Philosophical Files: Culture of Self-Doubt
By: Jenna Sorsen
“I think I can do anything.”
“I am absolutely worthy and valuable.”
“I am really good at that.”
These lines sound foreign on my lips. If they were directed toward my non-existent daughter or a dear friend, the words would fly out of my mouth without hesitation, because I truly believe that person CAN do anything and that person absolutely IS worthy. So, why is it when I try to utter those same words to myself, do I immediately dismiss them?
The Western (or American) culture has created one of self-doubt. Compliments are harder to accept than the first snowfall, and many are burnt out from helping others before helping themselves. Yes – helping others is good. Grace and humility are genuine attributes. But when one over-gives to themselves and forget to give to themselves – that’s where the trouble begins. Denying the needs of the self creates the ideal world for negative self-thoughts to be cultivated. Over time, those negative thoughts can transform into depression, anxiety and worse things.
You spend every second of your life with yourself. So, why is it so easy to praise another and so easy to put ourselves down? Why is it not hard to see the worth in other, but are hesitant when it comes to proclaiming it about ourselves? The answer lies in recognizing others as ourselves. Let me break that down.
When others are down, our first instinct is to lift them up. When they are doubting their abilities or selves, we remind them of all that is good about them and that those good qualities far outweigh the bad. We recognize that individual as a whole and bountiful and beautiful human being with so much potential. We focus only on the light they give to the world, because that light banishes all darkness they may spread. We must see ourselves in this same light. We must “treat ourselves as we want to treat others.” (Reverse golden rule?) We must acknowledge and believe that our good is so much greater than our bad, and that we are of infinite worth.
This ties directly back to the quality of your thoughts: negative thoughts cultivate self-neglect. Rich and empowering thoughts create self-love. The quality of your thoughts determine the quality of your reality.
Every philosophical article needs a disclaimer, right? The apparent disclaimer: “Take all of this with a grain of salt.” This writing is derived from my own experiences and my interpretation of those said experiences. However, I think that many can relate to these words. The non-apparent disclaimer: “Everything is good in moderation.” It was previously expressed that too many negative thoughts about one’s self can easily lead to a false view of one’s self – often in the form of depression or anxiety. On the polar end of that, too many “good” thoughts about one’s self can morph into vanity, cockiness or arrogance. Self-love, then, I believe, is a balance then. It involves in recognizing the good and bad in ourselves, and fully accepting and loving BOTH of those entities. I believe self-love is practicing our strengths frequently, and then intentionally improving upon our not-so-good qualities.
All of this is easier said (or written) then done. It takes diligence and effort to scaffold your thoughts from negative to positive, from living a life of self-doubt to self-love.
It all must start with practicing self-love each day. One must schedule time for one’s self each day. Below are some suggestions: exercising, meditation, yoga, reading, writing, painting, practicing a hobby, taking a nap, etc.
Whatever cultivates self-love for you, do it. (As long as it does no harm to yourself or others.)
Above all, self-love is about treating yourself the exact same way as you would someone else in need. Onward, friends.