Go Easy On Yourself

The last few days have been weird for me.

Why?

Well, you see, this blog is really starting to take off and I’m suddenly interacting with a lot of new people in ways I’d never anticipated. It’s awesome, but also really weird. And, being me, that feeling has made me do a lot of thinking.

At the forefront of this malestrom of thoughts is an idea that can be perfectly summed up in a tweet from a couple of days ago. I’ll show you:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Weird, right? I think it’s so strange that people often see us in a way that’s completely from how we see ourselves. So I figured I’d write about it.

Now, originally, I’d planned on examining that idea and then using the contrasting viewpoints to discuss being mindful when dealing with those around us. My thought was that, by examining our feelings toward ourselves, we could find a way to be more lenient with others. But I couldn’t do it. The words just wouldn’t come.

That’s because I was approaching the idea from the wrong angle.

So, welcome to post version 2.0. It’s strictly about how we perceive ourselves.

Now, as I was trying to write that first post, I kept coming back to the story of the above Tweet. In relation to the blog, I really do see myself as just some guy who thinks a lot and writes about those thoughts during his breaks at work. But as I kept thinking I came to this question: “How do I actually see myself?”

Well, overall, I think I’m pretty cool. I have a quick, sarcastic sense of humor, I love my family, and I’m loyal to a fault when I care about someone or something.

But wait, there’s that word.

Fault.

Man, I have a lot of those. I have a quick temper. I carry a lot of anger that I don’t know quite how to deal with. I can be a little (or a lot) arrogant. I have an annoying body image problem and very low self-esteem. Honestly, the list of problems I can find with myself goes on for much, much longer than a similar list of good things. And  that’s pretty messed up. But I think it’s how many, if not most, of us are.

I mean, how often do we get wrapped up in our own perceived faults? For that matter, how often do we punish ourselves by actively reinforcing those perceptions, using them against ourselves in ways that would horrify us if applied to someone we love? If you’re anything like me, the answer is probably “too often.”

So today I want to remind you of something:

Perceptions are often wrong.

This is especially true when it comes to how we perceive ourselves. I know that sometimes we feel like we deserve the abuse we heap on ourselves, but we don’t. In those moments, what we need is to take a step back and allow ourselves space to grow.

But how do we do that?

Well, I think the answer is literally written on my wall.

The Anger Iceberg! Imagine trumpets or something playing while you look at it.

I give you the “Anger Iceberg.” It hangs on my living room wall with other helpful pictures and quotes in what my wife and I have dubbed the “mental health corner”, and was given to me a couple of years ago by the therapist I was seeing at the time.

Now, I know it’s a little goofy, but the point it expresses is, I think, important. The next time you notice yourself slipping into that negative headspace, try to take a step back and see what the root of that feeling is. It seems a little simplistic, but, let me tell you, it works.

For example, I frequently get trapped in the idea that I am somehow a failure  because I’m not where I think I “should” be in my life– both financially and in regards to my career. Let’s apply the iceberg to that scenario.

For me, that feeling of failure stems from a much deeper worry that I will somehow fail to ensure that my wife (who is on her own mental health journey and is the bravest person I have ever met), has a safe, comfortable place to live. Understanding this, I can take a further step back and acknowledge that, in fact, we have a great place to live, that both of us have great jobs, and that there’s really no reason for me to be upset with myself. Simple, right? I have applied this technique in all kinds of situations and I don’t think it’s ever failed me. Often the answer turns out to be that I need to grow in some way, but every time I apply this technique I end up feeling better.

So I invite you to try it for yourself. The next time you notice that you’re beating yourself up, or find that you’re viewing yourself in a negative light, apply the iceberg. Go deeper. And if that doesn’t help, go deeper still. Eventually you’ll find the source. And with understanding, comes peace.

Thanks for reading, you’ve got this,

-Ian

28 thoughts on “Go Easy On Yourself

  1. This post is thought provoking for me! I really enjoyed reading it. After every paragraph I had to pause to soak in all that you were saying. We can be out worst critic because of the perceptions we have about ourselves. Yes we have positive ones, but those negative ones are right there too! And I realize for me that once I start with the negative, I sometimes get lost in that perception if I am not too careful.

    Such a great post. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can really relate to this a lot and I agree we are so critical of ourselves when we would never dream of being so critical of others. We should treat ourselves as a friend we care about and definitely be kinder to ourselves too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing the anger iceberg is a new one for me. It reminds me a bit of techniques to practice gratitude, though I like the approach to think of the source for the feeling.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, this post really hit me. I am happy to hear that your blog is growing and you are connecting with new people, that is so exciting and you deserve it! I am sort of in the same boat and I feel the way you do, it is nice of course, but it is also weird. I definitely need to apply the iceberg next time I feel this way, as you suggested. That is such a great idea!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I totally agree with recognizing that we are looking through a perspective and we need to remind ourselves of that. Sometimes, taking a step back and looking at things from the other person’s perspective or “objectively” helps so much. It’s so easy for me to get wrapped up in my own perspective and be hard on myself. Thanks for a good read!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Self-knowledge and self-compassion are so important that I feel like we should get classes on them at school! Thank you for sharing this. I’m really glad to hear your blog is taking off, too!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Interesting post to read, and it got me wondering how people view me, especially through my blog. People will probably see me in a completely different way than I see myself, and it is strange to consider.

    The uncomfortable but needed realisation that the way we perceive ourselves is often wrong is something I needed to read. I like your iceberg exercise and the fact that you have a ‘mental health corner’. I will keep the iceberg technique in mind the next time I find myself in a negative mindset. Thank you for sharing. šŸ˜Š

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Ian, I absolutely love this post. Your words are so relatable. We really are our own worst critics. What you said about perceptions often being totally off-base is 100% true. It applies to ourselves and to others. We see through a lens of learning history. If our learning history is poor, our perceptions will also be poor and colored through the lies we’ve been taught or believe. It sucks, honestly. We are far too often held back by something that doesn’t even exist to begin with!

    I love that the Anger Iceberg encourages us to dig deeper into the ‘why’ behind how we feel. You brilliantly said it — oftentimes, it’s just another opportunity for growth. (even though growing can be painful!)

    Brilliant post. Love your thinking, Ian. Thank you for sharing yourself with all of us. I’ve shared and hope others will come and read your words. Congratulations on all your success. That’s awesome!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, thank you so much! I’m so glad you found my writing relatable, that’s my ultimate goal! And thank you for sharing! I really appreciate it šŸ˜Š

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is such an interesting post – I love reading things that get me to carry on thinking after I’ve read it and this is definitely one of them. I’m now thinking of how people perceive me ahah x

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ah, we are getting used to not beating ourselves up on a regular basis. It’s hard when you work in TV or theatre – you’re always worried about what people will think about your performance; were you truthful enough, were you engaging enough, were you different enough or simply were you good enough to be on that set or in that show…! And we have to remind ourselves that we have worked hard to be here. Very hard and we owe it to ourselves to be kind, generous and loving to ourselves and others around us. It’s good to learn that we are all in the same kind of boat and that we all should learn to be better to ourselves. Thanks for your musings Ian. Hope you’ve have a wonderful day x

    Liked by 1 person

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