Be Gentle with Yourself
You can only attract the people, things, and events that match the quality and intensity of your beliefs about yourself. That’s why being gentle with yourself is a pre-requisite for conscious creators. You can visualize and affirm all you want, but if in your heart you aren’t worthy, you aren’t receiving.
If you want to let the good stuff in,
stop beating yourself up.
No matter what.
Criticizing yourself, beating yourself up, feeling sorry for yourself, and being disappointed in your own behavior is not virtuous, honorable, or productive in any way. If you do it on a regular basis, you’ve been taught to believe that negative feedback is an effective way to motivate change.
That kind of thinking was taught to you by those who didn’t know any better than to make you feel worse so they could feel better. They did their job well because you sub-consciously believe that if you can make yourself feel bad enough, you’ll do better.
Fortunately, that’s not how it works. Negative feedback creates avoidance behavior, not inspired behavior. Otherwise, the only way we can be successful is by making ourselves miserable!
Self criticism is a primal form of invalidation, and humans need validation at the most primal level in order to thrive. Decision making, creative thinking, intuition, and higher comprehension are most efficient when the self feels good about itself.
Getting upset with yourself has devastating effects on your self esteem. it creates enormous resentment, resistance, frustration, and jealousy that causes you to sabotage your own best efforts. It fills you with stress hormones and inhibits your creativity. It sucks the energy right out of you and it feels bad. Self criticism is self defeating.
Biologically, criticism sends a danger signal to your nervous system that puts you into “fight or flight” mode just as effectively as a bear chasing you through the woods. While the situation with the bear will resolve itself rather quickly, emotional stress and trauma goes on and on.
During “flight or flight” mode, your body slows down cellular growth and repair, digestive and immunity functions, and higher cognitive processes in order to give priority to the mid-brain, glands, and muscles that help you run faster and climb higher to escape the bear. No wonder our shoulders hurt and our legs are restless when we can’t climb a tree to escape the danger!
Self criticism actually makes you sick. You can’t focus, relax, digest, sleep, or shift your energy as well as you can as when you feel good about yourself. That’s why choosing to feel good about yourself, no matter what, is the most important Practice you can undertake. It also requires the most courage!
A Brief Criticism of Criticism
Authority figures love to use criticism to disarm their enemies and control people. Whoever the authorities are for you, if you criticize yourself, you have learned to do the work for them. Your energy, enthusiasm, attractiveness, joyfulness, intelligence, sensuality, sense of humor—whatever—is no longer a threat to them because they have conditioned you to need them to tell you if you are worthy or not. They pulled your plug, and most of the good stuff you do manage to attract goes down the drain because you don’t believe you have suffered or sacrificed enough to deserve it.
But take heart. If you beat yourself up for any reason, if you criticize and second guess yourself to the point of distraction, if you are depressed because things aren’t working out for you, it’s ok. It’s not your fault. None of it is your fault. And that tunnel has no cheese!
If you want to make a real and lasting change in how you feel, you’ve got to turn off the self criticism and pity and choose to be gentle with yourself. And every time you do it you will be one step closer to matching the energy of your desires and attracting what you want.
This one change in your behavior, practiced consistently,
will make the biggest improvement in the quality of your life.
Hands down, forward and backward,
inside and out.
I can’t say it enough!
You must be able to validate yourself if you want to thrive in a physical reality where people and things are constantly changing. Needing others to validate you is exhausing and it never works for very long. You have to see yourself as worthy of what you want, by virtue of who you are, before you can have what you want.
You may not realize it but airplanes are usually off course throughout their flights, yet they land at the right airport because the pilot (or auto-pilot) constantly corrects for drift. That’s what you have to shoot for—correcting your drift when your emotions tell you that you are off course so that you can land in an “I AM feeling good” airport.
When you are trying hard but miss the mark, remember that professional baseball players miss the ball most of the time, not to mention that great golfers usually hit above par. It’s the cumulative effect that pays dividends. You have to keep at it.
If, for example, you criticize yourself for smoking again after quitting five times, you will continue to repeat that pattern. But if you celebrate your good intentions and continue to believe that eventually you will quit for good, you will. If you give yourself permission to believe in yourself, even if you haven’t changed your behavior yet, you will stop beating yourself up as often.
