How I overcame self-loathing & learned to love myself (My first TEDx)
In my professional work I help people make peace with their past, find their authentic voice and share their message with the world to inspire others. It’s not always easy to be so vulnerable and raw, but the personal benefits are well worth the effort.
I took a huge risk in my first TEDx presentation as I shared with the world how I struggled with depression and anxiety for years without anyone knowing it. To share that kind of story on stage was a healing step for me. And it has continued to bring me wonderful benefits personally and professionally. The overall message is: Become Who You (Really) Are.
Beyond Imposter Syndrome
For many years I didn’t love myself. As I shared in another post, despite achieving external “success” I never felt quite good enough. I struggled to find acceptance among my medical peers and unconsciously yearned for admiration from my father.
As a medical doctor trained in America I didn’t quite fit into the “normal” medical establishment when I began incorporating acupuncture, qigong and meditation into my medical practice 14 years ago. So I spent countless hours researching these ancient practices to “justify” their inclusion in my medical treatment programs. And to my father, the various newspaper articles, magazine covers and even accolades from Oprah wouldn’t satisfy him that I had made it and would be fine on my own.
With these influences I tended to overcompensate by becoming an overachiever and hiding the parts of me that I felt would never be acceptable, all to my own detriment. Though I didn’t have words like “self-loathing” to describe my behavior, I had all of the symptoms of imposter syndrome including deep dissatisfaction with life and dark depression.
Of course, my story is hardly unique.
I found that many of my clients suffering with eating disorders, addiction and depression had similar challenges in the area of self-acceptance. From those who were told, “You’re just like your father!” by an angry single mother, to those who were told they were too weird or different. We agreed to hide our personal desires and passions for safer, more “appropriate” pursuits.
We all have hidden conflicts of interest. Though we desperately want to be accepted for who we really are, we fervently seek the comfort of community and so prevent our true nature to be seen and deny our real self full expression.
Until we can’t do it anymore. I’ve written previously about my own rock-bottom experience with depression. So, in a TEDx talk in Monaco, I opened up about how that dark night of the soul led me to a near death-like out of body experience that rocked my world. That experience led me to travel the world looking for answers to the age-old question, “Who am I — really?”
Doing research for a documentary film project I’ve come to learn that the programs from my childhood, being raised in America by an immigrant single mother, becoming an integrative medical doctor and balancing my creative side with TV hosting and production that it is unnatural to deny who I am. Self-denial leads to an anxious tension that permeates everything we do. And then this nervous energy infects our relationships, our work and our parenting.
Naturally, as I gained some mastery in my own self-love andfacing my fears I have been teaching these principles to my clients and university students. It has been an inspiring and empowering journey.
So I wonder, are there any areas of your life that are suffering due to your hiding, denying or hating who you really are? Are you able to look yourself in the mirror and declare, “I love you, me!” Can you stand with integrity and authentically share the real you with the world and all of those around you?
It is my belief that with all of the struggles and challenges our world faces today we ALL must become more confident in the gifts and talents we possess. We must embrace our true nature and find our way back to living our truth. I believe that when we do this we will align with the incredible force for transformation that lies at the heart of who we really are. We are infinite beings full of potential to have an extraordinary impact in the world.
You are a gift to the world. Your very presence can be a healing balm to others. By accepting yourself for the fun, quirky perfectly-imperfect being that you are can set you free to transform your health, business and relationships for the better.
I welcome you to join our empowerment community as we inspire one another to take our rightful place in the sun.
Blessings to you,
For more insights on how to become who you really are, visit my personal blog at http://www.AndreaPennington.com.
Follow Andrea Pennington, M.D. on Twitter:www.twitter.com/DrAndrea