I am notably hard on myself. Perhaps it’s the perfectionist nature in me, but if I mess up on something, I often spend hours over-analyzing and over-thinking it. I begin wondering what I could’ve done differently and begin internally writhing and beating myself up about the fact that I didn’t. It’s a vicious cycle and by the end of it, I don’t feel any better. Instead I feel upset and disappointed with myself.
Then what started with a reflection, turns into a self-loathing party where I’m sulking in my own embarrassment.
If you’ve ever played the Sims, you’re probably familiar with how your Sims dramatically respond to things like hunger and rejection. They’ll yell at you in Simlish while waving their hands in the air as if to see, “um, hello?” before refusing to do anything else you ask them until what the needs they’re requesting is met.
I am the same way, sometimes. If I unintentionally sin or hurt someone, I spend hours analyzing and remaining in that emotional place.
I’ve noticed that this is especially true for me when I’m rejected. Whether it was a job or brand partnerships, I struggle with internalizing it and going through all the reasons why I’m not as good as others. The reasons why maybe I should just give up, because my voice doesn’t matter.
However, I know, as I’m sure many of you are aware of, self-loathing is counterproductive. Sure there are people who advocate and say that there’s nothing wrong with a good crying session, I think there’s a difference between a healthy expression of emotion and spending days allowing it to consume you.
So now that we all agree that it’s unhealthy and doesn’t really help with our self-image, I’m going to share four of the many ways you can fight it when you find that you’re falling into the cycle of self-loathing.
Set a timer
This was actually advice that was given to me from a mentor, who was there for me when I was in the middle of ending a difficult friendship. She suggested that as I continue to accept it and work through the complex emotions surrounding it, I should give myself a certain amount of time to go to God about it and really vent. While self-loathing is a little bit different than the example above, the idea of setting a time to sulk – although I’m sure it sounds silly – is really helpful. If you just got rejected from an opportunity, definitely give yourself time to grieve it and process what happened. However, don’t let it keep you down. Setting a timer or having some sort of reminder to stop before you go deeper into feeling incredibly sullen is a good idea, if you’re like myself.
Remind Yourself of Who You Really Are
I don’t know about you, but when I’m self-loathing, it’s for me to think I am whatever my brain says I am at the moment for making a mistake. Yet, I find that when I focus less on that and more of who God says that I am, my perspective shifts. He says that I’m wonderfully made. He says that I’m made in His image. His actions say that I’m worth the sacrifice He made on the cross for us. It’s those reminders of who God is that can really help us remember who we are according to the Maker of all things good. If you’re a believer of Christ, I would encourage you to open your bible, find some verses that talk about our identity in Christ, and post them in your workplace or around the house.
I must admit that my first instinct isn’t normally to pray in situations like this. It’s to allow those thoughts and feelings to dwell in my brain. However, when I do pray and truly give it to God, I realize that I feel better. Perhaps not instantly because there have been times where I’ve left still feeling a little riled up, but I leave feeling hopeful. I leave realizing that even though it seems like the situation is hopeless, it’s not.
If you’re not a believer, maybe it means journaling for you. Maybe it means writing about what you’re experiencing or what’s worrying you and then letting it go. Sometimes writing it out on paper can really be therapeutic and helpful as you process.
Whatever is helpful for you, I want to encourage you that it’s normal to feel crappy sometimes. It’s normal to feel drained or overwhelmed. However, when we’re tempted to allow ourselves to sulk for hours and hours, we have to think about if it’s really helpful or not. Maybe it is, sometimes. I know for me sometimes I need a moment to just feel my feelings without seeking to find solutions for them. However, if we’re spending hours or even days allowing these thoughts to plague us, it can have really harmful effects on our emotional and physical health.
At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you and what will help you process what you’re going through in a healthy and productive way.
What are some things that are helpful for you? I’d love to hear them!