I’m Not Liking Myself & I’m not Doing Anything about It

I’ve been in a pickle of ugliness lately.

Mother-daughter stuff – both ways.

Mom and I clashing (she has early stage Alzheimer’s) about her care and I feel horrible about being so impatient and selfish about not wanting to take her places. With my girl, I can’t seem to say or do much that lands well with her.

Yes I know this is all normal and it still has me feeling pretty badly about myself.

I’m being presented daily with aspects of myself that aren’t so savory. The impatient part. The judge. The part of me that would like to snap every bright and sunny person’s head off and make a string of skulls to wear like the Goddess Kali.

Self-love feels distant and like I’m seeing it through a dirty window.

Here’s what I’m doing about all this: nothing. Not a damn thing.

I can so clearly STRONGLY feel that if I try to fix – it, me, them, us – I will be doing violence to myself.  Self-improvement will lead me straight to self-loathing. When we are faced with the parts of ourselves we really don’t like, it’s so tempting to embark on a rigid plan of getting good, of trying harder. More meditation! More green juice! More service!

I’m so tired of trying. Do you ever feel that way? It’s exhausting and it doesn’t work.

So I’m treating myself like someone who has had a bad fright or run a lot of marathons. I’m writing this in my pj’s and it’s only 6:00 pm. I’m taking naps. Staying with my practices. Sawing away 10 minutes a day at my novel. And I’m keeping every last self-judgmental thought out of my head. I won’t let them in.

I’m not doing this because I think there isn’t room for improvement in my mother-daughter relationships. I’m doing it because right now is not the time for change. It’s the time for consciously stopping and soothing until…  I’m ready for something else.

I’m telling you this because sometimes it might seem I’m unnaturally upbeat or happy.

Well I’m not.

So if you ever find yourself not liking yourself, put down the self-improvement and take a nap.  But no mean thoughts allowed!


Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Catherine - August 21, 2012

This resonates so much with me right now. I’ve been stuck in the endless
trap of trying to do everything at once, without realizing that
important self-changes can only happen over time. I’m addicted to
self-help, but stressing out about continual improvement only leads to
continual despair. Thanks for writing this article. Growth is tough, and won’t always be a heavenly experience.

Mary Montanye - August 21, 2012

Oh SO related to this. Had my day on Saturday. Cried for two hours and just let it be what it was. No self-blame, no self-improvement. Just allowing myself to feel it all. Be with it all, just as it was. Thanks for your honesty. Your honesty IS service.

Anne Walsh - August 22, 2012

Sometimes I’ll sing to myself “I’m bitchy and I know it” 🙂

Kate Harding - August 22, 2012

So helpful – thank you! I needed to read this today.

Mary Jo - August 22, 2012

So timely Jen….I am trying to learn to get off the wheel of self improvement. You’ve known me for years – reading this really hit home with me today.
Hugs, Mary Jo

gs - August 22, 2012

Thank you for this truth telling, for writing this and sharing it. You are brave, if not chirpy right now, you are still in the bold place. 🙂 That said, I am SO in the same mother-daughter father-daughter place. it doesn’t help that for the first time since I left to go to Chicago for college, I am living again under their roof, with a family of my own in tow. So much negative energy and judgement around, and my mother’s depression has us all out of sorts. Peacefulness is furthest from access lately, and I am so not liking who I am. I am letting go of self frustration and self judging, I am pausing a lot. And in those pauses, sending a light of self acceptance within. I need healing energy. Phew.

Julie - August 22, 2012

Oh, thank you! I’ve been struggling with this and beating myself up for it. Funny how that hasn’t helped. I’m the sole caregiver for my dad, who’s in mid-stage Alzheimer’s, and there is no other family, and though I love him and would do anything for him, I also get hung up sometimes on all I’ve [willingly, voluntarily] “given up” to live with and care for him. Then I feel all resentful and martyrish. And then, I do not like me very much. Add trying to run a business and feeling stuck there too, and feeling bad for not being able to bring in more income at this point… And so I just cried and cried when I read your post. I think perhaps it’s time for me not to do anything, too. Stopping and soothing would probably be the best thing for me, and I feel like you’ve given me a great big permission slip. Thank you!

carolyn grady - August 22, 2012

Even when….NO BECAUSE you are in PJs at 6, Love love love YOU, Jen. . I’m reminded of something a wise teacher says: The world wants your authentic self. That’s all.
Thanks for being a beacon of authenticity in a world of masks, and for teaching us how to de-mask ourselves.

