Sometimes I wonder, does lioness feel guilty of murder after enjoying her delicious, nutritious catch with her cubs? Do trees ever obsess about how much of their growth and preservation effort is wasted on providing to others rather than for itself? Does a dog wonder if he loves his master too much for what he gets in return?
Nature seems very comfortable with its choices. Doing what comes naturally is the only way of life for all the other living things. They are centered on existing.
However, humans possess an ego, which makes us way more complicated.
We: take up more responsibilities than we can enjoy, try to please people so that they like us,
do things that don’t make us happy now thinking their results will make us happy in the future
pretend to enjoy things we don’t, to fit in and be cool.
In most cases, the results of above are:
hate ourselves as we fail to stand out at some or most of the responsibilities;
hate ourselves for letting people take advantage of us or hurt us;
hate ourselves for not having made the right choices at the right times;
hate ourselves for not being bold enough to go after something unusual;
Unfortunately, bad things happen to people who hate themselves. And more often than not, we don’t even know that half of our problems are caused by self-loathing!
Do you lack self-confidence in a way that though you desperately want something (better job, learning a new language, taking up a sport) but you don’t go after it? If the reason is along the lines of: “Oh, I won’t be able to do it anyway. I’m not going to be that disciplined. There are so many better than me who have a chance”, then you may be a victim of self-hatred.
Self-hating people feel insecurity even if others love them because they do not see why anyone would love them. Hence, no amount of others’ love or praise feels genuine. I think this is the most painful situation because if we cannot whole-heartedly give or receive love, then what’s the point of life?!
They can’t get rid of bad habits (like drinking too much, waking up late, not exercising or wasting too much time playing video games) because they do not value themselves or their time enough to fight the habits.
They are unable to deal with failure. Even a small mistake causes a chain of thoughts belittling all the past achievements as undeserved and caused just by chance. They question if they deserve their success and the answer is no. So, they feel they will lose it. They stop taking any risks so that they don’t lose the undeserved stroke of luck.
Even when life is going great, they obsess about the one little area that is messy. They start comparing themselves with others who are doing good in that area and start feeling: “Oh, why can’t I be like him. He’s able to handle it so easily!” These thoughts, at their best are extremely draining or exhausting and at their worst, cause anxiety and depression.
After a while of self-hatred, we lose our mojo. Then we go looking for books, blogs, tips to follow so that we are able to show ourselves some love, compassion, acceptance. The advice is well-intended, sensible and necessary but no amount of knowledge can change a mind that is conditioned to criticise itself.
I believe that this criticism comes from ego. This egotism says that I can accept flaws in my parents, friends, partner or children and still love them (a lot) but my own flaws are to be attacked until my whole being is bruised. Why? Because my standard for myself is higher, because I should be a superhuman while loving other flawed humans!
Don’t get me wrong, having ambitious expectations from oneself is good for personal growth and relationships. On the other hand, thinking only about oneself is self-destructive. The problem is always with either of the extremes.
What is popularly called ‘loving yourself’ is, to me, just taming your ego to make peace with your behaviour and feelings in each situation.
Wildfires kill indiscriminately, eggs get stolen, young ones are eaten by predators and yet, life in nature goes on with equal zest.
It’s not about doing the right thing all the time but about playing a part in something bigger. Imagine a tree disliking itself for ditching its leaves during the winter or not dressing up for the spring because the leaves are not going to last anyway!
It is unnatural to feel guilt or aversion towards oneself due to something that is a part of everyday life. There are days we feel suffocated by the burden of caring for a dependent family member and there are days we love them more than anything. There was a time we wanted to be singers and there was a time we decided to take up a job and make a living. There are days we need our partner unconditionally and there should be days to return the favour. There are circumstances when we feel jealous of someone and those in which others envy us. Sometimes, we fail to deliver what was expected and other times we excel. It is ALL NATURAL. So accept it as innate and unavoidable. What is natural can never be good, bad, negative or positive. It is the result of centuries of evolution and thus, necessary.
Once we fully accept our feelings and reactions to situations, we are free to analyse them, learn from the bits that went wrong and store this experience away for future application. That way, we build, strengthen and empower our being rather than criticise, hate and demean. When we are strong, we are able to forgive, apologise and fight against our self-destructive instincts in order to be better individuals and achieve our goals.
This is a continuous journey, a daily task and becomes a habit after a while. Praising yourself in front of a mirror or saying that I’ll be happy with myself once I accomplish xyz, etc. are easier ways to love yourself although not always the lasting ones. But then, who has ever said that ego is easy to conquer?!