There used to be a time* when I trusted other people's perceptions of myself more than I trusted my own. If someone said something negative I believed in it. Like they had secretly scored a front row seat to the "Tanya is an asshole and let me tell you why" production my brain put on every night when my head hit the pillow. And the anxiety of being "found out" racked me daily. So when it was confirmed by a cruel remark, real or perceived, there was both a sense of relief and shame.
Which really sucks because then you end up paying far too much attention to the people in your life that are more likely to say something negative to you or about you. Cause what if you missed it? What if they nailed some awful part of you to the wall and you weren't at the show? So what happens is the great people in your life, the ones that know your bad and your good and still manage to think you are mostly pretty awesome, go to the back of the line. "Shhhh, I can't listen to why you like me right now I'm too busy waiting for this other person to tell me I'm an asshole again."
Then I gained the fantastically useful knowledge that every ones perceptions of each other are ultimately skewed by their own crap. Are they in pain? Lonely? Angry? Or maybe they are really just an asshole? Don't know. But it means that you are not their only influence. So now I do my best to acknowledge that it makes me sad if I hear something negative, or that I wish they felt differently, and then to trust in what I know to be true.
The other good trick I have learned is how vital it is to be honest with yourself and the people in your life. When you buy into the idea that you are never quite good enough it's so easy to slip into the hustle. You know which hustle I mean. The one where you don't stand up for yourself, or your needs because you don't deserve it. Cause you are an asshole. So instead you lie about how you feel, or sublimate what you need in order to avoid having the other people in your life be disappointed in you. But you still have those needs so you direct them towards things that are maybe not so healthy. Like eating an entire pint of ice cream or watching circus porn or whatever the hell your vice is. And it's fucking exhausting. And in the end it just makes you feel like more of an asshole for lying to the people in your life.
So that's what I know. I guess you could sum it all up with this asshole credo:
Try hard not to be an asshole. Admit when you are an asshole. Accept that other people might think you are an asshole because of their own issues. Trust in who you know you are, even if that means admitting a tiny part of you will always be an asshole.** And be brave enough not to lie to the people in your life about what you need even if it makes you seem like an asshole.
*By "there used to be a time" I mean "just this past week".
**Not you. I'm sure you are not an asshole.