“Why am I so fucked up?!”
You are not fucked up. Yes, you. I’m talking to you. You are not fucked up. You are exactly who you are meant to be right now in this moment. You have made all the right choices and will continue to make the right choices for you.
BUT, I became a teen mom! I have three different baby daddies! You don’t understand, I have been REALLY stupid!
This may sound way harsh but, SHUT UP! All of you, shut up! I really cannot stress this enough – We need to be kinder to ourselves. Would you tell your best friend, (let’s say her name is) Sarah, “You’re so fucked up. You have three different baby daddies.” No.
Instead, think about how you would respond to Sarah if she came to you feeling down in the dumps. You would come to her aid, reminding her of all the great things about herself. You would tell her about the things you admire about her and help her imagine how bright her future is. You would reassure her she has been doing the best she can, and she is a phenomenal woman.
Why can’t we do this with ourselves? Is this further evidence that we are, indeed, fucked up?
NO! No, I say!
As humans, especially as women (who have been compared to impossible standards since birth), we are infinitely harder on ourselves than we would ever be on a close friend or loved one. All of us are guilty of this.
Why do we do this? Is it normal?
It is a normal, natural behavior to compare oneself to others. For example, your friend Susie is married and only has one baby-daddy – her husband. You have never been married and have three baby daddies. You must be a bad person.
The thing is, everyone is on their own journey. You are on yours, and Susie is on hers. Maybe you would be bored out of your mind on Susie’s journey. Maybe Susie doesn’t have the courage to live a life outside of her home. Neither is wrong. Both journeys are perfect for each person.
“Are you married?” And other judgements.
I was doing makeup recently, on a client I had been chatting with long before she sat in my chair. I knew she had a son about my son’s age. So when she sat in my chair, I happily told her what we have in common. Her immediate response was, “Are you married?” (Not, oh wow that’s great! Or, what’s his name?) I responded politely, “No.” And she said, “Is it HARD?”
My initial response was to laugh in her face because it felt like an attack or a judgement. I maintained my cool. But THAT was hard!
Things like this have the ability to make you feel inferior. But guess what? If you KNOW that you are not inferior, things like this will not bother you. I understood my client was insecure about her own self, maybe even unhappy in her life, and was deflecting onto me.
Behold, my super shield of self-esteem! PEW-PEW! Your judgement has been deflected back!
I began to think, maybe I am kinder to myself than she is to herself. Maybe she needs more kindness in her life. I thought, If she loved herself more, she would not say those types of things. And then I felt compassion for her.
Life will give you a lot of opportunities to feel bad about yourself. But, self-esteem is a secret weapon you can use to combat what life throws at you. Many people don’t have naturally high self-esteem. This is where the work comes in. Nurture it, grow it, treat it like your baby. Work on yourself every day. Journal, meditate, practice self-love. Like the wall protecting a castle, it will not build itself.
“So what can I do?”
Are you ready? This is top secret information – TREAT YOURSELF LIKE YOU WOULD YOUR VERY BEST FRIEND. All the time. I promise, it works!
When you feel down, or catch yourself falling prey to the judgement or comparison of others, pep-talk yourself like you would your best friend.
“Hey girl, you are beautiful! You are funny, and you have so much to offer!”
Or whatever you would say to a friend in the same situation. Think about how kindly we respond to each other, and treat yourself with that same kindness. Literally stop and think about if you were your friend Sarah. What would you say to her?
Don’t ever speak to yourself in a way you would not speak to your good friends and loved ones. This is not an easy habit to break, so keep working on catching yourself when you can and replacing your negativity with positivity and kindness. If you’re having a hard time thinking of what to say to yourself, start here:
It has taken me years to get where I am, and I still work on it every day. Be patient with yourself, my love.
Biz is a former social worker turned freelance makeup artist, sewist, & writer. She thrives on caffeine & snuggles from her three sons.
Featured image by mom boss shop, Haus of Mono.