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Why Do We Beat Ourselves Up?

A Look at Self-Destructive Thoughts
  -- By Mike Kramer, Staff Writer

If we had friends that treated us the way that many of us treat ourselves, they wouldn’t be our friends for very long. Imagine a friend who calls up just to complain–about you. Or an alleged buddy who quickly says “I told you so” when you screw up. Or someone who encourages you to give up instead of encouraging you to do your best.

Why do we do this? Why do we treat ourselves in such horrible ways? For some, the negative self-talk is so bad that it would literally be considered verbal abuse if coming from another person. Do any of these sound familiar? “I’m not good enough.” “I knew I’d fail.” “I can’t believe I messed it up again.” “Why can’t I be more like (fill in the blank)?” “I don’t deserve to be happy.” If someone said these things to you, imagine the impact it would have on your confidence.

Negative self-talk can easily turn into a damaging self-fulfilling prophecy where you live down–instead of up–to expectations. It’s a bad habit that could strangle any growth and needs to be dealt with now. This is not “friend” talk. Yet it’s exactly the kind of destructive feedback we give ourselves.

This kind of language can have serious consequences, but people turn it on themselves all the time. Why? What did we do to deserve this? Is our self-esteem so low that we think we need to be talked to–even by ourselves–like this? Hopefully not.

You’re a fantastic person on an exciting journey, in the middle of creating a life that you want. If I were you, I wouldn’t put up with that negative voice in your head. You deserve better. If anything, your self-esteem needs to be built up, not torn down. What’s so wrong with reminding yourself of how wonderful you are? Isn’t that what you would do for a friend who needed a word of encouragement?

Sometimes, this can be easier said than done. Any self-bashing you might do may actually have its roots in something other people have told you over the years. Harsh words can leave scars that never go away. Still, that doesn’t mean we have to carry on the legacy of beating ourselves up.

You deserve to be treated with respect, encouragement and patience. You demand that much from people you know. Demand it from yourself.