Friday, March 4, 2011

How We Hate Ourselves

I have a confession to make: I entered the career field of social work partially because I don't like myself.

I do love helping and empowering people and improving my community, but that is only the surface level of the story. The deeper aspect is that I've struggled with a controlling sense of guilt for as long as I can remember and I felt that I needed to spend my life being punished or making atonement. I don't know why I feel guilty; that is puzzle that will take years to solve. What I do know is that, for most of my life, I've felt that I don't deserve more than to be a poorly paid doormat for society's neediest members.

Self hatred is a sneaky bastard. It hides behind noble causes such as a career of service and destroys it's victims from behind a mask. It takes on personas such as a strong drive for success or attention, criticism of others, and dependent relationships. It is for this reason that many of us spend our lives hiding under a blanket of self hatred without even realizing it.  We may spend years subtly hurting ourselves or unconsciously believing that we don't deserve anything better.

The self injury awareness group FirstSigns notes,  "People find their own unique ways to hurt themselves." We hurt ourselves by overworking, severe diets, and allowing others to push us around. Self hatred could take the form of denying ourselves something we enjoy or becoming so enmeshed in a romantic relationship that we no longer have a personality of our own.

My career choice is an example of how self hatred can lead us astray. I'm going to continue with this job, but in the mean time I'm exploring a field that makes me feel fulfilled and is good for me: art. Sometimes my art is really selfish, but it is so good for me. It's like standing on a mountain breathing fresh air instead of sitting inside smoking a cigarette. It's another step toward true self love.

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