When you love everyone but yourself

Column Post by Lisa Easterling

I heard the ugliness leap out of my own mouth, pulled up just shy of the stove and listened to the words echoing back at me, reverberating off the Tuscan-painted tiles on the backsplash. “Lisa, you are so stupid!”

I didn’t even flinch. I wasn’t surprised by it, partly because I’ve heard it my whole life (mostly in my own voice) and partly because I’ve accepted it as truth.

It was nothing heinous I had done. It usually isn’t. It’s things like today when I had to remake the grilled cheese sandwich three times because I kept getting distracted and burning one side. Who does that—three times in one lunch? Apparently I do, and my auto-responder is primed to give me hell for it.

As I stood there today buttering yet another slice of potato bread, I found myself wondering why I talk to myself the way I do. It occurred to me that I’m not really consciously hating on myself—the wide-eyed woman I see when I look into the mirror—but rather that I am habitually spewing negative self-talk that I’ve simply gotten used to uttering. I don’t even know it’s coming out until I hear it.

I don’t know about you, but that is a feature of auto-pilot I don’t much like.

I got to thinking after a little introspection that I don’t genuinely dislike me—certainly not enough to purposely want to shoot such hate-filled bullets at myself. But I’ve discovered there’s an all but invisible bull’s-eye I painted on my forehead somewhere along the line in my childhood, and out of mere habit I keep catching myself firing off without even a ready-aim.

I wouldn’t dream of speaking to anyone else like that, so why is it so easy to turn it inward?

I’ve wondered most of my life at the fact that I rarely take anyone else to task for a mistake or misstep, yet there seems to be a fair number of people ready to jump on me for mine. Maybe my self-inflicted attacks are just my way of saving them the trouble. I’ve never considered that until this moment. When did I sign up to be a member of my own self-aimed brute squad?

And now I’m wondering, if I don’t stop bullying me, how will anyone else be deterred? If the woman in the mirror can’t count on me to stand up for her, what hope is there that anyone else will value who I am and what I have to offer the world?

And now I ask you, sweet friend—as you face the mirror, stone in hand, ready to throw—to join me in letting the Prince of Peace steady our hands and trace our real worth into the sand.

Because while sand and sandwiches matter, the Artist who painted beauty and value and abundance into the backsplash of our lives loves us so much more.

. . . . . . . . . .

P.S. We’d love to know your thoughts, so please be sure to comment below. Each of our commenters will be entered in a drawing for this month’s FREE book giveaway, Mothers & Daughters: Mending a Strained Relationship by author Teena Stewart. 

Lisa Easterling is a lifelong resident of the Tampa Bay area alongside her husband Steve, five children, and two grandchildren. A pioneer for home education in Florida, she has served in various areas of Christian ministry for the past 32 years. Lisa is a lifelong writer, editor, creative writing coach, and Site Director for Write Where It Hurts. Her favorite place to write is near the ocean, and she particularly loves helping others to fall in love with words. Lisa blogs at www.lisaeasterling.com and can be reached by emailing blue@lisaeasterling.com.

Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)

22 thoughts on “When you love everyone but yourself

    • It truly does, and the worst part is that I wasn’t even fully aware of what I was doing! How many things in our lives do we do on auto-pilot, not fully engaged and intentional in the moments?

  1. I’m known for sharing no-holding-back-truth with people, but sometimes can be too blunt (working on it!). I am MOST blunt -and hardest – on MYSELF. May God give that wide-eyed woman looking in the mirror HIS perspective of her…and HIS grace and mercy to extend to her. Good post, Lisa. 🙂

    • Beth, I’d like to share with you that for some reason, when I wrote the part about the woman in the mirror, I was overcome with compassion for her. It was the weirdest feeling. I could almost feel love there.
      Thank you so much for your encouragement, my friend.

  2. Great post, Lisa. Even when I don’t verbalize these negative feelings out loud, the old tapes try to play. Oh, that we’d show ourselves the same grace we’re willing to show others. Thanks for the good reminder. Good writing.

    • Thank you, sweet friend. Maybe God is just finally getting through to me on this. For most of my life I’ve had a strong support network, so I know my internal self-worth issues must stem from the dysfunction between my parents when I was much younger. I never realized how much a child takes upon his/her shoulders in response to divorce, particularly when it’s a bitter one. God bless you for sharing your heart.

  3. Yes I have done and do that. I am a work in progress. Had something happen recently that increased this and I have to work not to do it. I think past as a child and other factors contribute to this. I have come a long ways in healing, but the event that happened recently at the mouth of another person, went to show me that I still have triggers. I am still a healing in progress.

    • Others’ words can cut deep and leave lasting scars. I wish I could say I’ve never experienced that pain, but I’m fairly sure most of us have. I’m sorry you’ve had to struggle with this, Thelma. I will be praying for you as you walk through your healing process. May God hold you in His loving arms as he restores your belief that He knit you together beautifully in the Secret Place. I wish you love.

