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My best friend had spent some time with her parents and brother and when she visited with me, we ended up reminiscing about our childhoods and she was talking about how she feels she can never live up to her parents’ expectations of her. It became a very emotional conversation.

Another friend, a couple of days after that discussion, sent me a little note with a graphic that encouraged people to “love themselves”. That really had me thinking about what my best friend had said and about what I feel about myself.

My friend had said that she knows her parents see her as a failure, they have as much as told her that. She says she feels they are ashamed of her because she doesn’t live her life the way they think she should. She talked about how they give her no credit for having any sense or rational thought and will argue with her about nearly anything she has to say, so she doesn’t really have conversations with them.

She has broken down a couple of times about how her husband had left her after only five years of marriage saying that he had to go or he was afraid he was going to hurt her and how her adult son (who moved back in with her after college) abruptly moved out after several incidents where he threatened to hit her and in fact did hit the kitchen cabinets.

She told me she feels useless, worthless and as if no one will ever love her, no one can ever love her. She feels she’s unlovable.

I’m wondering how someone can “love themselves” if they believe that they are unlovable, that no one in their life loves them?

I started thinking about myself and how I feel about myself.

I have an image of myself, the way I think about myself, as I’m sure everyone does, certainly my friend does. I think I know my own thoughts, motivations, intentions, feelings and beliefs.

As I thought about this, I realized there have been times, when another person has questioned who I am, what I believe, what my intentions have been in specific circumstance and began to question myself.

There are people who accuse me of thinking I’m better than everyone else, that I think I’m perfect, that I only help others because it makes me feel superior and those I help inferior.

As my best friend said, it’s hard to not question what you think you know, when so many people are making accusations that are contrary to the image you have of yourself. If people are constantly characterizing you in a negative way, doesn’t that impact the way you think about yourself? Whether you’re able to love yourself? Whether you trust your own assessment of who you are?

I do a lot of self-examination, introspective work. I find it hard to dismiss the input of others and as a result spend a lot of time questioning who I am, whether I’m doing, thinking, or saying appropriate things.

How can we love ourselves if we are constantly receiving negative characterizations of ourselves from people we love and or care about?

I know people say “don’t listen to what someone else says about you” and “why do you care what someone else thinks of you”, and that way of thinking is easier when it’s an individual or someone who doesn’t really know you, speaking negatively about you, but what about in the case of my best friend? It’s hard not to listen to what people you love have to say.