I intend to start REALLY diving in and dissecting some of the long-held beliefs and stories that have been running constantly in the background of my mind for years. Today, I'm attacking a really formidable one, and I KNOW that lots of women in our day face this obstacle....it's the idea that "If I don't beat myself up constantly, then how will I get better?"
I know, that in a normal day, if I don't achieve absolutely everything on my mental to-do list, I feel like a failure. I'll call myself petty names and demand "Why can't you JUST???" to everything. I also, start at the top of the list, and follow a pretty predictable pattern where I start with the things that I didn't accomplish, I then go on to dredge up past mistakes, and then I finally always end with yelling at myself for my weight. You're probably reading this and thinking, "Oh my *potty words*, this lady has got some issues!" However, I didn't even realize my pattern of thoughts until I started really paying attention to them several months back.
Speaking of several months, this is sort of why I stopped writing my blog. I would tell myself I was going to do it, because I had great content to share with the world, and I want to offer so much more to my customers than corsets (even though, what those alone offer is fantastic!). Then, I would get "busy" (that's the dirtiest word in the English language to me right now. In fact, my brother and I have this thing where we catch each other saying it and then we both have to re-commit to NOT using it as an excuse like the rest of the world.) and then when I didn't write it, I would beat myself up for it. Why? Well....because I HAVE to beat myself up. It's not SAFE to NOT beat myself up. If I don't do it, then who is going to?
So, the question is, DOES this self-flagellation work? Let's examine. When I beat myself up for not writing my blog, did it inspire me to reach greater heights and get out of my comfort zone? Um. No. Not freaking at all. Then why do I do it?
I have read a lot of Louise Hay's work recently, and I highly suggest it, ESPECIALLY if you have any physical pain or mental suffering. She's not only kicking A- and taking names in the self-help world, but she is also freaking 88 years old, and a hot lady! LOOK AT HER! Below is one of my favorite quotes out of all of her work, because it resonated with me and made me really take a hard, cold look at myself.
I think that perhaps sometimes we decide to beat ourselves up because we are afraid of others doing it, and we want to "beat them to the punch" (literally). I know that for me and my brain, it is this false sense of progress that I indulge in. I think, "Yeah, if I can examine the problem and yell at myself enough, I will totally change.". The horrible irony is that this is all such a lie. Have you EVER been inspired to do something on a consistent basis when you were criticized, belittled, abused, and guilted into it? Does SHAME really get you going in the morning? Honestly. If you said those type of things to your husband, children, or friends, would they say, "Oh my heck, you're right about all the ways in which I suck and can never do anything and should be like other people! I'm going to do exactly what you tell me to do right now, and continue doing it forever!!!"
I have a little boy named Todd who is one of the most forceful, fiery balls of energy I've ever met. He is going to be an incredible leader someday, but only if I can learn to love him and approve of him more than I have in the past. He's the kind of kid that will fly into a room and somersault onto the couch, and pull a wooden knife out of nowhere. He has BIG emotions (I can't imagine where he gets them) and feels things on a very deep level. I have made the horrible mistake of treating him like I treat myself, and he REJECTS it and acts out violently and swiftly. When I get upset with him and tell him to slow down and stop being so crazy, it's like trying to stop a freight train. I just get run over.
The other day, this amazing thing happened, though. It was time to go to school, and I was frantically at work, answering emails and trying to get packages shipped out. I looked at the clock and thought, "Oh, crap, it's time to get that kid to school or he'll be late!" I ran upstairs and yelled, "Todd, get your shoes on RIGHT now, WE'RE LATE!" He had been just sitting there eating cereal, but when he heard he was late, his face turned red, his nostrils flared and he yelled, "What??? I'm LATE??????" And then he roared like a beast and punched the back of our couch, right on the wooden frame, as hard as he could!
For some reason, I found something within me, and instead of yelling at him for yelling and punching, I calmly said, "Actually, bud, you're not late right now if you get your shoes on and we leave. I'm GLAD you have these big emotions and you feel SO STRONGLY about not being late. I'm PROUD of you for feeling so big about being on time. I'm glad you punched the couch, and I only hope that the next time, you go for something BIGGER. Punch a shark or a lion next time."
The instant change in him was one of the most miraculous things I've ever seen. It was like a popped balloon of emotion. He stood there stunned. Then he sort of laughed. Then he said, "Yeah, I'll punch a shark next time. That would be awesome." He put his shoes on, and we were on time for school.
So, I guess the moral of the story is that beating yourself up does not work. It might work for a little while, but when there is that much disapproval coursing through your veins, it will not only extend to you, but also to other people, and everyone ends up miserable and feeling like they're not enough. The next time you're going to rage at yourself...punch a shark instead.