One of the roadblocks that many people face on the path to happiness is self downing. In Self downing you believe that you are not good enough. This in some sets of a chain reaction of irrational demands leading to unhealthy negative emotions and self defeating behaviours.
A simple thumb rule to know that a demand you are making from yourself is irrational by noting if the statement echoing in your head has a must in it. This is what Albert Ellis called “Musterbation” A few patterns of musterbation often seen are
- I must be more successful
- I should be more skilful
- I must be more popular
- I must not fail
- I must be better than I am
These demands lead to being
- Ashamed about what we see as our lack of success
- Embarrassed about what we see as our lack of competence
- Afraid of what other people think of us
- Afraid to attempt some of the things we want to do
- Depressed because of our “un-worthiness”
The cure for self downing is not self elevation but self acceptance. You can achieve self acceptance if you change your demands into preferences. Add to the preference a second part which negates the demand you are making on your self. Usually the two parts of your thought will be joined by the word “but”. Moving along with the examples which I presented above, an alternative to each of the demands would be
- I would prefer to be more successful but it is not a must that I be more successful.
- I would like to be more skilful but there is no proof that I have to be more skilful.
- It would be nice to be more popular but it is OK if I am not popular.
- I don’t want to fail but I am human and at times I can fail.
- There are some things about me that I would like to improve but there is no proof that I must improve those things.
If you are thinking easier said than done then you are right but with practice it becomes easier. Remember the objective here is to give yourself a leeway without giving up on yourself. Once you have broken the wall of demandingness the path to self acceptance becomes more achievable.
Photo: I am stronger, Teen Depression by Hopeless Lavender