“I’m so ugly.”
“I hate myself.”
“I want to die.”
These are sentences that have run through my head frequently for years. The latter two probably at least a few times an hour.
This wasn’t something I was even conscious of until one day in 2016 when I was hanging out at the artist book library Also As Too Well with my new friend, Murat Ates. I don’t remember exactly how he worded it, but he basically asked if I was kind to myself in my inner dialogue.
After this realization, I put some work into changing that, but the phrases popped into my mind so often without my control, it was difficult. I tried consciously thinking more positive things and correcting myself when I was aware of my thoughts. It didn’t really change anything. A few months ago, for an online self-love course, I came up with a few affirmations to say to myself each morning in the shower, but it just felt insincere.
Separate from my inner dialogue issues, I’ve been putting effort into self-care, which to me means doing the more basic things I need to do to keep myself happy and healthy. This has meant cutting back caffeine, taking naps, stopping working before my concussion symptoms flair up and not beating myself up for not getting through my to-do list on days when my head hurts and I’m dizzy. It also means cooking delicious meals, even when my husband is out and the food is just for me. I’ve started treating myself like a friend, buying myself the occasional gift (like a zine subscription!!!!) and being understanding of my inability to do it all.
Through taking better care of myself, I’m learning how hard I’ve been on myself and am learning to be more compassionate towards me. I’m also learning to love myself.
A few weeks ago, my internal dialogue started to change. “I love myself.” The words popped into my brain while I was standing in the backyard, petting our dog.
It’s pretty important that we all like ourselves. There’s no one anyone spends more time with than themselves. If you dislike the person you’re spending most of your time with, how can you be happy? And if you’re always beating yourself up, how can you be doing your best work?
As a freelancer, I’m my own boss. I’m in charge of making sure the work gets done, and done well, but I’m also in charge of avoiding burnout, providing encouragement and praise, and keeping morale up. I’ve been failing pretty damn hard at some of my job and it’s probably been holding me back.
I’m excited about this new, loving, compassionate relationship I’m developing with myself and I can’t wait to see how it impacts my career. And I, in part, owe thanks to my kind friend, Murat, for bringing my attention to my negative inner dialogue.
For more from him, check out his zine, Life. Fire. Prose.
Things are gonna be quiet over here for the next two weeks. I’m taking a little break over the holidays to enjoy my family and my first Christmas with my husband. See you all in the new year!