The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"I Hate Myself"

Dear lord, I heard this very recently from an accomplished, brilliant colleague who has achieved more success than most writers dream of. But despite having health, success, and a loving family..the internal feeling of self-disgust has crippled critical aspects of his life.

And I guess I want to deal with this. I've had students speak of this in so many ways. Today, I'll just touch on the physical, but I want to go more deeply into the way this cripples our lives.

Self-hatred dealing with body image, rape and abuse, and other issues can result in obesity, self-destructive drug or alcohol use, and pushing the physical body until it collapses. Storing negative emotions in the body so that you don't have to feel them. Engaging in risky, demeaning sexual activity and simply not holding yourself as precious.

The discipline necessary to eat well, exercise regularly, and rest thoroughly come directly from a sense of loving yourself--that you are WORTH the discipline.

A good basic measure is: if you were your own most beloved child, would you engage in this behavior? What would you tell your own son or daughter to do in regard to smoking, drinking, drugging, eating, exercise, sex, rest, and so many other questions. Do YOU live according to your own values? How much more would you have to love yourself to have the discipline, the joy, the sheer bliss in living? The commitment to dance through life rather than slog?

How much difference would loving yourself, deeply, truly and without reservation make to you?

From whom, or where, in life did you get the impression that you were less worthy of love than any other human being?

You are an adult now. It is up to YOU to give yourself the love you need to thrive. Start today with the simple commitment: I will love myself. I will learn to heal the wounds, and heal them. To embrace my true self, and live every day as if I have a contribution of beauty and joy to give the world.

Until, in other words, you can look at yourself in the mirror and say: "I love myself!" and mean it. And know that that self-love raises the value of the gift of love you give to others.

The first step is love. We're going to walk that path for a while.


(p.s.--and yes. I love myself. And like myself. For all my flaws and failings, all the ways I know I still have to grow...the little kid inside me is THRILLED with the adult I have become. I tickle the hell out of me. If I wasn't me, I'd want to be my friend. But I do not, and never have, thought I was any better than anyone else. The trick is that that gives me permission to believe that there is no one any better than me. So there!)

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