You’re Okay, But I’m Not
When we are born, we are all “okay”. We have not yet had the chance to develop low self-esteem or grasp the concept of feeling unworthy. However, as we grow and interact more with society, we begin to judge ourselves by the approval or disapproval of others. We then internalize the negative comments we receive as our own fault, which damages our self-esteem. This leads us to believe that we are somehow inferior to those around us, creating the “not okay” mentality.
Reasons Why We Sometimes Feel “Not Okay”
There are many ways to perceive negative thoughts as yours to own, but none of them are justified. It’s more likely you encountered struggles while growing up, such as:
- Dominant parents who neglected to praise your achievements as a child could easily inflict damaging results on anyone.
- Careless teachers, who may not have recognized that you needed help and scolded you for doing an assignment incorrectly, could have easily made you think that something was wrong with you and that you were “not okay”.
- Schoolyard bullies often can be the worst. They take their own bad feelings about themselves and project them onto you, over and over again, until you begin to believe that what they are saying about you is true and that maybe you are not okay or worthwhile.
Damaging Your Self-Esteem
As you continue to encounter people who put you down, you internalize their negative comments as if you caused them, and this internalization does serious damage to your self-esteem. Many times their actions are not directed at your behavior in any way.
After a lifetime of holding onto negative thoughts, you may begin to think that any negative situation in which you are involved is a result of something that you have done. You believe that everyone else involved in the same situation is blameless, and that any negative outcome is due to your behavior.
People with low self-esteem and low self-worth tend to develop a need to please others to feel worthy themselves. They feel that only others can judge and discern when they have done well. They have made it their job to please others and to put others’ happiness before their own. When they cannot do that, they feel like a failure.
Anxiety and Depression
This type of self-deprecating behavior often results in anxiety and depression. You become anxious around others because you are worrying too much as to how you are being perceived. Being around people in positions of authority can make you incredibly anxious. You never say no to any request made of you for fear of displeasing someone. Even when you are ignored, it makes you anxious, because you feel as if you may have done something wrong.
When you are alone and start thinking about how colleagues, family members, and friends treat you, you can often think yourself into a funk because there is no one around to counter why you feel that way. Everyone gets a little down sometimes, but don’t own the responsibility for that feeling.
What to Do
When you realize that this pattern has developed in your life, where you feel like you are the only one who is “not okay”, it’s time to do something about it. The longer you let it go on, the longer it will take you to free yourself from that behavior.
- It’s okay to be happy when others are happy, but don’t feel like the good vibe can go bad because of what you do or say.
- Try to accept criticism in a constructive way. Often people are actually trying to help you do better, not point out your faults.
- Indulge yourself once in a while. Recognize that all the things you do have meaning. Learn to recognize a job well done and praise yourself for it.
Never think that you are “not” okay. Most of the time there are circumstances causing these feelings, circumstances that you can empower yourself to change.