Jennifer - August 22, 2012

AMEN!!! (Now letting myself do this though is a whole other question….)

marie josée parent - August 22, 2012

It’s always refreshing to find out that we are not alone in all our imperfections. I just finish a marathon of work, during summer my bakery is quite demanding with all the tourists. After that I saw myself indulging in sweets and chips and so much craving for something else. Well naturally I felt so un balanced. Then like you are saying I just let myself be a little more in the not doing something yet to make it better. Then yesterday massage really kicked in all the physical fatigue that was all wind up in my body. This morning after 12 hours! of sleep, I feel soft and more calm. Maybe my mind will get more clear about what’s next or not yet. Let ting some time in between action is often very creative. That’s what I’m learning lately. It gives a chance to the surroundings elements to rearrange, organise, form. Thank you for your being so you completely. It helps.

Jenn Forgie - August 22, 2012

Oh yes, I so relate to this but the part of your piece that really grabbed me was the permission to not try. I try hard all the time. I work hard at work, at my goals, at improving myself (which I know is sending the message that I am just not okay as who I am) and I am SO TIRED OF TRYING.

Sometimes I think we need to hear it from others (to remind ourselves) – the permission, the idea of giving ourselves space. Of not having to aspire and do and improve and try all the time.

I cannot thank you enough for sharing this and I am so happy your piece is the first thing I read this morning.

Jenny - August 22, 2012

This was my day yesterday! How timely you would write this post. It feels so good to read your words. I especially like my image of your “string of skulls” as it made me smile. Today is another day and I will be thinkning about your blog and it will make me smile so much more than yesterday.
Thank You Jen 🙂
p.s Kiss your dad today as I miss mine so very much

Lisa Sonora Beam - August 22, 2012

*LOVE* this permission slip! One of the things I really like about venturing into cultures outside the USA, is there is not so much random smiling going on.

Also – there are naps. I live in Mexico now, and the siesta is alive and well. Even if people don’t nap, they shut down business as usual for a few hours and hang with their families, eat, rest, play.

I just learned the Mexican nickname for a little siesta, the coyotito. It’s named after the coyote, who curls up in a little ball to rest for a little while.

Jenny - August 22, 2012

Sitting here with egg on my face…I meant to write kiss your Mom. I apologize Jen.
I do miss my parents very much.

ponygirl - August 22, 2012

Your post comes at exactly the right time for me. I have been caring for my elderly parents full time for the past two weeks. They are no longer able to care for themselves (various medical issues and dementia for both of them), and on a good day they are stubborn, angry, and difficult to deal with. I am beyond exhausted, and praying that all of my actions towards them are kind and compassionate, while feeling really bad about myself over the impatience, frustration, and anger I feel towards them. Maybe it’s time for me to feel some kindness and compassion for myself, instead of beating myself up for feeling understandably stressed in an incredibly difficult situation. Thank you for your wise words!

Lori - August 22, 2012

What a relief to read this post AND to see how many other women are walking the same path! Aging, ailing parents AND college-age kids going through the ugliness of separating from us (which leaves us feeling rejected and useless)–and still trying to keep our heads above water on a daily basis! Who has “me” time? Glad to see you are taking it–right now I’m terrified to stop running the hamster wheel for five minutes. Thanks to all of you for sharing and letting me know I am not alone!

Terry Jordan - August 22, 2012


Thanks so much for sharing your honest and refreshing way of looking at your role, not only in all the mother-daughter stuff, but more importantly in your own self-care. Choosing to not forge down the “fix it” path, but instead to the softness, allowing, curiosity and non-judgment. Way to go, girl. You are so alive!

Love you!

Mindy - August 22, 2012

Thank you times a million for being wonderfully authentic YOU, Jen, and sharing your experience here so generously. I’ve shared with you the struggles I’ve been experiencing this year, and there have been many times when I’ve gone into “fixing” and “must-do-this-or-that-or-figure-out-what-WILL-work” mode… when what I really needed, and eventually gave myself, was soft kindness and meeting myself exactly where I was at… tears, messiness and all… and continuing, like you have, with my daily practices. So much more effective than the self-judgment and harsh voices! 😉

