Do you know your limitations? Your weaker parts? Areas for improvement? And no, I don’t mean your math skills or fitness or ability to organise; I mean the bigger, harder, heavier self-work. The internal skills. The inner navigation system. The mind. The behaviours or emotional reactions we experience every day, perhaps without realising.
Instead of beating yourself up or simply working on your overeating habits, ever asked yourself why you do it in the first place? That is the root of the problem and until you face it, you may find yourself struggling with your weight (or whatever else) forever.
Firstly, I’m opening up about some problem areas of my own…
I don’t take criticism well, I admit it. This has been pointed out to me before by others, but I couldn’t see it (hence the not taking criticism well!). I was like “I am the most self-critical person in the world, how am I bad at taking criticism?”
It seemed ludicrous to me, that I, someone with low self-esteem, would turn away from external criticism. Surely, it would make more sense for me to take on-board every single negative thing a person said about me and begin to wear it as a part of me.
But that’s not true, not always. Yes, sometimes I do that, rightly or wrongly. But there are other times when I really don’t want something to be true about me (though I may fear it to be true) and so I fight against the criticism.
This is largely in the areas of my work, my decisions and my emotions. People have said, “Your books or posts are too long!” and I’d reply, “Well the Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire) books are extremely long, yet millions love them; (or) anyone who cares about my chosen topics will read a long post.”
I justify my actions, puff up, and protect my work and myself. This is a problem.
This is not to say that whatever people say about me is definitely true. Their opinion is just that, an opinion not a fact. However, I need to practice a few things that I sometimes fail to do in these situations:
- Listen respectfully and open-mindedly.
- See if there is any truth in what is being said; maybe it’s something to explore.
- Thank them for their advice or critique, and say I’ll think about it.
This avoids conflict, maintains respect and civility amongst people, helps you to grow and change when needed, and avoids wounded Ego or expression from the Ego at all.
Difference in opinion
This one is very similar to the above point. I have trouble when someone has a different opinion to mine. This is not with things like “Is the sky blue or green?” because one, it’s obviously blue(!); and two, it hardly matters.
But when it comes to things that I care about, I struggle. This is anything from “Is Harry Potter good?” to deeper matters like Race or Politics. I pride myself on being able to see different points of view. I will listen to someone explain something they think is right, and I will do the same. But if they are strictly averse to my opinion, I get anxious.
If something seems so obvious to me, yet the other person doesn’t agree, I get very frustrated. I guess, in a nutshell, I have an issue with the fact that some people just see the world differently to me.
Instead, I need to accept this fact and move on. It is not my job to convert people! Unless it’s something very serious and it’s a disagreement with someone close to me, it really does not matter.
This is a big problem area. I find it hard to let go. I get obsessed with situations, people’s opinions, what I said or someone else said, or thoughts that pop into my mind. These things ruminate and ruminate for days without relent in my head.
It’s so tiring. It’s pointless and exhausting and maddening.
I really need to work on letting things go. As I’ve said, much of what I obsess about and allow to fester in my mind just doesn’t matter. Other people in the same situation move on, while I’m stuck in a loop.
I must learn to set myself free.
I’m still in the early stages of learning about shame. Brene Brown started her journey as a shame researcher, and I’m currently reading one of her books: The Gifts of Imperfection.
I think I have trouble with shame because, for a long time, I’ve hidden away. In school, I used to hide that I was a nerd. I used to hide my writing. I used to hide my anxiety and depression. I used to hide the fact that someone had hurt me. I used to hide my worries about the future and my past choices. I used to hide: thoughts, feelings, opinions, dreams, truth, vulnerability…
I may not hide as much as I used to, but in truth, I am so much more open online on my website than I am in person. The things I discuss here are things I’d struggle to articulate or be vulnerable about face-to-face. This means I’m harbouring shame inside me.
Because shame is fear. Shame is resisting judgement. Shame is trying to fit in instead of being You and aiming to belong.
I have many insecurities. We all do. These lead to fear, self-criticism, doubt, self-sabotage, inaction, poor choices, poor relationships and encounters, resistance, and more.
