When You Are Your Own Enemy
We you are an enemy of yourself you experience feelings of rejection of who you are and what you think and feel. It means exerting a scathing and exorbitant self-critique on everything you do, and sabotaging any opportunity to be better or happier.
There is no love without hatred, as there is no hatred without love. Both feelings are like day and night: the face and the seal of the same coin. Even in the most transparent or tender of relationships there are always bursts or spouts of hate. This is because all forms of love involve some measure of dissatisfaction. There is no perfect love because there are no perfect human beings.
We love and are loved by others in imperfect ways. This also applies to our love for ourselves: it is never complete to the point that doubts or cracks don’t appear.
What is clear is that the more consistent our self-love is, the more fully we’ll be able to love others. But what happens when instead of love, we hate ourselves? What happens when we act as if we were our own enemy?
“Not even your worst enemy can make as much damage as your own thoughts.”
Being your own enemy, why?
The logical thing would be for us to tell ourselves to at least get ahead in life. But that does not always happen. Often we turn our own lives into a living hell.
No one is born hating. Quite the contrary. At the beginning of life we are people asking for everything and giving nothing. We have no doubt about the legitimacy of our needs and desires. But it is precisely in childhood where we begin to cook up these overwhelming negative fantasies about ourselves, and they can last a lifetime.
What brings us to that fatal conviction is the presence of a figure who makes us believe it. It is a person who we love and is a fundamental part of our growth. Our father, mother, or both. Sometimes it’s a whole family structure. Or someone who we depend on in some way.
Generally what we have is a string of heartbreaks: parents, or the whole family, repeating what they themselves experienced at the beginning of their own lives.
Often these relationships involve indifference to the needs of others, sadness, shame and aggression. countless acts of neglect or threat of abandonment, and rejection. Hard silences, denial of feelings. Rejection and punishment against acts of self-assertion. Severity in the trials and suppression of emotions. In such an atmosphere, it is very difficult to have the conditions to build a genuine appreciation for oneself and others.
The fatal circle
Contempt for oneself is learned both consciously and unconsciously. All of us carry within us a certain element of self-destructive impulses, which grow and are enhanced when they are fed.
What follows is certainly a difficult story. The child becomes a teenager and then an adult who remains more or less invaded by feelings of sadness, anger and guilt. The worst thing is that these feelings have a high degree of uncertainty. Sadness, anger and guilt arise from almost anything and target everything and nothing at once.
Some ideas automatically appear in their thoughts: I can’t, I am unable, I’m afraid, I’m worthless, I don’t matter to anyone. That also translates into what they feel for others: they can’t, they are unable, they are afraid, they are worthless, they do not matter.
This results in a fatal circle that maintains a harmful relationship with oneself, resulting in a destructive relationship with others. This creates bad experiences which feed the idea of oneself as bad or unworthy.
In the absence of self love, mechanism known as “identification with the aggressor” operates. It means that you end up appearing like those who have caused you great harm. It is, of course, an unconscious mechanism.
As children we wanted love, recognition and respect. But maybe we got the opposite. But instead of questioning those answers, we try to be like those who rejected, abandoned or attacked us.
The person is trapped in the mirror. That is, s/he perpetuates the negative view that once fell on them. They internalize the hatred or rejection they suffered and admit that those feelings about themselves are valid.
At the root of many common problems, such as depression, lie these stories. We passively accept that yes, we deserved the treatment we received. And we end up carrying a weight that isn’t meant for us.
Images courtesy of Ryohei Hase