In therapy, self-help books and meetings, and even general conversation, we keep hearing that we need to learn to love and accept ourselves before we can love and accept others. An old Saturday Night Live bit had a guy looking at himself in the mirror and saying “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” or something to that effect. There are whole books full of self-affirmations, as if we can’t come up with enough positive things to say to ourselves on our own, we need a book to tell us how great we are.
The reason for this is that there are a lot of people who are unhappy or lonely or feeling bad about themselves. They have a “poor me” mentality and engage in habitual self put-downs. So the theory is that if a person can change the internal negative self-talk to something positive, he or she will feel better and be able to go out and mix and mingle successfully.
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As with much of my approach to life, I say this is backwards.
Look what is happening here – if we are already disconnected and focused on ourselves, as in “I’m miserable, I’m worthless, I’m unattractive, I’m stupid, etc.” then how can keeping the focus on ourselves, even with positive affirmations, do other than keep us disconnected? It’s still all about “me, myself, and I.”
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What would happen if we said “So what?” to all that inner self-talk and turned our attention outwards? What if I forget about how I look or how incompetent I think I am and instead tell you how wonderful you look and how well I think you did something? Feel the lightness as you imagine that! Feel the joy of going through life not worrying about yourself and wondering if you’re good enough, smart enough, or if people like you. So what?
As I have to remind myself, it’s not all about me