A big part of learning to love yourself is learning to be present in the moment. We are not present if we are not in touch with what we are feeling. Do you think that when you eat for comfort that you are in touch with what you are feeling? Of course you’re not; all you’re hearing is criticism or anger or hurt, or whatever - if at all.
Are you aware of your self -criticism, or as I call mine, the inner critic? You might find yourself shocked if what you say to yourself was recorded and played back to you. You might also be shocked at just how many times a day you judge or criticize yourself harshly without being aware of it. We treat ourselves far worse than we would ever imagine treating someone else.
I am my own worst enemy. My inner critic’s judgment is swift and stings, and can really pile on the guilt. I judge myself harshly when I overindulge in dessert, when I make plans to do my exercise and then skip out of it because I’m already too tired or I hurt, when I know that I need to relax or take a nap to recharge my batteries, or when I look at myself in the mirror and see all that weight I struggled so hard to lose staring back at me.
Your inner critic is not a foreign entity to you; in fact (s)he’s a very familiar voice, and someone we dread – remnants of parental criticism left behind from when we were younger. We must learn to identify and reject this recurring criticism, or standards of perfection we expect of ourselves, realizing that we have absolutely no way of achieving them – EVER. These thoughts aren’t just critical; they represent beliefs and expectations that have been with us for most of our lives.
My son went through a stage in his life believing that if he could not learn something in a short amount of time then it wasn’t worth doing and the heck with it. Taking him ice skating for the first time was an exercise in frustration. He believed that because he was smart that he should be able to learn things quickly and easily. He gave up after 5 minutes and three falls. His thoughts weren’t merely critical. Here’s the breakdown of that experience:
1. I should be able to master things quickly and easily. I should be able to do this on my first trip to the ice rink.
2. Learning should not involve frustration.
3. I want to be the best at whatever I do; anything less is useless to me. Why bother?
I am the same way. (I know you can’t be surprised at this!). I am a perfectionist, and I STRUGGLE with this CONSTANTLY! I am realizing that I’m not “the victim” of these perfectionist expectations; there’s a part of me that demands that my life conform to the way “I expect it to be”. When those demands aren’t met, it usually stirs up anger, and boy, that just shouts to my inner critic to stop forward and she takes it from there. My self-criticism and my hatred that I didn’t do what I was supposed to do take over, and fuel my anger at myself. There you have it – in a nutshell.
So today we are going to start building and reinforcing our self esteem. Here’s a good exercise to help us do that: Today we are going to listen to how we talk to ourselves. If you’re reading this later in the evening, decide to do this tomorrow. It’s a good exercise. Once you become aware of it, then you can begin to change it.
Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?
I’m so stupid, I should have . . .
I’m so tired, but I know I need to . . .
I shouldn’t have eaten that!
I can’t do anything right!
I should be able to . . .
What might first come to your awareness is a negative attitude or thought that caused you to feel this way. However, if you look closer you’ll find that somewhere along the way the part that really got you feeling bad was a negative thought about yourself, not that thing you did or didn’t do. But we need to remember one thing, and it’s important, but we don’t realize it. Here it is - If you know how to tear yourself down, you know how to build yourself back up.
Thanks for stopping by and we can begin to heal this part of ourselves. We deserve our own love. . .