Linda Smith - August 22, 2012

Oh, yes….SICK OF TRYING.. My husband and I had an awful, nasty arguement Saturday night. I was very very unkind to him and to myself. I have over worked myself into the second bout of shingles for this year. This one is worse physically and emotionally it has knocked me flat. I actually just sobbed and howled in frustrated pain, which drove him farther away. There is much work to do, but like you Jen now is not the time. We have declared a respectful truce. I am owning my sadness and disappointment at where we have come to after 40 years of my accomodating and silencing my truth to keep our marriage calm. It is ruining my health. Enough and enough. Self care is not selfish; in my head I know that. In my heart I deny it. Lots of old stories to revisit and revise. Glimmers of light piercing the fog of lost faith. Namaste. Linda Smith

Laurie Marrelli - August 22, 2012

Great post Jen. I resemble the over talkative mouth with the foot in it. Maybe that’s just ok. Thank you for the permission!

Karly - August 22, 2012

Oh, Jen I love this and can relate. Thank you for being honest and vulnerable and normalizing those times when I don’t like myself. These past 3 years have been so painful and challenging for me, especially as so many of my parts that I really dislike – that I want to cut out, erase, make go away! – have kept arising over and over.

Self improvement only makes me feel like who I am is not lovable and okay and hurts like hell. Instead, can I open my heart and befriend these parts of me? My practice has been as you described, to let them be. To sit with them. To not take them so personally. And to love them.

When I notice the tight squeeze of self judgment, I pause, put my hand on my heart and say, “I will not make war against my own heart.” This usually brings me to tears because self judgment is so painful.

Underneath my judgment is usually fear and grief. Fear that my relationships are going haywire and fear that I’m pushing my loved ones away with all my prickly parts and fear that I’m too broken to do life “right” and fear that I can’t handle it. Grief about the vulnerability of this human journey, my human limitations, and all the losses along the way.

And underneath the fear and grief is tenderness – this tenderness for me, for you, for the beings who share my life, for everyone – because life is hard sometimes, we are all so vulnerable, and yes, we need so much kindness to make it through.

Sending you a big hug, Karly

June - August 22, 2012

1. Know that I am one among many supporters and lovers of what you bring to the world.
2. You’re right–bag the self-cheerleading for the moment. But do try to choose your focus.
3. For yourself as person, check out Thich Nhat Hanh’s You Are Here. Slim volume, great results. No change involved!
4. For yourself as mom, two things (spoken as mother of 20 yr. old son and 16 yr. old daughter and from a non-woo-woo point of view): A. Walk, do not run, and get this book: The Parent’s Tao Te Ching by William Martin. Keep by bedside. Open at any page, and what you need will spring out. B. Dig up a picture of her at her lovely, loving, TODDLER or young primary school best. Keep nearby. Look at it and know that she will come back. I’m utterly sure you have done a splendid job and this is just one of those terribly trying “individuation” situations. But if she doesn’t do it now, then something is wrong and would have far worse results later down the line.
5. Give yourself the gift of reading something hilarious. I just finished Dave Barry’s Guide to Guys and it was fab.

janecunningham - August 22, 2012

yes i would like to comment… i am trying to learn this, the sitting with the darknesses that are part of me… denying them jsut means i find a bigger pustule of mean bursting out later, or reflected in someone “outside” me … i am recovering from a viscious flu and in this post viral lethargy i am being still, resting A LOT, letting people do things for me and you know what – it is bloody marvellous… i am also telling my kids “don’t push it because i have nothing left” and they can pull it together (usually) and that is bloody marvellous too (((jen in her jamas))))

Embodied Prayer | WomanSpace ~ Theapoetics - August 22, 2012

[…] better(and, yet, trying again the next day!), I read this blog post today from Jen Louden called I’m Not Liking Myself and I’m Not Doing Anything About It. Say what? Do you mean I DON’T always have to “be better” and to have my life be […]

Liphora - August 22, 2012

Instead of a nap, one of my favorite things to do is have a good 1-3 minute lay on the floor full length temper tantrum. I did it spontaneously one night and it really cleared the emotional tightness.

Phyllis Alesia - August 22, 2012

Very, very good, Jen. Sometimes there’s nothing for it but to go through it. Yes, some folks put this down as wallowing or a pity party. Whatever. But I say that honoring how you truly feel is a supreme act of self-love. And you cannot truly get on with things if you fake it through your emotions. In fact, I think it’s downright dangerous to do so.

grace - August 22, 2012

I tried the http://www.spiritvoyage.com link that was shared earlier. The 2nd part, the self-love –there were things to say to yourself that were things I don’t believe I’ve ever said. Try it!!!!!

