Thursday 31 January 2019

How to stop putting yourself down


I used to put myself down a lot in front of other people. So often in fact, that it became a dirty habit I couldn't break; a defence mechanism I used to shield off criticism from anyone I was talking to. Any belief in myself ran for the hills when faced with a group of people, or even one other person. If I criticised myself, if I got in there first then surely people wouldn't feel the need to do so themselves, right? Wrong. 

I'm rubbish. 
I'm useless. 
I make so many mistakes. 
I can't do anything right. 
Why does this always happen to me? 

In the last few years I've quit this negative self-talk and stopped apologising for who I am as a person, taking the blame for anything that isn't my fault, saying sorry needlessly, running myself down for the sake of it. I'm the kind of girl who does believe in herself but has always struggled with a seabed of insecurities that strangle all that self-belief into twisted weeds of doubt and uncertainty. During my early twenties, no matter how much I psyched myself up, I'd still wind up smashing down all my self-esteem in front of other people. Many things ebbed away my self-belief and confidence, one of the most prominent being all the bullying I suffered within office jobs, which I spoke about frankly in my last post. Treated like a dogsbody, naive schoolgirl and general punchbag when anyone was feeling like taking their stress out on me, any pride I had in myself vanished. I found it tough to hold my head up high or to ever utter a good word about myself to anyone. 

A turning point came in my early-twenties when I was heading off on a work training day at a local hotel. "You're so disorganised, just useless!" One colleague at my work sniped at me, as always enjoying the satisfaction of running me down in front of the whole office as she pointed out that I wasn't taking any notepads or pens with me in preparation for the meeting (funnily enough, they provided us with notepads and pens, so her pathetic stab in the back was all for nothing). Her comment hurt but I tried to laugh it off as I always did because I used to put up with crap like that, it was par for the course. The training day was a tedious waste of time, we sat in stuffy conference rooms and I didn't enjoy the droning on of so called "professionals" nor did I enjoy the lunch we all sat down with, feeling excluded and lonely like I so often did in that job role. Ignored and overlooked with nothing to add to the conversation and a tendency to be treated like a school kid just because I was a lot younger than most of the people there. 

But during an ice breaker challenge one woman treated me like an actual human being, another adult. 'What do you do?' She asked in a friendly and calm manner. 'I'm just an admin assistant," I waved a hand dismissively in the manner I always used when asked questions about myself. "No, you don't do that", she said in a firm but kind manner. "You are not just anything. We don't "just". Saying "just" gives people the right to disregard you." She made me say it again. "I'm an admin assistant". Her words struck a real chord with me. I realised that all I did was disregard and disrespect myself when I spoke about who I was to people. Whenever anyone asked about my blog I'd tell them "it's a load of rubbish really, nothing special". Even though I didn't mean it. Even though I was very proud of my blog. Courage evaded me when it came down to portraying a confident stance in view of other people, an absolute impossibility. I realised things needed to change. 

Another bad habit I'd gotten into was slagging myself down when other people criticised themselves. If a person I was chatting to said "I'm so bad at this or so bad at that,' I'd immediately bat back a criticism of myself their way, just to make them feel better. But I came to realise that I was only destroying more of my self-worth under an audience not to mention giving people a free-pass to see all my flaws for free. Laying out all my insecurities and vulnerabilities on the table for anyone to pick their way through should they fancy. 
Feeling like a failure at my favourite magazine
A dream opportunity arose around this time but unfortunately it quickly turned sour. An opportunity to work for my (then) favourite magazine on the fashion and beauty team. My anxiety got on top of me, not helped by the bitchy, scathing attitude of the women I was working with. Instead of realising their cattiness was the problem, the experience unleashed a torrent of self-hate and doubt on my behalf which took a long time to recover from. Now I look back and wish I'd called them out on their rudeness and stuck to my guns. The more time passes for me, the more I realise I'm not going to apologise for who I am anymore. Past experiences have made me feel worthless, hapless, useless, untalented and like an absolute failure. But I know I am none of those things. I have to work hard on self-love, self-confidence and self-esteem, it's a rocky journey but one I won't let mislead me any further up the wrong path. 

