How Not to Hate Yourself

Kate-hairTwo years ago, I wrote a blog post called “How I Stopped Hating My Husband, and You Can Too.” It is still getting comments to this day, because people are Googling “I hate my husband.” As sad as the thought of people typing “I hate myself” into a search box is, it happens. And I hope this post will help when it does. If you found this because you searched “I hate myself,” welcome, you’re in the right place.

I have a love/hate relationship with my hair. Curly since the day it first appeared, it never went into smooth, shiny pigtails in elementary school, or feathered in middle school, or tossed effortlessly over my shoulder in high school or college.

I made a kind of peace with it as an adult, even as I continually toyed with the cut. It’s been short, long, and everything in between at least three times in the two decades. Then I had my second child and turned 40, and my hair changed. It got finer, crispier. Certain sections lost their curl. It took me five years to find a style that suited this new entity.

And then last week, we were in San Francisco. My husband and I each used to live there—separately, at different times—long ago. So there were lots of reunions with old friends. We had dim sum and rode cable cars with my first boss, the one who taught me how to edit, how to write, and how to keep reaching until I really nailed a story. By this point, I had taken so many pictures on my phone that it was out of memory. So we took a picture of the two of us on his phone and he emailed it to me once we were home.

My hair looked crazy.

There was a time I would have seen an unflattering photo of myself and gotten that pit in my stomach. You know the one. The one where you aren’t good enough. Where it’s kind of sad that you were walking around thinking everything was cool when really, it wasn’t cool at all. You weren’t cool at all. I would have carried that uncool feeling around for days and questioned the entire rest of the trip – was I really not as cute or having as much fun as I thought? Was I just a frizzy-haired fool?

Because that’s what humans do—we take one little thing that’s not the way we’d like it to be or imagined it to be, and we make it mean something big and bad about who we are. As if we are defined by our hair. Or our panty line. Or our poochy stomach. Or our double chin.

I mean, I can’t lie. Looking at that photo of us on the sidewalk outside the fortune cookie museum in Chinatown, I did get that pit in my stomach for about a minute. (Old reactions die hard—it’s how you work with those reactions that changes.) (Click to Tweet!)

And I sat with it for a minute. I let myself feel it—the cold heaviness like I’d eaten too much ice cream. I didn’t close up and I didn’t push it away. And you know what? It melted. Disappeared. And instead of looking at that picture of myself and thinking, “What a clueless ninny you are, thinking you looked perfectly cute when you had a tumbleweed on your head,” I thought, “I had a bad hair day!” Which, you can’t hear my tone as I type this, wasn’t judgy. It was happy. As in, “Phew! This was an isolated incident!,” as opposed to, “There is something wrong with me deep in my core!”

Really, the most important step—and sometimes the only one you need to take—in not believing the mean things you think about yourself is giving yourself the space to objectively see a) what your thoughts about yourself are, and b) how those thoughts make you feel. Then you simply allow the feeling. You don’t have to wallow in it or torture yourself with it. It may just be a few moments of being in that place. But once you do, the feeling begins to transform, all on its own. You see that you do not equal your thoughts and then, poof, the thoughts dissipate like a cloud. It couldn’t be simpler.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy. After all, you’ve been listening to those thoughts for a good long time, and remembering to take even a few moments to be still is challenging. But it is completely and 100% possible for you to do it.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “I’d like to stop believing some of the not-nice things I’ve been thinking about myself.” Or, “I’d like to get better at pausing and listening so I can remember what’s really true and what isn’t,” come join me next week for Kate’s Reboot Camp.

This six-week online class is a great combination of self-paced learning and personal support. It’s my way of making all the major points I cover with my private coaching clients accessible and affordable. It is designed to help you reboot your connection to You – the wisest, bravest, most loving part of yourself who is always with you, yet who needs quiet to be heard and practice to be understood.

Make this your own personal summer of love and come fall in love with You! Class starts Monday. You’ll be so happy you did (and if you aren’t, there’s a money back guarantee!).

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