Isn't it crazy how much we can dislike ourselves? What I mean by that, is that there is always some part of who we are that just doesn't quite make the grade. In the last week, my very pregnant daughter (two weeks from delivery) is mourning the loss of her girlish figure, my fifteen year old is fighting with a breakout or a cold sore, not sure which, and one of my clients struggles with why they didn't get that new job. And I get it, how many times in the last week have I questioned, doubted, or berated myself for some choice I made or didn't make. If I am honest, it is more often than I'd like to admit.
In the Bar-On EQI language, the emotional competency we are talking about is self-regard. Of course it is important to be realistic about our strengths and limitations. I for one don't want to look at myself through rose colored glasses, but when I cross the line and engage in too much negative self-talk, then it becomes a problem. How do we learn to accept ourselves, even shall I dare say love ourselves, warts and all, for all that we are? How do we conquer the "I'm not good enough," gremlin?
I was in California last weekend, working with the HerShe non-profit, my co-lead and I had a chance to do some amazing work on gremlins. For those of you that haven't heard the term, a gremlin is that little voice in your head that tells you some version of how you are not skinny enough, smart enough, nice enough, determined enough, and so on. I believe that its mission was originally to keep us safe and protected, but when we let it run amok, a gremlin can get in the way of us having what we really want in our lives. I watched beautiful, smart, young women become immobilized by their fears that no one would ever want them, and they translate the circumstances of their past into a story that impacts their future. The story in their mind reminds them that something is fundamentally wrong with them. Then the voice in their head steps in and looks for validation that this story is true. When this happens, and without an awareness that it's only a story, they get stuck and risk moving forward into all that is possible for them.
There is real danger when we let our mind search for validation of all that is wrong with us. And then tell us over and over, in a cunning way, "See, I told you that you’re not GOOD ENOUGH!"
Pay attention the next week to how many times you put yourself down, or look for something wrong in yourself. Improving self-regard is largely about minimizing negative self-talk, and finding reasons to honor the best that you already are.