Some people who are depressed achieve championship status by emotionally beating themselves up.
For those with this tendency, there is nothing negative that anyone can say about them that they haven’t already thought about themselves.
People who are restlessly hard on themselves can never seem to find inner peace and are prone to their depression continuing. If you are living with this disease and this habit, friends and family may see you as feeling sorry for yourself or insecure. Your days are filled with doubt, and joy is seldom within reach.
To overcome this dilemma, start by looking at where it may have come from.
Did you have a very difficult experience or did something traumatic occur in your life like an abusive childhood, or negative input from valued friends or family? Such early experiences can all contribute to feelings of low self-worth.
Even being called sarcastic nicknames can create a feeling of being less than deserving.
To further work on overcoming this dilemma, create a scorecard with different areas of your life on it and honestly grade yourself. If you divide your life into categories such as school, work, family, sports, humor and so on, you will see that you have talents and abilities that you may have been unable to recognize before.
Other points to consider:
• Some people use self-deprecating humor to deal with these feelings, while others will blatantly say that they just aren’t good enough. When these thoughts intrude upon you, start combating them by looking at the good that you have done in your life.
Looking back, you may actually find one or two things that you’ve been great at. Those moments of achievement are important milestones on the journey to liking who you are.
• Everyone makes mistakes, and no one is perfect. But if you tend to be hard on yourself, this fact of life doesn’t seem to matter. Consistently reminding yourself that perfection is an illusion — and that you are good enough just as you are — can be very helpful.
• Believing that you are here for a reason, or having a higher purpose, is another great way to rebuild this part of yourself. Another tactic is to join a public service organization. Most of these groups are generous at recognizing the contributions of their members. Having others applaud your actions will help you see that you can make a difference and will give you a sense that you are better than you may think.
Once you learn to stop repeating self-deprecating words or thoughts, feeling good about yourself will continue to get easier.
Learning that you are worthwhile just as you are can be a challenge, especially if you are dealing with depression, but the result will make you able to feel joy, even if that sensation has been elusive in the past.
Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is an award-winning therapist and humanitarian. He is also a columnist, the author of seven books, and a blogger for PsychologyToday.com with nearly 27 million readers. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears Sundays and Wednesdays in the News-Press.