3 Ways to Learn from Self-Loathing

I know this blog is supposed to be about enjoying life. Part of enjoying it is realizing a few things. First, that the human experience is really quite a common occurrence. Second, many parts of this experience are as sad and pathetic as they are hilarious. Third, that the secret is mainly to watch these things in order to not let them get the best of you.

Think about it. If every time it was windy, you became the wind, you could never stay in one place. You would blow away from the mailbox as you went to get the mail, you would blow out of your car if you opened the window, you would blow away from your friend as you sit sipping wine in the grass on a sunny day.

Bad moods, self-loathing, depression and anxiety are like this. They are like wind that can take you with it or blow right around you if you can remember their true nature.

Sometimes, even during the course of writing one blog post, self-loathing will come through me quite a few times. It feels like a gross cloud, telling me that nothing I write matters and that my whole life has pretty much obviously been a waste. Sometimes it says that I am not tied down enough because I don’t own a house, other times it says I’m far too tied down because I happen to live in one. There is no way to win, it says what it wants to, and it’s always in a rather foul mood.

But you know what? It also blows by. But never without a lesson.

The first thing that I try to do with self-loathing is listen to it. What is it saying? Is there any truth to it? Maybe I don’t really agree that I’m a failure because I don’t own a house. But maybe the kernel of truth in that is that I feel like I could be more attentive to the house I live in now. Maybe I could be a little bit more joyful and grateful as I do the dishes; thinking of the people I love who have used them instead of cursing the very existence of dishes in general. Sometimes there are bits of truth to the self-loathing, but it is like a child who cannot fully express itself. You have to take a moment to wonder where the inspiration came from for it to suddenly rear its irritated head.

The second thing I try to do is notice when it is not there. A headache or bout of cramps can easily dominate my experience with their presence, but that moment where they fade is something so precious if I can be aware of it. The self-loathing does the same thing. When it fades, what I’m left with is some spacious nice feelings, some joy; some enjoyment, if you will, of life.Noticing this fading quality of it can work wonders for my perspective the next time it rolls around.

The third thing to do is just notice the nature of the self-loathing. Watch it curiously, like you can do to your fear if you read my other article. Try to notice what kinds of qualities it has. Does it tend to focus on your appearance, your place in society, the things you own, the way you treat people? What is its personality? Does this personality have anything to do with your upbringing, the spoken values of your parents, the things you watch on television? Maybe you can see where it is getting its material, and then politely alert it to the value of citing its references.

Learn about your self-loathing. Be curious about it. It is a part of you that is unique, and yet completely human. Sometimes it has something to say, and sometimes it is just reminding you that it’s always there, like the wind. After you examine it for any potential lessons, just let it go. Do you miss the wind that grazed your cheek yesterday? Probably not. Just like I don’t miss the sour feeling that passed through me several times as I began this post.

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