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At times we judge ourselves too harshly and we believe that we deserve to be punished. If a situation happens to anybody else, we empathise with them, we console them and encourage them to focus on the positive and try our best to support and empower them. However, if the same thing happens to us, then we are so quick to judge and chastise ourselves! We expect more from ourselves. We set unrealistic expectations on ourselves and beat ourselves up over it when we fall short of them. At times we may not acknowledge our capabilities and potential and permit ourselves to stop short from what we can truly achieve.

Why does this happen?

On many occasions we form our self-concept and our life script from past experiences and from messages or feedback we receive from others. At times these beliefs may not reflect on the whole truth and are thus biased. Most often than not they are an internalisation of judgements and criticism which we may have encountered at one point or another.

How can I change these beliefs?

The first step would be to become aware of yourself, what your body is telling you and what emotions need to be expressed. It is also very useful to become conscious of your thoughts and the type of self-talk you engage in automatically. Once you are able to achieve this awareness and insight, you can test these beliefs through a reality check and also by asking for feedback from the people around you. When you start finding discrepancies between your beliefs and reality, it’s a good point to start challenging them and trying to find new ways of interpreting things, re-writing your life script and re-defining your self-concept.

How can I love myself?

Only after doing justice to yourself and feeling validated can you start permitting yourself to love yourself and experience life to the full. Some important steps are:

  • Take the time to be aware of what you are feeling and how you are reacting to specific situations.
  • Monitor your thoughts without being judgemental.
  • Find time for yourself for self-care, become involved in things that replenish your energy.
  • Find different channels for expressing yourself, be it through music or arts, writing or talking with someone you can trust.
  • Build a support system and find the time to connect with important people who offer a positive interaction.
  • Be aware of your desires, carry out reality checks, make a list of the things you need to do in order to achieve them, equip yourself with the required skills and search for the optimal opportunities, permit yourself to try and if you have a setback to try again.
  • Always experience your life in the present moment to the full that you can experience it and take it as a learning opportunity. Nobody is perfect or gets everything right on the first attempt!

Abigail Church is a Humanistic Integrative Counsellor who works with adults and children through counselling with Willingness. She can be contacted on abigail@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.