Are you sick of the way people are treating you? Maybe it’s time to look at how you are treating yourself.
Emotional self-control is something I thought I had a handle on. I had spent my early life molding myself to be what I thought people wanted me to be. If my friend was loud, I would be loud. If the guy I liked smoked cigarettes, I took up smoking. In high school it was easy. Kids, teachers, and parents were painfully black and white about what they liked and expected.
On the outside, I looked carefree and positive. Inside, I was a ball of self-loathing and wished I could just evaporate into thin air. I was overweight but pretended I didn’t care about fashion and body image. Even though I was an introvert I performed in concerts, took drama class and danced on stage.
I wanted to be liked so badly, I didn’t care if I enjoyed it or not.
The pressure was intense. To always say and do the exact right thing, to switch personalities constantly, I felt insecure and anxious that someone was going to figure me out and see me as the big faker I was. I kept at it though, because on my own I was boring, I was safe, I was worthless. Why would anyone want to be friends with the real me? Eeek, why would any guy want to go out with ME?
At university, I doubled my efforts. Living away from home I latched onto groups and camouflaged like crazy. I was the most helpful, most reliable, most trustworthy person imaginable. As the semesters rolled by my friends found and dropped and re-found relationships. I remained single. I went out all the time. I met people all the time but none of the guys I liked, liked me back. In fact, I had trouble getting people to remember my name. I was vaguely known as ‘Hannah’s Flatmate’. I didn’t care, I was grateful for any crumbs of attention thrown my way.
Deep down I was desperately waiting for someone to love me for exactly who I was. I wanted to put the fakeness down and just be myself for once. I thought if I just keep at this long enough, my time will come.
It was frustrating. Forget 21 and not kissed. At this rate, I was going to be 40-year-old virgin.
It wasn’t that I was fat, there were plenty of girls my size and bigger in happy relationships, I thought I was completely inadequate. To be loved just seemed impossible.
Then one day something changed. And not what I thought would change either…
Driving back from the beach at the end of summer holidays we were involved in a heavy side on collision. I was pinned, trapped against the crumpled passenger car door. While the other occupants of both cars were able to walk away unscratched, I spent three weeks in hospital stabilising a shattered pelvis. I spent another three months bedbound while my bones healed.
In this time, none of my friends visited or phoned. Once they knew I was okay, they just left me to it. The depression was dreadful. I couldn’t understand how I could just be forgotten. How could they all move on with their lives without me? It was the first time I realized I didn’t want to be invisible, that was just a cover, because I was afraid of the alternative. To be seen.
When I was mobile I decided to become the most memorable person I could possibly be. I changed the music I listened to, the nightclubs I went to, the way I talked to people. I was more aggressive, more selfish, more interesting, but all of it still fake.
Not surprisingly, I was miserable. It was a lot of effort and I still didn’t like myself. I decided I needed to intervene more strongly. I set about making a list of personality faults that, when reversed would mean I would find the perfect guy and finally be happy.
A weird thing happened when I started to erase some of the ‘bad’ things. I realized that if I removed a ‘bad’ part a ‘good’ part would have to be erased to. I couldn’t have one without the other. My passion made me outspoken, my caution equaled wisdom, my silence meant I was a great listener. My thoughtfulness gave me attention to detail.
The more I looked the more I saw connections between the light and the shade. There wasn’t a single ‘good’ thing about me I was willing to part with. That meant there was not a single ‘bad’ thing I was willing to fix. It was like a light bulb had gone off in my mind. I wasn’t broken. I was perfect!
The energy I felt was incredible. I unleashed a naturally bubbliness that was completely contagious. I had heart to heart talks with my parents. I decided that I didn’t need to be in a relationship, no guy was going to make me feel complete, I was already whole.
What I wanted to do was meet people, all kinds of people, who would show me myself. By learning them I would learn more about me, and I wanted so much to really get to know me. This amazing person I had been missing out on for so long.
My friendships became more genuine. I met some amazing new friends and I got a job where I was paid to travel overseas. All this happened within only a month or so of my mental change. The best part, was a met a guy, an amazing guy who truly wanted to know me, who saw me as the most interesting, beautiful and creative thing he had ever met. All because I loved myself first. So even though I genuinely didn’t need to meet someone, by being true to myself I met my soul mate and we got married one year later. That was in 2003 and our love for each other is just as strong as ever.
Negative belief systems form a vicious cycle—they creep in almost without you noticing and expect the worse from every situation. Unfortunately this means that real life matches your expectations, which in turn feeds your negative beliefs.
I can’t tell you how many times I heard ‘I told you so,’ in my head whenever anything went wrong.
It was my negative beliefs about myself that insisted everyone would see me the way I saw myself: fat, boring and worthless.
I know now just how deep my self-loathing went. I wish I could go back and be authentic through my teenage years. At the time it just felt too hard to be different.
It turns out that all I had to do was change my mind about myself, to accept that I was worthy and interesting, to allow others to accept and see the real me.
The bonus is I don’t have to go through a fractured pelvis, serious depression and botched make-over to find my authentic self every time. Now I use Matt’s free Belief Buster meditation. I use it for everything. Finances, family, career, my feelings about myself. Whenever I feel even a slight resistance between where I am and where I want to be I mediate on what is holding me back and I find what about that is beautiful.
If you’re in a situation where you feel you have to change yourself in order to measure up, or you have to put up with someone’s negativity because you think that’s all you are good for (be it in a relationship or a job), change your mind. That goes for your own negativity most of all.
Turn that light bulb on!
Being amazing might scare you, but only because your ego is trying to keep you safe, in it’s irrational and misguided way it wants you to be small and invisible. It might love you and want to protect you but you can be safe and protected AND happy as well.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, it is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that scares us.”
You have to push past that fearful voice and start speaking and living your truth. That inner voice that trash talks you is not going to get you to where you want to be.
Start today. Change your beliefs one at a time. It can just be something as small as posting your feelings online, sharing a video of yourself, standing up when you see something you believe is wrong. Be visible. Be the first. Proclaim your worth, and announce that you’ve had enough of feeling small. It’s time to be great and by doing so, you give permission for other people to be great along side you.
If you start a new kind of positive self-talk, it will change your thinking and your actions. It will become the new way you view other people and the opportunities available to you. Start smiling when you see yourself in the mirror. Put yourself first. Be real. As soon as you put yourself out there, your life will start to change in the most spectacular ways.
You might start seeing all the ways you’re playing small in your life, and you might start making subtle shifts in how you handle things going forward and that, is perfect.
By Honey Partridge
*Honey is an author and blogger. She runs a group for Live it Now Melbourne Crew and Excellence Now graduates to meet up, set goals, and overcome challenges. A Live-it-Now lover, she volunteers at our events and has recently started helping with phone bookings, so chances are you will hear her friendly voice on the phone when you book your free Live it Now tickets!*