One of the most painful things to hear as a counselor is a tirade of self-loathing. One can see a prison being built up around these individuals, convinced in their own minds that they are undesirable and worthless.
Try as one might to show them their beauty, they refuse the information, turning their backs to encouraging words, protecting their wounded hearts.
One of the barriers to emotional healing is the lack of self-acceptance. We’ve all had our moments of embarrassment, irritation or frustration with ourselves, but the continual refusal to sit peaceably with our own souls can cause such an inner chaffing that pain moves in as a constant companion.
Fr. Michael Scanlon writes about the signs of one in need of a heart healing. They are as follows:
* A judgmental spirit that is harsh and demanding of self and others.
* A strong perfectionist attitude demanding the impossible from self and others,
* A strong pattern of fearing future events.
* A sense of aloneness and abandonment in times of decision.
* A preoccupation with one’s own guilt and a compulsion to compete for position and success.
Author and speaker Leanne Payne states that all these indicate a need for self-acceptance. The foundation for self acceptance should be set in infancy through the love and care of family and caregivers. But it is also rooted in our ability to know and understand our selves.
Brian Tracy, renowned for his business and personal success teachings, states that we can think of personality in terms of what is called the “Johari” window. If our soul is a house, there are four main windows we operate from.
He writes, “The first part of this window is the box in the upper left-hand corner. It represents the part of your personality that both you and others can see. This is the open part of your personality.
“The lower left-hand box of this window into your psyche represents the part of your personality that you can see but that others cannot see. It is a part of your inner life.
“The upper right-hand box of this window represents the parts of your personality that others can see but of which you are unaware. You have somehow blocked these parts from your consciousness.
“Finally, the lower right-hand box represents that part of your personality that is hidden from both you and other people. It’s the deeper, subconscious part of your personality that represents urges, instincts, fears, doubts and emotions that are stored away below a conscious level, but that can exert an inordinate impact on the way you behave, often causing you to feel and react in certain ways that sometimes even you don’t understand.”
Mr. Tracy says that one of the first steps toward wholeness is to expand the window that is known to both self and others. We do this through self-disclosure, talking about our inner thoughts to someone who loves us and doesn’t judge us. This heightens our self awareness and makes us more accepting of the totality of who we are.
As we choose to live in truth with ourselves, we can scrap the perfectionist sham and accept what is, see it as good, and have more motivation for self-improvement.
We can take control of our lives through setting and achieving small goals, reminding ourselves of our achievements and gifts, and emulating people we respect. We can then have a larger capacity for joy, loving others, and fulfilling our life’s purposes.
Tabi Upton is a therapist at New Beginnings Counseling Center. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.