It’s interesting how we internalize judgments about ourselves, and they become our own.
Somewhere we learn, very early on, that there is something wrong with who we are. I know I’m generalizing here, but I believe that most people feel this way at one level or another.
Sometimes, we never learn how incorrect our visions of ourselves are.
Sometimes, we are fortunate enough to come to an awareness of the inner critic. That voice in our heads that so strongly criticizes how we act, and who we are.
Even though I’ve known for a long while that I am extremely hard on myself, I’ve had a difficult time changing my behavior, and my core beliefs.
I’ve been in therapy for a very long time, and I believe that I’m a fairly insightful person.
I’ve struggled with severe depression, disabling illness, and intense guilt over my perceived failures. I’ve always been very sensitive to judgments and comments from others, whether they come from people who are close to me, or those who don’t know me at all.
Over the past four years or so, my feelings towards myself have shifted. I’ve grown, and I’ve been able to see myself more clearly. I have learned to be kinder and more compassionate towards myself.
It’s been exhausting for me to attempt to be who I think I should be. I think that all of us have personas that we present to the world, hoping that we can hide what is ‘unacceptable’ about us.
Often this habit of acting, rather than being, becomes so ingrained, that we can’t remember who we are, or how to be ourselves.
I think that a big part of the meaning of life is to come to an understanding of how beautiful and unique we each are. To retrieve qualities of ourselves that we’ve pushed away out of a need for self-preservation.
Life can be such a challenge. It becomes unbearable when we condemn ourselves for what we’ve done, or haven’t done. For what we are, or are not.
It’s so easy to look back, and chastise the person who we were for not knowing better. Or to dislike the parts of us that have been dismissed, or judged in the past.
It can be difficult to separate out our own thoughts, from those that have been imposed upon us. If you’re made fun of repeatedly as a child for having a big nose, most likely, you’ll end up holding onto that belief forever. Even if you grow out of the big nose, and have a beautiful nose in reality.
Identifying our false perceptions takes a lot of internal work, and a lot of persistence. Actually, I feel that it’s a life long journey.
Recently, at a family dinner celebration, a relative made a negative comment about my having turned 50 this year. I said to him, that rather than feeling bad about my age, I’ve found that I grow happier and more settled in myself, as time passes, and I get older. He seemed a bit baffled by this response!
It’s true, though. And I expect that life will continue in this way for me. As long as I can hold myself with kindness, and understand that I really do the best I can, I will soften further. I will be able to more effectively separate out the internal rubbish, from my deepest truths. This realization has made me happier, and has given me hope.
Being trapped in the illusion of our unworthiness is so painful. It is such a dark place. I wish that each of us had this opportunity to see ourselves clearly, and find the compassion towards ourselves that we need to flourish.