It is difficult to accept your weaknesses in a world where perfectionism and the cult of individual success triumph.
In a world where perfectionism and the cult of individual success triumph, it is difficult to accept yourself with all your weaknesses. There is always something that is “not enough” in yourself: not smart enough, not talented enough, not brave enough.
Psychotherapist Ekaterina Sigitova writes in her book “Recipe for Happiness”: “Acceptance is the harmonious appropriation and recognition of all one’s properties, aspects and characteristics (psychological, physical, philosophical), as well as choices, behavior and their consequences, both good and bad” . Acceptance helps you feel whole, release your worries, deal with setbacks better, and trust yourself.
Together with Ekaterina Sigitova, Alpina Publisher launched a free course in six letters on self-acceptance and offers five psychologist’s tips on how to make friends with your Inner Monster.
The Inner Monster is the personification of a set of “bad” qualities, everything that we consider unworthy in ourselves. Almost all of us have it. We call him a monster, because it allegedly does not at all look like the “real” us – people deprived of these qualities. But in fact, these very qualities complement our personality.
People tend to hide traits and habits they don’t like about themselves. For example, a shy person would rather stay at home than go to a party.
This is not cowardice, but a defensive reaction: we deliberately avoid stressful situations. We convince ourselves that laziness, greed, irascibility, fussiness are not peculiar to us, but to the Inner Monster. It can be “closed” deep inside and not shown to anyone. But sooner or later it breaks out. An unloved quality appears, and we experience guilt, shame.
Accepting yourself means acknowledging that the Inner Monster is an integral part of you. To begin with, you can observe yourself: what exactly irritates and angers you in yourself. This stage can be difficult, as it is very unpleasant to notice qualities that we consider weaknesses. But in the future, these efforts will pay off. When you identify your “bad” qualities, get used to them, they will no longer cause negative emotions.
See When Your Weaknesses Show Up
Any trait or feature is a consequence of past events or circumstances. If a person is secretive and sees a catch in everything, perhaps in the past someone betrayed his trust. The other feels insecure and cannot make decisions on his own. Maybe because his parents were very protective of him and he was not used to living on his own.
After getting to know your Inner Monster, think: when and why does this or that quality arise? The goal is not to find “guilty” or justify yourself. It is to understand the root cause. See that once “bad” traits were necessary for your well-being. This is called “emotional validation” – recognizing that an emotion, quality or action had a basis.
When you recognize your special quality and determine where it came from, you can relate to it without much rejection. There will be a stage of “calming down”. The main thing to do at this stage is not to resist.
If you notice laziness in yourself, try to be lazy for your own pleasure without remorse. If you realize that you are complaining a lot, allow yourself this too. When we deny a part of ourselves and try to fight it, we spend a lot of energy. Stop fighting and you may find that you have more energy than you thought.
Replace negative thoughts with neutral ones
It’s hard to stop criticizing yourself. Most likely, negative thoughts and attitudes will arise in your head: “I’m worthless”, “I’ve been disgraced again”, “How can you be such a mess”. The problem is that they are programming you to behave accordingly. If a person sincerely believes that he always gets into trouble, they will definitely find him.
Cognitive-behavioral therapists have come up with a technique that helps you quickly reformulate negative thoughts. It will help turn criticisms into realistic facts about yourself.
The essence of the practice is simple. Every time you notice negative thoughts about yourself, write them down and try to reformulate them. Instead of describing yourself as “I’m shy,” describe your behavior as “I was modest today.” Do not use hyper generalizations (“always”, “never”, “terrible”, “always me”), negatives, and “castrating” verbs (“stop”, “stop”). And don’t try to guess what other people think of you. No one has yet learned to read minds.
Cultivate your counterweights
So, you got to know your Inner Monster well, got used to it and stopped resisting. At this stage, come up with another character that will represent a different part of your personality. Let it be the Good Fairy or the Wise Witcher.
When you start criticizing yourself again, call on a new character to help, say words of support to yourself. Try to look at what you consider your weaknesses from a different angle – it may turn out that sometimes these qualities are actually useful.