I just had the most amazing weekend with my siblings and their families. We clocked hours by the fire reminiscing about our childhood while we watched all of our children playing together. Overseeing all of this – and possibly having even more fun than we were – was my father and stepmother. We laughed and told old stories and made some wonderful new memories. At one point during our weekend my Stepmom and I were talking about that point in your life when you wake up one day and finally realize that you just don’t care what others think of you and how wonderful it truly is.
We weren’t talking about being rude or insensitive by any means, but that realization that what other people think of you really is none of your business. Once you fully grasp this, your life will be so much better for it, because instead of stressing about how others perceive you, you can start using that energy to make sure you like yourself. Because at the end of the day, your opinion of yourself is the only one that really does count.
I hated myself for years. I wasn’t a bad person, but I made bad choices. Two girls bullied me through school, I’m talking grade three to high school graduation, every single day. The kicker is that these girls were my friends, which meant I would pretty much do anything to have them accept me. What those two girls did to me had scarred me for years, and they enjoyed every second of it. Through many hours of therapy my psychiatrist and I have discovered that a part of my need to be liked, appreciated and accepted stems from those two vicious mean girls, or as we have now so aptly named – frenemies.
So how did I go from a sobbing mess who hated everything about myself to a strong and confidant woman who really can’t be bothered to spend any energy worrying whether or not people don’t like me? Well it didn’t happen overnight, but it did start with a choice. I decided that I just wasn’t happy stressing about trying to please everyone else who quite possibly didn’t give a rat’s a$$ about me. Here’s how it went down.
Learn to Love Yourself
The first thing I did was sit down with my psychotherapist and hit some serious talk therapy. We dissected a bunch of painful memories and moments that I hadn’t reconciled myself. I wrote out a letter to a few people and said what I wanted to say, and then I burned it. I was not looking for an apology from anyone, it wouldn’t have been heartfelt anyway I’m sure, but I said what I needed to in that letter, then I ripped the sucker up and let it go. Whenever I find myself coming back to thoughts that make me feel awful, I scrawl it down and rip it up, and carry on. This works for me. I find that holding onto anger is not helpful.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was a lifesaver for me. I used CBT to build my self confidence and self-esteem back up. This is a commitment and takes a strong desire to follow through. CBT is a wonderful tool, one that I still use today. I take refresher classes every so often as well. I would recommend this to everyone. Talk to your doctor about CBT.
Dialectical Behavioral therapy is a specific type of CBT that was once used only to treat Borderline personality disorder but is now being widely used for many other people as well. I focused on Interpersonal Effectiveness with DBT and found it extremely helpful.
Break The Cycle
I had spent years hearing some pretty rotten things about myself from a few people who were supposed to really like me, so I started to believe it. It really is true that it is easier to believe the negative stuff that we hear about ourselves than the positive stuff. I had to learn how to self love and change my self talk, and it was a hard one. When I would look in the mirror I would focus on the things that I liked about myself (at first, I really had to look deep and long) and I would compliment myself on those.
When I found myself saying something silly or not understanding something that I had assumed that everyone else understood. I felt myself about to mentally bash myself for what an idiot I was. This was hard. I had to tell myself, “Nicole, you’re not stupid. You just don’t get it. Ask a damn question. It’s okay.” I allowed myself the same courtesy that I allowed everyone else, the civility to make some mistakes and not be berated for it.
It took me almost thirty years to learn to love myself; I’m not going to spend another second worrying if anyone else does too. I know the people in my life who love me; they’re the ones who support me, laugh with me, show me kindness, and want to spend time with me. The people who love me don’t mistreat me or abuse me; they don’t talk behind my back or spread gossip and fling mud. The people who love me show up, as I do for them, and they matter. I value and treasure their opinions and I honestly crave their presence in my life, we are healthy and solid. As for anyone else though, I’m beyond expending any energy or worry. I’m me, take it or leave it, I’m good either way and it’s such a liberating feeling.