Yes, to like. Not to love, we don’t go there. At least not in this post. This post is not going to be heavy, profound and “really touching” stuff. This is going to be light stuff. Easy going. You know, when you just like somebody and want to hang out. Have a beer, chit chat, grab something to eat and watch the world unfolding in front of you, enjoyable second after enjoyable second.
I bet you don’t really like yourself. Maybe you like the whole package, but there are a few bits and pieces that could be corrected. Perhaps you could lose some weight. Maybe you could be a little more patient when you argue. Or maybe you could make some more money if you’d really start to use your full potential. Overall you’re good, don’t get me wrong. 🙂 But you know, those bits and pieces…
The Subtle Disliking Process
Those bits and pieces are taking a lot more space and time than you think. Every time you’re stumbling upon some aspect of your being you don’t like, something happens. A subtle, most of the time invisible process is triggered. Unfortunately, as subtle as it can be, this process is also destructive and leaves deep marks.
Here’s how it works:
First: you identify the part that you don’t like. You do that by spotting differences. You carry around a mental model of what’s “average” or “acceptable” and whatever part of you which doesn’t fit the description is immediately identified, labeled and stored for further review.
Second: you start to feel bad about that part. Being different means most of the time being rejected. Surprisingly enough, this rejection feeling is not always triggered by somebody else, but, more often than you think, it’s an individual reaction. People are feeling alienated because they don’t fit in their own image of “acceptable”, although they may be accepted and valued by their peers.
Third: you activate some sort of rejection mechanism. This mechanism works in various ways. For instance, you start to completely ignore that different part of yourself, acting like you’re normal (although you know you’re different), which makes that difference even more visible. Or you amplify it to the point it takes over your entire behavior and becomes your main acting theme. The small part takes over the big part.
Let’s have an example: suppose you’re fat. Yeap, exactly, fat. Not chubby, not a little overweighted, fat. Your internal dislike process could be something like this:
1 Oh, I’m so fat, I’m bigger than most of the people I know.
2 I’m definitely different and that makes me feel alienated.
3 I gotta get rid of these alienation feelings, so I’m pretending I’m normal. I wear tight tee shirts, or I start acting like an elephant in a porcelain store, letting everyone know that I’m huge.
You see how this disliking process is taking over? You see how those perceived differences are changing the whole world around you? The dislike process is a reality modifier. It transforms the reality you know and understand in a twisted one, in which you try to cope with your own feelings of rejection.
Disliking yourself will ultimately extend unto others. You’ll start to gradually dislike other people because you became really good at the whole disliking process. You’re good at spotting differences and “unacceptable” parts in other people and start triggering the rejection mechanisms for those people too.
Now isn’t that an incredible waste of time? I mean really, you see how much energy is concentrated in this dislike process? And the worst part is that the dislike process is unnatural.
The Natural Liking Process
On the other hand, liking yourself is natural. Accepting your parts as a whole is your normal condition. You’re not made up by discrete pieces, conflicting with each other. You’re a complete and functional individual. Everything you have, you have it for a reason. Just because you didn’t find the reason yet, it doesn’t mean it’s not there. You can refine and enhance your current version of yourself, that’s true, but overall, everything you have within your being, your physical body, your emotional arsenal, your skills, everything is there for a reason.
Disliking parts of yourself will only break apart this monolithic entity, making you smaller and weaker, piece by piece. Liking yourself will glue the parts together,.
Here’s how “dislike” is translated into “like”:
I’m fat -> I’m taking the exact amount of space my body needs and I like that.
I’m shy -> I’m sensitive and have an enormous emotional potential, which I let out in small drops, because small is beautiful, and I really like beautiful.
I’m broke -> I don’t have any money and that gives me this incredible opportunity to start learning one of the most important lessons in my life: how to be an autonomous person.
I’m alone -> I feel better with myself than most of the people do. And I like that.
See a pattern here? See how liking yourself is making room for more stuff into your life? See how your entire personality is uncovered (like by like) and gives you the freedom to do whatever you feel like? Liking yourself is a reality enhancer. It activates every bit of your potential and boosts your life enjoying capacity way beyond what you thought you can have.
Liking yourself has also this contagious property of extending unto others. Have you noticed how people who are at ease with themselves are usually surrounded by more people than the others? It’s a trivial observation, by the way, anyone can see this.
The Day You’ll Start To Like Yourself
You wake up. Go the bathroom and look in the mirror. You like what you see. That face looks familiar, right? You smile at yourself. Oh, you notice a little wrinkle around your eyes. Instead of triggering that nasty, and oh, so familiar feeling of: “I’m getting old and I feel alienated” you realize those wrinkles are rather sexy. A mature, powerful man. Yeah, I kinda like that.
After you finish washing your face, you notice the mess in the living room or the kitchen. Maybe you had guests last night and didn’t want to clean up. Instead of activating that childhood conditioning about your pathological laziness, you start to mentally construct a walking path around that mess. Two degrees left after the table and a big step over the couch, and voila, you’re in the kitchen, starting to prepare coffee. In the process, you straighten up a chair, pick up some dirty dishes and improvise a salsa move. Oh yesss, dancing and cleaning up the kitchen at the same time. I kinda like this too.
Few minutes later, on the porch of your house, you notice you’re going to be late for work. Instead of triggering that guilt mechanism, you start to mentally allocate some extra time that you know you’ll need to actually finish your work and start concocting a beautiful story for your boss. Oh, those stories for your boos… He actually believes them. Maybe you should start thinking about writing those stories on a blog, or sending them to a fantasy magazine. No, you’re not a liar, as some of your colleagues are calling you, you just have an incredible imagination.
Once you have the story draft in your mind, you putÂ a big a smile on your face (that wrinkle is surely looking sexy), leave the garbage in the garbage can and breathe in.
Yes, this is going to be a really great day. The day you’ll really start to like yourself.
Chinese translation of this article: é‚£å¤©ä½ å¼€å§‹å–œæ¬¢è‡ªå·±
Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner
The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”
And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.
Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.
If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.