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Do you constantly make derogatory remarks about yourself?

I do. Honestly most of the women I know who have been in narcissistic relationships have a terrible habit of tearing themselves down. It’s like now that we are free of the narcissist we feel the need to be our own abusers. On Veteran’s Day, I had lunch with my husband (fondly referred to by friends and family as 2.0). While eating, I remembered I needed to make the house payment so after lunch instead of coming home I turned the opposite direction to go to the credit union.

I was confused at the empty parking lot until it hit me. The credit union was closed for the holiday. I texted my husband – Ha, ha. Stupid me! Came to pay the house payment and they’re closed. DUH!

Even as I am sharing this I am calling myself names in my head. The one label I haven’t used is healing from abuse. Self-esteem issues abound after divorce, and I have them in spades.

Why Do We Do It?

I think that most of us tear ourselves down for one or more of the following reasons –

  • We want to do it before someone else does because it’s less painful.
  • We do it because it’s what we know, and we are comfortable with it.
  • We are terribly afraid of someone thinking we are full of ourselves.
  • We believe it to be true.

If you’ve been told in verbal or nonverbal ways, or both, that you aren’t attractive, smart, or capable for a period of time by someone who is important in your life you accept it. I have accepted that my hair is dark, my eyes are a weird green color, I am not very attractive, and not very capable of doing anything important.

In My Opinion…

I can only say that husband number two seems to find me somewhat attractive–and by somewhat I mean … never mind what I mean. My hair is dark thanks to my colorist, and my eyes are green-hazel which means that most of the time they look like fresh cow manure in my opinion. I make a living as a writer and have published books. How important the books are is largely a matter of opinion. 

And that, my friends, is the crux of the thing.

It’s all about the opinion and opinions can be changed–just observe a politician of any party. Are you still using your ex’s perception of you as your own opinion of yourself?

How Do We Stop

So we have a habit of entertaining a poor opinion of ourselves. We know habits can be broken, and opinions can be changed–it’s certainly not easy, but it’s doable.

Change Your Inner Babble

When you do something you don’t like or when you make a mistake be gentle on yourself. No more stupid me! Really, was it that big of a deal? Wouldn’t it be better to say, oh they’re closed! I’ve been so busy it slipped my mind!

Begin to encourage yourself. Encourage yourself out loud and do it often!

Develop a Few Close Friends

My friends know I am not perfect, and they love me in spite of this, or, I should say, because of this (I almost said, go figure). They are honest, and I know it. I can call any one of them to talk to when I am depressed or struggling. They see me as worthy, capable, attractive, and so on, so when I am with them, I tend to see myself through their eyes.

Extend Grace to Yourself

This hit me hard this morning. I am a perfectionist. I like my house to be immaculate (ha ha) and I used to be much more organized than I am now. I tell my husband often that he got what the ex left of me when he was done–not very appealing, right?

Well, truthfully my husband loves me as I am now. He has never known me any other way. Obviously he wasn’t expecting perfection when he married me. At the same time, I suspect he has some of the same feelings. We have a less extravagant lifestyle than he did previously. I know he’d like to be able to do some of the things he and his ex-wife used to. I could care less–I love him for who he is now.

See what I did there? I held myself to a higher standard. It is OK for my husband to be lower key in some areas but not me. That’s wrong! I am who I am now, doing the best I can now.

And that’s good enough.

Don’t Compare

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else–not even your old self. You are who you are, and your life experience brought you to this point.

I will never be the organized homemaker and home-school mom that I once was. That season of my life is over. I can, however, work on being who I am right now. I can learn to enjoy the strengths I have now rather than grieving over who I used to be. That just keeps me tied to the past.

Keep at It

Changing behavior takes time. You’ll do great for a few days and then stumble, and that’s OK. The important thing is to get right back onto that wagon. Choose to consistently encourage yourself and believe good things. Change your opinion–you’ve believed a lie, anyway.

If you need some encouragement, and who doesn’t, Join First Wives World today to talk to others who understand what you are dealing with because they’ve been there.


Image Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, User : Antonio MalvoMalverde

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1 comment

  • Comment Link Free Chick! Wednesday, 12 November 2014 22:22 posted by Free Chick!

    I too have experienced this. I finally figured out some of what the problem is....we have given soooo much of ourselves, and it was never enough. No matter how much I gave, did, said, encouraged, helped, praised, ect. it was just his due....there was very, very seldom even the slightest trace of gratitude. And....he always wanted more, and gave little to nothing in return.

    When you've given your very best for so long, and been held to such a standard, by them, others, and yourself and it hasn't been enough, how in God's name can you do less?

    When I realized this was the problem, I knew how to help myself, at least part of the time. I just gave myself permission to do a reasonable amount, whether it was time, money, offers of assistance, housecleaning, ect. All that is expected of anyone is a reasonable amount.

    I have flaws, needs, ideas that don't work, and the usual failures...but, to tell you the truth, because I have set such a standard for myself I really do well above the average person in most areas, not the complete failure that he trained me to think I was by his lack of appreciation or judgment that was based on making me FEEL like nothing instead of a real valuation of my worth.

    I finally told myself: In spite of his words and actions to the contrary....I am a woman, and I'm all woman...I am beautiful, intelligent, strong, courageous, with a resilience and integrity that is priceless in today's world...and a man of his character and self-centered stupidity can't possibly comprehend the true worth of a woman like me.

    The "other voice" inside my head shut it's stupid, dumbass x-husband repeating mouth instantly...and I'm not listening to it anymore.!