Our inner critics can be so harsh.
Can you imagine talking to a friend the way you sometimes talk to yourself:
- I can’t do that.
- Why even try?
- I know I’ll never follow through.
- Better to keep my mouth shut than make a fool of myself.
- Why would anyone listen to me, anyway?
- Why can’t I ever lose weight or get a better job?
- There’s no use to even apply. I won’t get chosen.
- Are all the good men/women taken?
- Why can’t I ever get out of debt?
As with any abusive relationship, the first step is to be aware — and to recognize the patterns. In some ways this can be harder. With an external emotional abuser, everything is out in the open.
If you’re an internal abuser, it can be easy to deny. Make no mistake, though. This condition, if left unchecked, can produce harmful results to your mind, body and spirit — even resulting in anxiety, addiction and depression.
Are you living in your head?While we need a balance of head and heart energies in our lives, you may realize you’re “in your head” too much if you relate to continuing thoughts like these:
- Constantly fretting about the past or worrying about the future.
- Afraid to choose this over that — and your indecision has cost you time and money.
- Feeling trapped. You can’t ask for help. It feels like it’s all on you, all the time.
- Hesitating or withholding — because you’ve already decided things won’t work out.
- Developing addictive patterns — emotionally, nutritionally, chemically or physically.
- Not having a sense of fulfillment in life. You might have success and trophies, but not a sense of well-being, wholeness and completeness.
Dr. Sue Morter, creator of the “Energy For Life” program, explains how you can make yourself miserable by living with a mindset like this. When you’re so caught up in your head, you cut off your access to your creative self, which, in turn, robs you of your connection to other people and situations in your life.
No wonder you have headaches, neck tension, and stomach pain! As long as you’re stuck in this negative mindset, you’re in a dead-end relationship that’s only going to cause you pain.
Every time you put yourself down, your thoughts act as commands to your subconscious mind and directly impact the quality of your life. If you think you’re clumsy, for example, your subconscious mind will line you up with situations where you will be clumsy.
Here’s a tip. Whenever you think a thought like “I’m so clumsy,” immediately say aloud, “Cancel, cancel.” Over time, you’ll catch yourself more quickly.
Understanding self abuse
Self-abuse is the natural result of withholding self-love. It’s not about being self absorbed or narcissistic. It’s about believing in yourself. When you believe in yourself, you command your subconscious to succeed.
This helps you push through your limiting beliefs. When you don’t believe you’re worthy, it’s usually the result of having been falsely taught you must prove your worth — over and over again.
When you’re self-abusive, it lessens your ability to stand up for yourself — putting you in compromising positions with negative people who cross your non-existent boundaries.
Those who know their worth are much less likely to judge, criticize or disrespect themselves.
Reigniting the fire
If you feel like your life force has been extinguished from a longstanding pattern of self-abuse, you can learn to be your own first responder.
It takes time — and consistency — to replace those negative patterns. It CAN be done, though. There are lots of helpful resources — books and articles in libraries, book stores and the internet, for example.
The severity and longevity of your self-abuse patterns will dictate whether you need a more comprehensive therapeutic approach. If so, seek out a counselor to guide you.
Baby steps — like those compiled by authors and life coaches Jessie Hays, Byron Katie and yours truly — can help provide a spark to jump-start your engine:
- Don’t believe everything you think. Stop to question your thoughts by asking, “Is this true?” “Can I absolutely know it’s true?” “What is another way of looking at this situation?” For more practice with these techniques, go to byronkatie.com.
- Start each day by reading something inspirational, and take time to journal to get those cobwebs out of your mind.
- Look at any toxic relationships you may have — and take action to disengage. Surround yourself with people who support and encourage you. You are not a victim.
- Celebrate your wins — no matter how big or small.
- Move your body every day, and learn to love the skin you’re in.
- Find small ways to nurture yourself — a hot bath, a walk in nature or a favorite piece of music.
- Find something to be grateful for every day. As my friend, Cathy, recently shared with me, “It’s hard to be hateful when you’re grateful.”
- Learn to set boundaries and say “no” more often to commitments you don’t really want to make. Use a neutral sentence such as, “That won’t work for me right now.” You’ll be amazed how this can create more bandwidth and peacefulness in your life.
- Forgive yourself. You know that thing you did one time (or maybe a few times) that made you feel bad, embarrasse, and ashamed? It’s time to let that go. You can’t change the things you’ve done in the past, although you can control your future. Look at it as a learning experience and believe in your ability to change.
- Look at getting your positive strokes from within, rather than craving approval from others. I love this quote from Dita Von Teese: “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”
Our daily bread
Bottom line: Don’t settle for crumbs. Realize you’re “loafworthy.”