For the longest time, I thought it was cute and charming. It was how I got love and validation. You know, other than “Ryan, you’re so smart.”
My sense of humor has been known to get me in trouble from time to time. But not in the way that you might think.
This was maybe late in 2016. I was still living in Alabama. I got a text message from my friend Emily (now my co-host on Magic Time: The Podcast and one of my favorite members of the human race.) She lives in Rhode Island – not exactly close to Alabama.
“If I didn’t know better I thought I just saw you at a red light.”
Ever the smartass, here’s my response:
“Poor guy.” Then I added a ridiculous emoji of the smug smirk with sunglasses. You know, to dig a deeper hole for myself. But I thought I was being cute.
“Don’t be like that. I thought I saw you in my town!”
That was the moment I saw how that affected her. I apologized and things were good.
But there’s a fine line between having a self-deprecating sense of humor and actually hating yourself.
This isn’t my proudest moment, but I need to confess something.
Sometimes, I hate myself.
Look, I get it. “What the hell is this life coach talking about? Aren’t they supposed to be uber confident? Why would I hire him?” And these are all fair questions.
Allow me to ‘splain.
I’ve been working with coaches for almost four years. I’ll go to my grave saying that investing in coaching has been the best investment I’ve ever made.
And in that time, I’ve been on a lot of coaching calls. I’ve worked with some of the finest coaches in the world. And I’ve undergone a pretty substantial personal transformation in the last four years.
But my final coaching call in October was unlike any experience I’ve ever had.
This is a little more inside baseball than I’m really comfortable sharing, but I think it can support a lot of people.
My energy had been off the charts coming into this call. A few days before, I’d had an amazing experience speaking to the current Accomplishment Coaching training class. Earlier on the day when I had this coaching call, I’d given a powerful presentation to the networking group I belong to.
I was riding high.
And that might’ve been my downfall.
As I wrote last week, sometimes confidence can be a smokescreen for something deeper.
As I was trying to verbalize my coaching request with my coach, it was word vomit. I couldn’t speak and couldn’t put together a coherent sentence to save my life.
I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to be smooth and perfect and using my confidence to cover up the insecurity I was experiencing.
And I kept apologizing for it over and over again. I felt like I was wasting time – hers and mine.
Again, I’ve had a ton of coaching in my life. But the next five minutes or so of this session could have been the most impactful of them all.
My coach Lisa took a deep breath. And she appeared to choose her words carefully.
“Ryan, I invite you to just say the thing. If you need to word vomit to work something out, just do it. What has you apologizing?”
As with most my clients, we do our sessions on computer video conference. I couldn’t bring myself to look at her. I made myself small and childlike.
After thinking for several minutes, I said something that came out like a poison arrow to my own soul.
“It’s because I don’t value the process. I don’t value myself.” I said I “said” that. It was more like I “choked it out while trying not to sob violently.”
I was already emotional. Lisa got emotional (which I have never seen in one of our sessions.) She started talking about how it broke her heart to see my self-hatred manifesting itself like this.
And as I’m sitting there, I’m getting a flood of memories hitting me all at once. Relationships I’ve ruined because of this. Chances I haven’t taken because of this.
People to whom I’m given the Heisman stiff arm when they only want to see me win.
It was a helluva thing to be with. It’s a difficult thing to be with.
In all honesty, it still is a difficult thing to be with.
We can’t live in the past. We can’t live in our mistakes and our missteps. We have to leave the past behind us.
Dwelling in the past is only going to turn this vicious cycle into a Mexican firing squad.
I share this with y’all because I believe my story can inspire other good men to embrace who they are and to end this cycle of self-hatred.
I am taking some steps to shift this. Because not only do I owe it to myself to lean into my badass power, but I owe it to the people in my life who are on my team and want to see me set the world on fire.
If I’d had this conversation with someone before I did any of this transformational work, the conversation would’ve gone way differently. I would have met it with shame showing up as anger and rage.
I’d probably be scaring the hell out of my dog.
But not this time. I’m starting to take responsibility for how I’m showing up in the world. I’ve become more aware of how my self-hatred disguised as self-deprecation effects those I love and who love me.
And it’s already starting to shift my perspective on myself. It’s already starting to shift my relationship to myself.
I’m doubling up on self-care measures – healthy eating, exercise, and meditation. I’m watching how I talk to and think of myself. And I’m doing something that surprises me.
I notice something showing up for me in this context that wouldn’t have been available before any of my transformational work – I’m asking for and getting support.
Y’all, I can’t stress enough just how important it is to have a loving relationship with yourself. This reflection – as much as it hurt – was an obstacle for me in leveling up my relationship with myself.
I’d love to support you Kings in leveling up the relationship with the man in the mirror. Let me support you.
Email me at [email protected] to schedule a sample coaching session to see if a relationship with a coach can support you to do just that. (Spoiler alert – it will.)
You know, I’m already feeling this shift. Not long after my coaching call, I got a phone call that could change Coach Ryan’s life for a long time. We’ll see what materializes…
Love yourself. You’re the only person who is going to be with you every moment of every day from the moment you’re born to the moment you die.
You’re amazing. You’re beautiful. And you’re you.
And there’s no exact copy of you anywhere on Earth or in history.
Turn on your light. There’s a light inside us all that can blind the world.
Love yourself first…it can’t hurt.
Big, honkin’, stinkin’ note to self on this.
Photo by Rob Deutscher