Just this tiny bit of emotional relief, enjoyed every time you choose to land at the “I AM feeling good” airport instead of kicking yourself in the head, will build your self esteem and increase your chances to voluntarily—and enthusiastically—change your behavior. Most importantly, you will expand your capacity for change.
Whoever taught you to feel bad about yourself, what they did to you and why they did it, isn’t important anymore. It was just who they were being, not who they are, so let it go and grab hold of the most important gift you can give yourself. Your life unfolds from that place inside you that either says you are worthy or you are not. “I AM Worthy” says you are letting the good stuff in, “I AM Not Worthy” says you are resisting and keeping the good stuff out.
Focus causes expansion. So focus on the fact that your Higher Self does not judge you. It is a part of you and wants you to have whatever you could possibly desire. So think of this Practice as a “get out of jail free” card. You deserve it by virtue of who you are. Who you are being is temporary in every moment and can change as quickly as you allow it.
Who you are, a part of God, never changes. Who you are being changes according to your beliefs about yourself. Remembering this distinction is especially important when you want to be free of self-destructive behavior or addictions.
Wallowing in self pity can feel pretty good for a while, especially if it keeps you from having to get out there and face people. Pity parties and cluster dramas can feel like validation if others get upset with you. However, if you can work through your pain by sharing and ventilating and moving toward a constructive plan of action, more power to you!
But if cluster dramas are on your list of favorite things to do, you won’t be able to make real and lasting changes in how you feel until you break your dependency on the sympathetic energy of others. The good news is that if you aren’t beating yourself up, you won’t need their sympathy.
When you remember who you are, you know that enlightened and evolved people never sacrifice your self esteem to strengthen their own position. If someone tries to control you through complaints and criticism, remember it’s just who they are being, not who they are, and get on with your day.
When you start to feel bad because you…fell off the wagon, missed a deadline, forgot a meeting, didn’t exercise, said something stupid, hurt someone’s feelings, ran over a squirrel, spent too much money, ate fried food, or someone spat in your face—refuse to think one bad thing about yourself for any reason, no matter what you did or didn’t do.
When you calm down a bit, think about something that makes you happy. A good book, a pretty landscape, your grandchildren, your upcoming vacation.
If that bad feeling comes up again, stop it. Keep thinking about things that make you feel better. Over and over again, for as long as it takes.
This sounds simple but it can be really tough at first. Your old “beat yourself up” habits will surface a number of times. Just let that be OK too! The trick is not to criticize yourself about anything!!
If it seems impossible, try this until you get the feel for feeling better.
Say to yourself, I am going to feel bad for one minute (or five if it’s really intense, but no longer).
After the moment of self punishment, sit down and write yourself a note about what you can do differently next time. What you are going for here is supportive, positive self coaching. Do not write about what you did wrong or how sorry you feel. None of that makes any difference because it’s over. What somebody else thinks about it doesn’t make any difference either because it’s over. They’ve probably forgotten about it by now anyway and have gone back to dwelling on their own problems.
Write down straightforward information about what you can do differently next time. If you are worried whether or not you will do anything different next time, or even convinced that you won’t, let it go. It doesn’t matter if you will or you won’t. You are just trying to diffuse the energetic connection between what happened and how you feel about yourself right now.
If there’s nothing you can do differently next time, then write about your favorite video game, or something funny your friend said on the phone last night. Or write about your first kiss, or what it would feel like to win the lottery.
The point is to stop invaliding yourself and start feeling better. That’s it. That shift of energy from “I AM bad” to “I AM good” is all you are going for.
If you can’t stop and write when bad feelings are rushing at you, then do what you can to distract yourself. Imagine talking to your favorite teacher from the seventh grade who offered you some guidance or reassurance. If you don’t have a favorite teacher (parent, uncle, or neighbor) who used to make you feel accepted and treated you with respect, then make one up!
In time, all you’ll have to say to yourself is, “I’m not going to feel bad about this. I am going to be fine about this right now, and for the rest of the day anyway.”
It’s been said that we spend our adult years trying to get over our childhoods. But that’s not good enough for a conscious creator. To get what you want you have to outgrow your past and intentionally and continuously create your future.
Choosing to be gentle with yourself instead of beating yourself up is a big step in that direction. You are part of God and you are here to expand The Universe. There is nothing to judge and nothing to regret. So stop beating yourself up and let the good stuff in!