Narcissism vs Gratitude
Since beginning this blog in 2007 I’ve spoken frequently of the importance of loving ourselves.
When I wrote this post I was worried it would make me look like a . When I recently reposted it as part of the Voice of the Past series this same fear of being viewed as arrogant and self-absorbed returned; resulting in several arguments with myself over whether I should post it, and after I did, whether I should remove it. To this day I still think it makes me look self-important, vain and narcissistic.
But does it? Aren’t those fears yet another example of the negative way I view myself?
If we do not love ourselves, we cannot expect other people to love us; and if we don’t believe in ourselves, then how can we expect anyone else to believe in us?
Learning to love yourself is not an exercise in narcissistic behaviour, but a lesson in respect, appreciation and gratitude for the beautiful person you are. Sometimes the challenges we go through in life – abuse, mental illness, homelessness – can lead to our brain’s being reprogrammed to view ourselves in a certain light.
Ever since I was a child, being bullied at school, right through adulthood and the triple whammy of-rape-homelessness, I have been constantly told how worthless and useless I am. Partners, friends, colleagues, strangers, all lining up to endlessly criticise me into the ground, rarely if ever, offering any words of encouragement, compliment or support.
Which is why this exercise is so difficult, for today we are looking at the talents, skills and gifts you possess that you just love.
Write your ‘I Love…’ list
1. Take a clean sheet of paper and draw a smiling sun in the top left hand corner for no other reason than to make you smile :)
2. At the top of the list write the heading I Love…
3. Now, write as many things that you admire, honor and appreciate about yourself as you can. The talents you have, the skills you possess, the ability you have to do things better than anyone else.
4. Once you’ve written your list take your beautiful self to a mirror and, beginning with I love… each time, read each item out loud.
5. Repeat on a daily basis until you cannot deny your own awesomeness any longer.
My I Love… list
As mentioned at the beginning of this post I wrote one of these lists many years ago. For today’s exercise I will write the list afresh, with no apologies if I happen to repeat anything that featured way back when. Although I fear it will be nowhere near as long as that list!
♥ I love… ♥
…my inner strength
…that I always try to help the people I care about, no matter what
…my unquenchable desire to help others whenever I can
…my thirst for knowledge, that I keep pushing myself to learn new things and better myself
…my kind and giving nature
…that I’m willing to make sacrifices for the people I care about
…that I’m able to appreciate what I have in life
…my ability to see the good in people
…my courage, that even though it would be easier to crawl into a hole and die, I still keep putting myself out there
…my eclectic taste in music, and I wouldn’t want it any other way
…my two freckles on my left hand
…some of my scars, as they’re reminders of the past
…my ambitiousness nature
…my ability to remain quiet and listen when I need to
…that I have a man-crush on Niles (from Frasier)
..that I am a published writer, because if I’ve already done it, I can do it again!
…that I support the causes I believe in with a fiery passion
…my bum (I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again)
…that I never judge anyone, ever
…that I never leap to conclusions until I know the whole story
…my compassionate nature
…my ludicrously completed 40year, three generational story arc for my Inverness Chronicles
…that it actually make sense when viewed as a whole
…that I cry when I need to
…feeling proud of my old friends and all they’ve achieved in life.
…my kinky side
…that I don’t carry grudges
…that I love tofu
…my eyes, even when they have bags under them because of insomnia
…my mistakes, because they give me things to learn from
…that I’m grateful for all I’ve been gifted in life
…that I can accept the part luck has played in my life
…being a sooky romantic
…that I keep trying
…and I’ll leave it there for now!
(PS…remember, your body was a gift given to you at birth)
Coda: The Importance of Repetition
After writing every entry in the above list my mind immediately began scanning for abuse and criticism I’ve received to dispel it.
That I cry when I need to, was endlessly criticised by my abuser as men should never – ever – cry under any circumstances! My bipolar, ummm, look around. Do you see anyone in my life? Nope. Exactly. My kinky side, has been attacked and criticised by all-but-one person I’ve opened up to for the last twelve years. That I’m willing to make sacrifices for the people I care about, my compassionate nature and that I always try to help the people I care about, no matter what have been roundly disproved by the few occasions I failed to be there for people in my life. My bum, attacked by two of my girlfriends as being ugly, horrible, unattractive and that I should consider getting plastic surgery. Feeling proud of my old friends and all they’ve achieved in life because they don’t know that, and never will, because I’m too scared to get back in contact.
This instantaneous, almost subconscious reaction, is not only a perfect example of a mind lacking in self-esteem, but of the intense psychological damage emotional abuse can reek on someone’s life. Five and a half years after the event my soul is still under her control!
Repetition is one of the only weapons to combat this constant barrage of haunting abuse. By constantly reiterating what you love about yourself, without you even realising it, you will start to believe it.
You will start to believe that you’re the gorgeous person you actually are.
Tomorrow…Emotional Abuse: Words are just as powerful as a fist
Other articles in this series: