I struggle with this pretty frequently, and I know I am not alone in this.
Who am I? I ask that question a lot. Part of why I keep asking is because I am constantly changing — which is part of the human condition. Another reason why I ask is that I know that you probably have a different impression of me than I have of myself.
Ever hear a recording of your voice and feel like, whoa, is that really how I sound? If you hear enough recordings of your voice, you get used to how everyone else The same you. It gives you an outside impression of an aspect of yourself.
The same thing applies to photos. Ever look at a picture and wince at how you look? Again, you are seeing yourself from without.
Inside my own head, I see myself differently than how you see me. My voice is deeper, my body is stockier rather than flabby, and my hair is more pepper than salt. If I feel good about myself, then these superficial aspects you see are not terribly important.
However, if I start to see the flabby guy with the greying hair and it makes me feel bad, and I become disappointed about myself, this can begin an ugly trend that might pick up speed and spiral out to further disappointment.
I am a social person. I do a lot of things that put me out there. Between all the writing that I share, teaching fencing and a whole lot of public speaking in my medieval reenactment group I present multiple facets of who I am. But because I want people to think well of me I worry about the impressions I make.
Is there anyone who I should worry about disappointing?
It’s a universal truth that you cannot please all the people all the time. Some people are going to think I am pretty awesome. Others are going to think I am not so awesome. Still, others probably think I’m an asshole. To be fair there are probably people who think between these extremes, or frankly don’t think of me at all. I have no control over that.
Unfortunately, all too often I really wish that I did. I don’t want people to think I’m an asshole. I want people to think well of me. It matters to me that I am not a disappointment to anyone.
Why? How come this is important to me at all? Because at the root of all my fears is the ultimate fear of abandonment. The fear that I will be left to stand completely and totally alone in the world. Fear of success and fear of failure are really just surface concerns. What I fear the most is being abandoned.
Subconsciously, I think if I disappoint you, in time you’ll give up on me and walk away. So long, and thanks for all the fish. If I do not live up to my potential, all the things I share, and my ideals I will lose the people I have in my life.
Of course, in reality, this is ludicrous. But the larger issue that this causes is that I have a certain ideal I strive to live up to. I have a standard I work to maintain.
When I do not keep control of my diet, don’t get to the gym, meditate, or fully stick to my plans I end up disappointed in myself. I berate myself, I get annoyed with myself, and begin to think poorly of who I am.
Where does the disappointment come from?
I supposed I could blame certain outside influences for my feelings of disappointment. I know that certain people close to me feel I have not made the most of my life (no matter their claims to the contrary). I worry that I might let down other people who are close to me — and that while they won’t tell me I am disappointing them, I am.
Of course, there is nobody to blame, because how I feel is all on me. Mindfulness applies.
I think it’s a matter of validation. Yet in truth, I think it is more valuation than validation. The difference is that approval is not indicative of worth.
Yet, if you look at Trump, to him approval is the sign of his worth, so maybe it’s not so surprising a thing.
I have been struggling a long time with feeling worthwhile. Because I have spent so much of my life seeking validation in order to gage my valuation I disappoint myself too easily. When I become disappointed I begin to feel worthless and I question everything.
To better combat this issue, I need to re-evaluate what I think of myself. This is where self-talk is extremely important. It really is essential to think well and speak kindly to myself of who I am. When I don’t think good thoughts about myself it is inevitable that I won’t feel good feelings about myself, either.
While I sometimes find affirmations a little cheesy, that does not lessen their importance. I need to remember when I begin feeling disappointed in myself I am worthwhile and deserving of that which I desire. If I am disappointing other people, that’s not on me, because the person I need to not disappoint is myself.
Affirmation is valuation
My new affirmation, whenever I begin feeling as if I am disappointing myself, is this:
I am worthwhile, skilled, loved, and I deserve all the good things in my life.
Consciousness creates reality. I need to recognize and remember this when I am thinking poorly of myself to actively turn it around.
When you find yourself in the same struggle, I encourage you to acknowledge your own worth, recognize you deserve the good you seek in your life and know that you are not alone in this.
I can do this. So can you. We will not be disappointing anyone, ourselves included.
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you and I matter.