As I paced back and forth through my house, I mulled over the day’s events. After the long day and particularly negative situation that took place, I felt the weight of my mistakes and my failures pulling me down.
“What were you thinking?”
“How could you be so naïve?”
“You are so selfish.”
My thoughts tossed back and forth from the shame of the things I wish I would have done differently and the convincing myself that none of what happened was my fault.
For most of my life, when something went wrong or I know that I had made a mistake, it was almost always accompanied by a wave of guilt, shame, and self-punishment. These feelings lingered for weeks sometimes months after any measure of what I considered to be failure. Have you ever felt that way? Do you constantly rehearse your failures? Do you think upon the past mostly with regret and shame versus gratitude and fondness? Do you often feel very insecure about your abilities or don’t trust yourself with making decisions?
If you have, you most likely have heard others say to you:
“You’re too hard on yourself.” or
“You just need to chill.”
As well meaning as these people may be, most times it doesn’t change the reality of our own thoughts and feelings about ourselves, does it?
That is because thinking more positively about ourselves starts with…ourselves. Think about the well-known Bible verse, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” As yourself. This particular verse has challenged me to change my habits of the way I think and talk about myself! Being kind to yourself is also known as self-compassion. Self-compassion is the act of being kind and extending grace to one’s self even the face of a mistake or failure. Most of the harsh things we say to ourselves, we would never think about saying to another person. If you have consistent negative thoughts about yourself, feel guilty often, or know you have a low self-esteem, love yourself enough to do something about it! As you cultivate kindness towards yourself and work towards a positive mindset, here are some suggestions:
- Make a gratitude journal. List all of things you are grateful for. You can even include things you appreciate about yourself!
- Positive Self-Talk. The journey towards self-compassion is a daily choice, and some days it comes easier than others. Speak positive statements out loud to yourself and even in the mirror. This might feel silly at first, but there is power in the spoken word!
- Write a love letter to yourself. This can be anything you want it to be; but for starters, you can write to yourself all the reasons you are disappointed or upset in you. Be completely honest. Then begin the work of forgiveness. Write declarations of forgiveness for all the ways you have disappointed or hurt yourself. This is hard work, and it may be triggered to some intense emotions at first.
- Seek professional counsel. If you find that your feelings of shame or guilt are too much to handle on your own, seek help from a mental health professional.
It’s never too late to get help. Care Lodge 601.693.4673
Want to dive deeper into this topic? Check out this book on starting over after an abusive relationship HERE
Or this article Trauma-Related Guilt Is A Liar from domesticshelters.org
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