It’s hard to admit that I’ve used self-loathing as a way to motivate myself.
I’ve literally hated and doubted myself into trying harder. Whether it’s losing weight, getting that new client or taking on a new personal challenge, I believed I could hate myself into doing it. Sounds incredibly counter-intuitive even as I write it. Of course I had little self-awareness that this was what I was doing at the time.
And even when I did begin to see this unhealthy pattern it was really hard to stop. I feared I wouldn’t be motivated enough to be my best without being hard on myself. But that fear, and the tough-love self-doubt that comes with it, is really unhealthy.
Becoming aware of this pattern and then aware of the anxiety, worry and pressure that self-loathing caused me were the first steps. The next one was finding another way to motivate and support myself. It wasn’t easy as the fear that I’d be “too soft” on myself without the constant criticisms and doubts was a deeply embedded belief and a way of being with myself that was literally wired in my brain.
Happily I discovered self-compassion. It wasn’t love at first sight I can tell you. I had a lot of resistance. I felt ashamed to have compassion for myself while so many people have a lot “more serious” problems. I feared I might become self-centred. I might become lazy and too easy going. I feared I wouldn’t be as productive or successful.
I came to understand that these barriers pointed to my own inner defences as well as misunderstandings about self-compassion. The good news is that self-compassion training always starts with right now wherever you are in this moment, so that was where I started.
There is an ever-increasing body of research that attests to the motivational power of self-compassion and I can personally attest to it. I find I now in fact set higher goals for myself because when I fail I’m motivated by the desire to learn and grow, not to run and hide from the scolding I’m going to give myself. I’m able to much more easily stick to goal specific behaviours like exercising, meditating and eating healthier.
And all that motivation happens without the crushing self-loathing and self-doubts that tough love imposed on me. I have literally loved myself, my best self out of hiding by being my own best friend.
Can you relate?
With great warmth