When we are born, we are completely and unapologetically ourselves. We don’t worry about how we look and we don’t beat ourselves up for being in the occasional bad mood – we look at the world with curiosity and are just happy to be experiencing it.
As we grow older we get bombarded with messages that we’re not attractive enough, smart enough or funny enough. Soon enough we begin to believe these messages and some of us become trapped in a cycle of self-loathing.
If you find your confidence and self-esteem are lacking, you may find it useful to try the following practices:
Focus on the present
When an attack on self-loathing happens it often means you aren’t living in the present. You may be obsessing over something you’ve done or said in the past, or you may be worrying excessively about the future. When you bring yourself back to the present moment you can face your current experience without all that extra baggage.
Question your thoughts
Most of us accept our thoughts as truth without questioning it, but just because we’ve been thinking the same thing for years doesn’t mean it is the truth. Try to get in the habit of questioning your thoughts when they turn nasty – write them down and come up with alternatives.
Sometimes when we are in a cycle of self-loathing it’s because we’ve done something we feel is ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’. Instead of beating yourself up about it, try to show yourself a little compassion. Accept that you are human, that you make mistakes and forgive yourself. Consider it a learning curve and move forward in a more positive way.
Find your flow
Flow is a term used to describe the feeling you get when you are totally immersed in the task at hand. Normally it happens when you are doing something you love that also challenges you. Try to cultivate this when you are feeling down on yourself by doing something that you love and can concentrate on.
Collect the good
When good things happen or someone says something nice to you, try to note them down. Write about the experience or collect mementos and store it all in a box. When you begin to self-loathe, pull out this box and remind yourself of everything good that you’ve experienced.