Self-Vultures

5 Mar

I had been planning to do this post on Self-Vultures to follow up yesterday’s post on Vultures, but I’m not so sure I’m totally up for it.  I’ve been trying to decide if I should put it off for later or just do it in a sucky fashion.  I think I’ve settled on do it in a sucky fashion.

So basically, self-vultures are those things we think about and tell ourselves that tear us down.  The examples listed on DynaGirl’s worksheet  include: I’m dumb, I’m clumsy, I’m ugly, I’m fat, I hate myself, I’m a nerd, I’m no good, I’m stupid, I can’t do it, I blew it, I’m a jerk, I can’t do anything right and Everyone is better than me.  I have probably said all of those at some point or another in my life.  Why is it so easy for us to focus on all of our negatives and downplay or even completely dismiss any positives?

In middle and high school I had a friend that was always belittling herself.  We didn’t even bother to tease her or give her a hard time because she was always doing it for us.  Whenever we’d compliment her, she was always sure to tell us how wrong we were.  We didn’t really know if she honestly felt that way or if she was just fishing for compliments.  We did know it was obnoxious.  She was a bummer to be around.  I often find myself playing that same role—so quick to dismiss or qualify a compliment.  Someone says, “You’re hilarious!” and I say, “It’s just because I’m a freak.”  I hear, “You’re beautiful” and I think “Yeah, food babies are super attractive!” (Sorry, inside joke—food baby=big fat tummy or rolls of fat)  Now who’s the obnoxious one?

Yesterday we talked about not letting other people poison us and bring us down, but I think when it comes down to it, we are our own worst enemies.  And here is where I should get into a meaningful discussion about self-worth and the like, but I told you this was going to be done in a sucky fashion (Ooh, look, I’m slamming on myself.  Perfect example!  Good for me!), so all I’m going to say is that there are a few things that I’ve decided to work on to curb this destructive, self-vulturing behavior.

1.  Take the compliment graciously.  And believe it.  Why do I insist on pointing out that my friends are wrong?  That’s not very nice of me.  Plus we all have our moments of awesomeness.  Just accept it.  And believe it!

2.  Get over the guilt.  I’ve always said that guilt is only useful so far as it motivates you to improve.  Yes, sometimes I am a suckish mother, but not all the time.  Our bad days will not define us until they convince us to stop trying.

3.  Insert something profound here.  Yeah, that’s pretty much I’ll I’ve got.  I’m counting on you, my awesomely beautiful, wise and witty goddesses of a friends (Yeah, I know that goddesses of a friends doesn’t sound right, but trying to pluralize goddess of a friend is no easy task because goddesses of friends just doesn’t sound right either, does it?  Just say thank you.  And believe it!) can pick up this discussion and make it something great.

And now I’m off to shower because even though sometimes I’m a stupid, ugly jerk, I love myself enough to put forth that kind of effort.  Do you?

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15 Responses to “Self-Vultures”

  1. Janelle March 5, 2009 at 2:22 pm #

    Nearly 5 years ago I had a friend tell me,

    “Its OK to be fabulous Janelle.”

    And I’ve allowed myself to be pretty dang fabulous since.

    On the flip side, It is also very OK to have issues.

    My favorite scripture on this subject is Ether 12:27 I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all those that humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things strong unto them.

    God gives us weaknesses so that we will seek Him out and to try our faith. I am so thankful for the weaknesses that have brought me down on my knees and have resulted in faith promoting experiences.

    I think I meet at least one person a week that I say, “Its OK to have issues.” And somehow just saying that makes everyone feel better.

  2. tawnya March 5, 2009 at 2:25 pm #

    Ugh. I am SO hard on myself.

  3. bythelbs March 5, 2009 at 2:31 pm #

    Thank you, Janelle. That is so true and such excellent advice. And you are pretty dang fabulous.

    Me too, Tawnya. Me too. Sometimes I think I’m too hard. Sometimes I think I’m not hard enough. And you are fabulous too. Believe it!

  4. foofer March 5, 2009 at 3:08 pm #

    Goddess friends? Friendly goddesses? I think the problem is that goddess isn’t an adjective.

    Self-vulturing is most painful when you see your kids doing it. I hate to hear BratzBasher say she’s stu*** or a loser. I try to offer legitimate points of awesomeness about her — accomplishments, personality traits, etc… (especially effective if someone outside the family agrees with me on it), but it doesn’t always help. She has to believe in her own awesomeness.

    My seventh grade art teacher used to tell us to give ourselves pats on the back on a regular basis. Just because no one is around (or no one can be bothered) to acknowledge moments of awesomeness doesn’t mean we have to do without.

    I think the “vulture” assignment is an excellent idea. It’d make a great youth activity, too.

  5. cheryl March 5, 2009 at 3:48 pm #

    I used to brush off compliments (and sometimes the brushing waxes and wanes) and one time somebody said: “Just say thank you, okay?” And so now I try really hard to say thank you. But sometimes it IS hard because I’m afraid I will look vain. I have to remind myself that the compliment is coming from someone ELSE and not myself, so how could it ever be vain to just say thanks?
    It’s another example of having something good be twisted and screwed around until it’s bad.
    I blame Satan. Stupid Satan.
    In fact, I know exactly when I’m the most unhappy, and it’s when I’m a self-vulture –something to think about…

  6. E March 5, 2009 at 4:32 pm #

    Janelle, I knew I liked you too. You are fabulous and Ether 12:27 is one of my favorite scriptures, mainly because I have seen amazing examples of my weaknesses becoming strengths when I have trusted in the Lord.

