Judging and punishing yourself too hard?

I have high expectations and very high standards. On myself and what I do. I also feel a lot of acceptance, patience and humbleness. For you and what you do. 

It’s been like this for the main part of my life, accepting others the way they are, while judging myself way too hard. I am not the only one who feels like this. Many of my friends and clients say the same thing. Maybe you recognise these feelings too. 

An easy hands-on example is one’s home. For myself, I want it clean, organised and beautiful in order to feel relaxed, especially when I get visitors. It’s of course nice to have a beautiful living space, but less nice to feel forced (by oneself) to have it, and judged (by oneself) when not having it. Visiting someone else, I don’t mind at all how messy or dirty a home is, I have full understanding of that the other person has a lot going on, prioritises differently or if that person in general isn’t that organised. Peace, love and understanding. 

If I myself eat “unhealthy” or don’t exercise enough, I feel bad about my lack of discipline. If you don’t eat healthy or exercise, I salute that you give yourself relaxation around these subjects. 

If I lack in how well I communicate, with friends, family or clients, I blame myself hard for not having “come further” in my communication skills. When people misinterpret my words, intentions or actions, I take on all of it as my own flaws and something I have to improve. Rarely am I blaming or even putting half of the responsibility on the other. If you are having a hard time communicating with your family, end up in a conflict or an emotional outburst, I have trust in that it’s just because you had too much on your plate or the circumstances made it difficult for you. I would maybe pat you on the back and say “you’re doing so much”, “you did everything right” or “it’s not your fault”. 

Or a fresh example from today, when I was going to meet up with someone and I took the wrong train so I arrived late. That made me think very poorly about myself, whereas if it would’ve been the other one making that mistake and arriving late, I would’ve understood that it’s just human to sometimes be distracted and make mistakes. 

This kind of thought pattern of being hard with oneself, yet having plenty of patience with others, is common especially in the “aware” communities, amongst people who have read their fair share of self help books and/or attended self development courses. Taking self responsibility is a great thing to do, but blaming oneself for everything that goes wrong brings pain and self destructive thoughts and feelings. It can make us act way out of tune with our own integrity and stepping over our boundaries. 

“You can not inspire positive change when you judge a person – including yourself” 

My invitation to you, if you feel “it’s my fault because of my flaws and I need to improve” one time after another: 

  • Take a breath or two to center yourself 
  • Zoom out for perspective, maybe try to visualise the actual scene as if you were an eagle or angel hovering above it 
  • Tune in with compassion for the ones involved in the situation or conflict, including yourself 
  • Look at yourself as if you were a dear friend and talk to yourself in that way 
  • Acknowledge the good intentions behind your efforts and struggles 
  • If you experience feelings of guilt, shame or being wrong, acknowledge those feelings too, but as the tender voices they are, which are caring about happiness and harmony for yourself and those around you 

There is always room for self responsibility, insights and improvements, but those can be invited more naturally and organically when we also see that we are good just the way we are, and when we acknowledge the efforts we’ve already put in. Good intentions aren’t always enough to live harmoniously, but if we acknowledge the good intentions we have, also when we’re not performing at our perceived best, we can live more harmoniously with ourselves.

Hope this gives you some ease and comfort on your way navigating these feelings. 

With humbleness and love, 

Sara 

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