Two things that will really make a difference in your life:
- The ability to be kind to yourself.
- The ability to identify and be with uncomfortable feelings and emotions.
Being hard on ourselves, harsh self-criticism are often the tools that we use to be “good”; to push ourselves, to make sure that we do what we ought to do, be the people that we ought to be. The basis of this way of being is fear; fear that if we stop, we will become somehow unworthy ~ a failure.
This becomes most apparent when we want to “fix” something we believe is “wrong” about ourselves; some habitual behaviour that we “shouldn’t” have: being distracted, overeating, finding a partner, feeling anxious, feeling angry, looking too much at our mobile, not being patient or loving enough. The greater the desire for this change, the more frenetic we become in our activity. We push harder, judge and criticize ourselves more harshly. We force ourselves into a vicious cycle of criticism, berating, followed by a sense of failure; then even harsher criticism. The cycle becomes ever more compulsive. We can even find ourselves in the absurd situation of berating ourselves for not being able to stop berating ourselves, in the weird hope that this will help us stop berating ourselves. Thus, in spite of our herculean efforts, we change very little.
If we just pause for a moment and let go of the idea that we have to push in order to be worthy, then we see the utter futility of this strategy of self-berating. We see that it simply isn’t effective. We simply drop it and try kindness instead, just as we would with a dear friend or a child.
Our automatic desire to avoid uncomfortable feelings keeps us stuck ~ frustrated and feeling bad about ourselves. Because, although we understand rationally what we want to change, simply knowing this seems to have little effect and it is with a sense of frustration or anger that we realise that we are yet again in the same place. But it is by letting go and simply being with uncomfortable feelings, that we can see and experience the jewel of growth these feelings contain. We see them for the friends they are ~ the information they contain.
If you practice these two things the path to change will open up for you.