” But I do nothing upon myself, and yet I am my own executioner. ” – John Donne
Some people say that pain is good and it makes you stronger. They say pain makes you rise to the challenge and build tolerance. It deepens your character, tests your willpower and pushes you so hard that you create wonderful things with your life. While all of this is probably true for the pain that finds its way towards us from the outside, it is not true for the pain that resides in our minds. We all SAY that we want the best for us. We defend ourselves in front of others. We claim to do things to protect us and push us towards our idea of success. However, we fail to realize the powerful role of the constant presence of a critic, watching every move you make, every step you take and every pound you put on or off. The critic has immense attention to detail and is sometimes, nasty, inhumane and vile. The critic cannot be won over with arguments, justifications and compromises. When you sleep, the critic doesn’t sleep. That critic lives within you, relentlessly working to create and sustain emotional pain until it becomes a background noise in your mind that you teach yourself to put up with.
Self-criticism heavily influences the way we look at ourselves and the world. I believe some of the common behavioral quirks that might affect people around us such as unwarranted anger, jealousy, codependency, egotism and low self esteem often originate from a place of harsh judgement towards ourselves. We all have conditioned ourselves over the years on how to treat ourselves, how to view our actions, how to scrutinize them and how to punish ourselves. The kind of fears we make ourselves experience and hold on to in the form of insecurities end up being what we project onto others. People start to feel unappreciated, hurt and negative thereby forcing them to distance themselves from us. We often expect perfectionism from ourselves and while we claim to take it easy sometimes, whether we actually let go is a question. Over the years, we create a toxic environment within and around us. We slowly lose the ability to feel grateful, we fail to see the beauty in other people and for some of us, we might even constantly attract negative situations and people. It is a downward spiral that has the power to leave us in a state of depression, dissatisfaction and despair.
Why do we have to brew so much negativity within us? Often times we don’t realize that we all are supposed to be our own biggest supporters and caregivers. We all are supposed to be rooting for ourselves to be a wholesome person who shines from within while spreading love, joy and care towards all beings. Like charity, kindness starts at home. Healing from self-inflicted pain is aided by first removing the shame and guilt that we associate with caring for our well-being. It is not selfish to be self compassionate first so that we can be better humans and serve the rest of humanity to the fullest of our abilities. Although it might be surprising to hear, it is in human nature to love, care and provide support to those in need. To be a giver of kindness, you must first show kindness to yourself. Be your own advocate. Love your quirks, give yourself hi-fives and catch yourself when you stumble. Be patient with yourself like you would be with a friend. When you give attention to yourself and acknowledge the external and internal struggles you have been through, you begin to heal. You begin to embrace the beauty and humanness of your thoughts and actions. You begin to notice and appreciate the efforts you have made in order to cope with the challenges of every stage of life. You begin to build inner strength in a healthy way and give yourself a hug when needed. Gradually, the emptiness in you disappears and you feel complete, all by yourself. The world would become beautiful and no matter what obstacles come your way, you will have faith that you can hold your head high without blaming others or situations and see the other end of it. You will also become a happier person and people would begin to find you welcoming, comforting and refreshing to be around.
Hence, always prioritize showing compassion and understanding towards yourself so that you never let the sneaky little critic creep into your mind.
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