It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Validate yourself. Be kind to yourself. Try not to judge yourself. Have self-compassion. Look after yourself. Yada yada yada.
But after a life time’s worth of hating myself, beating myself up over the tiniest wrongdoings, harming myself in endless ways, being convinced that I’m inherently “bad” or “flawed” or “broken”… validating myself does not come easily at all.
My therapist is trying to convince me that if I can change the relationship I have with myself from judgmental and punitive and hateful, to loving and patient and compassionate, then maybe some of the suffering I experience will lessen. She said it won’t necessarily take the pain away; but it will change how I relate to it, and stop it from cascading into the unrelenting and unendurable alternative. No matter what the cause of the pain in that moment, it’s the judging and the self berating that compounds it.
It’s almost like I had to invalidate my experiences to survive them, as a child, to force myself to soldier on and disconnect from my feelings. And now I’m being told that this same way of relating to myself is what is keeping me trapped. Invalidating myself and hating myself has been all I have ever known. My brain is wired to think of myself in a certain way, and reversing two decades worth of this apparently dysfunctional habit is chronically exhausting!
Especially when it isn’t just related to cognition, because the self-hatred is felt on such a core visceral level, beating this is remarkably challenging. But I’m working on it. Faking it to make it. Saying self validating words in my head to try rewire those ingrained pathways… One validating statement and cheerleading statement at a time. But fuck it’s hard, especially when I don’t believe any of it. Not yet anyway.