All hatred is self-hatred.
And everything is feedback.
I really hope you remember those two tiny sentences every time your chest is pretzeled up and you feel hopeless and helpless and as though you’re spiraling into a bottomless bucket of shit.
Everything is a reflection of you because all anything can ever be is what you take from it and all you can ever take from it, and all you will ever take from it, is what you are aware enough to perceive. The expanse of your experience is directly in line with your consciousness. Nothing is as it is, it is as you are. (That’s a play on an Anais Nin quote.)
Unless you are there to touch and smell and see a flower, it is nothing but random matter vibrating in a void. Your recognition gives it its beauty, and its presence. You are not in the world, the world is in you. And though that sounds like another abstract platitude, it is not. It is reflective of a greater, deeper, truer truth, and in these tiny moments of recognition, of awareness, we find that what we immediately perceive is not all there is, and that anything that feels dense and heavy and “wrong” and “negative” is not a matter of what’s going on outside but what we’re not healing and changing inside.
Awareness is the antidote to solving so many seemingly unsolvable problems. Just the simple knowing that your ego-centric mind is deriving other people’s actions and assuming other people’s thoughts to torture you is enough to silence it.
The art of learning to be is un-assigning “good” and “bad” and “right” and “wrong” to what you feel and what you see and what other people show you. After all, even the heaviest, darkest things ultimately serve you, open you to a truth you wouldn’t have considered before had you not been put in the context to see it.
Here, all the things to consider and reflect on and read over again when you’re feeling particularly terrible. (It was requested numerous times that I write a follow-up to this, so here you go.)
1. Your actions are more powerful than what anybody can ever say of you. The thing about spiraling downward into a fit of helplessness is that it’s usually accompanied by the feeling that we are completely out of control of how other people see us. Of course, this is nothing more than a mechanism of how we see ourselves, but bear with me, because the point here is that not one word anybody says is more powerful or true than how you behave and who you really are. You hold the power here. You call the shots. How other people want to perceive you is their problem, of which they will have to come to terms with eventually. How much you want to allow their perceptions to affect you is yours.
2. What you think others think is more important than what they actually think. (It shows you to yourself.) Once you gain the awareness that the whole concept of ‘what other people think’ is one grand illusion that you’re always at the short end of, you start to realize that ‘how other people see you’ shifts as your mindset does. Funny how that works, huh?
3. Your reactions matter more than other people’s actions do, and you can choose how you react. Your opinions/thoughts/feelings/emotions/mental states do not have to rest on what you find out or simply imagine people do or don’t say/think or believe about you. The reality of it is you will never know the entirety of what people are saying or thinking or believing and those things are none of your business. They are carrying on, and always have been, whether or not you’re made aware of it. The only thing that changes here is how much you want to change yourself based on that hypothetical. They can say what they want. You can react how you want.
4. In terms of romantic relationships and sex and love and body types and attraction and all that, the people worth loving and dating and sleeping with are far more accepting than you’re giving them credit for. There was never a true love story in the history of ever that blossomed because somebody thought somebody else’s abs were flawless. As long as you’re seeking validation from somebody who is inherently never going to give it is as long as you’re withholding yourself from someone who will love you regardless.
5. You’re supposed to be embarrassed of your younger self — really. It’s a mark of progress (it doesn’t mean you have to stay embarrassed though.) It’s good because it means you’re able to look back and wonder “how was I ever at that place?” indicating that you’re no longer there. I hope you never reach a point in which you look back on your younger self and think, “Wow, I had it all figured out!” That means you stopped growing. (And that means you stopped living.)
6. There are over-arching problems and then there are the symptoms of those problems that crop up again and again. Most people spend their whole lives only addressing the latter. For example: losing weight isn’t going to fix your body-image problem, no matter how much you convince yourself you’re doing the right thing. You’re doing what will make you fit into your perception of ‘correct’ as opposed to realizing that genuine body love doesn’t have your mental stability hinging on whether or not you miss a class or eat a piece of pizza. It is a matter of evaluating not how the actions look on the surface, but where they are rooted from. I’m not saying addressing those roots is easy, or finding them fun — I’m saying you’ll have to do it eventually. You can choose to now, or you will be forced to later.
7. There is no fear or worry or concern or paranoia or insecurity that you could possibly muster up that a million and five other humans haven’t already felt. The thing about self-loathing is that it’s isolating in nature. It makes you the “other” and everybody else the “judgy normal people.” I know this may be a little disheartening for your ego, but take it in stride: generally speaking (and acknowledging logical exceptions) there is nothing you’ve ever done that hasn’t been done before — somewhere, somehow, at some time. The story of the human condition is universal in nature. It’s the separation and thought that we’re the only ones experiencing it that intensifies the suffering element of that. (Interesting how that works, right?)
8. At any given time, you’re mostly just concerned with how one or (maybe two) people perceive you. Those people also tend to be the ones who we feel unaccepted by in one way or another. We’re trying to prove something. We’re worried about who will see us in an unflattering way and report it back to them. They’re usually the almost-relationships, slightly disapproving parents, certain someones who we’ve dreamt of impressing for years on-end. We’re incapable of having our lives revolve around more than a few people at a time, even if it seems like we’re worried about “people” as a whole, try to put a face to that worry every time one crops up and you’ll find that the faceless crowd of people is really just one or two who are very, very familiar to you.
9. Nobody is thinking about you as much as you are thinking about you. So much of our internal conversations with ourselves revolve around quelling fear and panic about how we’re being perceived at any given time. What we seldom realize is that the X factor here is that we’re thinking through other people’s mindsets. We’re just making predictions and assumptions, of which are heavily if not entirely influenced by our own assumptions of ourselves. To put it shortly: everybody else is running around worrying about themselves as much as you are worrying about yourself.
10. There’s too much at stake to waste your time on worrying about things that are impermanent, unimportant, and ultimately just distractions from the things that bring you joy:
11. Your feelings of panic are directly related to wanting to change yourself to fit someone else’s idea of who you are. If you didn’t care to please someone else, if you didn’t feel you needed to be okay with them to be okay, you wouldn’t be worried about it. That sense of panic and concern with how they see you at all is directly, albeit not entirely, related to how much you feel you need to change or prove yourself otherwise. On a deeper level, it means you’ve externalized your sense of worth and purpose and therefore stability, and so long as it remains that way, it can never be genuine.
12. So if you want to get over these external, surface-level, shallow things, you have to turn your attentions to things that matter more. This is the truest solution and most effective antidote and secret of all secrets to renouncing your sense of whether or not you’re going to be okay with yourself: make something matter more than how other people see you. If all you have to care about, if all you think you can offer the world is a nice body or a fancy lifestyle or a lot of money or approval that makes you feel good, you’re not doing everything you can and should be. Of course you’re going to run into anxiety, it’s all meaningless. The moment you know you’re worth more than how you’re seen, the moment you genuinely take stock in the notion that your life is more important than you, is the moment that everybody else’s petty concerns fall to the wayside, into the oblivion of unimportance. You become blind to them because you’re only focused on what really does matter: you, and whatever the hell you have to genuinely offer to the world.