Suzane - August 22, 2012

Beautiful! Thank you, thank you for this! The timing and the reminder is so right for me at this moment. Deep sighs and unwinding happening now.

Sharon E. Greene - August 23, 2012

Hi, Jen,
Thanks for your (always) honest and straightforward post. Like so many other commenters, I’m caught in the middle of an unresolvable time-bound situation that has left me tired, bitchy, resentful and downright mad at the world – any myself. It will work itself out, but not at the moment. Which for me, means that I need to head for the shower and let myself scream and cry for a while (while washing my hair – nothing like multi-tasking!). No, really. Sometimes a gut-wrenching sob-fest is what I need to clear and cleanse the emotional poison inside. So, between naps (wish I could do this!), try a soul-cleansing cry. Like others here, I’m sorry you’re in such a miserable place right now. Sometimes the best we can do is to do nothing. Happy napping…

Kathryn - August 23, 2012

Thank you for your honesty. It’s hard for me not to jump on the self-improvement track when I feel like I’m not liking myself and it’s helpful to know I’m not alone. I wish you good naps and much self-kindness and gentleness. Lots of love to you!

Mindy Hedley - August 24, 2012

Wow- I so needed to hear that. Thanks for your honesty-refreshing. When i am judging myself harshly, I think, “Would you judge someone else this way?” The answer is always no- I would extend graciousness and forgiveness. So why is it so hard to give it to myself? I love being reminded that I can be good to me. Self-care has been long in coming to my life.

Alex @ Raw Recovery - August 26, 2012

I had never thought about knowing when it’s not time to change, and you know, that’s actually a really refreshing thought! Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing this with us. I just found your blog via Weightless and I’m glad that I did. Our society is so focused on constant and consistent improvement that it really does get exhausting to always feel the need to be better or do better. I have to admit I love the Kali reference, it made me laugh.

KJ Stanton - August 29, 2012

Oh, how I needed this. Thank you!

    jenniferlouden - August 30, 2012

    you are so welcome.

Renae C. - September 6, 2012

So needed to read this tonight. Loved your interview with Julie and Lianne. Haven’t hung around here much before now, but I think I’m going to be changing that.

Isa - September 7, 2012

Pretty powerful words. Nothing needs to be fixed. And I trust that by doing nothing (no worries,no trying too hard) I am doing more for my well being than if I try to fix it. Love your insight. It suits me perfectly. Thanks.

PatL - September 8, 2012

Love this! Thank you for articulating what I have been feeling!

One Dozen: Vulnerability « Recreating My World - October 15, 2012

[…] I’m not liking myself and I’m not doing anything about it – I value this kind of honesty and self-knowledge that sometimes you just need to be where you are without trying to change things. […]

Kate - October 26, 2012

I found your blog today and have been leisurely reading through posts, then my mum woke up from her nap. I’m her carer. She is in a deep depression and right now, I just wanted to scream “This is hard. Really hard!” all over my Facebook because I’m here alone. But I didn’t because I don’t want to sound miserable. I don’t want it to come back on her. I don’t want to be a victim. I don’t want jokes made about the fact that I’m a carer (trying so hard to find my place and start a small business around it) and that means “I don’t work”. All of this was running through my head and then I read this. I realised I need to own where I am now. I need to find a way to balance being open about my struggles and accept that right now I’m angry, tired, sad, a little afraid and frustrated and that is ok. Just sit with it. Thankyou for sharing this – I feel seen and I see you. Thankyou x

Robyn - June 25, 2013

I need to have this on a t-shirt, and I need to be wearing that t-shirt today: “But no mean thoughts allowed!”

With sincere thanks for sharing this, because I need pj’s and soothing today. I just also needed some help with seeing that.

Sasha christianson - January 1, 2014

I’m 14 and I can’t keep them out it is killing me I don’t think this would help

SimpleProductivityBlog.com—Open Loops 9/25/2012: Articles I Think Worth Passing Along - SimpleProductivityBlog.com— - May 1, 2014

[…] If self-improvement is bringing on self-loathing, Jennifer Louden has a way past that. She shares it at “Self-Improvement Can Breed Self-Yuck” […]

Body Image Boosters From The Blogosphere 8.26.12 | Weightless - August 3, 2014

[…] Sometimes finding a solution isn’t the answer. Sometimes a nap and some soothing are. […]

Leave a Reply: