No one can be as hard on me as I am on myself. It has always been that way. As far back as I can remember I had high standards and expectations for myself. Maybe it started in my childhood, maybe a bit later, it doesn’t matter now. What matters is the fact, that I’m hard on myself, sometimes until cruelty.
At work, at home, in professional arrangements and in intimate relationships, I am demanding and I demand the most of myself. I’ve been struggling with some things over the last few years and I’m beginning to realize that the reason is deep within me. I can’t have compassion for myself. I can for others, but I have never been for myself.
When people don’t deliver what they have promised, I’m easy for them, I try to understand, I try to help them, I try to not get angry. When I don’t deliver, I’m cruel for myself, I push myself until I can’t work anymore. When I don’t deliver and don’t have a strength to keep up with my tasks, I bit myself inside my head. I abuse myself.
My very high standards have helped me achieve some things. And they have helped me achieve mental breakdowns on a couple of occasions. I wouldn’t do it again if I had the chance. But I can’t change the past and I have to live with the consequences.
They live deep inside me. I can get depressed because I have too much work and I can’t say no to some tasks. I can have a panic attack because I have tried to do everything I thought I needed to do and I am overwhelmed. I get emotional because I’m tired and I get angry at myself because I got emotional. It’s a dead end and I often feel trapped.
Even outside the work I’m too hard for myself. Some of my friends can take a few weeks to reply to my messages, but I must to do it immediately. What they do is what I should do. I envy them, that they can take their time and don’t push themselves too hard. I wish I could do the same.
Last year I cleaned the flat even though I was ill. I should have been in bed watching films, but I cleaned the flat. The list is long and I could spend the next few hours pointing out all the things I did to myself that were violent. But I won’t.
A few weeks ago I published a post about my New Year’s resolution. I wrote that I had one resolution: to take care of myself and those I love. I’ve been walking and thinking about that post ever since, and these thoughts I’m writing today are a direct result of that resolution. I can’t take care of others if I don’t take care of myself first, and I can’t take care of myself if I don’t have compassion for myself.
Realizing this is my first step towards making a real change. Of course, there is a fine line between compassion and laziness, but this year, for the first time, I will risk crossing it. I’ve been taught that being effective and getting results is the most important thing. Now I have to teach myself that being good for myself is more important. I have to teach myself that there is a long list of things in life that are more important than being a productivity machine.
The road will be long and winding, I know. I will fall, I know that. Overcoming over thirty years of training to be merciless to myself will not be easy. But I know I cannot wait any longer. I can’t take it any longer. And even if I could, in a few years it’ll be even harder. It would be more years of the same cruelty.
If I will succeed, I don’t know yet. I don’t know what’s at the end of the road and maybe the road will never end. That’s the way I have to go and the effort I have to make. But this time I go with a log of compassion for myself and even if I’ll make mistakes, I’ll be understanding for myself. I no longer need to be perfect.