Do you genuinely like yourself? I wonder how many of us can honestly answer yes to this question. This seems to be a common discussion with many client who walk through my office. Often the answer to this questions (which overwhelming seems to be no) leads to the deeper discussion and issue of self-worth. It seems that many of us are not feeling very worthwhile.
What makes a worthwhile person? I think the answer to this varies for each person, but somewhere along the line individuals who are struggling with self-worth often have had an experience or experiences where they felt that they were not good enough. Not that they made a mistake or their actions weren’t good enough, but that they as a person were not good enough. What a crappy feeling to have. These dark, underlying feelings are at the root of many mental health issues.
One way of overcoming these dark thoughts and improving how we see ourselves is to question some of the “truths” we have been listening to. I often compare people to horses with blinders on. Horses have the blinders on so they don’t get distracted and are able to focus on the path ahead of them – they are only seeing a portion of their surroundings. While that might be helpful if you are taking a wagon ride, human beings need to ditch the blinders and look at the big picture. Often times the negative messages we are feeding ourselves are not based on reality, they are thinking errors otherwise known as cognitive distortions.
This idea comes from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which has been found to be very successful in treating a wide variety of mental health ailments, including depression and anxiety. The main premise of CBT is that we can’t directly change how we feel about a situation, but we can change how we think about it. While I often use a CBT approach with clients, it can sometimes be disheartening that so much of our misery we create in our mind simply by being so hard on ourselves. Imagine how the world might be a better, healthier place if we all started treating ourselves the same way we treat our best friend.
Next time you look for evidence to bash or berate yourself, take a look at the big picture – could there be something else going on? Also, try to stop yourself from being so down on yourself. If you wouldn’t say it to someone you care about, then don’t say it to yourself either.