Insecurities take a lot of time and hard work to get rid of, but it’s important to do it. Some may never truly go, but we can try to weaken them, disprove them, or push them aside to no longer let them take the wheel.
I must do this work, for I don’t want a fear-based or insecurity-driven life.
I think most of my issues can be reduced to one point: the Ego. Many of us don’t understand the Ego, myself included. I know there’s a lot I need to read up on in this area. Because when we say Ego, we don’t mean pride or boastfulness like when people say someone is egotistical. I don’t think I’m prideful, really.
But I do live by way of the Ego, more often than not. This is with things like seeking validation and praise. This is comparing myself to others, positively or negatively, like “Well I’m doing better than her because XYZ.” It’s when you feel like you need to puff up or shrink down. This is the Ego rearing its head, making you question your worth.
Ego is “I’m not good enough” but it’s also “I’m better than”
The Ego makes me bad with criticism. The Ego holds on to insecurities to use against me. The Ego knows my shame areas. The Ego obsesses and doesn’t let go. The Ego makes me want to be right and change people’s minds.
Brene Brown calls the Ego The Hustler because it makes you hustle (work hard) for worth and approval and validation. But it is never satisfied.
Perhaps the opposite of living by the Ego is inner peace. It’s acceptance, truth, and not holding onto a title or goal or need for self-worth. You already know your worth, regardless of your situation.
I need this.
Ideas for you
Your own areas of growth and work may differ to mine. If they’re the same or similar, I hope I’ve given you some food for thought to take away with you and work on.
If not, here is a long list of potential deep-rooted problem areas that you could look into for yourself:
- Anger – This is a difficult emotion to confront but we must ask ourselves why we are quick to anger if this is our issue.
- Independence – Are you doing what you want to do, regardless of the crowd or your peers?
- Being alone – It is important to have alone time; being alone does not equal loneliness, it’s healthy and being afraid to be alone is a problem.
- Socialising – Maybe you’re the opposite and you struggle with socialising; we are social creatures by nature and solitude for too long is not healthy.
- Pride – Is your pride easily wounded? Are you quick to defence or inflation due to an overactive pride centre?
- Fear – Needs no explanation; we all have fear, it’s what we do with it that matters. Do you allow fear to control your life?
- Vulnerability – Are you open and honest and standing in your truth with bravery?
- Open-mindedness – To think beyond what you think you know and allow new concepts in.
- Perspective – Can you see from other sides? Can you see the big picture?
- Empathy – Do you fail to see from other people’s perspective? Do you struggle with understanding someone else’s experiences and pain causing lost connection?
- Sensitivity – To other people’s needs and feelings.
- Resilience – In life, we will all experience setbacks, pain, failure, mistakes and so on, but it is the resilient ones who are able to get back up and keep going; do you?
- Trust – A lack of trust in others, the world, or even yourself can lead to fear, doubt, and pain.
- Self-worth – Where do you place your self-worth? It’s always tied to something like other people’s opinions, money, material gain, achievements and progression and so on; analyse this and give that power back to yourself.
- Gratitude – Do you practice gratitude? Do you welcome more goodness by appreciating what you already have?
- Beliefs and Values – Check out my post on our beliefs
- Connectivity – Do you allow yourself to connect with others? Not fit in but really connect and belong with the right people? If not, you are putting yourself at risk of loneliness and low self-worth.
There are many other things to consider, but I simply can’t go on forever! Bottom line: Look within and make changes. Not because you’re broken, or wrong, or a failure, or weak or whatever else; but because it is important to confront the deep stuff, to finally be our best selves. Emotional health is very important for a fulfilling life.
Take the time to care for yourself and love yourself by seeking out the deep-rooted problem areas, then working towards a free, happy, healthy, You.
If you need any help in bettering your mental health, or better coping with anxiety, depression, and stress, then my book “You’re As Mad As I Am” may be for you. Check it out here, and download a free sample to see what it’s all about.
If you want to hire me to write about mental health (or other), then don’t hesitate to get in touch!
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