We are often our worst enemy. When you look in the mirror, the person you see staring right back at you needs a lot of love and care. We are in a society that celebrates so much ‘toughness’, we create a ‘tough’ mask and do not permit ourselves to live.
We make mistakes and hold it against ourselves, beat ourselves up to self-harm and transfer that anger and pain to others.
It took me practically my whole life to realize that the person I was always wrestling with was myself – the reason I wasn’t happy, the reason I was always scared to take risks, do things, be happy, make decisions. The voices of people – both familiar voices and voices I made up in my head were holding me back and I was going in negative circles for years unknown to me. Of course, experiences I had contributed to this but it was in my power to release myself from the shackles of this torment. I am still a work in progress.
I wanted so much to be perfect, I wanted to be the ‘perfect woman’. I beat myself up anytime I made a mistake no matter how tiny it was. I never saw the good in mistakes, only how much of a ‘mess’ I was and how I ‘had disappointed myself and others once again’. I was brought up with a lot of pressure to conform to certain standard of living and present myself in a certain way – live up to the expectations of my parents, family, peers and strangers. Little things were always taken seriously and slowly I began to see only the seriousness in things. I was always wanting to perfect myself and I transferred that to people – wanting them to be ‘perfect in my own eyes’.
Over years of mental, emotional and physical abuse, I had developed a defence mechanism. Whenever anything or anyone did something that triggered me, I would often either react in a very erratic way, keep quiet or run away from the issue or person. This often left me feeling upset with myself. Sometimes, I would beat myself up for not standing up for myself, other times, I would hide behind the facade of pride and wanting to prove myself to myself and other people. I wanted people to know they could never take advantage of me. I wanted to prove to myself more than others that I was ‘tough’ enough. It was such a burden I had put on myself.
I felt miserable all the time and behind closed doors, I always cried and craved for the torment of judgement in my head to seize. I wasn’t aware of who I was nor was I aware of the magnitude of what I had been through and how these experiences affected me.
It wasn’t until few years ago, I realized that self-judgement had become a way of life for me and I had become numb to anything that will make me want to love myself; I saw it as selfish and weak. So, I would rather be very hard on myself than be seen as weak in showing myself love, healing or growing. I was always told of how ‘God will give me more strips than others if I didn’t do right’. It made me feel so pressured into always beating myself up for not ‘doing right’ and fearing for my life that God could end it or punish me for being ‘bad’. I needed to throwaway this toxic dogma, love myself and change completely my conception of God as a punisher, petty and wicked.
I had hit rock bottom and self-judgement amongst other things was either going to end my life or render me a walking corpse. I needed help. I began to receive the extended hand from supportive people but above all, the work had to start from ME.
I had been a fighter for most of my life and kept fighting even when I didn’t need to fight anymore. We are all fighters; warriors breaking through obstacles. It’s very important to know when to rest and enjoy the victory rather than be on edge all the time. It’s exhausting and not peaceful. Once you become aware. The process becomes knowing how to balance – knowing when to rest and just breathe. I remember, a session I had with my therapist who told me ‘Sophia you don’t need to fight anymore, you’re safe now’. It hit me so hard, I burst into tears mostly because I didn’t know how not to fight. I was used to judging myself and wallowing in negativity an toxicity.
The icebreaker was when I began to become more self-aware. This happened when I asked for help. I started opening up more to my husband, my sister and started therapy. I needed to speak. My initial fear was knowing who to speak to because often it was very difficult finding who really would listen or understand my journey. Most of the time, I had either been made to think I was crazy, dramatic or something was wrong with me.
Growing up, we were taught to pray and rebuke whatever issues we had going on. I do believe in prayer but I was going about it the wrong way. So rather than uncover what the root of the problem was, I was always praying against ‘demons’, judging myself, wallowing in guilt for some ‘sin’ I committed believing that was the reason I was miserable and in so much pain. It was couple of years I was able to really connect with people who really could help me without adding to the issue. Trust your guts, observe and you’ll be able to know who you can open up to. I recommend therapy also.
I stepped away from everything I had been taught and thought to believe was true and began to access myself from childhood to adulthood. I began to listen and observe more the judgements popping in my head, which wasn’t easy. Sometimes it will take me months before I try to listen to the negative and harsh judgements I was telling myself. When I observe, sometimes I still relapse into more self -judgement but gradually with time, I learnt how to balance and what I really needed. Looking back, I have come a very long way. I am not the girl I used to be. I see the change. I am proud.
Showing myself love was the first step to dealing with self-judgement. By observing my self-judgements and condemnations, I understood the patterns in my life, patterns that had been imbibed in me from a very young age, I got to know myself better, grow and heal.
The voices in my head, some made up and some familiar from my past and present life affected me in ways that almost rendered me mentally and emotionally handicapped. Along the way, I had lost my sense of self and had no idea who I was. Who I was was within me and as I observed myself and listened more to my Higher Spirit, I saw how my authentic self showed up once in a while and how I always silenced myself. The very things that made me who I was, I ran away from and judged myself because that was all in knew.
I had to nurture my inner child. I had to recognize and embrace the pain, scars, challenges and release them one at a time. Loving myself was the first step to that. Loving all of me especially the parts of myself I resented.
With all the beauty, fashion and cultural standards placed and expected of women, it’s easy to feel you are not good enough, not beautiful enough, not woman enough, not sexy enough etc. You begin to see your full potentials when you embrace and love yourself for who you are. No one is you. Your uniqueness is what makes you different. Use your individuality and embrace those gifts and qualities in yourself that you have condemned as bad because everyone says so. It begins with LOVE and only you can unlock that door by truly loving yourself as a beautiful woman who is part of God. You are a divine miracle. Can’t you see? You are powerful. Start seeing God in yourself as you and begin to live limitless.
Growth flows naturally, there is no need forcing growth. Forcing growth comes from being very judgemental towards ourselves and questing for perfection and approval from others. The moment we take a step back, allow ourselves to be imperfect and look at all the ways we have grown, we’ll realize that the most beautiful and positive lessons come when we are not fighting with ourselves but just flowing through life peacefully like water.
Self- Condemnation is an accumulation of all critics, judgements, negativity we have been told from childhood. Taking those words and molding them into your identity creates self-judgement and resentment. Release all the judgements and condemnations. Stand alone if you have to in who you are. Allow the real you to finally come alive.
Go easy on yourself. You are your number one priority. You do not need to prove anything to anyone, not even yourself because you are a people. Know your worth. Know thyself. Love yourself.
“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be”.