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Too often in the quest for personal development and change we forget the importance of self-love and compassion. A client of mine recently pointed out how often she says, “I hate that I_____” fill in the blank and she realized every time she said that she was saying to herself I hate myself, I wish I were a different person. Yikes! As she started building more awareness, she realized started having a physical reaction every time she heard herself say “I hate that I….” because it meant she hated who she was. As someone who was trying to implement more self-love into her life and decrease anxiety…she quickly realized it was not a beneficial habit.
I have certainly had my brush with this phenomenon. One trait of mine that tends to be a trigger is that I am an introvert. Given the choice between a night on the couch with my nearest and dearest and a party, I would hand down pick the night on the couch. I enjoy a good party from TIME to TIME but those times are quite honestly, few and far between. Last year, during our annual trip to the Smoky Mountains I experienced a rise of self-hatred. After dinner with my parents, my husband and I headed to the bonfire that was behind our hotel. Upon our arrival, it was only us. We enjoyed the fire and chatted quietly, making s’mores and having fun. Soon there was a large group of people who arrived on the scene. All couples and all our age. We had interacted with a few of them during our stay but for the most part, they were strangers. My nearest and dearest, who has never met a stranger, immediately started chatting and laughing with the people as I hung back wishing for the time before they arrived when it was just him and me.
Quickly, my Mongers stepped in to tell me how socially awkward I am and how I will die alone because I am such a FREAK when it comes to talking to people, and I heard myself say I HATE that I am such an introvert. Before I knew it, I had spun into an all out spiral about what a terrible person I was because I wasn’t working on changing my social abilities and how I was keeping my husband back from being more social on and on and on. The next morning, I realized what I had done and that I had caused myself a lot of unnecessary anxiety. Because the bottom line is: I am an introvert. I have come a LONG way in my ability to socialize, and I am an introvert. I will always have a preference for being alone or in small groups. And that is OK. It is equally ok that my nearest and dearest is an extrovert. He has a preference for chatting with people and gains a lot of energy from having conversations with complete strangers. We are different.
Similar to my client I too started building awareness around how often I turned on myself for innate qualities that I had. We are all unique. We all bring unique characteristics to the world that is what makes us amazing. Self-change and personal development are amazing but if we use it as a reason to hate ourselves we are off track. When we embrace ourselves with love and compassion that is when real change can occur. When we can lean into our anxiety and stop railing against it, that’s when we can make the most positive change.
What about you? Where do you most frequently turn on yourself? Where do you use self-hate instead of self-love?