How many of us have an automatic first negative mental and emotional response when seeing, thinking and feeling about ourselves, our life and growth? When we think about where we are on our journeys we may say to ourselves:
‘If only I was …(fill in perceived positive trait/behaviour,etc) I could have achieved …(fill in achievement)’ Or differently phrased: ‘If I wasn’t like …(fill in perceived negative behaviour), then I could have long been doing/have reached …. ‘(your goal).
Or how about: ‘Why am I like this? Why does the same challenge come at me over and over again and why is it so much harder for me than everyone else to ‘get’ this?’
Whichever ways we say such to ourselves, this is thinking and feeling about ourselves in the negative. Like me, you may have been doing this to yourself for years– privately in the seclusion of your own thoughts and feelings. And/or it may be so deeply-embedded that you’re not even aware you’re doing it anymore.
Repeatedly telling ourselves what we don’t have, haven’t achieved and can’t ‘get over’ is accentuating negatively-built attitudes about ourselves. It amounts to nothing more than emotionally and psychologically ‘beating ourselves up’ continuously. It’s like trying to run on an oil-slicked road. It’s hard to move when we think this way about ourselves. Besides, we are also showing ingratitude towards our Creator, in so doing, being an aspect of Him.
Yet, we can’t move away from this until we plainly see ourselves doing this to ourselves. Only then can we begin turning this self-abusive blight around. Only then can we begin thinking differently about ourselves with feelings of greater love, which would start reflecting likewise to us through the world around us.
Would that not in itself give us far greater leeway for greater success in the future, the next day/week/month? Would we not then be setting an entirely new and better agenda for ourselves and those around us? Yes, this would happen because we would be taking another spoke out of the wheel – riding along in our lives with far greater ease and grace.
Instead of seeing ourselves as doomed to failure, how much lighter within and without we would all feel if we could measure our growth and progress by seeing how far we have travelled on our respective roads. Instead of seeing ourselves as not having reached the place (we) expected in order to graduate. Or perceiving obstacles and challenges powerful enough to overthrow us, for that matter.
Seeing and appreciating the movement and positive changes we’ve made between then and now is knowing progress has indeed being made.
This appreciation of ourselves is another description for self-praise. Not in the shallow, vain, ego sense, of course. What is genuine self-praise but a love of self and thus, an encouragement and cheering on of self, as we continue along our path.
Because then we would be giving ourselves a chance to move fluidly like fish or dolphins in the sea, instead of thrashing around like fish out of water. Negative attitudes toward the self is like trying to breathe in an environment that doesn’t have the oxygen you need to survive and flourish.
My own very old, calcified bad habit of negative self-perception was fomented by feelings of deep inadequacy at school. The feelings began long before then in my earlier childhood and were long entrenched by the start of my schooling. Learning issues at school added to this and gave rise to a lack of confidence.
Some of the negative programming began at home with an impatient and short-tempered father who always left me feeling bereft over his insensitive remarks to my slow learning. I also had concentration issues and motor development skill problems at school. Learning how to sew a basic stitch, for example, took forever.
Over time, the negative attitudes I nurtured towards myself were pushed underground, where I no longer even saw that that was what I was doing to myself. I have no clue as to how the difficulties developed in the first instance. Whether due to MK Ultra programming early on, sexual abuse by two family members or a narcissistic mother who resented me almost from birth. Or all of it, some or none of it.
Wherever it was sourced, these attitudes had become my ‘reality’. It was how I thought and felt about myself. I would rarely praise myself when I got things right and if others praised or commented positively to me I suspiciously assumed they were lying to me to be ‘nice’. No one could really think well of me and what I did, I thought. So the negative self-talk habit hardened a bit more…
Exam time during school was a nightmare for me. No matter how many weeks or months of advance studying I’d done, I couldn’t grasp the work easily or retain to memory very well. Besides, I’d often have interpretation issues with questions in the paper. I was also almost always one of the slowest in class to complete projects – both during the class, in homework assignments and during exams. Because of that I was often not able to complete the paper in the given time. Meaning I’d often only have a 50% chance of graduating to the next grade, with the work I’d completed. One of the reasons I failed two high school grades.
I remember once in junior school, I got second prize in a swimming competition. But I wasn’t there to claim my big chocolate slab prize. I’d gone to the corner shop with a friend and missed out on prize-giving when they called my name. I was devastated at the time. Given what I know now, it was also likely I didn’t want to be positively acknowledged publicly.
Years later and during my journalism diploma classes – which I scored top marks for – I would put such successes down to a low class standard. Or a tour guide lecturer giving me good results during that course for perhaps liking me personally.
You get the drift. I made every excuse to myself to justify my negative ‘not good enough’ self-perception. Living in that limited place was where I felt most safe. This negative perception spilled over into my work, friendship and relationship life also. But the irony is that real safety can only be found in anchoring ourselves in the God within us. And staying there. That’s where true confidence emanates; where and who our real Selves are.
For some of us, perhaps growing – specifically letting go and moving on - has been the boulder in the road. And frankly, I have just not been able to 'see' myself as I have been negatively treating myself -until recently. If I’m too late for graduation because the bell’s already rung and I wasn’t adequately prepared at the time, I fully accept that and embrace whatever else life/God/HS brings me, to teach me further. But now that I’ve upped my understanding and awareness a notch further and have seen the blockage in the works, I am immensely relieved!
Imagine how wondrous each of our lives could be if we woke up every day hugging ourselves and praising God for another day’s worth of an opportunity to expand and serve. And then went forth with the wonder of an excited child as to what inner treasure or revelation we’d pull out of our inner lucky packet that day! This is the exact way I’ve always envisaged New Earth HU-mans to express themselves.
Suggestions for a mirror session twice daily. Say out loud several times each:
* I bless myself for having grown so much in the past … years.
*Thank you …(your name) and HS/God/life for bringing me all the lessons I’ve needed to get to this point of self-awareness and understanding.
*Every day is a new day in knowing further the glory of God that I AM.
*I graciously get up from every perceived mis-take, dust myself off, thank for the experience and move on swiftly.
Add more of your own.
A small change of heart away from bashing up the self in negative terms and talk can have big consequences on this glorious eternal journey. Because it’s here on earth where we make all those changes that return us wholly to our (already whole) Selves.
Though I'm not a fan of gospel/christian music, this chorus has lodged itself into my brain the past couple of days:
'Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water Put your hand in the hand of the man who calmed the sea Take a look at yourself and you can look at others differently By puttin' your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee'.