Self-doubt has a particularly subtle way of creeping into everyday lives and thoughts. Self-doubt includes the damaging voices which echo through actions and anticipation; they alter our voices with our consent. We are all capable of limiting ourselves when we only listen and resonate with self-doubt and do not embrace an opportunity to engage with self-love.
It can be beneficial to hold oneself to a higher standard. Consequently, there can be negative side effects if these standards are projected onto those you love. I have always struggled to forgive myself for not being perfect, for not living up to the impossible goals I set for myself. I set myself up for “failure”, and use it as an excuse to beat myself up. When I set goals for myself, sometimes it results in sacrificing small pieces of myself.
I have just finished applying to law schools, I will be graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno in May 2021. Through my undergraduate career I managed to dip my toes into each opportunity which came my way. I learned a lot about which activities, people, and destinies not to pursue. However, I have never managed to unlearn overloading myself with extracurricular activities.
I don’t know many college students who are not overwhelmed. I bring a lot of the stress onto myself because I can not let go of an image of myself. In this image, I am perfect, and I mean PERFECT. I take on everything, complete it successfully, and turn to the next thing. I’ve found it surprising to learn, there does not always have to be a “next thing”. To express self-love is to live your values, to speak up for what you believe in, and to embrace your participation in a global community.
Every person struggles to detach themselves from the practices of belittling and rejection as a result of self-doubt and rejection of accepting holistic self-acceptance. Women especially are socialized to become our own worst-enemies by listening to and accepting these intrusive thoughts. We may never wield the powers of masculinity in the ways men are able to.
How is it I struggle so much to let myself “off the hook” for not accomplishing everything in the most perfect way? By no means do I hold others to the same standards. I am regularly proud of my friends and family for setting boundaries, showing themselves opportunities to reflect and work on their relationships to themselves. How would this self inflicted pressure impact my ability to recognize myself as part of a community?
Notions of self-love cannot be kept in strictly academic boxes; each of these obstacles can be eliminated in order to work on self-acceptance. Social influences have immeasurable impacts on our self-image but they are not everything, how we interact with ourselves and accept our own dreams and actions is a power we hold.
Self-doubt and self-acceptance are two sides of the same coin. They each have an equal chance of winning over your decision making and self-judgement, depending on which part of yourself is allowed to dominate. Self-acceptance can manifest outwardly to love, and similarly, self-doubt can become a hate or feeling of superiority to others. Your behaviors may reflect the ways you speak to yourself.
I recently finished All About Love by bell hooks, her book about the journey of self-love and self-acceptance. Each chapter of the book has an overall theme and she draws on biblical quotes, literature, and self-help guides. hook’s book invites the reader to reflect on their past experiences, reevaluate their current relationships, and how to imagine a different future for themselves which will bring their dreams to life.
As a foundational feminist theorist, hooks’s work has always provided a solid foundation and explanation easily understood by almost all individuals. As an author, she has a kind voice, and one by which I feel comforted. Her writing is grounding and reminds readers it is necessary to love oneself. From there, we may be able to turn to love within our communities and issues of social justice; to embrace our family members and romantic partners and speak to them with words of kindness.
As hooks states, “Self-love is the foundation of our living practice. Without it our other efforts to love fail. Giving yourself love we provide our inner being with the opportunity to have the unconditional we have always longed to receive from someone else….We can give ourselves the unconditional love that is the grounding for sustained acceptance and affirmation.”
No one should have to stretch themselves too thinly. Creating and setting boundaries is an ongoing process and sometimes the person who needs to be reminded of them the most is yourself. There is no need to overwork yourself for reasons which are not immediately beneficial; sending yourself love and acceptance as you are and for what you feel will provide the most love to the relationships we hold close to ourselves. Our relationship to ourselves should be one of the most important and most valued relationships we have, because from that love and acceptance, we accept others as they are.
Without reflection, evaluation, and imagination our goals may never be reached in a fashion which will bring us joy and benefit our relationships: either to others or ourselves. Self-doubt’s clawing shadow can manage to disrupt any progress we make towards self love and can inhibit growth in our relationships.
All About Love was one of those moments in my life where I was given an opportunity to reflect, reevaluate, and reimagine the trajectory of my life and my relationships without the stress or grief of the potential loss of a loved one. Hooks takes care to remind her readers of the important things of life. As I am at the beginning of the end of my college career and turning my eye to law school, I was able to embrace my new path and the bright future I hold.
Casting out the shadow of self-doubt will bring about a new relationship with myself, in which I will not give too much of myself away to please an image of perfection which lies, unattainable, in my imagination. From there, I may be a source of light and acceptance for those close to me and contribute to my community in a meaningful way, as part of an ongoing practice.