"You need to stop putting yourself down"
A colleague said to me, as advice for the future when a temporary job was coming to a close. I thought this was quite rich, seeing as during this short-term position they'd told me numerous times that (despite offering zero-training) I needed to be more confident, that I didn't "bullshit" people enough on the phone, that I was all but useless at the job before making the body shaming comment about me having no boobs. She then proceeded to joke about me "hiding behind the computer" as a form of confidence when talking about my blog. Is it any wonder that we struggle to maintain a confident outlook on life when there are so many people like that ready to trip us down? This point in my life was a terrible time, I was in the process of seeking counselling for a near-breakdown and spent a lot of time crying in the toilets because I just couldn't cope. But another bad experience gave me more strength, and sometimes we need bad moments to allow us the courage to carry on and be all the stronger for it in the long-run. 

No more self-hate
These days when I speak to people about my blog I don't tell them it's a load of rubbish, I tell them I love running it. If someone compliments me on my outfit I'll hand them a blog card, say there's no obligation but as they like what I'm wearing they'll probably enjoy my blog too. If people ask me what I'm doing I can happily engage with them about what dreams I'm following, safe in the knowledge that no apologies or explanations are necessary other than the ones I choose to give. If someone slags themselves off in front of me, I'll try and uplift them without putting myself down in the process. And most importantly, I realise all the difficult experiences I've had aren't a reflection of my worth or talent. They are simply bad experiences that don't reflect on my abilities or personality. I can keep my head up high most days, finally confident and carefree in who I am and what I do. We don't deserve to hate ourselves, criticise ourselves or put ourselves down - our short lives deserve so much more value and joy than that. 

How do we stop putting ourselves down in view of other people? 

Lose words and terms like "failure", "useless", "not good enough", "not pretty enough", "this always happens" from your vocabulary. When things go wrong in life it's hard not to blame yourself, drown under negativity and/or a lack of confidence in your abilities, personality or worth. Replace negative terms with "a bad experience doesn't define me", "I AM good enough", "I AM pretty enough", "I AM worthy enough", "these are bad experiences I will learn from, they won't break me down". It takes time to shift into a more positive gear, but once you keep repeating these mantras, they'll become natural. 

A lot of people are out to criticise, but usually it's because they are insecure themselves. Keep in mind that their words don't reflect your worth - nor are they true. During CBT my counsellor told me to remind myself in a cloud of criticism that it's simply an opinion, not a fact. Stand strong in who you are and what you're doing, mostly the critic won't be anyone important to you, so why should their opinion matter? 

Keep your head up high if you find someone is making you feel run-down and low about yourself. Often we are made to feel apologetic or arrogant when we are passionate about chasing our dreams and leading our lives. We should feel neither. Being confident and assured in following your path isn't vain or conceited, it's a natural necessity to accomplish what you want and go for it. Remaining firm and reminding ourselves and those around us if they doubt us of our worth and capabilities is so important. If anyone criticises, patronises or doubts us an almost immediate reaction is to feel guilty or worthless in the face of that criticism. Use it as fuel to be even more set in stone about who you are, and don't apologise for it either. 
Try and bottle up all the confidence you have and all the wonderful things you feel about yourself on more positive days. Picture unscrewing the bottle on those negative days when you find that you are projecting doubt and criticising yourself in front of others. You don't deserve to doubt yourself. 

You don't owe anyone an explanation, an apology, a sorry or an excuse about who you are or what you are in this world. And in turn, nobody owes to make you feel bad, guilty or discouraged about yourself. "I am proud of who I am", "I won't apologise for being who I want". "I love myself unconditionally". 

