The more I talk to people about their struggles, the more I realize that we all have some sense of dissatisfaction with ourselves.
I have it, and I’d be willing to bet everyone reading this does too. Consider some of the ways we’re dissatisfied with ourselves:
It affects our lives in so many ways: we might not be good at making friends, speaking in public or in a group, finding a partner, doing the work we’re passionate about, finding contentment with ourselves and our lives.
And we don’t like feeling this way, so we run. We find distraction, comfort in food or alcohol or drugs or shopping, lash out at other people when we’re feeling defensive about ourselves. It’s at the heart of nearly all of our problems.
So how do we deal with this underlying problem? The answer is profoundly simple, yet not easy.
Before I go into dealing with the problem, we should discuss something first — the idea that we need to be dissatisfied with ourselves to make life improvements.
Unhappiness with Self as a MotivatorI used to think, as many people do, that if we’re unhappy with ourselves, we’ll be driven to get better. And if we were all of a sudden content with ourselves, we’d stop doing anything.
I no longer believe this. I do think we’re often driven to make improvements because we’re dissatisfied with ourselves, and that’s not a bad thing. We have hope for something better.
You can exercise and eat healthy not because you dislike your body and want to make it better … but because you love yourself and want to inspire your family. You can do work out of love for the people it will help. You can declutter, get out of debt, read more, and meditate not because you’re dissatisfied with yourself … but because you love yourself and others.
In fact, I would argue that you’re more likely to do all of those things if you love yourself, and less likely if you dislike yourself.
Dealing with DissatisfactionWhat can we do about our continual dissatisfaction with ourselves? How do we deal with self-doubt, feeling like we’re not good enough, unhappiness with certain parts of ourselves?
It turns out that these feelings are perfect opportunities — to learn about ourselves and how to be friends with ourselves.
I recommend that you practice this each time you notice self-criticism, self-doubt, unhappiness with yourself, harshness towards what you see in yourself. It only has to take a minute, as you face what you feel and stay with it, with unconditional friendliness.
If you really want to focus on this powerful change, reflect on it once a day by journaling at the end of the day, reviewing how you did and what you can do to remember to practice.
In the end, I think you’ll find that love is a more powerful motivator than unhappiness with yourself. And I hope you’ll find a friendship with yourself that will radiate out into your relationships with everyone else you know and meet.