Self-love is overrated 

How many times have you heard that you have to love yourself?

Worse, that you have to learn to love yourself first, as if without this magical substructure, little else is possible.

Some stretch the friendship further, demanding you love yourself unconditionally.

Unconditionally? Is that even possible, desirable?

For example, in the middle of a mess that I’ve made by not acting soon enough, which upends my world but also those who depend on me for whatever reasons (stability, security) – should I love myself? Not necessarily. I can resent myself. I can resent myself and care. I can resent myself and still rebuild.

What about the wo/man who deliberately deliberately setting up a friend? Or the psychopath slowly and deliberately executing a colleague’s fall? Should they love themselves? No. Get thee to a nunnery, they should admonish themselves. Get help. Go.

To those who love themselves I would like to say ‘wow how great’ but I don’t know if it is. I need more information.

I assume that a degree of self like, that includes reproof when needed, allows us to get on with things. But I’ve seen too many people walk away from the ruins without a backward glance, because they’ve convinced themselves it’s okay, they’re okay. And I think this is why self-love is on the nose for me.

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Why you should doubt yourself

Therefore certainty is not only something of no use but is also in fact damaging, if we value reliability. Carlo Rovelli

We seem so desperate to know things ‘for certain’.

I think there are many reasons why.

At the nice end, ‘knowing’ is an anchor that gives us a sense of ground, even if it’s illusory. We need that. It helps us navigate ambiguity and provided we’re open to reassessing ideas as more evidence emerges or as we’re impacted by experience that’s okay.

The problem is when we attach to being certain or confuse our sense of self with being right. That’s one of the more destructive sides of being human. We need to know, to be right and then: to assert that rightness.

You see it in relationships where people who loved each other wake up one day to find that they have dug trenches around that need and created a no-man’s land instead of a life between them.

Or on the contrary, when we cling to an earlier idea about the other, who or what they should be (our idea of them really) refusing to recognize that we, or they, or circumstances, have changed.

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Try real over ‘positive’

Like so many platitudes there is some value to: be positive.

It suggests that the way we view life impacts our experience and that is borne out by research.

Shawn Achor shows that knowing someone’s circumstances predicts as little as 10 per cent of their long-term happiness, wellbeing is largely determined by what we make of things. Achor believes that being authentically positive creates a ‘happiness advantage’ that increases intelligence and creativity.

It’s destructive when ‘be positive’ is used as a catch-all-cure-all with no bearing on the circumstances of the person who is reaching out for support, which is challenging enough for most people as it is.

Say you’re struggling with a complex project that keeps getting derailed. What you need is insight, advice, and suggestions on how you might approach it differently and instead you get: just be positive. How useless.

Chin up darling, solider on.

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Why you should love your flaws

A friend told me about an exhibition she went to recently where the artist had created an installation by weaving together the responses of people to questions about their fears.

Freed by anonymity to express what they truly felt, the work was a poignant tale about a fragile species, compensating for its vulnerability with defenses and masks.

Not surprisingly old and young, women and men, corporates, labourers, poor, rich echoed the same moving narrative: we are afraid of being real.

Although we are all imperfect we live in a world that demands it be reigned in, tempered, hidden away.

Ironic that others ask us for perfection, which they cannot provide.

There are many reasons why we hide feelings.

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