“It is no fun, being a victim” – Louise Hay
Sometimes I call myself names: moron or loser, depending. That happens occasionally when I do something that I consider wrong.My self-punishment tendencies used to be way worse, occurring for any reason, until the shrink made me aware of it. Then I thought it was better to change.
Especially as I contemplated suicide regularly, at the time.
There are many ways to make your own life miserable, for example you can make sure to arrive late at all your appointments, or bite your nails down to your knuckles, looking at yourself in the mirror and describe what you see using unflattering language is also an option.
The most common form of self-abuse has to do with the way we think, though.
The stories you tell yourself
We all tell stories to ourselves. Theses stories define the reality we live in, some are general statements such as:
“People are not reliable”
“Everyone deserves an access to education”
Some are certainties regarding ourself:
“I’m such a klutz!”
“I can’t talk in public”
These thoughts might derive from our family background and many other factors but in the end, only one question should be asked to know if we should keep holding on to them:
Does this belief help me evolve?
If a type of thinking prevents you from improving, you can gladly dispose of it.
And it’s easier than we believe, here’s the method I’ve been using so far to get rid of negative self-talk, I learned it from a psychologist and I find it very compatible with the practice of Buddhism.
1: Slow down, and watch
To dissolve a limiting thought, you need to identify it, which is often very difficult: thoughts cross the space of our mind at light speed, they appear and disappear so fast that it’s almost as if nothing happened.
You can’t beat the speed of your mind (just like you can’t run faster than your own shadow), but you can learn to sit, meditate, and develop more awareness. As you become more skilled at this game, you gain the ability to see the judgements you have on yourself, their frequency and the part they play in your mental ecosystem.
That inventory of neurotic thoughts might not sound like a lot of fun, but don’t get depressed, please:
We often get disappointed when we directly see what thoughts occur in our mind, it’s not all pretty, rarely heroic: we often think very poorly of ourselves. Yet, negative mental patterns can only survive in the dark, they tend to disappear once detected. Make sure you rejoice as you shed light on your own thinking, no matter how negative it looks.
“Think for yourself, question authority” – Timothy Leary
Last step in this process is to question the thoughts you consider negative. Let’s take an example: “I’m not smart”.
We tend to validate that kind of ultimate judgements when they come from ourself, but would you let someone else throw that kind of crap at your face?
You’d probably ask them to back up their statement. So just ask yourself, honestly, what makes me think that I’m not smart?
You didn’t graduate in anything? The history of humanity is full of people who didn’t do well at school only to achieve brilliant carriers (Einstein was a mediocre student).
You consider some people around you to be smarter? How come you’re able to assess how smart they are if you’re that stupid?
The list goes on, just challenge your self-criticism with logics and honesty, doing so forces you to realize that your own judgements are arbitrary.
If you want this method to work, make it a habit, refuse to submit to negative thinking by seeing it and challenging it. Quickly enough, you’ll see results.
The ways we talk to ourselves condition us for the long haul. We might blame our negative thinking patterns on our abusive parents or past relationships, but until we decide to stop the process, the abuse is ours.
How about giving yourself a break?