I was reminded this morning of how it is an ongoing journey, and sometimes a long-term struggle, to quiet my critical inner voice and be loving and kind to myself. I have come a very long way since the days of throwing hysterical fits when I couldn’t master the art of something first go and decided I was useless at everything. I have come an even farther way since the days of solely believing I was useless and hopeless at everything and deserved to hurt myself and feel pain for it.
Like many emotional or mental issues that people face, I believe mine are products of both nature and nurture. I think genetically I am very hard on myself, set impossibly high standards, want to get straight from a-z, and most often self-sabotage before I even get halfway to a goal. I also always put the happiness of others far before mine and continue battling even beyond the burn out stage to ensure others are pleased and cared for and okay. The nurturing I received was always critical and negative and generally nasty. The words I was telling myself, I had heard from the person who was supposed to love and care for me. I had heard that I was useless, hopeless, a disgrace. I’d been picked at and screamed at for not completing a mundane task to perfection.
As an adult, through more positive relationships, I started to build confidence and self-esteem and learn to be less harsh with myself. I learnt to try new things and not be afraid of the outcome, to step outside of my comfort zone, to stop crying over spilt milk. I thought I’d been doing well. However, this morning it all came crumbling down. I’d started the day feeling sad, and deeply worried. I’ve had heightened emotions lately and have been breaking under the stress of my work and the lack of time I have for anything else. I haven’t felt supported. So whilst working on some long term mobility issues at the gym, where I force myself to go for my health, I felt utterly useless. I felt like a failure at everything, my body couldn’t do anything properly, I couldn’t do things right, I wasn’t strong enough, I wasn’t coordinated enough, everything was a struggle and I felt the tears welling in my eyes and the bottom lip start to shake. I felt like a complete waste of space. It felt terrible to be reminded of dark places I’d been before. To be reminded that I do still have to battle it sometimes and it isn’t just cured forever. It doesn’t really feel like a voice I can control, it’s more like an overwhelming feeling that just swallows me before I have the chance to shake it away. Today was a bad day. I almost burst into tears in a public area because my emotions were so strong and I was feeling so terrible about myself. I couldn’t talk or think I just had to push through and distract myself or I would break down into a sobbing mess. It didn’t feel good to feel such a lack of control over my own emotions.
I remember how hard it was to stare at the mirror and look at myself in disgust and tell myself ‘I hate you’. I feel a lump in my throat now just thinking about it. I remember what a struggle it was to get through childhood and adolescence never participating in anything, shying away from everything, hiding in the crowd, developing with the belief that I wasn’t capable of any of it. That I was less than everybody else around me. It’s a terrible, terrible feeling to carry around with you. Getting emotional about it now makes me wonder if I have healed, if I ever will, or if I’ve just learnt how to better get through the days and get on with it.
All I know is, we can choose to push them away. I can recognise that my critical self is emotional and nasty, and I am not a nasty person. I am forever encouraging and caring for and building up those around me, always positive toward others. So I know that’s what I need to do for myself as well. We can pause and say well actually, I am not useless at everything. I am doing my best and am always improving. I am very good at listening, I am very good at sewing, or whatever it might be. You must find some ray of light in it. Don’t let horrible thoughts and a critical self ruin your happiness. Reflect on it for a moment and then gently will it away. We all deserve to feel happy, to feel confidence in ourselves and our abilities, to feel okay.
Choose to remind yourself of things that you are good at, choose to love yourself.
Be kind to yourself!