    • I think that is the hardest part for me, Lynn–breaking the habit. It’s out of my mouth before I can stop it! It’s terribly frustrating. How about we pray for one another–for a keener awareness and the diligence to replace destructive habits with loving ones? Blessings to you, dear friend.

  4. This is awesome and timely …I have a love hate relationship with myself. Thanks so much for these words. I think I’m going to save it read again and again ~gail

  5. I have always struggled with my weight and self-image. I was brutally teased in high school and became a comfort eater. I was in an abusive relationship for over two years and nine years later married to a wonderful man those hateful words still haunt me. But I am just like you in I am the one uttering them. I lose sleep over thinking where I messed up in my eating for that day and I should have worked out more and look how ugly I am. I know God doesnt see me like that and neither does my husband. I let this constant mental struggle rob me of my job and must needed sleep. I just dont know how to let go and readjust my thinking. Thank you for sharing this definitely encouraging to know I am not the only one.

    • It’s sobering to hear those mean-girl voices reverberating in our heads, especially when it hits us that the most deafening voice is our own. I’ve had those same struggles with weight and body image, Renee, and like you described, my husband is wonderful and supportive and thinks I’m beautiful. It makes it all the harder to understand why it’s so hard to stifle those terrible messages of ugliness when we are constantly reminded of how lovely we are. It shows the power of the Enemy, but we know our God is greater and we can do all things through Him. Here’s to drowning out those awful self-inflicted indictments and replacing them with HIS thoughts of us–thoughts of beauty and life and joy!

  6. My negative self-talk usually never comes out of my mouth so I never realize it is occuring until I read something like this. I have told myself for so long “you’re worthless, ugly, untalented, weak, you can never handle the real world” that I’ve started to live my life based on those lies. Thank you for the reminder that they are only lies.

    • Ashley, I so understand what you mean. Just today I caught the words before they came out, stopped myself in mid-sentence, but then sat here shaking my head at how automatically it happened. Girl, I rarely say boo to anyone else but can go from zero to she-devil in half a second when it comes to myself. I’m going to have to really work on that. Maybe we can work on it together? 🙂

  7. Beautifully stated! Very enlightening! Negative self-talk was the topic of my single women’s ministry recently. We don’t realize what we do to ourselves when we participate in self-bashing. We only contribute to our lack of self-esteem, which can only lead to or help further an already existing depression.
    If we wouldn’t say it to our best friend, then we should say it to ourselves.

    • I think you’ve hit on something there, Rosemary. I’m wondering how one goes from self-loathing to viewing oneself as a friend. It certainly is a process, no? Blessings to you and your ministry, my friend!

  8. I seem to have found my way here by accident, but your article struck a chord with me. I can draw many parallels between your situation and mine, despite the differences. You’re nearly twice my age, you never noticed your self-negativity, and you have your god to find comfort in (that’s where the ‘here by accident’ thing comes in). I have nothing but contempt for the girl in the mirror and find nothing but shame for the things locked away in my mind (“Did I really say that? I am the most stupid person alive,” et cetera). Only, I love literally everyone else in the world. I even love you. I don’t know you, but I love you. There’s another difference between us – you’re taking measures to stop, but I don’t see a reason to take the same measures myself. And look, I’ve taken up a lot of space to say very little and made it all about me again. Ugh. I’m not some typical angsty teen, I swear. Just being… ugh.

    Anyway, I liked your article. There, nice and brief. Have a brilliant… everything.

    • I’d like to think it wasn’t entirely an accident that you stumbled upon us here. You revealed another similarity between us: I don’t know you, but I love you, too. Isn’t it amazing how we can love everyone else, but it’s so hard (nearly impossible) to love ourselves. Oddly, as I was writing this post and wrote about “that woman staring back at me from the mirror” (or however I worded it), it was like for the first time ever I acknowledged that woman as an entity…was able to see her like I would see someone else. It was a bizarre feeling realizing I actually kind of like that gal. I’m praying hard for you, my new friend. I don’t have to know tons of details about you to love and pray for you. If you’re on Facebook, I would love to connect. http://www.facebook.com/writepraylove

  9. Do you think I’m crazy? You will after reading this about me:

    I am extremely empathic about other people and love them, am kind and compassionate to them as much as I can. I think most people hurt more than I. But I loathe myself, am vicious, cruel, merciless and unforgiving to myself. I can be a good friend but when people come close to me I make them leave by making myself unlovable. I fail at everything in my life because when people try to like or love me I feel they are crazy and I go out of my way to make sure they end up hating me which is easy since I can’t stand ME. So they leave and I wonder why.

    • I don’t think you are crazy, Eddie. Or maybe you are, but if so I am crazy right along with you! I can relate to much of how you described yourself. I wouldn’t say I loathe myself or intentionally make myself unlovable to repel others, but I will say that I lack self-confidence in spite of an amazing support network. I wonder at myself sometimes. I pray that God will work in your heart to dispel your self-hatred so that you can envision yourself as lovable and love others from that center point. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your heart.

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