There are a lot of platitudes that I have problems with because they over simplify the quest for peace, happiness, and good mental health.
This irritation of mine is funny considering how much I love a good inspirational quote. I mean, I took a hand-lettering class just so I could put my favorite platitudes down in my own ink.
AND YET. Some of them drive me BANANAS.
I’ve mentioned before my irritation with the idea of “Choosing Joy” as a commandment you can give and a decision you can make with ease. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about a certain category of platitudes. The quotes and commandments and advice that all revolve around the same idea…about how they ONLY person whose opinion you should care about is YOUR OWN. I’ve heard this one a lot lately. From RuPaul, “If you don’t love yourself, how the HELL are you gonna love anyone else?” to general questions like, “Why do you care what they think?”
These me for a lot of reasons. First, learning to love yourself is something people can spend DECADES in therapy trying to learn and never achieve. It’s about as easy as just “Choosing Joy” in terms of mindset adjustments. Second, how in the HELL does ANYONE seriously stop caring about what other people think? I can’t even wrap my head around that as a way of life. I think so much about what other people think about me that it causes me debilitating social anxiety. I have suffered from mild agoraphobia at times in my life when I was so worried about embarrassing myself or making a bad impression that I could BARELY LEAVE MY HOUSE.
I’m just blown away by the constant simplifying of those two facets of this type of platitude. If I could “love myself” and “stop caring what other people think” consistently I’d be the happiest person on the planet. I think the “loving myself” part of that is the easier one to achieve although I’m still no where near there yet. But I’m decades of therapy away from caring what other people think. I worry about the opinions of the cashier at Aldi that made me cry that one time, so I don’t know how I can make myself stop worrying about the family member who blocked me on Facebook. BUT I WOULD LOVE TO STOP WORRYING ABOUT IT.
And if you stop worrying about the bad stuff that other people thing, does that mean you have to stop savoring or putting value to the good stuff? Because I cherish compliments from other people and kind sentiments like they are my LIFE BLOOD. If I stop caring what other people think in terms of the BAD stuff, doesn’t that mean I have to stop caring about the good stuff too? BUT I DO NOT WANT TO! The good stuff counterbalances the days when I’m suffering under the weight of my own self-hatred!
I mean, I’m only 42. I do have time to learn to do both of those things. I’m not dead yet. BUT IF I HAVEN’T LEARN HOW TO DO THEM IN 42 YEARS, WHAT ARE THE ODDS I WILL EVER FIGURE IT OUT?
And it’s like finding out Santa is real when I hear people who have claimed to have figured it out. “I love myself and don’t care what anyone else thinks!” is as hard for me to stomach as someone who says, “I just feed my body what it needs and I never self-medicate with food.” WHO ARE YOU? ARE YOU AN ALIEN? HOW DO YOU EXIST?
I feel much better knowing most of the world struggles and when I find out someone doesn’t I assume they are A) a liar or B) a big fat liar.