Picked up a cat-’o-9-tails, tied yourself to a whipping post, and just started whipping yourself silly lately? Ya know, the scourge of I-can’t-do-itness. Or the club of I’m-a-failure. Or the rod of nobody-likes-me. The whip of not-good-enoughness is one of my personal favorites. I just love picking these various devices of torture up on a regular basis and then letting the self-abuse begin.
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It might start with something simple and innocent enough, like telling myself I’m stupid because I dropped a cup on the floor in a crowded coffee shop. Sometimes I can let that be the end of the whipping session and distract myself with an email I forgot about or the news feed of the mighty ‘Book. But usually this small “I’m stupid” self-beating is just warmup. I’ll start looking around the coffee shop, pick up the whip of not-good-enoughness and just go to work on myself. I’ll start thinking about how much better at his job the guy next to me must be because of the flashy new computer he’s on. Or think about how the attractive woman across the cafe probably wouldn’t give me the time of day, particularly now that I have dropped a coffee cup and interrupted her important work. Then I’ll think about how everyone in the building is prettier, and how they all probably make more money, and have happier relationships, and would probably hurl stones of condemnation on me if they knew the half of what hides in my closet.
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By this time the wounds are just starting to open up, so I often let that particular tape keep playing as if on a loop, or I’ll pick up the whip of not-good-enoughness and start getting into some old sores. “Of course I’m alone,” I’ll think, “because my hair is a real disaster and I’ve never had much of a sense of style. A teacher told me in high school that my gregariousness was going to result in me being a real screw-up as an adult, and damn was he right. Never good enough to make the team. Never good enough to do that yoga pose. Never got the awards in school, hell any recognition really. What is there to recognize anyway?!” Before I know it, a half hour has gone by and I’m just a heap of more wounds and scars than I was before I started.
Tying ourselves to our favorite whipping posts and letting the self-abuse tapes play is a really tantalizing trap to fall into, and its yields are only more of the same. It is a taxicab of pain and misery that often drives by and invites us in for the ride of sadness, fear, and insecurity.
So what the hell are we supposed to do? Well, quitting this cycle begins with these three steps: