One thing we are constantly informed of is that humans are social beings and that being alone is one of the greatest afflictions we can endure. Mix that with the pressures that we all experience; reconciliation of self-identity, images of our best selves, and our desires to be moral, helpful people. It can seem like we have some very large shoes to fill, our own. These common psychological afflictions contribute largely to a decreased sense of self-worth, and a sense that we are not as good right now as we should be. It is important to be able to be content with yourself and still give yourself room to grow and change for the better.
There are a couple of traps I can see a lot of people fall into when it comes to feelings of inadequacies and loneliness. Almost all of these traps revolve around comparing themselves and their feelings to metrics outside of themselves. Friends, Romantic partners, idols, societal expectations all manage to work their way into a person’s idea of what parts of themselves they should like and dislike, usually for the worse.
Friends: Having your social circles as measuring sticks for yourself makes sense because the way we choose our friends and connections is largely based on common interests and shared goals. The people we associate with the most are the people we respect the ideas and morals of. They are the people we confide in to give us a sense of direction when we are directionless. It is for this reason that we can sometimes feel as if we have to hide away or be ashamed of the parts of ourselves that are not unanimously valued amongst our friend groups. This sense of shame or this fear of rejection from our peers isolates us and makes us discontent with the parts of us that we enjoy and value, but now feel a guilt for indulging in.
Romantic partners: Our significant others are often the people who know us more intimately than any other. We confide in them with our greatest fears and bravest goals, but with that level of trust can come an equal level of fear. We can fear for our romantic relationships if we disappoint the other with what we perceive as less than desirable traits and that fear may paralyze us from discussing them at all. We present ourselves as what we imagine their best version of us would be, and internalize that vision.
Idols: Our idols are the ones we see our perfect selves in. It is quite literally our idolized images that we hold our hopes for the future in. We see ourselves in a time where we are free of all of our perceived shortcomings, where we have achieved all of our goals, and we compare that image to ourselves today. This comparison causes us to look at ourselves now and feel that we are less valuable now than we will be with success in our future. It defines our worth with our accomplishments instead of our unique and interesting personalities, which stay with us no matter how much or little we achieve
Societal expectations: No one is absolutely free of their environment, and we see all around us an environment that values success, wealth, and material as cornerstones of worth. It looks at the unclear purpose of life and says that can be remedied with comfort and security, but even with these things any lack of self-worth still remains. Only after our achievement of these goals do we see that they alone cannot make us happy with ourselves
These factors are all ways we as people create a sense of good and wholesome desire and behavior. It can cause us to be very hard on ourselves for just wanting to take time to indulge a guilty pleasure or spend some recreation time for ourselves. Even then these ideas and identifications influence what we think we should be doing with our free time. Look within yourself, free of your goals and desires and explore what is there when you take away all outside images. Love the parts of you that are different from your friends, that is different from your partner, that is different from expectations you and the world have, and explore the things you alone enjoy and remind yourself why you enjoy these things in the first place. It can be for reasons as simple as fun or distraction. It can be a desire to just take a step back and reconnect with yourself, something we can forget to do. When you do this you can return to all of the wonderful relationships you are part of with a voice and direction that is uniquely yours, and with a renewed appreciation for your own company.
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