Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Why do we find it hard to celebrate ourselves?

Do you think back and analyse things you’ve done, cringing a little? Would you find it hard to list 5 things you are proud of doing this year but could easily list a handful of things that you feel you did wrong? Do you ever think oh god I hate myself when you look back at things that you think you could have done differently or better? If you do, then you’re not alone as I’ve done all of these things and probably multiple times.

I’m rather introspective by nature and I’ve recognised that I frequently live in a spiral self loathing. I can see when this spiral deepens now and take steps to try and cut it off but I’m interested in why I think like that, in the first place. I think it is a state of mind more common to the female psyche but what triggers if? And what are the possible consequences of living with this negative mindset?

I think one of the general issues in society that could be having an impact is the fact that we live in a society where achievements are prized and honoured. This builds a competitive edge in our brains that may be subconscious but means that we are constantly setting ourselves incredibly high standards and considering ourselves failures if we can not reach those levels. Social media can also have a highly negative effect. You can look on Instagram at women who seem to have the perfect body, the perfect partner, the perfect job and basically just a completely perfect life. We don’t think about the fact that those posts show only a small part of their life, instead we feel failures that our life doesn’t measure up to theirs. So what do we do about that? Actually in my personal experience I used to just stuff my face with food like I was trying to eat my negative feelings about myself.

Celebrate our successes is not something that is built into our society so can easily be overlooked. The potential for negative  comparisons is everywhere though and easy to find.

I think some of the issues start in childhood and become so ingrained in our subconscious that they are difficult to shake. Certainly my own personal experience bears that out. I have the built in feeling of rejection from never knowing my real father. Plus a host of hang ups from my smothering and emotionally controlling, manipulative mother. There is certainly enough issues in that relationship to fill a lot of blog posts and a decade of therapy would probably start to help. Suffice to say that the feeling that I could never live up to her expectations left me with life long feelings of inadequacy.

This conditioning left me blaming myself for my extra husband walking away when I found out about his cheating. I felt I could never be good enough as a single parent and spent fortunes on the girls to compensate. Sadly this left me with horrendous debts that I am still repaying. People have praised me for being a good parent, my eldest says I am her role model but that inner voice still berates me and says I should do better.

Even now, I will continually feel bad. I will feel that I need to apologise to my girls that our little family is just us three though their dad does turn up for events when he can. I was criticised for not correcting my youngest, who has learning difficulties, when she jokingly told someone to shut up apparently in front of me. Instead of thinking how petty it was to complain about something so minor, I nearly cried and took it as a personal criticism of my parenting.

So, how do we break this mindset and start praising ourselves for all the good things we do in our lives? The quick answer is that I don’t know. I’m happy that I’ve realised that this is definitely an area that I need to work on though and I think that it may have a positive impact on my relationship with food too.

Look out for a follow up post to this when I will update you on what steps I’m taking to celebrate me

Speak to you soon

Love Erica xxx

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