    Up until a few years ago I was very, very hard on myself. I think it was mostly a carry over from my mother being hard on me growing up. I could never give myself a break at all. If I wasn’t working or being productive every moment I thought I was lazy.

    And then I changed (I’m not going to attempt to explain how this transformation came about) and I don’t worry or feel guilt or self loathing or any of that self vulturing crap anymore. I just don’t.

    And quite amazingly, I continue to get things done. Still, every once in a while, I think, “maybe my current awesomeness is just a result of my previous motivation. Maybe I’m still just going on inertia from the guilt years, and eventually I’m going to coast to a stop. If I don’t have that feeling that I’m a bad person when I fail to finish my laundry or when I yell at my kids, what is going to keep me from being a failure again tomorrow?”

    Perhaps the fact that the laundry actually needs to be done and that I love my children and want to be a good mother to them, not because of guilt but because of love?

    Wow, I think that’s the answer. Because I have noticed that since I stopped beating up on myself I have actually been nicer to my kids. And I’m generally more on top of the house work etc. I wondered why.

    Hey, it really is Satan that wants us to feel guilty all the time! Instead of motivating us to be better, guilt makes us less effective at doing the things that we’re feeling guilty about not doing! Now that I’m doing things for the right reasons I’m better at them. Thank you so much for helping me figure this out!

    (I would feel bad for blogging in your comments here, except that I think you sort of invited that, didn’t you?)

  7. shazza March 5, 2009 at 4:50 pm #

    Worst problem ever for women in general, and LDS women specifically. I have a lot of guilt over how much time I spend feeling guilty.

  8. madhousewife March 5, 2009 at 6:32 pm #

    I AM AWESOME!!!!

    Thank you.

  9. bythelbs March 5, 2009 at 7:51 pm #

    Foofer—It’s really hard to watch my kids beat themselves up and then I wonder what kind of example I’ve set for them. And it’s true, you have to believe in your own awesomeness.

    Cheryl—Sometimes I think we must be happier when we’re miserable for how hard we seem to work at making ourselves so. And yeah, Satan sucks. Stupid Satan.

    E—You can comment or blog here anytime. You have an open invitation. Your comment was like a mini-therapy session. Perfect. Loved it. You have very valuable insights, and I really appreciate you sharing them.

    Shazza—I’m singing “There is no end to guilt” to the tune of “If You Could Hie to Kolob”. It’s so true. We need to fix it. And by fix it, I mean Fix it!

    Mad—YES YOU ARE!!!

  10. Julie March 5, 2009 at 9:10 pm #

    When I was in college I was hanging out with a guy and i made some stupid remark about how fat I was and he said, “If you think you’re fat, why don’t you do something about it?” At first I was all, “What a jerk!” But then I came to my senses and realized that he did me the biggest favor ever. If there are things that truly bother me about myself, I need to fix them. If there are things that really don’t bother me about myself, I need to stop apologizing for them. Thanks to that random guy whose name I don’t even remember (and guess what? I don’t feel guilty about it!), I am now excellent at saying thank you when people make the effort to pay me a compliment.

    Have you ever heard that quote that’s always attributed to Nelson Mandela but is really by some woman none of us has ever heard of? Marianne Williamson:
    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    I love that quote. I love it because it helps me realize that it’s okay to shine where I can and it’s okay to want to be better in other ways. What’s NOT okay is to make others feel like they have to fill my bucket full of self-vulturing holes that can never really be filled. I have learned (still learning, too) that when I allow myself to be my best self (for example: not lying about the fact that I absolutely love teaching Relief Society and hope we have as much possible time to discuss the Gospel together as we can get), it opens the door for others to be their best selves, too.

    Now, if I could just translate that into getting my scriptures studied much more often. And I can because if I really want to change it, it’s up to me to find help from the Lord to do it.

    Great post and excellent comments from everyone. I like it when you’re all But Seriously on us. It’s great to get so many fun facets of discussion in one wonderful stop.

  11. Julie March 5, 2009 at 9:11 pm #

    Wow. I didn’t realize how long that comment was. I won’t apologize for it, though! 🙂

  12. Alison Wonderland March 5, 2009 at 9:18 pm #

    Mad is and so are all of you!

    I also hate to hear my kids beat up on themselves. My solution is to tell them that they can’t talk that way about someone I love in front of me so if they want to continue to call themselves stupid they’ll have to go somewhere else. No one has ever left the room.

    Ever since I went back to school 5 yrs ago and got a job that I love and I’m good at I’ve been in pretty awesome mode (which for me can be bad too because I have a tendency to forget the origin of all my awesomeness, but that’s not what this post is about so I won’t go into it) but that certainly hasn’t always been the case.

  13. bythelbs March 5, 2009 at 9:41 pm #

    Beautiful quote, Julie. I knew I could count on you guys. And you should never apologize! Unless you should.

    We feel the same way about you, Alison. Good for you with the awesome mode. I’m mostly in adequate mode—looking forward to awesome mode.

  14. Susan M March 6, 2009 at 7:47 am #

    I think most of the time I’m in oblivious mode. But it works for me.

  15. flip flop mama March 6, 2009 at 2:35 pm #

    I have nothing really great to say–and that is being honest–I just wanted to concur with what everyone and you said. My mom was and is very hard on herself and us kids growing up. One day I realized that that was NOT healthy. I’ve started just accepting myself for who I am and what I look like and I’ve been TONS happier! Who knew? 🙂

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