Why Are We Taught to Not Like Ourselves?

It’s easy to focus on the negatives, but they shouldn’t negate the positives.

Are we being fake when we think we are being modest? What right do you have to not like yourself?

Do you like yourself? From my experience, most people I ask either say no or have to qualify their answer with things they like but just as long a list or longer of things about themselves they don’t like. I went to a presentation last month where the topic of liking ourselves was brought up. There were about fifty people in the room and when the presenter asked how many people had trouble liking themselves, most of the room let out a loud groan. How sad!

We aren’t born being critical or thinking that there is something wrong with us, this is learned behavior, taught to us by people who didn’t like themselves. How can we start to break the cycle?

First you have to decide that you want to think and feel differently. If a switch could be turned that would suddenly make you realize that you are an attractive person when you hadn’t believed it before, you would feel amazing, even though in reality nothing changed except a thought.

You know all of those people who tell you that you are great, pretty, smart, handsome, talented, etc? Why don’t you start believing them? Maybe they are right. Their thoughts are just as valid as yours. Give it a try and see how it feels. If you don’t have people in your life like this, start saying it to yourself. As Louise Hay has been teaching for decades, affirmations work.

I sometimes feel like there is societal pressure to be falsely modest, as if there is something wrong with being proud of who you are or what you look like. When I was growing up, the word conceited was used a lot by girls I knew to describe other girls who seemed to be confident and secure. Some of them may have actually been conceited but it was more likely that the girls doing the labeling felt insecure and even jealous. What at the experience taught me is that if I dared to think I was pretty or smart or liked myself, that others would call me names.

The truth is that if we don’t give ourselves credit and don’t recognize our strengths, our beauty and our accomplishments, this is nothing but false modesty. It’s being fake. It’s lying to ourselves and others.

We may wish that we had a few less wrinkles, a few less pounds, that we could stand up to the person who isn’t very nice at work or whatever your supposed imperfections may be. It’s easy to focus on a few negatives but they don’t negate all of the positives. Everyone has positives. If you truly don’t think so, then your self esteem is in a bad place and it would be wise to get some support.

I would like to leave you with this powerful quote and I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Our Greatest Fear —Marianne Williamson

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,

talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other

people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of

God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,

we unconsciously give other people

permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,

Our presence automatically liberates others.

— Marianne Williamson

Often said to have been quoted in a speech by Nelson Mandela. The source is Return to Love by Marianne Williamson, Harper Collins, 1992. —Peter McLaughlin

Originally published at medium.com

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