Whatever you think you may do, it’s half of what you can really do. And that’s – partially – because you have so many negative opinions about yourself. It’s like a cloud obscuring your real potential. Well, you can disperse that cloud. Just accept the fact that you have negative opinions and then start working on them.
Most of the time, those negative opinions will come from the outside: people will judge you for what you did. Sometimes they will judge you for what you didn’t do. And then, after you’re finished with outside negative emotions, you’ll also have to deal with your own.
Accept them. Assess them. If you really did something wrong, do your best to fix it. No excuses, no false image polishing, no nothing. Just try to fix it. Be authentic and do whatever you have to do to move things forward. Once you are convinced you did the right thing, move on.
It’s ok to have negative opinions about yourself as long as you are 100% committed to assess, accept and dissolve them.
How To Deal With Negative Opinions About Yourself
I don’t know about you, but I took this “negative opinions about yourself“ thing to the highest possible level. I almost made an art out of it. Just like a craftsman is refining his skill over years, I did the same: as I grew old, I got exposed to more and more negative opinions. Both from others and from me.
I think I’m sharing that just to give you some perspective on why you should read the rest of this article. I’m just good at it, so to speak 🙂
Let’s get it straight from the beginning, you can’t escape those negative opinions about yourself. For as long as you will live, there will always be somebody who will disagree with you, somebody who will think you’re doing bad, or that you’re simply an idiot. Even if you’re going to live alone, on an empty island, at some point there will be somebody acting like that, and that person will be you, of course.
So, with that in mind, let’s see how we can deal with this. What follows is a sort of a crash-course on how to identify and process those situations.
1. If It’s Criticism, Accept It
Sometimes people will criticize you. It’s ok. It’s their right to do it. It may be felt like a very bad vibe, but, to some extent, it’s necessary.
You can’t do everything good for everybody. You can’t please everybody. It’s like a law of physics: the amount of energy needed to bring all the other human systems to a common level is virtually impossible to be stored in only one individual. The only thing you’ll accomplish if you try to do this will be your own death. You’ll simply run out of energy. So, don’t even think about it. Just accept that you’ve been doing some stuff that is not ok for some people.
But there is another side of this negative opinion (and I’m talking only about criticism, about something that it’s intended to give genuine and constructive feedback, not about verbal violence or gossip, will talk about that in the next paragraph). This other side is about feedback. And feedback is a very, very good thing. Whenever you get criticized, you have a huge chance to find out how and where you can improve your game. You need a lot of skills to understand, filter, categorize and prioritize what you have to do, but, in this respect, criticism – apart from being a hard to digest negative opinion about yourself – it’s also a very precious gift.
2. If It’s Gossip, Ignore It
There is another form of negative opinion about yourself, which is gossip. Verbal violence, most of the time. People will just yell at you or will write bad stuff about you or they will gossip about you. This is not to be confused with criticism. At its core, criticism is constructive, whereas gossip has nothing to do with that, it exists solely for entertaining the gossipers.
Well, if it’s nothing constructive there, just move on. Ignore it. It takes some practice, but it can be done. You can just observe it, acknowledge that it’s there, acknowledge that some people have fun talking bad about you. Acknowledging doesn’t mean engaging it. You can observe with detachment. Don’t feel either good or bad about it. And especially about the people who are doing it. Just look at it the same way you look at the rain. It’s just there, coming down from the sky. You can’t stop it.
But you can protect yourself from it. Put on an umbrella of ignorance and keep moving. You won’t get wet, if you got the right umbrella, and, of course, at some point, without you doing anything, the rain will just stop by itself.
3. If It’s Coming From You, Don’t Believe It
The third, and most difficult to deal with, is the negative opinion which comes from yourself. I’m not good enough. Whatever I do, it’s not enough. I will never be as good as it takes. Sounds familiar? That’s my “favorite”, so to speak. Or at least the one that’s the most difficult to deal with, for me.
I tried many antidotes. Believe me, many antidotes. Some of them worked better than others, but what I found to work all the time is: do not believe what you think. It sounds really counterintuitive, and yes, it really is.
Because, on one side, you trust your mind to give you accurate information about your day to day life, and on the other side, you decide not to trust it on this one. How come?
The trick is to understand that what your mind is telling you about yourself is not real. It’s just a story. You are who you are. But on top of who you are, on top of your existence, you create a story. You’re the main character of this story. And you tell this story both to yourself and to the world.
What you actually do – how you live, your actions, your decisions – is one thing, but what you think and say, well, that’s a completely different thing and it has to do with your memories, your upbringing, your intelligence (or the lack of it), and a million of other factors. It’s just a script. A movie you’re watching from the back of your consciousness. And the biggest difference between this movie and the regular movies you see on Sundays at the cinema is that you can change this one. You don’t have to follow the script. You are the director and you can change your mind in the middle of the movie.
So, if it’s a sad movie, if the main character is powerless and depressed and sad, remember, you don’t have to believe it. You can just keep eating your popcorn, watch the movie, but don’t believe it. It’s just a movie. And you can change it anytime you want to.
Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner
The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”
And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.
Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.
If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.