Una's Blog


Una’s little world 22. Are you qualified to beat yourself up?






by Una Hearne.

So many people indulge in self-beating. It breaks my heart. We do it naturally because we have a conscience (the purpose of which is to help us avoid harming others and to live peacefully together!?). However we are not meant to beat ourselves up all day every day. It not only hurts us and undermines our self-worth, it also depletes us and means we have less to offer the world. Over the years I have noticed various levels of self-beating and I’m setting out the qualification structure here so you can see how accomplished you are!

Say you said something hurtful to someone and you regret it. You’re first thought is ‘I shouldn’t have said that’ and you feel guilt. This is OK and healthy. What you do and say to yourself next is what shows the level you are at:

Zero qualification in self-beating: (this is the ultimate to aspire to). You said sorry, learned the lesson and moved on immediately.

Certificate: Holding on to the guilt after apology, re-living it for hours or days. Feeling bad about yourself for making a mistake. Eventually letting it go.

Diploma: Everything in Certificate plus bringing it back repeatedly and re-living other similar mistakes. ‘I always do this’. Letting it go eventually, until next time.

Degree: Everything in Diploma plus ‘I shouldn’t be beating myself up and going over and over these things’. Feeling guilty for beating yourself up as well as the original mistake. ‘There’s something wrong with me’.

Masters: Everything in Degree plus ‘I’ve been to therapist/ read the books, and even though I’ve done the work, I still can’t stop beating myself up’. And ‘I shouldn’t be beating myself up for beating myself up! I’m hopeless.’

PhD: Everything in Masters plus ‘OK I know very well I shouldn’t be thinking all these destructive thoughts, but actually what I said was so awful and I’m such a terrible person that I should feel guilty forever’. Full circle, permission to continue self-beating.

(In these examples you can substitute something you have ‘done’ or ‘believed’ or ‘put up with’ for ‘said‘ and it still works.)

Who said human beings are nuts? Well, they had a point. But there is always hope and our true power as individuals is that we can choose our thoughts, change our thinking.

Here’s a rule which works for me, maybe it could for you: ‘If you wouldn’t say this to your best friend or a child, don’t say it to yourself.’

There are also a couple of useful questions you can ask yourself: ‘Is this thought building my self esteem and confidence or breaking it down?’ and ‘What might be a more useful thought?’  Try them and see! 🙂



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