I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had with a woman embarking on recovery that is traumatized by abuse in some way, shape or form. I think we can all agree that the word abuse riles up a certain distain in each of us. But have you ever thought about yourself as the abuser? Ouch, tough question and I bet most would say no way! However, the same women I talk to are also abusers of themselves. This is not an accusation I state lightly as I am also an alumni of abusing myself. I am talking about negative self-talk, self-hate and self-loathing. Regardless of its origin, I believe we are all guilty of this on some level. I used to beat myself up with demeaning and horrible statements when I didn’t live up to my unrealistic expectations. Calling myself a stupid this or an incompetent that. Even for an accidental toe stubbing! Can you imagine if you stubbed your toe and I hollered at you that you were a total moron? Have Mercy, that’s not even logical or remotely loving and respectful!!!! My friends….is this not verbal and emotional abuse? I had to ask myself, would you say these things you claim about yourself, in your head, to another living human being? Heck no!! So why is it ok to have this running commentary in our heads and spirits about ourselves? It’s not!! Its verbal, emotional and mental abuse towards ourselves and by ourselves. And it’s not ok!If you look up the word “abuse” in the dictionary, you will run across terms like: violate, dishonor, deceive, improper treatment, insulting, cruel, inhumane. Wow, those are some horribly negative words! Yet we continue to berate ourselves with this type of internal abuse. I come at this hot and heavy because I am a survivor of a verbally, emotionally, mentally and sexually abusive relationship (disclaimer: not my recent ex). I was traumatized at the hands of another human being. So, I do quite understand the ramifications of abuse at the hands of another human. But I also found myself saying negative things to myself and thought, how is this any different from the abuse I endured by another? How am I justifying this as ok? And truth be told, I didn’t even realize I was doing it until I had a bit of sobriety under my belt. So I decided to nip it. If I wasn’t going to tolerate it from another human being, I sure as heck was not going to tolerate it from myself. Here’s the thing, if I am talking to myself with self-hate, my spirit is feeling it too. And I don’t want to live in a place denying my inherent worth and value. Been there, it’s no fun!
Recognizing this unhealthy behavior was the first step. Then I had to ask myself how was I going to change a pattern I wasn’t even entirely aware of and that seemed so deeply engrained? By changing my language, that’s how. I started catching myself and decided to replace the evil, awful words with the word “silly”. This helped me. It was lighter and gentler, but it also made me vigilant in catching myself. Every time I share this with another person in recovery they giggle (didn’t you? or at least you smiled and rolled your eyes!) Because it’s kind of cute and extremely ridiculous. I like that! The “silly” word makes me smile and cut myself slack and grace. Use whatever word you like, but try to change the language.
Another thing to try is to start paying yourself a random compliment. Like “You’re good at this”, “You’re doing ok” or even, if all one can muster, is “you have great taste in socks”….although if that’s all you can muster, ya may wanna look a little deeper!! I read somewhere that it is scientifically proven that when someone pays you a compliment or when you compliment someone, it gives you a surge of the healthy brain chemical of serotonin, that’s the happy chemical! Isn’t that good news! So try it and see that over time, the self-loathing and self-hate speech will reconcile itself. It has for me! And it is freeing. For we are all beautiful, valuable, worthy, awesome humans. I don’t care what we have done or not done, that’s a fact. Start talking to yourself like you believe you love yourself and watch that depressing self-hate lift.
Abuse is not ok on any level. So stop (easier said than done, I know)! Make an effort to catch it. Ask yourself, would I talk to another person the way I am talking to myself? If you are answering no, then quit abusing yourself! No matter how much you think you deserve to punish yourself, you don’t. That’s a common lie and it will shatter your spirit. Press on with self-love my friends! It is possible. It is necessary. And you are well worth it!
P.S. If you read this, I bet ya anything you catch yourself in negative self-talk a lot more than you were even aware. It doesn’t have to be! Live in the truth, live with a wholly loving spirit…and then pass it on!