9 Signs You Might Need To Break Up With Yourself And Start Over

Musician & game developer, leveraging technology in mental health for 11 years. Tentatively human. http://bignic.bandcamp.com


Approx 8 minute reading time

There are billions of people on Earth, but there isn’t anyone who will be with you from the day you were born until the day you die except for you.

Let’s face it, it’s a pretty long-term relationship that you’ve found yourself in. And when it comes to living with yourself, there are no other fish in the sea – you’re stuck with the only identity you’ll ever have. So the question is, is the relationship a good one, or does it need work?

The following red flags will help you gauge if it’s time to break up with yourself.

You’ve Never Said “I Love You”

Considering the length of this relationship, it’s absurd that you’ve never said this to yourself. You might suspect that you haven’t said it because it’s not true. Don’t you want it to be true? If you suspect it is true, why haven’t you said it? Is it absurd to say the truth to yourself? Make eye contact with yourself, say it, and mean it. If you can’t do it, this could be a deal-breaker.

You’re In An Abusive Relationship…With Yourself

When you can’t stop beating yourself up for making a mistake, realise that no one else treats you this badly when you fail. When you don’t fit into the clothes that you bought just last year; when you said something stupid and embarrassing in mixed company; when you drank too much; when you were late for something or forgot something important – you’re constantly demanding that you do better; be better.

If anyone was this intolerant towards you, they’d be history. You deserve someone who is compassionate and kind. You deserve to be nurtured – why wouldn’t you expect such behavior from yourself? No one else calls you such nasty things, especially not your friends; not your lovers (or at least, they damn well shouldn’t). No one else expects you to starve. No one else punishes you for eating too much nor would they have the audacity if they were the ones encouraging you to eat the cake in the first place.

You Never Forgave Yourself for That Thing You Did That One Time

When you treat yourself poorly for having made a mistake, whose voice is it? Is it truly you? No, this is an aberration; a projection of what you think, what you imagine your parents or guardian would have told you about your failure, distorted through the kaleidoscopic lens of time and trauma, in an effort to prevent yourself from repeating failure again in the future. But it doesn’t work. It never has. You expect to prevent suffering by identifying the source of the error and never repeating it, but you will find new ways to fail and you’ll always have to deal with the consequences.  If you learn to forgive yourself now, then you’ll have that ability for the next time.  

You’ve convinced yourself that you don’t need the ability to forgive yourself if you can just avoid making mistakes. And yet, what is the trend so far?  The trend is that you have not been able to avoid making mistakes based on everything that you’ve learned – it’s never quite enough to shed light on the current dilemma. Your knowledge of the past is never enough to predict what nuanced changes that future challenges will bring. The alternative seems much more difficult, but it’s also a guarantee – if you learn to forgive yourself, you get forgiveness when you make a mistake rather than abuse.

You will find new ways to fuck up and it will be brilliant.  You’ll have to find new ways to forgive yourself too.

You’re Embarrassed to Go Out With Yourself

You don’t bother to change your pants when you go out because you don’t want someone to think you’re trying too hard. But the reality is, you’re afraid to look like you’re trying because you’ll give yourself a hard time for putting in your real effort if the investment doesn’t amount to anything. So you don’t put in your real effort. You wear baggy clothes to hide your body and you don’t bother to buy new clothes because you already don’t “look good.” So you continue to not “look good.” The cycle perpetuates itself.

Instead of being abusive about a failure and using the fear of that abuse as an excuse to avoid trying, take the risk and stop tolerating the abuse.

You Won’t Commit to Yourself

Diet and exercise goals are thrown out the window just because of tiny relapses. You give yourself shit for relapsing and then abandon your goal. Then you give yourself shit for abandoning your goal. And you use the pain of that guilt an excuse not to make them anymore.  And then you feel guilty for not trying. And then you feel apathetic because it seems hopeless – you always end up in this rut.

Your life is a foregone conclusion and even if it isn’t, you’ll make sure that it is by sabotaging yourself so that even if you fail, at least you can be right! Give up being right – embrace your limitations and accept that there are missteps along the path.

You Sabotage Your Own Success

Not finishing projects because living with the daydream of huge success is better than releasing your work into the public and finding out that it’s not all that good. You eat carbs when you’re on a no-carb diet because *now* you’re worth it, NOW is the time to indulge a little bit because you’ve been working so hard and you just need this quick win right now.

You never finish the things that mattered the most. Your fear has you going to a job that you hate because it’s better than facing that knot in your stomach that is terrified of being unemployed and having to ask people for help, for money, for a place to live.

You Respect the Opinions of Strangers Above Your Own

(Especially When it’s An Opinion About You)

You’re not sure if you believe it, but everyone is telling you that you’d be crazy to leave your job for a risky venture; for a pet project that your heart is in.

No one out there is rooting for you as much as you are rooting for yourself.  And if you’ve assumed the role of those external nay-sayers, then you’re not even rooting for yourself as much as you need to be.

You should be your biggest fan

A lot of us pretend not to care what other people think but most of us desperately want that approval and most of us will jump through flaming psychological hoops to make sure that we don’t put ourselves in a position where we have to choose between our own opinions of ourselves or someone else’s opinion of us.

You Actually Told Yourself You Weren’t Good Enough

(And Repeated It So Many Times You Started to Believe It Was True)
What kind of arsehole would tell someone they weren’t good enough? Oh that’s right: you.

You conditioned yourself to believe it over the course of a lifetime. You listened to your head about what you should do for a job, where you should go to school, what kind of people you should be attracted to. Never mind that your heart told you which jobs it wanted to do. You didn’t listen to it because they didn’t pay enough. Never mind that your heart wanted to study something meaningful instead of something that would get you that stupid job that you didn’t want. Never mind that your heart told you which person you wanted to be with because you conditioned yourself to think that they were “out of your league” just because they were the most beautiful person you’d ever laid your eyes on.

And Now…

And now you’re having a heart attack because you ate a lifetime of junk food and drugs in a vain attempt to satisfy the craving that your body had for LIFE.    

And now you’re having a nervous breakdown because your job has not made you happy even though you’ve spent your 10,000 hours trying to master it.

And now you’re crying in the shower and you can’t actually figure out how you didn’t realise that the lump in your solar plexus that has nagged you for your entire adult life is actually called depression and you have to admit you’re “one of those” people who, after all their hard won battles to become the hero of their own story, are finding out that they didn’t even play a walk-on role in the lives of the people who mattered the most. You’re finding out that you didn’t have your own best interests at heart and you’re finding out that perhaps now is the best, last, only time to break up with you – the one making all the fear-based decisions and guilting you into anxiety.

If your relationship is toxic don’t be around you anymore.

“It’s not you, it’s you”

Let yourself down gently – maybe you can be just friends, maybe not.  Maybe the time apart will help you to fall back in love with each other again.  Anything is possible.

It’s time to see be other people.

If you can take an exhaustive self-inventory and discover that you’re consistently doing things that are contrary to your own values and beliefs; if you observe that you’re not fulfilled, then take ownership and identify which belief systems you no longer subscribe to. Cancel those negative thoughts. Say it out loud. “I no longer believe this about myself.”

And when those thoughts resurface, don’t feel guilty – cancel them again. Zap them into non-existence. Identify where they come from – identify whose voice it actually is.  Remember why that voice and that idea got stuck in your head in the first place.  Remember that it wasn’t you – it was something you picked up along the way. You added it to your mental backpack with the mistaken notion that it would aid you in your journey rather than weigh you down.

Empty out that backpack and stop identifying its contents as your own self.

Of course, there are plenty of fish in the sea. That’s where they live. But on land there’s only one you.


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