Wednesday, August 25, 2010

unconditional like isn't always the healthiest option

Lately there has been so much talk about self-esteem. Learning to love yourself. Learning to like yourself. YOU are perfect. And this talk can be good. It can help people who have difficulty accepting themselves. People who hate themselves. And I do agree with it... to some extent. But this talk completely misses another important aspect of life: self improvement. Yes, people should love themselves. Everyone deserves love, you no less than anyone else. But not everyone deserves unconditional like. And that’s the problem. You can like yourself as a whole, that’s healthy. It’s just as important to like yourself as a whole as to love yourself. But you don’t need to like everything about yourself. If you like everything about yourself, then how will you ever grow as a person? How will you ever change? How will you improve your life? How will you improve other’s lives? I am not saying don’t like your imperfections, imperfections can be much more beautiful then perfection. But what about those things about yourself that make you (or others) unhappy? You don’t need to like them. You can look at them and say: ‘I don’t like this about myself, I want to improve’. It doesn’t mean that you need to beat yourself up over it, or hate yourself, or dislike yourself as a person. But there’s nothing wrong with recognising that you’re not entirely the person you have a capability to become.

This doesn’t mean being that person all of the time. No one can do that. If you are, in general, a nice person, then you do something nasty or hurt someone’s feelings, this does not mean that you are a nasty person. But (for example) if you are consistently feeling sorry for yourself and/or ignoring other’s feelings in light of your own, then maybe you can try and improve on that aspect of yourself.

There are aspects of myself that I don’t like. I am not ashamed or guilty about it. I used to be, I used to try so hard to change, then become extremely depressed when I did not act like that person 100% of the time. It felt like I became worse, and messed up more often, when I strived for perfection. So now, I just try to improve on the things about myself that are adversely affecting me. And the people close to me.

And I mess up. More often than I’d like to admit. But I’ve come to accept that it’s ok. I pick myself up, forgive myself, and try my best. I’m not trying to fix everything. I can’t. But I chose the aspects of myself (both consciously and unconsciously) that did make me feel like I didn’t deserve to be liked. And by slowly working on them I am much happier, and have much higher self-esteem, than if I just sat back and believed I was perfect exactly as I was. Because I'd know deep down I wasn't. And I would hate myself for that.


wilybrunette said...

i think you've hit the nail on the head in talking about improvement without striving perfection--because that only sets us up for failure. but improvement yes, it's something i'm constantly working on. that, and forgiving myself for my imperfections (i still gotta a way to go on this).

ps: congrats on the wedding, i selfishly want to know all about it!

kara lynn said...

i whole heartedly agree! There are definitely two sides to this. i think for me it's accepting my imperfections and not being frustrated with myself because of them, just accepting. and loving yourself imperfections and all. because i have many but to work on being your best self with what you have been given, overwhelming at times. yes. but incredibly worthwhile!

The Many Colours of Happiness said...

Yay my first comments! (I'm sorry Joel, you don't count :p). And by my favourite bloggers too!
I wish I had written more on accepting imperfections, because really when you think about it they're usually the things people most love about you. Take my family for example. My family are loving and kind, but they're also completely nuts. When I moved out I was surprised to find it was all the craziness that I missed the most, rather than the 'perfect bits'. It made me realise that all those little imperfections I couldn't change were maybe the best bits to me. I don't know, it made sense in my head!

Wilybrunette: Thank you so much! I wish I'd had the opportunity to read your wedding post before I planned my own. So many beautiful ideas!!!