Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed how often my clients criticize themselves. No matter what we’re discussing, they seem ready to pounce on the mention of anything that can be construed as a fault. Sometimes I feel like we’re each walking around like a cartoon character with a piano overhead, waiting for it to drop and smash us flat.
Perhaps we feel that if we’re constantly on guard, being hyper-vigilant about pointing out all of our weaknesses, then no one else will feel the need to do so.
When I asked my spirit about this in meditation, She said that all humans have a fear that something is inherently wrong with them. And each time that we’re given evidence that seems to validate this fear (“You’re too quiet, too heavy, you’re not that funny, you’re too demanding”) we experience the shame of feeling that maybe we aren’t very loveable. Then we store this fault, this reason for not being fully loved, in our memory so that we won’t have to feel that unpleasant shock again. We believe that if we keep a ready list of our faults, then if someone mentions them again we won’t be so traumatized.
This is a woefully inadequate plan.
I’ve learned from my spirit that keeping a list of our faults makes us defensive, because our “issues” are always front and center for us and so we assume that they’re highly visible to everyone else too. In our defensiveness we push others away, thereby validating our fear that we’re not loveable (See all the people backing away from me?!? I knew that I was unattractive to others!)
The solution? Practice acceptance of yourself and it will lead to others accepting you too.
How does this work? Because when you are being kind to yourself your energy is soft and gentle, and people will feel safe being near you. Think of someone that you’ve known who is very accepting of others. Remember how you let your guard down whenever you’re around that person, as if their acceptance rubbed off on you.
It’s time for you to be that super-accepting person for yourself.
Imagine what your world would be like if the people around you practiced more self acceptance, more self love. If everyone was kinder – with themselves and with others.
I recommend that you lead the charge, being the first in your group of friends to make an effort to be accepting, of yourself and of everyone around you.
Listing your faults is easy. Are you brave enough to practice self acceptance?
The next time you begin to announce one of your faults to the world, ask yourself: “Is this statement necessary, truthful and kind?”
That was the litmus test I gave to my boys when they were young. I asked them to run their words through this filter, and if they passed through, then they could speak them freely. And if their statement did not pass this test, then they should ask themselves their real motivation for saying it.
Once they each got into the habit of speaking more kindly about the other, they also began speaking more kindly about themselves. This practice brought increased happiness into my house, as my boys learned to be aware of their motivations and to be kinder to themselves and to others.
You can always go back to beating yourself up next week.