“How could they say that about me? I thought they were my friend,” we say. We pick up the broken pieces of our lives after hurtful comments. Deep down, our greatest fear isn’t whether we’ll be hurt again. Our greatest fear is that the comments may actually be true, revealing that we’re fatally flawed.
Others’ unkind words damage or end friendships. They can lead to bitterness, pent up anger and, eventually, depression.
“Out with the haters,” we say. Sometimes just for the simple fact that we need to survive, we need to distance ourselves from others who hurt us. Those negative comments can stick with us for years, decades or even a lifetime.
We spend our lives worrying about what people think about us though we don’t want to admit it. We begin to worry about how every new person that we meet could wind up hurting us in the end. We put up the walls and get every conceivable defense mechanism in working order.
All of that self-protection is full of some serious irony, though. What if the greatest danger isn’t found outside of us? After all, history reveals powerful nations that experienced self-destruction. There was little need for an outside enemy. All the while, the enemy was lurking inside the city walls.
We’re hyper-aware of what others say about us but often oblivious of what we say about ourselves internally. It’s easy enough to avoid a negative person. That is, unless the negative person is us!
How do you change the way you look at yourself? Be kind to yourself. Take a day and listen to what you say to yourself:
“You always fail at friendships.”
“You were never successful.”
“You are so dumb.”
Would you stay in a friendship or relationship if you were told those things? Hopefully not!
We all have flaws. The truth is that all of us have negative character traits. It’s actually healthy to improve upon them. We all thrive on progress.
But the last thing we need is more putdowns. That makes our positive traits invisible and paralyzes us from changing for the good. The first and most important step to changing the way we look at ourselves is telling our negative internal critic to get lost. The next step is to replace the negativity with something better:
“I’ll try again.”
“I have a good sense of humor.”
“I can help to ease the suffering of others.”
“I’m worth getting to know.”
In summary, carefully evaluate whether something you want to change about yourself can or should be changed. Consistently change the way you think about yourself and you’ll be on the fast track to a better you!