Thursday, December 10, 2009

Don't Tolerate It

Abuse in any way shape or form is wrong. Be it physical, sexual, emotion, verbal or otherwise. Just about everyone knows this and will rally to the aid of anyone they know who is being abused. Yet, there is one form of abuse that is still acceptable.

We often engage in patterns of abusive thoughts and emotions when it comes to ourselves. We call it ‘pushing ourselves’ but, truth be told, many of us take it a step further. Some of us take it a step too far. We berate, talk down to, and abuse ourselves.

I can speak about this because I did this for many years. “I’m so stupid.” “I can’t believe I did that! What kind of idiot does that?” Or “No wonder you can’t find a spouse/get a promotion/etc…” Since I would eventually get back up and dust myself off, I convinced myself that this kind of abusive self-talk was okay. I convinced myself that it was helping me.

It took me years to realize that the opposite was true. I could rebound faster without the emotional beat down. I could get beyond my setbacks and shortcomings with love for myself.

One thing is clear. When you are in the throes of emotion, clear thinking is next to impossible and that’s when you need it most. It is possible though to drown in a sea or frustration or get lost in a thick forest of discouragement. In fact, things seem a lot worse when a lot of negative emotion is attached. And when you are feeling bad anyway, the very last thing you need is to feel worse.

I still have feelings of discouragement and frustration. I still make mistakes. Those things will never change. But what has changed is my response to them. I feel the emotions but I try not to add to the situation by piling a whole lot of negative self-talk on top of them.

I try to replace the reactive self-talk with proactive questions.
“Okay, I messed up. What can I do next time to keep this from happening again?”
“What can I learn from this?”
“What did work in this situation? And what can I do differently the next time?”

I would never tolerate abusive language and behavior from someone else, it was time to stop tolerating it from myself.

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