To be honest, when I first listened to the challenge for Day 6, my first thought was “Ugh.” I don’t like sharing vulnerability. Then, I decided that maybe this challenge will be really good for me. 🙂
So, today I decided to talk about verbal abuse –towards one self. I’ve been on Pinterest long enough to know that I’m not the only woman out there who struggles with being self-critical. You don’t have to search for long to find posts reminding us that we’re special, that we’re enough, and that we’re filled with glitter and sunshine. 🙂 And yet, even though I know I’m not alone in self-criticism, it can seem really isolating. So often, it can seem like I’m the only one who spends way too much time saying unkind things to myself.
Sometimes it can seem like I’m just being honest –that I’m just speaking the cold, hard truth to myself. Most of the time, however, that’s not the case. While self-improvement is a good thing, and working to overcome weakness is also a good thing, self-destruction is not. I think a lot of what makes this key distinction between the two is the tone, or the attitude in which we talk to ourselves. Self-critiquing can be effective when paired with compassion, patience, and a belief that we can change. But when it becomes a downward spiral filled with shame, and hopelessness, it veers into the territory of self-hatred.
I believe strongly that we all have worth beyond measure, and the capacity to grow exponentially. I think that when done right, we can objectively look at ourselves, determine how we want to change our lives, and reach those goals. But I really think this needs to be done with kindness towards ourselves, not harshness.
But how does this apply to me? Well, let me tell you… I have struggled so much over the years with social situations, simply because of how unkind I am to myself. Time after time, I have come to the event, my heart pounding, worrying that I everyone will hate me, that I will say something stupid, and that somehow, I will have ruined everyone’s day. And then, after each time the evening has ended, I have been ready to cry, convinced that I have ruined other’s perception of me, that I was beyond awkward, and that I have ruined future chances for friendship. Most of the time, this isn’t even true. Most of the time, I just came off a little shy. While I do still struggle with this on occasion, it has -thankfully -gotten much better.
This past time losing weight, I decided to take a different route than my usual. I took small, reasonable steps, and most importantly, I worked on being kind to myself. Instead of looking at photo-shopped models that I wanted to aspire to be like, I looked at pictures of my highest weight, and said kind things to that girl. I then cheered myself on when the mirror indicated I was losing weight. I cheered myself on for getting stronger. I cheered myself on for cheering myself on! And this optimism, this embracing of myself helped me to want to reach out more, and in a very real way, it helped me to reach my goal of losing weight in away verbal self-abuse never could.
I’d love to be able to say that I’m 100% over perfectionism, and self-criticism, but I’m not. What I can say is that I have come a long way in this regards. I can feel the difference. Through this process I have become a lot more compassionate towards others. I’ve found that it helps me to think more objectively about myself, and about stressful situations.
Now, again, I don’t advocate running from challenges, or for a lackadaisical approach to life. I simply think that we should show the same love to ourselves that we do to other people. After all, we’re stuck with ourselves. We might as well make it a beautiful relationship.
Well, that was me getting vulnerable. I hope I’m able to reach out and help someone today. 🙂