I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the way women talk to themselves. We are so quick to say things like, “I’m so stupid.” “I can’t believe I did that; I’m a horrible person.” “I should have known better.” And the list goes on. I was curious if men did this too, so I asked my husband about it. I know he can’t represent all men any more than I can represent all women, but as he kept telling me things that might count as beating himself up, he would stop and say, “but there’s nothing I could have done differently, so I don’t dwell on it.” I explained how we women can revisit the tiniest wrong we’ve committed a thousand times and figure out a new way to regret it and feel shame about it Every. Single. Time. His response to this was very interesting. My husband said,
If I had to get pulled over for speeding, I would hope the cop would be a man. Women see things in black and white. You were either speeding and you need a ticket, or you weren’t. Male cops are much more likely to listen to your reason and give you a warning. They see things in grey; they see the spirit of the law, but women see the letter of the law.
Isn’t that an interesting observation? It makes so much sense to me. As women, our own live and choices are almost always black and white. I didn’t do the right thing; therefore, what I did was wrong. And then we proceed to beat ourselves for doing the “wrong” thing, even if we didn’t know it was wrong. I wasn’t the perfect mom or the perfect wife or the perfect employee, so I was a bad mom, bad wife, and bad employee. There’s no middle ground in our world, so we beat ourselves up if we don’t do it right the first time. And news flash! This is life, so there are lots of first times when we don’t do it right. We set ourselves up for failure because we expect too much of ourselves to begin with, and then we answer that failure with a beat down.
Beating ourselves up has been our “go to” for changing our behavior for centuries, but here’s the thing: beating ourselves up doesn’t change our behavior. It doesn’t work! If it did, we would have evolved beyond needing to beat ourselves up. For example, if I overate at dinner, I could beat myself up, feel shame, and then never do it again. But that’s not the way it works. Instead, I’ll overeat again … maybe because I feel so badly for beating myself up about overeating at dinner! It’s a cycle, not a means to an end. Overeating + beating myself up ≠ loving myself and losing weight. Two negatives will never equal a positive. It just doesn’t work.
In order to create positives in our lives, we have to stop beating ourselves up. Today. Right now! We will only reach our goals and continue to move forward if practice new, positive thoughts every day, minute-by-minute if necessary. We should talk to ourselves the way we would talk to a small child or a pet. Does that sound ridiculous? Try it. Consciously practice being kind to yourself and talking kindly to yourself. You’ll be amazed how much more likely you are to achieve your goals when you are loving yourself rather than abusing yourself. Need help finding ways to be kind to yourself and stop beating yourself up? Sign up for a free session with me at sonyagreencoaching.com. I’d love to show you how amazing you really are! Until then, much love!