A Coaching Power Tool By Mirian Kachikwu, Business Coach, NIGERIA
Dealing With Self-Rejection vs. Self-Love
None can destroy iron, but its own rust can! Likewise, none can destroy a person but his own mindset can. Ratan Tata
I have personally experienced the damage that rust can do to iron and the harm that a toxic mindset can cause to a person and those close to them. Rust is a slow process caused by the hydrogen ion from water in the environment. A toxic mindset is developed through a slow process caused by a person’s interaction with their environment and, given sufficient time, can damage the indomitable human spirit. Though the mind is a person’s greatest asset, it can also be turned into a self-sabotaging tool.
You probably often get an earful from your inner voice – that little commentator in your head that is always chattering. It can either sound like your cheerleader or the nagging critic. Your inner voice may think about you based on things you were told, incorrect inferences, false beliefs possibly informed by trauma, emotional hurt, parenting, death of a parent, abandonment, divorce, abuse, past mistakes, criticism, etc. This is an uncomfortable reality to face, especially in this social media age in which we strive toward images of perfection. So, we adopt techniques, often acts of self-rejection, which we think will remove our “badness”. However, the internal disempowering confluence of thoughts and feelings remains there despite efforts to reject and banish them.
Self-love empowers you to get in touch with the clearest and most realistic picture of yourself at the moment, beyond your fantasies of how you should be. Accepting your strengths and resources and your challenges can be a starting point for real change based on the facts of who you are at the moment
Self-Rejection vs. Self-Love Explanation
Self-rejection, a form of self-sabotage, is generated from chronic feelings of unworthiness. When you reject, you base your self-worth on the opinions of others and then convince yourself that you are not good enough. Thereafter, you convince yourself that you are not worthy of pursuing certain opportunities or achieving specific goals, decide to quit, and/or avoid trying at all.
Self-rejection is often painted as a virtue, called humility. Humility, in reality, is the honest and grateful recognition of your gifts and uniqueness. It is the opposite of self-rejection. If your reaction to accusation or criticism is a feeling of being rejected, left alone, or abandoned and a perception that they are proof of your worthlessness and insufficiency, you have been trapped by self-rejection. When you say, “If people knew me, they wouldn’t love me,” you self-reject and idealize others.
Self-rejection is sneaky but displays signs of:
- Always comparing yourself to others.
- Isolating yourself, excessive shyness, passivity, and non-initiation in a relationship.
- Adjust your goals because of fear that you will not reach them.
- Letting others choose your path in life.
- Ignoring your true feelings and instincts.
- Constant feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, or superiority.
- Excessive attention to clothes and appearance.
- Difficulty loving or receiving love or kindness from others.
- Deep critical spirit of yourself and others.
- Perfectionistic tendencies.
- Depression and heaviness.
- Addictions, often hidden ones.
- Outward fabrications to hide defects or weaknesses.
- Extravagance in spending, in an attempt to gain admiration and acceptance.
The vicious cycle of self-rejection is a deeply toxic but surprisingly common mindset.
To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance. Oscar Wilde
Self-love is a way of relating to yourself that does not involve harshly judging or punishing yourself for every mistake or bad performance. It is a state of appreciation of oneself that grows from thoughts, feelings, and actions that support your physical, psychological and spiritual growth and well-being. In effect, it means that, at this moment, you accept yourself fully, treat yourself with kindness and respect, and nurture your growth and wellbeing as you would do for a loved one. Thus, when you visualize self-love, you imagine what you would do for, how you would talk to, and how you would feel about yourself which reflects love and concern.
Self-love is a basic human necessity – a desirable and an important part of mental health. To practice self-love, you choose the basics of:
- Regarding your happiness or well-being.
- Prioritizing your feelings and needs and not sacrificing your well-being to please others or allow them to take advantage of or abuse you.
- Being assertive and not settling for less than you deserve.
- Living by your values and making healthy choices most of the time.
- Talking to and about yourself positively with love.
- Valuing your strengths.
- Avoiding self-judgment.
- Celebrating your progress.
- Trusting yourself and seeking help when required.
- Setting healthy boundaries, spending time around supportive people.
- Holding yourself accountable but forgiving yourself when you mess up.
- Letting go of grudges or anger.
People who practice self-love know that they are flawed, make mistakes but they accept and care about themselves despite their imperfections and give themselves the same kindness that they give to others. When faced with difficult life struggles, or confronting personal mistakes, failures, and inadequacies, self-love responds with kindness rather than harsh self-judgment.
Important Approach to Ending Self-Rejection
Your mind is a garden; your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds. Steve Ellingson
The common thread that weaves through everything that you reject in yourself, is a lack of self-love. It masks itself so well that many people are not aware of the fact that it affects them. They simply disown it and refuse to acknowledge that they want approval, validation, and attention. Truth be told, nothing is wrong with these desires in and of themselves. The issue lies in not being aware of what is motivating you.
