What Happens When You Stop Hating Yourself
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This past summer, I was sitting around doing some hating of myself. Eating my quarantine feelings while also doing no more exercise than moping was starting to have some consequences, in the physics of clothing, attempts to walk up hills, and my new numbers staring back at me.
I was chastising myself about this, and then it became a whole airing of grievances. “And another thing…” I started to lay into myself like a disappointed parent.
Complaint #2 concerned the fact that it was also coming up on 10 years since I’d returned from living in South America for two years, and I hadn’t done diddly to keep up the language I’d drowned in flashcards to learn.
I wasn’t mad. I was just disappointed. I sat with that feeling: that I’m the worst. I was a thing to be fixed.
But then I remembered some of the best advice I’d ever gotten, from Amanda Clayman on my podcast: Essentially that hating yourself is just more time and energy spent not solving the issue.
This is the horse you’re riding
You are you. And you will never not be you. We all have to live with the disappointment of being neither Rihanna nor even that idealized version of ourselves in our mind.
This is the horse you’re riding.
Like, either learn how to train it or it’s going to drag you through life.
It wasn’t until I could accept that this is the way I am that I could address some of the issues with my personality.
What I realized was that they were all the flip side of the very traits I like about myself. I’m funny/I’m impulsive. I’m passionate/I get addicted. I’m sensitive/I’m sensitive.
Before, when something went wrong in my life because of me, I thought, “Bitch…[wash your clothes, work more, stop eating donuts.]”
I was slowly able to turn that word to, “Ok Buddy, not the best but let’s [make a plan to do laundry, make a budget, get some veggies in the house.]”
When you free your mind from obsessing about the problem, you free up brain cells to think of a solution.
Ask a better question
Sitting there in the summer session of hating myself, I hated that I couldn’t seem to do this on my own. It would be preference to be the kind of person who loved to get up and do push-ups and sit-ups, pushing myself more each day.
I am not this person. The same way I’m not a person who can have a credit card without going into debt. The same way other people have to live in a sober house to not touch drugs.
Fighting who I am means yelling at myself, calling myself names, and trying to shame myself into action. Thank goodness The Willpower Instinct taught me that yelling at yourself only causes you more stress and makes it more likely you’ll repeat the behavior.
So if I wanted to be in shape, the first step was to ACCEPT MYSELF AS I AM. Of course it didn’t mean giving up getting in shape. It meant doubling down on getting help.
I realized what I was doing and stopped judging myself. In the cleared out space of my mind, a new thought arose:
Could I just find a personal trainer online who lives in, like, Colombia? (The place I’d most likely live if I ever moved to South America again.) Because I mostly just need to practice my Spanish.
I translated “personal trainer” into “entrenadora personal.” I looked for someone in my favorite city, Medellín.
Six months later, Jhamilton and I are total buddies, my mind sometimes defaults to Spanish again, and when I sit up in bed, there’s not that middle stage where I have to grunt to get all the way up.