The Greatest Love of ALLL
February 17, 2014 8:44 AM   Subscribe

How do I like myself more?

Sometimes I'm like 'hey I'm so funny and awesome and smart yay!!' but other days I just feel like a giant hideous worthless pimple... I've noticed that how much I like myself does depend on who I'm around and what clothes I wear, and I try to wear better clothes and exercise and be around people who make me feel good, but sometimes I don't have a choice in these things. How do I feel consistently good about myself? How do I like myself? What sort of things can I practically do? How can I ground how much I like myself on something that won't change? I am SO sick ad tired of being insecure. Thanks hivemind!
posted by dinosaurprincess to Human Relations (14 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
I've found that instead of expecting myself to be perfect (which will never happen, obviously) I can feel good about myself by looking at how far I've come. So 'I am so much less of a worrier than I used to be - well done me!' rather than 'God I spend so much time worrying - why am I so useless?' Also, I naturally recoil from self-help style books and blogs that want us to love ourselves all the time, and constantly think we're awesome. A small amount of constructive self-criticism is necessary for positive change. Good luck!
posted by Dorothea_in_Rome at 8:51 AM on February 17, 2014 [8 favorites]

Try liking yourself regardless of anything you've done, said, worn, or accomplished. I'm sure you have family and friends you love unconditionally, so when you're feeling bad about yourself, take the list of whatever is bugging you and say, "I have faults, but I'm worthy."
posted by xingcat at 8:53 AM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've noticed that you've asked a number of questions that boil down to this; it seems like something with which you really struggle. You've gotten a lot of great answers but you also keep asking similar questions, about how to feel happy with or comfortable about yourself in slightly different forms.

With this in mind, I am going to suggest, with a lot of gentleness and love, that perhaps you need help beyond what the internet can provide and it might be worth seeking out a professional who can help you figure out the answers to this through therapy or medication.

You seem like a very kind, sweet person who is really struggling with this, and you are a dinosaur princess! You deserve to be as happy as possible! I think that the answer to these struggles really is "give yourself permission to get actual, professional help and see what options you have for treatment". Everyone feels down on themselves sometimes, but based on your posting history it seems like this is having a hugely negative impact on your life and there's nothing wrong with getting some help in working your way through this.

Very, very best wishes, your dinosaur highness!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:03 AM on February 17, 2014 [26 favorites]

So my dad decided many years ago to be the kind of person who would be remembered as a good man. He passed away last fall, and his memorial was.... amazing. Most of the men at the service were military, Academy graduates, tough men who'd been through tough careers and had made some hard choices. But none of them made it through without tearing up.

The things they said:

+ He was kind and selfless, he never rushed me or felt like I was a burden to him, he always had time for me.
+ He was a man of his word, and I knew I could trust him.
+ He brought out the best in me.

I think that's how everyone wants to be remembered.

So, my advice is to try your best to be the person you want to be remembered as and work toward that every day. We're all human, but we all get credit for trying to be the best humans we can be.
posted by mochapickle at 9:24 AM on February 17, 2014 [13 favorites]

My college had a mantra they'd make us recite at freshman orientation: No matter what you say or do to me, I'm still a worthwhile person.

I find it a helpful statement to bear in mind even when the person who's saying I'm lame Maybe it'll help you too?
posted by mlle valentine at 9:26 AM on February 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Extend compassion to yourself that you would extend to any human being.

Notice the miracle of life more, in general. Think about how amazing it is that you even have a human body and a human mind, regardless of how perfect compared to anyone else you are. Look at your hand. Think about how many little electrical signals are going on completely unconsciously for you to type, or open a door. Think about mortality a little more, not in a morbid sense but in a "taking the really long view" sense, and how ultimately the little things don't matter.

