Beating Yourself Up

One of my clients was packing up for a move. She wrote me, "I have neglected to finish (clutter busting) my shed and am really beating myself up over it....ugh. "

I wanted to share this because clients often talk about beating themselves up about their clutter situation.  It's usually just tossed out there in a sentence. But it's worth noticing as a personal alert to take a deeper look.

It worth noticing because it hurts to beat yourself up. Imagine a little kid getting behind at something, or making a mistake, and yelling at and hitting the kid. It's not any different than beating yourself up. We are still little kids in some ways. We're sensitive creatures. We get tired sometimes and can't think clearly. Sometimes we get overwhelmed and confused about what to do.

The beating only serves to break us down and make us want to give up. It never turns into positive change.

I suggested to my client that she stop the violence against herself about not finishing her clutter bust in time for her move. She would be better off accepting that she's stressed from the move, and she's not able to act perfectly and get it all done in the time she thinks she should. What would help is taking some rest breaks, making sure to eat and drink enough, and talking to a friend or two for support.

When you can't do what you think you should, it's an opportunity to understand your limitations, not to punish yourself for them.

I also told her that if she found herself beating herself up again, to not beat herself again. I said, "Remember the tender aspect of yourself. How can you be kind to yourself in this situation? Kindness opens us up to a better way through."

I know from experience. I remember a time when I was beating myself up back in my twenties. I was trying to get into the acting business. I got frustrated with my my lack of progress. I was driving home and yelling at myself. (I must have been interesting to passer-byes.) When I got home I was exhausted. I ended up getting sick for three days.

I had some time to reflect on how I'd hurt myself. Beating myself up was a red flad indicator to stop what I was doing and take immediate care. I was tired and frustrated and needed some time to take a deeper look at what I was feeling. I didn't and that's why I got sick.

As a result, when I find myself verging on or in the midst of beating myself up, I try and take a break and get some rest. Sometimes I just need to eat or drink some water. Or go for a walk and have a gentle talk with myself about how I'm feeling. Whatever feels like a compassionately helpful thing to do. Out of that usually comes a healing of the situation.