Yesterday I was reprimanded in probably the nicest and kindest way anyone could be reprimanded by a total stranger, and yet I felt pretty bad when it was over.
I didn’t even do anything wrong. I was just asked a question but I internalized it like I had actually committed some great crime.
When I woke up this morning, I hit the journal and a similar theme popped up: You’re still too hard on yourself.
“Really? I thought I got over this,” I said to myself. But once I embraced the reality, I got into more investigating.
I decided to embody the me who believed it was good to feel bad when someone instructs me to stop doing something or warns me.
I realized that there really was something supporting this self-abuse. I believed that being hard on myself was helping me to be more perfect.
By applying this pressure on myself I thought I could be more in-tune with others’ needs, and ultimately, isn’t life really about serving others?
A clever cop-out but I knew that perfection wasn’t a realistic goal. Moreover, while it is good to be able to be in tune with the needs of others, didn’t I need to be in tune with my own needs?
I have the need to be valued, respected and to feel good regardless of if I’m in the right or if I made a mistake. If this is what I seek to give others, doesn’t it make sense to give this to myself?
After all, this was how I was treated yesterday.
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
It doesn’t matter how well you treat people if you still treat yourself poorly. You might want to do good in the world and hope that others pay it forward, but when they do and you still beat yourself up or you even become defensive, this is a you problem.
No one’s attacking you but you. Someone attacked you a long time ago for something you did, you didn’t heal from it and now you get triggered at the slightest rebuke.
The solution that worked for me is a solution I often give in posts like this. If you’re having an emotional problem, you can’t sidestep the emotion and get to a solution. You have to embrace what you’re feeling instead of running away from it.
If you struggle with this like I did, you can do what I did above and write about what you experienced and how you felt. By externalizing our thoughts, we are able to see what is true and what was something we made up in our heads; we are able to see what was logical and what was coming from an old wound.
You can even take it a step further and be the you that thinks it makes sense to be offended, scared, defensive, or whatever emotion is coming up for you. That side of you has a perspective to share that you need to know.
My reason for being harsh on myself might be different than yours. My story of how I beat myself up may be different than your story. But by getting in touch with that side of you, you can simultaneously learn why you react the way you do and heal the wound.
As psychologist Alice Boyes wrote, “People who are too hard on themselves typically see their self-criticism as justified.” Some of us may be consciously aware of why we do this to ourselves, some aren’t and there may even be more to learn.
But if we explore the emotions behind the reactions to events in our lives, we can find relief.