Dear Therapist Within:
Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed that my perception of myself is very skewed. I tend to think negatively and bash myself quite a bit. I honestly couldn’t say a positive thing about myself.
Yesterday was my turning point when another professor told me that I am a sweet, quiet, friendly young lady and I draw others to me who seek help or validation. I don’t see myself as sweet or friendly at all.
I drive my boyfriend nuts whenever I say something disrespectful about myself and everyone I live with ignores me and my backhanded comments about myself. What can I do to stop this way of thinking and these comments? I feel bad for dragging others down with me and I feel just as bad for dragging myself down too.
ANSWER: I wish I could ask you a few questions, because my advice to you depends on why you are bashing yourself. What I want to know is do you really feel that there is nothing you can say about yourself that is positive? Do you feel you are a bad or unworthy person? Did your parents bash you? Did they not have good things to say about you? Is it a habit within your family? Some families give out the message that thinking well of yourself is boasting and unseemly (even though they do feel good about themselves).
At any rate, not having answers to those questions, let me go ahead and give you advice anyway! First, you have already made progress. Just realizing you don’t have anything good to say about yourself AND that you are continually putting yourself down is the first step. Being aware: Step 1.
To move forward, start keeping a small journal that you can carry with you, entering every “put down” that you catch yourself saying. Review the journal every week and try to find out if there are any themes to your put-downs. Are they about any particular subject? Any particular weakness? Get more information: Step 2.
Spend some time thinking about your strengths. Ask your friends or relatives how they see you. Think of examples that illustrate their observations about you and ask them for examples. If you are resistant, i. e. immediately jump to “oh that isn’t true,” stop and allow the information to sink in. Accept complements: Step 3
Finally, think of the kinds of characteristics that you admire in others. Think of ways to strengthen those characteristics in yourself. What can you do to become the person you want to be? If you are always working to live up to your own ideals, you should soon be able to recognize your value and character and genuinely admire yourself.
Filed under: Chronic Anxiety