Thinking about how much pain and effort my mother went through to bring me into the world really helped me too. And thinking about my father saying I am a "gift" always, always brings me back from the brink.
posted by quincunx at 9:35 AM on February 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

I feel good about myself because of my actions. I do what I say I'm going to do. I don't ask people to do something I wouldn't want to do myself. I follow through. I don't make promises I can't keep.
For some people, the "inside out" approach works, but for me, it's the opposite. What I do affects how I feel. So, I make the lists, the calls, do the work, and then, when I look back, I'm happy or at least satisfied that I did my best. If I didn't, I resolve to do better and then I let it go--I try to learn from the experience, but not dwell on it. And then, I get up the next day, and do better.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:47 AM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Someday those clothes won't fit anymore, someday those people will die. All you have are the choices you make. Do you feel good about the way you are living your life? If so, settle into your contentment. If not, make some changes, and whenever you feel insecure, think about what you're striving towards and how far you've come.

That may all be easier said than done, but we are all worthy of respect, kindness, and compassion. Please be kind to yourself. Does your head go wild with criticism? Try and catch those thoughts when they happen, and ask yourself if they're really true. Would you talk to a friend that way? Remember to be a friend to yourself. It may help if you realize you are looking outward for affirmations of your inner worth as a human being. This is like Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the hill. Society sets so many (often unreachable) standards for all of us and if you live your life striving for them, your toil will never cease.

From a cursory glance at some of your other questions, it sounds like "anxious" is your default setting. I think this may be feeding into your feelings of insecurity. (It definitely did for me). Have you ever considered going to see a therapist/your general doctor for help in dealing with these feelings? There is a way out of this tunnel of insecurity and uncertainty. You deserve a more relaxed, contented state of mind; don't feel ashamed if you need help getting there. Anxiety is genetic and if you witness your relatives who have anxiety cope with it in unhealthy ways, it's likely you may have learned some of your coping skills/perspectives from them.

I used to be a really anxious person who never recognized their anxiety as anxiety. Do any of these thoughts or feelings seem familiar to you? Do you smoke/drink/anything else when you feel like your thoughts are overwhelming you? (I see that at one point you would eat when you felt stressed/overwhelmed). This is not a criticism. It sounds like you're just trying to cope with your life the best way you know how. But I just want to tell you there are other alternatives which may have a more positive impact in your life.

Two things that have really helped me are exercise (specifically long walks) and meditation. The things that help you deal with stress may be totally different than mine. This article lists some unhealthy ways of dealing with stress along with positive ways to relax and recharge. Here is another list of positive ways to cope.

The most important thing is to make your healthy coping responses a habit. You have to ingrain it in yourself that when you are stressed, you'll go for a walk or meditate. This gets easier with time; habits are hard to establish, but require a lot less work once they become routine.

I am just a person on the internet who used to be really anxious, so feel free to take this all with a grain of salt. From your posting history, it looks like you're currently in school. That is a really stressful thing all by itself! I really think it would be helpful if you did talk to a doctor or therapist about what you're going through. A good therapist will help you get through this when and if you feel like you can't do it by yourself. (These two books have been helpful to me as well: A Guide to Rational Living and When Things Fall Apart). You're looking at possibly changing a whole lifetime's worth of habits and ways of looking at things, so it's going to feel like work, but it is so, so worth it.
posted by sevenofspades at 10:03 AM on February 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

We all have up days and down days. I don't think there's anyone on the face of the earth who always feels that they are awesome. And honestly, no one is awesome all the time. And that's ok.

The idea of self-acceptance has been important for me. Brene Brown talks a lot about shame (your mention of feeling like a pimple made me wonder if shame is at the root of your difficult feelings).

For me it's also helpful to remember that I will have both good days and bad days. I used to try really hard to fix my bad feelings. I would really think hard about what was making me feel bad, and write about it, and talk to my friends about it. But sometimes I can just say "Welp, I'm not feeling my best today and that's ok." And get through the day and be gentle to myself, and know that the bad feelings won't last.
posted by bunderful at 10:07 AM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Who first told you you aren't good enough? Does your self criticism sound like YOUR voice, or THEIR voice? If you have an easily identifiable person who put all this negativity in you, it could well be worth forgiving (in private) them.

Any time you catch yourself with negative thoughts, refute them with a truth.

I find it very therapeutic to occasionally make lists of things that are going wrong, and burning them.
posted by Jacen at 10:08 AM on February 17, 2014

Think about someone you love for a while. Think about why you love them. And think about how you'd feel if they thought something bad about themselves and how you'd want to do anything in your power to tell them that the thing they're feeling bad about isn't a big deal or something to even worry about at all. Or maybe it is something that could be better, but you forgive them anyway because you love them. Oftentimes it's those little quirks about other people that remind us why we love them.

