Why do we think that by punishing ourselves for not meeting our own expectations we will solve an existing issue? It’s so ironic that we beat ourselves up for making mistakes when we should be loving ourselves in every way to get past difficulties. I see it as a total act of hypocrisy when I’m in this situation, so I don’t blame you if you think that way, too. Honestly, I don’t want to sound like a cheesy postcard but love is the only way to healing. So don’t be so hard on yourself.
Okay so you messed up, now what? You failed a class, you sent a text to the wrong person, you missed your shift, you got sloppy drunk and made a fool of yourself. Whatever it may be, we mess up, it’s part of life. And remember, everybody goes through this.
But okay. To you it is a HUGE deal. Unless you’re one of the 1% that has already evolved in the self-love path, you’re going to start beating yourself up after screwing up. Your mind will become a huge storm that will wipe your brain out of anything positive and will bring in the darkest thoughts you can come up with. You know what I’m talking about. Suddenly you enter a state of self loathing.
Once you engage in this cycle, it’s only downhill from there. You miss the train, you spill your coffee on you, you get to class late. This feeds into your self-hate parade. Now you have multiple things to stress over and make a big deal of. Next time you find yourself in this situation, stop and realize how this chain of unfortunate events happened because you responded to your own flaws with despise and disgust, instead of compassion and patience.
Oh, the irony in loving ourselves more after making a mistake (especially when it may have hurt another person.) But try it out next time. The healthiest way to get over something of this sort is to do plenty of self care. Whatever it is that you did, it is something that has a lesson behind it. It may be huge or very small. But in any case it is a step of growth in your life. To get the lesson, to understand the message, you have to accept the situation and accept yourself. Punishing yourself is the opposite of learning from your mistakes. It’s the easiest, and it’s what you think you deserve, but it won’t solve the actual issue and odds are you will probably make the mistake again.
To make my point more clear I’m going to give a tiny example from my own experience. I say tiny because in comparison to other ones I’ve gone through, it’s maybe not as heavy, but still serves its purpose in this case.
I’m a very shy, introverted person so interacting with others is not the easiest for me. Throughout so many years (and actually up until recently) I would get so mad at myself for not being extroverted, super fun, and super social. I would mess up so many situations. I thought that I had to change that immediately in order to be happy. But I never took the time to understand my way of being. I would just mess up, not meet my expectations and get home only to worry for days about my lack of social skills. I would compare myself to everyone else who seemed to be so outgoing, fun, and perfectly behaved. Of course, this would make me feel terrible about myself. And that is when the self loathing cycle began.
I spent so many days feeling awkward and gross. Also, I would torment myself with ideas of what people were saying or thinking. So the next time around, the situation would get worse. My insecurity with the subject and knowing that I hated this about me would make me mess up even more.
Until one day, I realized that what I was doing was making things worse. It made me feel awful, I would repeat the patterns that I wanted to avoid, and nothing really changed. After dealing with one of these situations again (they happen constantly), I decided to focus on something else instead of where I went wrong. I was exhausted of feeling worthless. I spent time journaling, I took time for myself, and accepted the personality I was “conditioned” into. After that, I actually started loving what I was, even if I hadn’t changed anything. The only thing that changed when I decided to not punish me myself once more was that I was at ease with my social situation and the way that I am.
This payed off. It was strange. It seemed like since I wasn’t being hard on myself that I wouldn’t change anything. The opposite happened. I am so sure of my own person now that even if I still struggle in social interactions, my security with my personality is felt by others as well, and it is attractive. Self love and self acceptance is attractive.
That is why I’m so supportive of accepting anything that happens to you or that you do. Once you accept what you did, who you are, or whatever it may be that brings you down, you can heal it. When you heal it, you can love it. And depending on the situation, you can either let it go or incorporate it positively in your life.
Behind every mistake is a valuable lesson. Behind every negative reaction you can find something to heal. You will make mistakes all your life, that’s a given. You will find reasons to torture yourself emotionally too. But the change lies in the reactions you have and what you do after that. In the end, only self love will get you to where you want to be and who you want to be.