Are you your own best friend or your worst critic? If, like so many of us, you are your worst critic instead of your best friend, you are not alone. Most of us beat ourselves up a gazillion times worse than anyone else does. We think back on the errors we’ve made in life- and trust me, we’ve all made them- and rather than loving that tender, wounded part of ourselves, we kick it with a sharp jab, right where it hurts the most.
Why do we do this? Imagine how much less painful life would be if only we could forgive ourselves for our mistakes, love ourselves when we screw up, instead of beating ourselves up. What would that feel like? Why do we insist on the internal dialogue that sounds something like this:
You’re such a moron for trusting him when he said he loved you. You should have known better. How did you let yourself end up in this situation? You must be completely stupid. But it’s no wonder. Why would anyone want a pathetic failure like you? You’re fat, you’re ugly, and your dumb, so it’s no surprise he treated you like shit.
I can’t believe you did it again. Again! What were you thinking, after all your hard work? You promised you wouldn’t do it again, but here you are, you loser, doing the same fucking thing you swore you’d never do. Not only are you a total liar and hypocrite with regard to others, but you can’t even tell yourself the truth. You’re worthless. You deserve to have bad things happen to you.
Sound familiar? I see some of you nodding your heads silently, chins bowed. How do I know? Because my inner critic has shouted these same thoughts before. By the time I was thirty-three, I was in the midst of my second divorce, and in addition to feeling completely unlovable, I was so pissed at myself for continuing to love the wrong men. I was so afraid of failing twice that I found myself in an abusive marriage with a man who tore up my paintings, put holes in the walls of our home with his fist, and, one fateful day, hit me. And yet, I still believed I had done something wrong. I hadn’t been loving enough. I needed to open my heart to more compassion. I needed to try harder. I needed more therapy. I needed to be more sexual so I could better fulfill his needs. I needed to forgive. Until one day, I found myself at 4am, waiting for him to come home yet again, sobbing on my hands and knees on the tile floor of the kitchen, calling his cell phone for the millionth time.
Then, in a rush of warmth, I felt a wave of peace, and I heard the words, “You are loved” inside my head, and something within me knew it was true. It took me another three months to pack my bags and leave my husband. Even once I did, I faltered. But those words “You are loved” echoed, and I knew in my heart it was time to move on. Leaving my beloved house, my boat, and my garden finalized the process, but internally, I had already left.
We all make mistakes or do things we wish we hadn’t. If you haven’t made any mistakes, you’re either not living life fully or you’re completely in denial. It’s a natural part of being whole, to be flawed, to screw up, to fail ourselves and others.
I would argue that those mistakes shape us, transform us even, and offer opportunities for growth. How can we truly regret even the most painful experiences if they help move us to a better place? Sure, we all do things, say things, behave in ways we wish we hadn’t. But if you’re moving in a direction that leads to more joy, can you see that these “mistakes” might be blessings in disguise?
If you can accept that even our screw ups help us grow and evolve, maybe we will find it a wee bit easier to take the next step, which is to forgive ourselves. We all know that self-love benefits many facets of being whole. Self-love leads to better health, better relationships, and more mojo. So we’d better OWN it, right?
I've long ago forgiven my ex-husband. I bear no ill will towards him and wish him only the best in life, even though we don't keep in touch. But what about myself? That's been the hardest part. Learning to love ourselves is easier said than done. For many of us, it’s easier to love even the vilest human being on earth than it is to love ourselves. Why do we erect these barriers to accepting and nurturing ourselves? Who is going to love us, if not ourselves. I know this may make some of you uncomfortable. You equate self-love with narcissism, and who wants to be arrogant or boastful or narcissistic, right? But these are not the same thing. When you open yourself to self-love, you open yourself to love- period. When you love yourself, you can more fully love others, and there’s nothing narcissistic about that. At the root of most narcissistic behavior is a total absence of self-love. Because a person feels worthless, they must seek attention from the outside world, whereas the Pinkie who loves herself need not seek outside affirmation. She knows, deep within, that she is worthy.
What about you, Pinkies? On a scale of 1 to 10 with one being “I despise myself” and 10 being “I adore myself,” where are you? What “mistakes” might you need to forgive in order to love yourself more fully? How can we support you in releasing these self-sabotaging thoughts, so you might open your heart to more joy? Please tell us your stories and let our healing community affirm, honor, accept and love you, in all your wholeness. Let us love on you and let the self-love fest begin...
With wishes that all of you will love yourselves as I love you,
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