We all have an inner critic that sometimes robs us of our confidence and motivation. Difficult situations can become overwhelming if we beat ourselves up about them. Traumatic experiences, failing to accomplish goals, and dwelling on mistakes can trigger a lot of guilt, shame, and self-loathing.
When we anchor our worth and happiness on open loops – the promises made to oneself or others that haven’t yet been fulfilled though they live in our minds rent-free – neglecting ourselves becomes an attractive way to disconnect from reality.
In the first part of this article, I shared some action steps to navigate adversity. Here is the continuation of my guide to evolving from self-neglect to self-respect.
Take the antidotes for guilt and shame.
Action and compassion from an objective point of view.
You can’t change your past, but you also don’t know how your story ends. Rationalize your perfectionist thoughts. Stop fighting against your flaws and expectations. Psychologist Kristin Neff says there are three components of self-compassion:
- Mindful acceptance; being in the present moment.
- Connection to humanity; acknowledging that being imperfect is part of being human.
- And self-kindness; treating ourselves as we treat a good friend versus doing it with harsh self-judgment.
Do a good deed.
According to La’Ve Jackson, “you can be the product of an act of kindness.”
Just like that person who encouraged me to shower again, you can be the change for someone else too. You never know how you can impact a person’s day or life by doing something kind. Do a good deed for someone who doesn’t look like you, who wouldn’t hang in your circle, and be a vehicle for the change of others.
Write a daily list of the things you’re grateful for. Thank your source of faith for the small things we take for granted in life, such as sleeping in a bed, having running water, or putting on clean clothes. Many people don’t have access to these things. Your grass is also green.
Be the closure you need.
Your happiness isn’t in the hands of anyone else but you.
That closure you didn’t get because someone ghosted, died, or cheated on you? You can give it to yourself. When grieving is done, it’s time to close the open loops in your brain of the situations that made you unhappy. Reconcile what happened. Your best closure is self-acceptance.
There is hope if your soul is broken because of a disease, addiction, or disgrace.
Complex circumstances don’t have quick solutions, yet you can find light in the darkness one day at a time. Evolving from self-neglect to self-respect requires a multi-level approach that comes from within. As Lola Davina says “Hating yourself doesn’t make you better at your job, help you lose weight, or clear up your skin.” Nevertheless, it’s a turning point in your life that can serve as the fuel to build a better version of yourself. The version that needed all the self-love you’ve denied yourself thus far.