Self-love is not a destination but a daily practice. It can be as simple as changing your self-talk – showing compassion to yourself, forgiving yourself for not being perfect, parents for not parenting perfectly, those who made fun of you, and God for giving you imperfect parts in your story.
The most important approach to ending self-rejection is to become aware that you are doing it – listen critically to what you are saying too, thinking and feeling about yourself. A positive impact can be made by the Coach holding a completely non-judgmental and compassionate space for the client to tell their story, to express their desire to be seen and loved, regardless of their perceived baggage. Within that space, the Client could lovingly and truly accept what they have been hiding and let their mind refocus on positive things.
The main culprit of self-rejection is a lack of positive mirroring. The Coach, listening objectively and using powerful questions, can support the Client to reframe their mindset within the creative coaching space to mirror their strengths and other positive things while accepting the imperfect parts as part of their valuable uniqueness.
The Coach may hear the client making statements like:
- What’s wrong with me?
- I am always making mistakes.
- It’s all my fault.
- I am not good enough.
- I am so stressed.
- I always mess things up.
- I am stupid.
- I don’t deserve compassion.
The coach could follow with questions like:
- What is making you feel so stressed?
- What is the real challenge?
- If your son/daughter made that mistake, how would you treat them?
- What makes you feel that others deserve compassion and you don’t?
- What are you assuming?
- What are the other possibilities?
Becoming aware of their self-rejection and applying further reflective inquiry, the Client would be empowered to break the cycle by:
- Becoming mindful – having an open, curious, non-judging attitude; not over-identifying with negative stories about the self; listening to their body, taking breaks, doing something creative, etc.
- Acknowledging our humanity-Allowing oneself to be human, to make mistakes and learn from them; knowing that as a human being, no one is perfect or expected to act flawlessly.
- Focusing on strengths – Once they focus on their strengths they feel more energetic and satisfied with their life, believe in new possibilities, develop faster, and become more resilient in times of adversity. Think of and write down affirmative statements.
- Practicing gratitude –each day, look for things in their life and the world to be grateful for – especially when they don’t feel it – and focus on the positive, rather than the negative. Write a daily gratitude list.
- Taking actions based on need –By staying focused on what they need, they turn away from automatic behavior patterns that get them into trouble, keep them stuck in the past, and lessen self-love.
- Practicing good self-care–nourish oneself daily through healthy activities -sound nutrition, exercise, proper sleep, intimacy, and healthy social interactions. Set boundaries and protect oneself. Live intentionally with purpose and design.
- Being kind, patient, gentle, and compassionate to oneself– the way they would with those they love. Visualize their loved one being in the same situation and how they would feel – perhaps an urge to help or comfort – and then direct the compassionate mindset toward oneself.
To get started, the Client can identify one loving thing they can do for themselves – a supportive thought or action – and when they will do it. Writing it down would increase accountability and the likelihood of follow-through. Adding more loving thoughts and actions to their daily life will crowd out more self-rejecting thoughts and behaviors. With practice, self-love will become second nature.
If a list-maker, the client can list things they love about themselves. When they feel self-rejection creeping in, they can pull out the list and focus on their worthiness and capabilities. They can use their name or a second- or third-person pronoun when referring to themselves. Self-talk such as “you’ve got this,” or “you can do it,” “keep going,” can help with their confidence, strength, or endurance. They can rescript negative messages from “I can’t” to “I don’t” or include a positive spin:
“I can’t miss my walks” to “I don’t miss my walks.”
“I can’t buy bags on credit” to “I don’t buy bags on credit.”
“I am not good at this” to “Relax. You can do this”
“I don’t know what to say” to “Smile and ask questions.”
Negative statements communicate limitation or constraint while the positive spin demonstrates being in control of their thoughts and behaviors. These small linguistic changes can mean big life changes.
Self-Rejection vs. Self-Love Benefits
Despite the benefits of self-love, it is a habit people are least likely to practice. A self-loving mindset is the fuel, foundation, and positive value that leads to inner peace and good health, self-esteem, balance, and well-being. It enables resilience to withstand any challenging life event or adversity and trust for the process of change paving the way for transformation and wholeness. Self-love is much more effective in changing behavior than trying to motivate yourself with disempowering self-rejection which leads to inner rebellion.
The Airlines have got it right and always announce that it is life-saving to put on your oxygen mask before helping others. You cannot truly love anyone until you love yourself. However, it takes time and consistency to replace self-rejecting habits with life-affirming ones. You can imprint self-love into your brain by using an empowering pattern of affirmative statements like:
I am worthy of love.
I am capable.
I respect myself and others.
I am good enough.
I am worthy of compassion.
I am grateful for my capabilities and individuality.
I am exactly who and where I need to be at this moment.
Research shows that people experience faster growth and development when they nurture their strengths instead of correcting their shortcomings. Thus, staying positive and maintaining a mindset of confidence, determination, growth, and hope can help you overcome challenges. It is the marker of great character, irrespective of age. When you acknowledge your limitations but claim your unique strengths and capabilities, you will live as an equal among equals
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