Are you hard on yourself? Are you your own worst critic? I certainly have been my whole life, and it seems that my body is sending me a strong message that constant self-criticism has not only been hard on my self-esteem; it has taken a toll on my physical health.
Last week, I shared with you the new lesson that has presented itself in my life — my recent diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. As I did some preliminary research on this condition, I had to ask myself: if my immune system is attacking my joints, that means my body is attacking itself. What does this tell me about the effect of the constant self-criticism I have engaged in throughout my life? Have I not been attacking myself my whole life? Is it any wonder that my body is reflecting my own attacks at all of my perceived shortcomings and mistakes?
I was drawn back to Louise L. Hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Life. Here is what she writes about arthritis on page 137: “Arthritis is a dis-ease that comes from a constant pattern of criticism. First of all, criticism of the self, and then criticism of other people. Arthritic people often attract a lot of criticism because it is their pattern to criticize. They are cursed with “perfectionism,” the need to be perfect at all times in every situation… Why do we set up standards that say we have to be “Super Person,” in order to be barely acceptable? It’s such a strong expression of “not being good enough,” and such a heavy burden to carry.”
The constant pattern of self-criticism and the inner drive to be “perfect” describe me perfectly. All my life, I have set insanely high standards for myself in every role and situation, and all because I believed that I wasn’t good enough. Whenever I didn’t attain the incredibly demanding standards I set for myself, I would release my inner critic and subject myself to a storm of self-criticism. I realize that in setting such impossibly high standards for myself, I also set high standards for everyone else. Why couldn’t I accept me and everyone else just as we are? Why did I choose to look through lenses that projected a constant perception of “not good enough”? Why did any self-acknowledgement or feeling of self-worth require such a high cost?
I am returning to the daily practice of self-love and positive affirmations of my worth. That practice was essential to the beginning of my healing journey after my divorce years ago, and with this wake-up call from my body, I realize that I need to re-establish my practice of self-love and continue to forgive and release all the wrongs I have perceived that I have suffered at the hands of others. How profound it is to finally understand that I created all the pain I have experienced in my life and that it is within my power to release that pain and to find true and deep healing. Not only have I been hard on myself, but I have expected others to be a certain way so they can meet my needs. When they haven’t done that, I have experienced pain. It is not, nor has it ever been, up to others to make me happy or to make me feel loved and worthy. That is an inside job — my inner work.
And so my journey to true, unconditional love continues, and as it does, I marvel at how the journey unfolds. Every time I think that I am “getting it,” something happens to pose the question, “Just how much do you truly get it?” I feel myself more aware of the learning that occurs within each experience and more accepting of the process. More than anything, I trust in Divine guidance, which always supports me in the moment that I ask.
I pray that you are able to see your worth and that you practise self-love each and every day. May we all recognize our own worth and the worth of every other person with whom we come in contact so that we may truly embrace one another as beloved spiritual sisters and brothers. Imagine the healing we will create and experience when we release our inner critics and embrace the love that we truly are! Namaste, my dears :))