This morning I was on the phone with my sister Jan, asking her about a pattern I noticed in both of our lives. We grew up in a home overflowing with love, support, fun, creativity, physical affection and nurturing. We were raised with the idea that we could do or be whatever we set our hearts and minds to….and yet, here we are, two seasoned women who are excessively hard on ourselves, at times, lacking in self compassion and acceptance. Where the heck did that idea come from? We both pondered the question, coming up empty for an answer; except that our father used to say, in an effort to create resilient daughters who could face challenges, “If that’s the worst thing that happens to you, you’ll be ok.” It could apply to anything from a skinned knee to an emotional boo-boo like a relationship breakup. He hadn’t intended to minimize our feelings, but the umbilical cord was connected to HIM long after it had been cut at our births that he couldn’t stand to see us hurting.
We both carry the idea that we need to be the go-to people, the Ms. Fixits, the rocks on which others can lean. I told her that I felt badly, venting to her about a challenging situation in my life, when she is facing more daunting issues in her own life. She said something that surprised me; quite the sage she can be at times. She replied that my issues were my central focus and deserved attention too. There are times when I minimize my ‘right’ to receive time and focus from others, since “after all, my life is pretty darn good and what the heck do I have to complain about? Oy vay!.” I am uncomfortable with the sense of vulnerability it implies (to me, at least), letting the cat out of the bag that I am not always feeling chippery and cheerful and can whip a walloping internal temper tantrum that would be the envy of a two year old.
There is a poster I saw that said “The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves Around Here”. So often I (and perhaps you) harass and abuse myself with incessant choruses of criticism, as if somehow it will make us better people. It has a parodoxical effect and we end up feeling badly about ourselves, which in turn, has us spinning our wheels faster and with greater fervor, as if somehow that will make a difference. It only makes us exhausted, resentful and feeling as if we will never be able to catch up. Or then, maybe that’s just me. Nah.
I offer classes that focus on self love and compassion because, as the adage goes, we teach what we need to learn. I was speaking with someone tonight on that subject and was amazed how some of what this other person shared so mirrored some of my entrenched beliefs that I thought I had sent packing. Apparently not.
My friend Scott Kalechstein Grace waxes humorous about Critiholism which is perfect for those of us with over active inner critics. www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxuYQqR1IScwww.youtube.com/watch?v=VxuYQqR1ISc