I’ve met very few people who can look at themselves and are 100% happy with what they see and who they were. The ones who have, I have either doubted they were being truthful, or I was alarmed at their narcissism. That’s called hubris, and it is a clear indicator of psychological issues, some can be very dangerous. However, that’s a topic for another day. Right now, lets talk about the opposite of hubris, extreme self loathing.
Kids, and especially Teenagers, tend to be the individuals who fall into the dangerous levels of self-loathing the most. Anxiety, panic attacks, extreme shyness, self hurting and even suicidal thoughts are often the result. Even at non-dangerous levels, self loathing can be really debilitating. In all probability, you have experienced the results of it, and just don’t know it, or maybe you do.
Remember that time you were really close to success. Maybe it was a project for school, a near completed job for work, or maybe you were really close to earning the love of a particular potential romantic encounter. But then, you did something, or maybe nothing, and it completely sabotaged the success. You did that sometime, somewhere didn’t you? This type of self sabotage is usually our subconscious interfering because deep inside, we don’t believe we deserve to be happy, successful or loved.
Why do we hate ourselves so much and get in our own way? Lots of reasons. You do things you know you shouldn’t, and you internally scold yourself for it. You don’t do things you know you should, like eating healthier, hitting the gym, doing martial arts, etc, and you internally scold yourself for it. Maybe you took a path you know is not the hardest path, the potentially most rewarding, because it looked too hard, and now you berate yourself internally, or you know you disappointed someone else, and maybe, they even expressed disappointment in you.
Whatever it is, it can be debilitating and unfortunately, it’s not easy to get past, but I know what helps.
First, set yourself up for success. Doing martial arts is great because you see the instructors doing something you can’t do, you try it and try it until you CAN do it, and then you get a physical reward for accomplishing it. Those rewards are our tips and our belts. You get to display that reward and you gain admiration and respect from others for doing so.
Self esteem goes up, confidence goes up, barriers to other successes drop away and the praise you get from your peers and instructors begins to drown out the subconscious voice that tries to hold you back.
Secondly, surround yourself with positive people who support you. Too much of our life we had people say, “You’ll never be able to do that,” or “I can’t see you doing that.” Maybe it’s someone trying to get you to do something “safer,” or “less challenging.” Imagine if instead of hearing, “Don’t strike out,” on your baseball or softball team, instead you heard, “Get a hit!” Just changing the negative nature of our speech patterns into to positive patterns can really make a difference. Our instructors are all trained and drilled in this particular practice. Ask the people around you who may not be supportive, if they can please try to help you by being more supportive and positive. It has worked for me.
Third, talk to yourself, but speak in a positive way. I know it sounds silly, but when we say things, especially aloud, our subconscious hears it and imprints on it. Positive affirmations are scientifically proven to work. All great athletes use positive affirmations and positive visualizations. “I’ll have to try that a few more times to accomplish it,” is much more productive than, “I’ll never be able to do this.”
We are our own worst enemy and fortunately the way to defeat our internal self loathing is to just be positive more, be around positive people and set ourselves up for success. Martial arts does all of these things. This is why it is so good for kids and teens…and adults too.
We are warriors, and the biggest battles we fight, are within ourselves.