself.”
Surely, we should want to change; none of us are perfect? What’s wrong with not loving ourselves? Personally, I’m very focused on working hard on myself to rid myself of deficiencies. I don’t want to accept my weaknesses or cultivate a great relationship with failure – and that doesn’t make me unconfident. I’m very happy with what I’ve achieved in life and the person I’ve become, but I don’t want to sit back, nod contentedly and say, ‘Yep, that’s pretty good. Let’s go with that.”
The million dollar question is, the more you accept who you are, is there less motivation to grow? Are you less likely to push yourself?
“Reflection, self-assessment and self-improvement are all good. Like athletes or performers on stage, we can always strive to improve and develop,” says psychologist, Dr Erica Frydenberg.
“Our capacities are inestimable – self acceptance is okay, but self-blame is not. I think the relevant question is, ‘Have I done the best job I can do, or is there something I can learn from the experience?’. The least helpful coping strategy is to blame oneself for outcomes; that is, feeling guilty and beating yourself up about what you didn’t do, rather than accepting what you did was the best you could at the time, given the circumstances.”
And that makes sense to me. So in spite of however much society tells me I should love myself, I’m going to focus on being just a tiny bit better and stay just a little un-in-love with myself, and that’s okay.
Comment: Do you think self love is always a good thing?