Don’t Be So Critical of Yourself

Me at 17 on a beach trip .
Me at 17 on a beach trip .

Some of us grow up hating ourselves, criticizing ourselves for our mistakes, always trying to be perfect, never satisfied with ourselves. Then there are some who seem very confident and exhibit an air of satisfaction with themselves.

Childhood Onward

Our self view is a product of a multitude of factors. Beginning with our parents we learn that we are cute, smart, all-boy or all-girl, or funny or whatever adjective we are described by.

From childhood onward we learn who we are and what we can do well, what our interests are. Our relationships with our parents, siblings, friends shape our self esteem.

Classmate Comparisons 

Our self image changes again when we start school. We compare ourselves to everyone around us to see if we are at least okay, normal or above or below average in looks, intelligence, or talent, friendliness, or how we make relationships with our classmates, parents or teachers.

As a preteen our self image is shaped by comparing ourselves to our fellow classmates. We compare our size, development, popularity or lack thereof, our grades, and our position in the class. (Are we the class clown, brain, athlete, failure?)

We notice the clothes of the other kids from wealthier families at school and may feel inferior. Or if we are slim we may be judgmental of those who are heavier. When we hit the growth spurt between 12 and 18 years of age, for us girls (at least the chubby ones like myself) chubbiness rearranges itself into boobs and hips. We learn to cope with the bodies we are given and start learning to accept, hide, or change them.

Peer Acceptance or Rejection

Not being athletic definitely seemed to influence my perception of myself when others chose me last for their teams in sports. The problem was partially that I was not raised in a family who was sports driven. (Sports cars maybe, but not physical sports.) The other main factor that made me a poor athlete was that I was nearsighted and needed glasses. I didn’t know it until I was 12.

Since I grew up in a loving family I tried to be polite, kind, helpful and be obedient to the rules of the school. (To some I was a “Goody two shoes.” Where that expression came from I will never know!) But I was to some degree judgmental of others, just as I was of myself.

One quote my father said often in reference to my own self consciousness was, “People think less about you than you think they do.” This was more easily quoted than actually put to good use.

I always thought the other girls in school were prettier than I was. The cheer leaders, the popular girls, the girls who wore the cool styles, the one’s whose classwork was done more thoroughly than mine; or their projects were more complex, interesting, scientific or whatever than mine, or so I thought.

In high school we may develop a whole new circle of friends. We develop new social skills and with those abilities our confidence hopefully grows.

Everyone Feels Insecure Sometime.

I have since learned that even the popular kids were self conscious about some part of their appearance or performance in sports or school. Looking back I realize that I had trapped myself in a downward spiral, even though I was proud of my good grades and my ability to get along well with others. Back then I worried a lot about what others thought about me on many levels: physically, mentally, socially, athletically, and so forth.

So at 22 years old I was 5’7″ and weighed 145 pounds. I thought I was fat! Now at 67 I look back on the pictures of me at that weight and think, “Dang! I wasn’t fat! I looked great!!”

I realized how critical I had been of myself. Now I am more accepting of my body and myself. After all when I am 80 I don’t want to look back at myself at 67 and think, “Dang, I looked great at 67 !”Especially after I had complained when I was 60!

Joyful2bee MEE
Joyful2bee MEE

Self Recrimination

Why are we so hard on ourselves? Was anyone able to change that attitude? What helped the most? Did a lack of confidence set make it easier for someone to abuse us? Do we often think of ourselves as less important or less intelligent than our friends or spouse?

All of this happened to me. Because I thought less of myself, I was so impressed when someone I considered very intelligent or pretty paid me some attention. This may have been a factor to problems later for me.

Love Yourself

We need to learn to like and love ourselves and accept ourselves as we are. When we truly love someone we see their faults but love them anyway. (Why can’t we be like this with ourselves?)

If we are self conscious, feel that we are too fat, too thin, too old, too whatever; Stop it!! Yes, you heard me. Just stop it!!

We are all on a journey to find ourselves, to develop our hearts and minds to the best they can be. Sometimes we don’t figure things out at the same time or even in the same way until we are older. But sooner or later we will look back with regrets at our attitudes towards ourselves.

So we need to learn to love our bodies, personalities, abilities that we have. We can change some parts of ourselves if we don’t like them. Don’t just hate yourself for the rest of your life. You can make your life what you want it to be within boundaries given in your situation. But you may have to go through a lot of experiences in pain and in joy to finally appreciate who you really are. But the journey is well worth it and hopefully we come to peace with ourselves as we get older.


13 thoughts on “Don’t Be So Critical of Yourself

        1. We aren’t young any more but owning our age and the wisdom we have gained gives us a beauty that many younger women don’t have. Besides I have found that love for others and a smile makes people smile back and that’s good enough for me. Lol.

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  1. AGMA, I had a good childhood and family. I guess that made me, in some ways less prepared for recognizing changes in my husband’s personality, how to deal with his anger and how to argue. But I do have a strong ability to adapt and survive. Denial helped too, until I could get my head above water enough to see what was going on. I just wished I had caught on to what was going on earlier because of the effects the stress had on my son. He had no happy childhood memories from which to give him strength. I tried to make his childhood as happy as I could. Maybe I did better than I thought I had. He is doing great and healing now, thanks to the love of his awesome wife, brother, friends and me. Everything will work out sooner or later. Hugs. And wishes for you to find peace and acceptance of yourself and be able to love, and cherish yourself.

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  2. We are a lot alike. When I graduated from high school, my mom bought me contact lenses instead of the usual luggage. She noticed a big change. She always said if she had known how the glasses affected my self esteem, she would have bought them sooner. I was not athletic although I played tennis. Back then, the only girl sports at school were basketball and softball. I wasn’t good at either. There was one girl in my class. I don’t know if her parents were wealthy or they had a better sense of style but her clothes always were beautiful. When I started to work, I wanted to have clothes like that and I did. Of all the experiences out of my childhood the only one I regret is that I didn’t make any lasting friends until I worked. My high school bestie died several years ago but I didn’t see after she moved to another state. I never quite fit in with my neighborhood kids because I was a reader and more studious. I don’t regret anything specifically but there are things I would change.

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    1. I think the reason we didn’t fit in with the rest of the kids was that we are/were different in a good way. I bet you were sensitive, read books, loved living things, hurt hen others hurt, and was a sweet little girl. If you were/are we should really get to know each other. You live in NC??

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  3. I like your [you] at the beach picture when you were 17. Those same [rather piercing] eyes, and wonderful smile are still there in you now. I especially like the head kerchief. At first glance, I felt you were very put together. I refuse to believe that any part of you is a façade. Did you do better than you thought you had? I’m not big on No, so I’m going for YES. Much better!!!

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    1. Sparkyjen, thank you! You are so sweet! I look back now and realize the biggest problem was my brain! I didn’t see the face on my face. (LOL) You and I have a lot in common, I think. We are both up-lifters, positive thinkers and morale supporters, wise and loving. You are an earth angel!!

      Liked by 1 person

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