Eighty percent of Millennials endorse the idea "I am not good enough" with regard to almost every area of their life.

Think back on your last big mistake—what did you say to yourself after you made it?

If you're anything like the high-level executives I teach in my classes at the Yale School of Management, the words go something like this:

“You’re such an idiot.”

“You’re so stupid.”

“You don’t belong here.”

“What were you thinking?”

“You always do this!”

“You’re such a mess.”

Read those harsh words one more time, registering how they make you feel. These are the abusive words humans tear themselves apart with.

Research shows that self-criticism leads to anxiety, depression, fear of failure, and less willingness to try again. This is because self-criticism—from a psychological perspective—is self-loathing. That's right, self-loathing.

We complain of toxic workplaces and toxic relationships. What most people don't realize, however, is that they are often in a toxic relationship with their own selves.

Here’s where you may be thinking, Stop right there. Isn’t a good dose of self-criticism healthy? Isn’t it the key to self-­ improvement? Isn’t it important to be hard on yourself so you don’t fall behind or fail to reach your potential?

Here’s where we need to differentiate between self-criticism and self-awareness.

Next, I ask the students to perform a different exercise, “Think of your best friend or a person dear to you.” I invite you to do the same right now. Imagine that person calling you right now. They just made a cringeworthy mistake. They feel ashamed, devastated, and embarrassed. Take a minute to think what you would say to them.

Judging from what my students tell me, inevitably the answer will go something like this:

“It’s OK.”

“Don’t worry.”

“Everybody makes mistakes.”

“You’ve got this.”

“This will all be forgotten soon.”

“I am with you.”

“It’s not as bad as you think.”

“You tried your best.”

Go back and read that list one more time as if you were speaking to yourself. Notice what you feel—relief, warmth, and solace. There is nurturing, there is love, there is respect, and there is perspective.

Here is something to ponder:

Why is there such a difference between the words that we use for ourselves versus those for someone we love?

What is the only difference between you and your friend?

There is only one difference: You live in different bodies.

See that? It makes no sense to treat yourself differently.

With #selfcare exploding on social media, you would think it has to do with bubble baths and chocolate. While that may feel good for a moment, it won’t make much of a difference over the long run. Honoring yourself involves reprogramming yourself from the inside.

Consider what would happen if you loved and cared for yourself as much as you do for others. How would you treat yourself if you were your own child? With kindness and understanding and forgiveness? Consider how that would make you feel.

Safe, comforted, strong, resilient, confident, secure, centered, calm, energized, and at ease. Powerful! At face value, someone might dismiss self-love as weak. But it’s not. It makes you powerful beyond measure.

And research confirms that these feelings aren't just subjective. Self-compassion—defined as "a kind, caring response to one's own suffering coupled with a desire to ease personal distress" has science-backed benefits:

A life-supportive relationship with yourself is the only thing that makes sense. And it's the first step to becoming psychologically sovereign, as I describe in my new book Sovereign.

You, more than anyone, are deserving of your own love. After all, it’s the only relationship you’re guaranteed to have 24/7 your whole life. How will you choose to treat yourself, not just in the good times but also when you fail, when you’re tired, when you’re ashamed, when you’re lonely, when you’re flawed, scared, or at a loss?

When you make your relationship with yourself the best one you’ve got, you automatically become sovereign, unhooked from the need for others' approval and from the depleting effects of self-abuse. And that’s one reason sovereignty is so energizing.

What's a good starting point? As I describe in my book, here is one small way you can start to shift. Instead of asking "Am I good enough?" start asking "What's good for me?" See that? Instead of thinking about all the ways you are not up to par, you start considering your needs. Maybe you need a snack, a break from your computer, or a walk outside. As you start to think in those terms, you are reprogramming your brain to having a healthy relationship with yourself. One that is kind and nurturing. One that is deeply life-supportive. One that is sovereign.

References

This post is excerpted with permission from my book SOVEREIGN: Reclaim Your Freedom, Energy & Power in a Time of Distraction, Uncertainty and Chaos (Hay House, 2024) by Emma Seppälä, available anywhere books are sold. For more info, visit www.iamsov.com.

Neff, K. D., & Seppälä, E. (2017). Compassion, well-being, and the hypo-egoic self. In K. W. Brown & M. R. Leary (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Hypo-egoic Phenomena (pp. 189–203). Oxford University Press.

Rob Waugh. Millennials 'feel they are not good enough' in all areas of their lives. Yahoo News. November 5, 2019.

QOSHE - The Toxic Relationship Almost Everyone Is in: With Ourselves - Emma Seppälä Ph.d
menu_open
Columnists Actual . Favourites . Archive
We use cookies to provide some features and experiences in QOSHE

More information  .  Close
Aa Aa Aa
- A +

The Toxic Relationship Almost Everyone Is in: With Ourselves

86 0
13.05.2024

Eighty percent of Millennials endorse the idea "I am not good enough" with regard to almost every area of their life.

Think back on your last big mistake—what did you say to yourself after you made it?

If you're anything like the high-level executives I teach in my classes at the Yale School of Management, the words go something like this:

“You’re such an idiot.”

“You’re so stupid.”

“You don’t belong here.”

“What were you thinking?”

“You always do this!”

“You’re such a mess.”

Read those harsh words one more time, registering how they make you feel. These are the abusive words humans tear themselves apart with.

Research shows that self-criticism leads to anxiety, depression, fear of failure, and less willingness to try again. This is because self-criticism—from a psychological perspective—is self-loathing. That's right, self-loathing.

We complain of toxic workplaces and toxic relationships. What most people don't realize, however, is that they are often in a toxic relationship with their own selves.

Here’s where you may be thinking, Stop right there. Isn’t a good dose of self-criticism healthy? Isn’t it the key to self-­ improvement? Isn’t it important to be hard on yourself so you don’t fall behind or fail to reach your potential?

Here’s where we........

© Psychology Today


Get it on Google Play