I so often find myself sitting in my Santa Barbara office, talking with a client about how hard she is on herself. Clients come to see me because they’re unhappy in some way. They may be struggling with depression, anxiety, relationship issues, or a myriad of other “problems.”
Their issues may be situational, or in some way biochemical. They, also, may be the result of long-term emotional or physical abuse, or neglect — sometimes going way back to childhood. There are so many variables!
There’s one commonality that I see over and over again, though. What seems to be such a constant is their negative sense of self. Whatever has led them to this harsh view, the bottom line is that it’s taken time to create this negativity. As the years have gone by, they’ve internalized harsh and hurtful, spoken and unspoken, messages.
Often, once we start talking about their negative self-view, they recognize it as originally coming from someone close to them. Someone who should have been loving and kind, instead was conveying disdainful, belittling messages. My clients began to believe them, and over time this became how they saw themselves. As much as I wish that it was different, the truth is that healing a painful and distorted sense of self takes time, gentleness, and patience.
If you don’t feel good about yourself, it’s too easy to pounce on the smallest missteps, lose patience with your efforts, and hold yourself to much higher expectations than you would anyone else. After a while, this becomes more and more habituated. Each time you sit in judgement of something you’ve done, your sense of self sinks lower. It isn’t easy to rebuild how you see yourself, but it can happen little by little. You can begin to relate to yourself with kindness and self-compassion.
Sometimes we all need help and guidance! If you’re in the greater Santa Barbara area, I would love to be there for you. If you’re not, please seek help wherever you are. It can be the start of a wonderful new sense of inner peace and joy for you. You deserve to feel good about yourself. Please don’t wait until the negativity is even more ingrained. Do it today!
Until next time,