By Deborah Kauflin, Ph.D
This life can drain the happiness right out of you. With mini-disasters striking left and right, is it any wonder you might begin to think bad things about yourself? Your boss criticizes you. No matter how many hours you work, you can’t get everything done on time. The lover who once made you smile now only seems to harp at you. Your family can be the worst at pointing out how you are less than perfect. As many of you know, there are families who are more than willing to let you know that you haven’t lived up to their expectations. Even strangers can put you down. Posters on the internet or even people on the street can take a verbal swipe at how you look or what you’re doing.
Everywhere you look, there is someone pointing out what is wrong with you! Your looks don’t measure up. Your career is not where you want it to be. Relationships fall apart around you. Family is a nightmare. Money is a problem. Nothing is the way it was supposed to be, and people are eager to let you know how you have disappointed them.
After hearing this over and over, too many people, especially women, start to believe that they are somehow flawed. They buy into the constant pecking which grates on even those with the best self esteem. Slowly it gets to you, and you wither inside thinking bad thoughts about yourself. You come to think that if everyone is saying that you are a failure, it must true, right? Feeling this way can make you cringe when you look into the mirror, and this self dread can cast a shadow onto everything in your life.
Do you feel like you fail every day? As hard as you work, do you seem to get nowhere? Is it common for almost everything to go wrong? You may be fighting to keep your head above water, but all you hear is criticism from others. Can you relate to this? If so, you are in a danger zone.
What happens is that after a while, you begin to hear that criticism from yourself. You adopt it as your own. This little voice inside haunts you, telling you that you are not good enough, that you are a failure. The more people who pile on you, the worse you feel. You feel like there is something wrong with you and may even find yourself apologizing for not being good enough.
You’re sorry that you can’t lose that weight. You failed.
You’re sorry that your spouse had an affair. You failed.
You’re sorry that you haven’t been able to do better at work. You failed.
You’re sorry that your children have done something wrong. You failed.
You’re sorry that you are sick and are not doing enough for your family. You failed.
You’re sorry that you married a man who hit you. You failed.
You’re sorry that you can’t find a job. You failed.
Though you may not consider such thoughts to be harmful, thinking so little of yourself can do a lot of damage. Yes, these negative thoughts are actually hurting you. When you internalize so much self doubt, your body absorbs it. Muscles will tense, and inflammation will begin to wreak havoc on you. Inside, you can become sick from this. Have you ever noticed that you become ill after a very stressful time? Your body is saying “hey, that’s enough of this. You need a break. Take care of yourself!”
This is what can happen when you allow others’ negativity to affect how you see yourself. There are a lot of demands on you. It is no wonder that you can’t get everything done perfectly. Who is superman or superwoman? The answer is no one. There is not one person on the planet that satisfies everyone. It is not possible. So allowing others to make you feel badly is something you want to avoid. The danger of allowing it to make you sick is too great.
Not only that, but if you think you are failure, the cycle will repeat itself. If you have an abusive parent or spouse, have you noticed when they criticize, you get nervous and become more likely to mess up? If your boss is difficult, you tend to be clumsy and make mistakes. Of course this gives people ammunition to criticize you more, and you see yourself as they see you. Failure. Failure. Failure. That is all you hear and all you think. When you accept such nonsense, you give your control away. This will make you feel even worse. In short, it will break you.
No matter how many people tell you that you don’t measure up, don’t let that color how you see yourself. If you make mistakes, then you make mistakes. That does not mean that you are anything less than wonderful. You are not a failure. If you had a job that didn’t work out, then it was a learning experience. The same goes for a relationship that ended. Don’t look at yourself as a failure if you have been divorced. You simply had a relationship that was wrong for you. You learned what not to do! All of those experiences (not failures) have taught you valuable lessons.
If you stay in the negativity and let it define you, then you have been defined by something other than you. You need to define you. This is the only way you will find happiness. Define the true you and don’t let anyone treat you in a way that makes you feel worthless. Think of all the good things that you have done, and let those good thoughts fill your heart.
Next time you catch yourself having negative self thoughts, I want you to say the word ‘stop’ in your mind and remember that you are a beautiful person who deserves better than being called a failure. YOU DESERVE BETTER. Remember that.
If you are reading this article, it tells me that deep down you know you are not a failure. All you need is a little reminder that you are someone that matters. Because you need this reminder, you should treat yourself to something that brings a smile to your face. It doesn’t have to cost any money. Little things like taking a walk or soaking in a long bath can make you happy. Just make sure that you do something for yourself as a reminder of the joy you need to bring into your life. The more you realize that you are all right, the more you will be able to do to change your life.
Never apologize for not being good enough because you are a person with value.