Written by Randi Fine
Why are so many of us able to offer kindness and compassion to others, but not to ourselves?
One of the most damaging ways in which we tend to abuse ourselves is through feelings of guilt. Often this tendency was programmed into us in childhood. Many of us were disciplined through the use of guilt tactics and it became ingrained in our thinking process.
Good, well-intended people fall prey to this kind of self-abuse most often, because by nature they tend to be more concerned with the feelings of others than they are with their own. And because of that nature, compassionate people would never dream of inflicting the same kind of guilty emotional pain on others as they inflict on themselves without giving it a second thought.
If we examine the times that we feel guilty for something we have said or done, we will often realize that we had only the best intentions for saying or doing what we did. We never meant to hurt anyone. So why is the degree of punishment we have chosen to inflict upon ourselves so inproportionate to the offense. Why do we continue to beat ourselves up?
When our actions come from a place of goodness and love, but are received by another in a way we never intended, that is not our fault. We should not feel guilty. This type of guilt serves no purpose at all. It is self-abusive. Either we can take some kind of action to correct what we are feeling guilty about or we cannot.
Guilt is a programmed, automatic response. In order to break the cycle we have to first be aware of what we are doing and why. We have to remind ourselves to be as gentle with our own selves as we would be with others. Realizing that we would never dream of causing someone else to feel as bad as we are making our own self feel will help us to break the cycle.
I don’t believe that our tendency toward self-inflicted guilt ever goes away entirely. But overcoming the need to automatically beat ourselves up is the first step in learning self-love.
That is an important mindset to reinforce for many reasons, but mostly because the way we treat others ultimately depends on the feelings we have about ourselves.