And once you've been focused on that person for a while, gradually add in another person and another and repeat the process over and over again and recognize all the people in your life that you love and you'll start to feel compassion for them in everything they do.

So now that you're feeling open and loving towards all these people in your life, then it's time to add in yourself. The same love and compassion you're directing at them can be focused back to you. You're no different from them. You just happen to hang out with yourself more often. Love, compassion and forgiveness are all parts of the same thing and the more you practice it towards others the more receptive you'll be towards accepting it for yourself.
posted by fishmasta at 10:24 AM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Hi! I'm you, a lot of the time. I actually just went and read back through your posting history and a lot of your questions are questions I could have asked at one time or another.

Three years ago, I did a thing that changed my life. It was totally woo and silly, but I was kind of out of options and really ready to not hate myself anymore, so I was willing to try just about anything. So, as was suggested to me, I started dating myself. Yeah! I started talking back to the mean voices in my head like I was my own girlfriend. "Actually, she's beautiful. She's smart, and talented, and I just love her." Even though I didn't really quite mean it at the time. I tried to look at it like I was my own best friend. I started making sure I was taking care of myself. I took long baths because I like to. I went to dinner with a book because it feels indulgent. I went to the movies I wanted to see, with myself.

Then, after a while, I started to actually really for real like myself. It feels so, so good. It feels awesome. Sometimes the mean internal thoughts are still there. But I have lots of practice at telling those thoughts where they can go. Practice makes perfect.

The mean thoughts might tell you that you don't deserve to be nice to yourself or whatever, but do it anyway. They're like middle school bullies, they're just assholes. Don't listen to them. You do deserve nice things, and you do deserve love, and fuck anyone who says otherwise.
posted by woodvine at 12:52 PM on February 17, 2014 [20 favorites]

It's weird, but reminding myself of things I've done to take care of myself ends up reminding me how much I like myself.

If I feel down at the end of the day, I think back over (or write down): I made myself a healthy breakfast, I meditated, I chatted with a friend, I scheduled a doctor appointment... Pretty soon I usually feel like I must like myself, otherwise why would I have done all these nice favors for myself?
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 8:42 PM on February 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

I still somewhat struggle with this, but for me the biggest epiphany was realizing that self-worth doesn't mean I "like" myself at all times, or that I "like" everything about my current, outward self. It means that at core, I believe that as a human being I am precious and valuable, made of material that is basically priceless, and that for that reason I have a responsibility to cherish and make the absolute best of what I am and what I've got. The human life has the ability to be utterly fucking amazing and/or utterly fucking horrible. It's a pretty incredible power. Acknowledge it, and use it wisely. You get to choose.

That's what helps me.

How to use it, deciding constantly which choices will honor my life and which ones won't, is a work in progress. Sometimes I am pretty sure I've done it wrong, sometimes in major ways. Sometimes I am probably right about that. But that's part of the dynamic. It's ok. Keep going.

As far as how you feel in different clothes and around different people - that's ok. It's normal. I think you are feeling insecure and incompetent, self-flaggelating about the very fact that you feel less secure in some scenarios than in others because you want to feel like you can be immune from those influences. I used to be like this, too. You know what cured that? Massive illness. It knocked the hell out of me and made me realize EVERYONE is affected by environment and circumstance. Everyone has scenarios in which it's harder for them to feel in control and confident than in others. It's only in the past couple years (and I am 31) that I've started really getting past it and comfortable with that fact, and once you're comfortable with that fact you can sort of see it as a mild amusing thing and not all-important and massive. It's more like, eh, these clothes make me feel like myself; today I feel a bit out of sorts because I didn't have time to dress myself as I like to, I can nod to that and find workarounds to it (listen to peppy music! be around one of the positive people!) But the first step in that, is that it's honestly and seriously okay to be affected by this stuff, it's part of the human experience - moreso when you're young. Make choices that encourage happiness and self-confidence in the places you can, and when it's impossible, be gentle on yourself.
posted by celtalitha at 11:47 PM on February 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

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