“I’ve spent too many years at war with myself…”

Every time I listen to Sting sing “Consider me gone” I get stuck on these words. Why do we spend so much time picking on ourselves? As a psychologist I assume we learn how to do this from our overly self-critical parents, and then carry on the practice by habit. Some say these patterns get stuck in our brains and are almost impossible to fight against or change.

I know I have been far too self-effacing for as long as I can remember and then, of course, others along the way helped me become even more critical. Now, in my 60s, I’m still working at fighting this pattern in various ways. It helps so much to have a close friend or life partner who points out how hard we can be on ourselves. I remember back in my late 40s I gained a lot of new insight when I read Gloria Steinem’s book “Outrageous Acts & Everyday Rebellions” but this is a process that will last forever I’m afraid.

The three Carter kids at Grandma’s house at Christmas

Just recently I was rearranging things and came across a small photo of myself at around age three, looking pretty sassy in my new Easter clothes. Now I focus for a few minutes everyday on that little girl, on loving her all the way through and sending good thoughts for the many ways she might feel really good about herself for the rest of her life. I feel so much compassion for the battles she has fought in her war against herself and visualize how much easier her life could have been if she had learned self-love at an early age. I seems it has always been easier to be critical rather than compassionate towards myself.

I watched a marvelous 2005 movie recently called, “Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont.” It’s about a retired older woman, played wonderfully by Joan Plowright, who befriends a young man, played by Rupert Friend, (YUM!) by chance on the streets of London. It’s has a lot of insights into aging and how we treat our elders with a number of great lines, but the one that keeps coming back to me is:

“It’s very important to praise people a lot early on, otherwise they might die of disappointment.

A New Years Idea for Change: Change the way you see, judge and treat yourself!

This was my ONLY New Year’s Resolution from 2015, and I do believe I have made a bit of progress on this one! Such marvelous writing!

“I resolve to accept the idea that I need not change anything about myself this year (or maybe ever) except the way in which I judge myself. I need not change anything about myself except the harsh criticisms I chronically unleash upon myself. I need not change anything except the warped lens through which I watch my every move. I need not change anything except the fun house mirror which I carry with me everywhere and whose distorted reflections I believe are real.

I resolve to accept the idea that my main problem is not my face, body or résumé but my frame of mind. Granted, that’s a pretty big problem, as this frame of mind affects every aspect of my life and might be making me too depressed right now to even realize that I’m depressed, much less able to imagine changing. Anything. Ever. At all.

live-and-learn-2But this is the great thing about holidays: They’re temporal gateways, urging us collectively to enact virtual rituals. Today is not just any random day. It’s a shift, proclaimed around the world. And into that gaping chasm between old year and new, that crevasse over which we now walk a short bright temporary bridge, we can hurl those warped lenses and fun house mirrors, all of us. Down that gap we can yell our last harsh words about ourselves, and hear their echoes dissolve into gibberish then ebb into that vast, inviting silence as we hasten, set free, to that smiling, untried other side.”

HAPPY NEW YEAR & GOOD LUCK!

An excerpt from: http://spiritualityhealth.com/blog/anneli-rufus/whats-one-and-only-new-years-resolution-people-low#sthash.UKyIsWIo.dpuf  by Anneli Rufus