“You weren’t born feeling bad about yourself you were taught to feel that way.” Brendon Burchard
In a recent conversation with a good friend of mine, we were lamenting over partnerships. We both know of someone who is struggling with the end of a relationship, and how sad the person seems to be. My friend talked about the person needing the partner to be happy. I struggled with that since I knew from my past that someone else can only make you happy for so long before they are empty. I shared that I thought you needed to be happy as a person first. The question then asked of me was, “shouldn’t your partner help you to be happy, lift you up, bring out the best of you?” My reaction was not really. I shared that I do believe you need to have self-worth and be happy with yourself first. Your partner should lift you up when you are down and certainly bring out the best in you, but your partner cannot make you happy.
We discussed this for a while and I shared how my ex-husband and I were both damaged when we entered our marriage. Neither of us were happy with ourselves. We may not have known that at the time but we were not. We expected the other to lift us, to make us happy. We both needed help. We both needed to heal the things that were causing us to feel bad about ourselves. We didn’t and our marriage couldn’t withstand that.
I realized at that moment that I had so fully blamed my ex-husband and really didn’t take the time to realize just how damaged I was and more importantly, how much I relied on him to make me happy with me. Now, this doesn’t excuse anything that he did, the way played on all of my vulnerabilities and then hurt me to the core. I’m not taking responsibility for that or his behavior at all. We could have fixed our marriage if we both were honest, really loved eachother and both got help to heal. But, I could now so clearly see how we were both damaged coming into the relationship and both relied too heavily on the other for happiness.
Children aren’t born feeling bad about themselves. We aren’t born with low self-worth, negative feelings about everything from our bodies to our intellect to our behavior. We learn all of that through relationships, our families, and other events and people who shape our lives. Hate breeds hate, and that even includes ourselves.
As I have grown and healed, I realize that I learned to doubt myself and question me by watching my Mom. I have very rarely heard my mom say good things about herself. She has put herself down most of my life. The countless times I have heard her say that her sister is smarter than she is, prettier than she is, friendlier than she is, etc. Her comparisons to her sister or others are inaccurate but she doesn’t see herself that way. I don’t know how she got that way, or why. I am not sure how she was taught that, I don’t believe it was through her parents. My mom was always a bit heavier in weight than my Aunt and I believe that any “bullying” she felt or comments made to her as a child were about her weight. That certainly taught her that she may not have been good enough, which is what I heard over and over. In fact even today I still hear my mom compare herself to her sister, and it is generally negative.
In turn, I doubted myself. I thought the way through life was to compare yourself to others, focusing on what they had that you didn’t, or where they were better than you. For many years I saw this as a positive as I convinced myself that this drove me to be better, to achieve more. But in the end, it also perpetuated a lack of self-worth that I took into adulthood. Then events occur in your life, decisions you make that shape your future and how you may punish yourself for those decisions.
Intimate relationships took the brunt of this for me over my life, as I definitely looked to my partners to fill that self-worth gap. I expected that they would make me happy. How could they? Anything they said that was positive about me I batted down and disagreed! I made self-deprecating jokes that just continued to erode my already tenuous self-esteem. What a vicious cycle I was in.
I have healed so much of this, I believe, no I know I am good, kind, compassionate person who has achieved a lot in my life, personally and professionally. And I have much more to give. I have a lot of love inside of me and some of that is directed at me. I don’t expect anyone else to make me happy. I am happy. I have moments, like anyone else, but I no longer feel bad about me.
I like me.