“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked, try approving of yourself and see what happens” – Louise Hay
I’ve done a lot of work on myself over the past year, not physically, but mentally. What I’ve realized since then and looking back at where I was is that I became addicted to thinking negatively. Addicted to thinking negative about myself, my situation, and the angry hate talk that would rage in my head was something that I was aware of, but didn’t want to stop.
No matter what others would do or say to cheer me up, or the advice I read online (on blogs just like this one) saying that I need to breathe and count to 10, express gratitude, meditate, yoga, blah blah blah…it didn’t matter.
I WANTED to STAY angry and being cruel to myself.
Why? Because my reasoning brain told me that I deserved it. It told me, this is the only way you will learn to not mess up again, to not say the wrong thing again, to not make another mistake.
I thought the hate talk was my form of working on myself, “motivating” me to do better.
I’ve always believed that as people we have room to grow and that’s part of what life is all about, and still do believe that. However, I realize that after all these years, I’ve been going about it in the completely wrong way.
In terms of positively growing as a person, belittling and overly criticizing yourself gets you nowhere. Belittling and overly criticizing yourself does get you somewhere though: down the rabbit hole
Here’s what I recommend doing if you are stuck in this pergatory, since these are things that seemed to have worked for me:
1.) Stop depending on others to make you feel good about yourself
There’s this aspect of self hate which drags others into the mess inside your head. I hate admitting this happens because it makes me feel shame, but this right now is about being honest with ourselves, and REAL honesty does help you grow. Here it is:
Being someone who’s on the lowest low, and having others come to your help, especially when you are feeling lonely, can make all the difference. However in some cases, it adds to the addiction of being cruel to yourself.
If you are cruel to yourself, others may show they care for you, and you will no longer feel bad about yourself because you are getting external validation that you are good enough, and you are loved. But it doesn’t work that way. That temporary fix you get from others helping you back up and making you feel good about yourself doesn’t last forever, because the initial reason for why you are feeling that way is still there. And while we all have loved ones in our lives that we know are willing to do that, we should never depend on them for that validation in ourselves.
It’s not fair to them.
It’s not fair to ourselves.
We owe ourselves true happiness, and the only true way to reach a positive relationship with ourselves is to work on what’s inside. No more seeking external validation. While there are always going to be those who love you and there to support you, there saying “you are not alone”, in all reality, the only person you should really learn to depend on to make you happy is yourself. Because there will be times that there isn’t someone there that can help you, or one of your loved ones needs you and you need to be strong and supportive for them. Only you can make yourself be happy. Of course, others can increase and add to your happiness, but fully depending on others to make you feel happy or make you feel good about yourself and who you are as a person only leads to a dead end.
2.) Work on dropping the wall & letting go of that ego
We all have that ego of ours that tells us when to stand up for ourselves, and we’re right and they’re wrong, when we can control and fix our own issues and never need help, when we always need to be better.
Let it go.
It’s just holding you back. Really. Let it go, and see what happens when you allow yourself to be vulnerable and open to change.
3.) Mind your own business & stop comparing!
This sort of ties in with the whole ego thing. The comparison game is hard to beat, but once you do, you just see everyone else around you as a teammate in life, as someone who is equal: not better, not worse. Equal.
We all have our own path in life, our own story. We are all unique, and yet all the same.
Stop paying attention to what others are doing and concentrate on what feels right to you.
In my yoga class my instructor was constantly say, “stop looking at everyone else to see what they’re doing. If something feels right to you, do it. If something DOESN’T feel right to you, don’t. Listen to your body. This is for you, about going at your own pace. If you want, and what you need in this moment, for this day and lesson today, is to lay in child’s or corpse pose, do it.”
It’s amazing to be in a room hearing that, and just feeling all judgement melt away. Everyone is just concentrating on themselves, not in a selfish way but in a caring intuitive way, and no one is preoccupied by those around them. Even though we each have our own things going on that may alter our individual practice for that day, that in it self, the fact that we ALL have things that we struggle with and are insecure about, that connects us all.
4.) Work on recognizing your negative thoughts
This one can be especially tough, because sometimes thoughts just HAPPEN. But it’s about recognizing when you are thinking in a certain negative pattern. If you do something that you think was wrong or you said the wrong thing, what do you notice about the voice in your head? Are you bashing yourself or are you being supportive, telling yourself that it’s okay and that no one is perfect?
5.) Choose happiness
This is easier said than done, especially when your used to stay wanting to stay angry and upset.
But I think what has changed my mentality is that, this life if ours. There are no rules to how you should live your life.
We’re all different, our experiences, the way we perceive those experiences, how we think through situations, our genetics, hormone balances. Because of this, we are all helped differently, whether it’s reading a book, group or individual therapy, meditation, medication, it all depends, but there is no shame in whatever mode of support that helps you.
6.) Realize you’re not perfect and you won’t always be happy
I did really well the first couple months after I began my self love “journey”. I managed to keep my emotions and thoughts under control. And I felt on top of the world, like a completely new person except closer to my true self than I’ve ever been, if that makes any sense. Then, I hit a wall. Something happened, I got upset, and started reevaluating all the work I had done. “I feel like I’m starting to revert back to how I was and it’s awful, I don’t want to go back.”
No matter how much work we do on ourselves, there are going to be times when we will make a mistake, we’ll fail at something, we’ll get angry, upset, anxious, frustrated, sad, annoyed, or fed up. We’re human, and those are normal human emotions that we need to let ourselves feel sometimes. You will never completely stop feeling these negative thoughts and emotions. They are there for a reason (ever seen Disney’s Inside Out??).
The key is to not letting these emotions and events in your life completely define you and your experience. And when you start to criticize yourself for feeling these emotions, know that it’s going against exactly what you have been working on.
Giving yourself a little self compassion & understanding goes a long way.
Okay, well that’s all I’ve got to say for this post. Let me know what you think about this, or any tips that have worked for you in the comments down below. Until next time! Peace