I heard someone say I hate myself. What? Hate myself? Who exactly is doing this hating? So you hate… you? What does that even mean?
Do you see how our casual creation and use of abstract words like hate and myself cause us to get locked in truly insane self-conversations where we play both characters? Can you appreciate that this is an experience that plays out only in your consciousness? No one else can see it or hear it or otherwise experience it. These are merely temporary ideas and they exist for you and you alone. Using that space/chance/opportunity/moment to have a self-conversation where you either hate yourself or someone else is extremely common. But it’s still crazy. And it’s still not good for you.
A tiny portion of the people you know are actually psychologically healthy. Most the of the successful-looking ones are actually just riding a crest–right now. That’s how ocean’s go. Crest, trough, crest, trough. They’re inextricably linked together. But seeing someone on a crest isn’t seeing them being successful—it’s seeing them coincidentally ending up there while you’re wherever you are.
Truly healthy people are the ones who can stay fairly content even through the troughs. They don’t take natural troughs as signals to start thinking they did something wrong. Again, that’s a personal conversation held in the confines of your own consciousness. Healthy people are simply the ones who stop themselves from using their moment-to-moment head-space to entertain mean-spirited, angry, hurtful, pitying, spiteful, jealous, or hateful thoughts, whether they’re about themselves or anyone else. (I’d consider reading that last sentence one more time just to make sure you’re really owning that.)
Life is like your time in a theatre. You can stay back in the Green Room, practicing two sides of a hateful piece of script that you’ve always kept handy for re-reading, and you can get the brain and body chemistry that goes with playing that all out—or—you can use the same time in the theatre to get up on stage and give it your best shot. It’s an audience of friends anyway. And to us, you just being you makes you a success. So whatever you actually perform is just dressing. It’s gravy. Wrapping. Extra. Those who love you are there for you.
It is important to remember that it is very taxing to be around people who use their time in the theatre to hate themselves. As an audience member/friend, just how quickly would you get tired of watching your friend play both parts of a hateful conversation where both parties were dedicated to pointless criticism? That would be a terrible play to watch, so it makes sense that we lose friends when we think that way.
On the other hand, watching our friends perform with zeal and inhibition is a joyful thing. We get swept up in it too, and before we know it we have achieved a festival of unity by bringing our various personal theatres into harmony by all of us having the same tones to our narratives.
Like attracts like. Angry bitter people congregate at parties and so do happy optimists. What creates this attraction is the tone of your thinking. If you think hateful thoughts, you will attract a disproportionate amount of hateful people, who will in turn lead you to think that the world is more hateful than previously imagined, when really that’s just who you’re attracting to yourself through your Being.
Hateful self-conversations are pointless wastes of energy and they attract unhealthy people. Everyone has them for short bursts. But they feel awful, and that’s your signal to stop thinking them into existence. Remember, you only have that stage available for a surprisingly short time. So as much as possible, use it to tell stories that are fun to tell.
Listen to yourself and shift negative thinking to positive. It’s great if you’re constantly finding yourself back in negativity. That will give you more practice in making the shift. Because in the end, that’s all the good life is. It’s being good at choosing to see the best in whatever is around you. Whether that’s places, things, other people, or ourselves.
Take this day, this opportunity, this collection of moments, to notice and tell yourself a story about all of the truly good and worthwhile things you and others have done. Because the feeling you get when you appreciate like that, is the feeling of the real you. And after all, that’s who we’ve all been waiting for. 😉
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.