Remember on those negative days: 

I'm talented, strong, brave  
I'm worthy, loved, important 
I learn from bad experiences 
I am trying my best & doing well 
Ups and downs won't stop me 

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  1. Such an empowering post queen!! I'm so glad that you have grown in confidence and can see your worth. When I was younger I used to put up with all kinds of crap from people and didn't have much confidence, now I'm a right diva and take no crap off of nobody! Girl power!! x

  2. Thank you for writing this post :') I'm definitely going to remember this every time I feel down or someone else tries to bring me down! They won't win! I won't let them :D

  3. I love this, I find it is a really hard habit to break and I wish I was kinder to myself considering my inner monologue is usually scathing and self-directed. Also what a horribly rude woman! You are absolutely not useless and I am happy to hear you are being kinder to yourself, great advice and points mentioned here, thank you for sharing really enjoyed this xxx

    ALittleKiran | Bloglovin

  4. I loved this post. I'm always really hard on myself, so I need to practice some of these for sure xx

    Gemma Etc. ❤️

  5. I'm currently working on a motivational Monday post which touches on this topic. I used to be that person as well my dear Sophie. It did not help me one bit. I'm still a work in progress, but thank God I'm not where I used to be. Thanks so much for the motivation. You're such a beauty. :-)

  6. I love this post so much Sophie because you are empowering yourself in so many ways! Listening to motivational pod casts have helped me so much in this area. I want to share something with you that really impacted me in such a way that my outlook on who I am changed to a much brighter light, a shining light. In one of the Tony Robbins pod casts he had a brilliant mad who said, "You are not your story." Meaning your story is something that happened in your life, but the essence of who you are is not that. Isn't that brilliant? I loved it so much, and I would highly recommend the pod casts to you if you haven't listened to it already. It's truly remarkable. How's your February going? I hope it's fantastic! Loved your outfit posts recently Sophie, you look beautiful! Talk soon and keep up your amazing writing, you inspire us all.


  7. This is such a positive post I love it!

  8. A great post and so well written Sophie. I used to talk myself down all the time and it becomes a habit that's hard to break. I still find myself doing it sometimes, but now at least I realise what I am doing and make a conscious effort to stop and turn it around. x

    Kate Louise Blogs

  9. The woman you got talking to in a previous role sounds lovely, and how great she managed to help you on your journey to stop talking yourself down! I'm sure we're all guilty of doing this in some way or another! Wise words, babe :) Hope you're having a fabulous week so far!

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice | Worldwide Giveaway: Hotel Chocolat Valentine's Heart Chocolate Box! x

  10. Wow your collegue at your old work sounds absolutely horrendous! No one deserves to get spoken down to, especially in a situation where you can't really talk back or do anything about it. I'm glad that things have gotten a lot better though, and I love this post - if there's one thing that I also need to really work on, its putting myself down.

    Have a great rest-of-week :)
    Amy x Wandering Everywhere

  11. I am so bad at it! Even though I am a very confident person I still put myself down many times! Thanks for sharing these tips :)
    Happy Saturday!

  12. In my late thirties and still doing it...
    Lovely article !

  13. Wonderful post babe. You are right in everything you say Trust me when people put you down it is because they have to make others feel bad in order to feel better about themselves and those same people are not important to you. So their opinions do not matter. Surround yourself with positivity and only those who love you matter, and believe me they will always make you feel amazing. That is a good indication on who really matters in your life. I also struggled with people's opinions but no more I no longer take rubbish from anyone. I grew up knowing that I was not good enough no matter how much I did It turned me into a perfectionist and also a very insecure human being but a stroke made me realise that I need to love myself and the world made me feel bad because those people did not have the same talents as me Those people were jealous and envied that I was who I am Those people are unhappy and trust me never change yourself to make anyone happy because some people are never going to be happy no matter how much you do and try so don't even try. People who love you will appreciate you for who you are and will make you feel valued. Thanks for the tips here I am also trying to remind myself about keeping positive it is a learning process that really changes our lives and give us confidence. Have a wonderful weekend xoxo Cris