Day Two – #21DaySelfLoveChallenge

When I was in treatment, one of the things we were expected to do to fill our downtime was to work on specifically chosen workbooks given to us by our counselors. These packages offered tips on how to manage big emotions, approach things in new and different ways, and identify problem behaviours. Like most lessons there were things I found helpful and things that I did not. Certain things stick with you, though.

One of the exercises asked that I imagine what my reaction might be if I had asked a friend to help me with something but discovered that the task had been performed wrong. Rolling this scenario over in my mind, I could imagine myself gently explaining the error and how the task should be completed. I was calm, kind and non-threatening. It was not my intention to make my friend feel badly about themselves, just to clearly explain what had to happen.
The next exercise was to do the same, but this time imagining that the task had been performed wrong by a child. In this scenario I could see myself leaning into my role as teacher, offering a supportive environment in which the child could succeed moving forward.
The third exercise was to honestly identify the way I would react if I was the one who had done the task improperly. In this scenario my negative self-talk flooded my brain before I could even give it a thought. When I pictured myself making an error I was relentlessly mean and degrading.

In short, I treated myself in such a way that I would never deem appropriate for anyone else. I did not give myself grace, understanding or make room for myself to be able to grow. I was mean-spirited and angry.

So why is that?

Why is it so natural for us to be hard on ourselves? Why does negativity come so easily to us when we’re faced with our own challenges? Why do we not automatically treat our failures with love and support as we would if they belonged to anyone else?

Today is my second day of the 21 day self-love challenge, a pointed and deliberate focus for a few minutes each day on the topic of self-love. Yesterday I simply answered the question of whether or not I could honestly say that I loved myself. The question today is “Why does loving myself feel so indulgent?”

I look back to the work I mentioned above and reflect. Why am I so quick to treat myself badly when I would treat others in the same situation so well?
Well, I guess I feel like punishing myself is going to make me work harder. Maybe I feel like I don’t deserve to be treated nicely. At the core of these feelings there is some form of self-hatred, but why?

As I consider this a light goes off in my head all of the sudden and it occurs to me. I blame myself for some of the worst things that have ever happened to me, even though I logically know they weren’t my fault. How can I love myself through a lens like that?

Oh boy, this seems like a pretty heavy realization. I think I’m going to let that marinate.

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