Beating Yourself Up Is Not An Act Of Character

Too many of us were raised to think that beating ourselves up is an act of character. It isn’t. The character challenge in life is to be self-accountable not self-abusive.

Too many of us who recount how horrible we’ve been also believe simply admitting this makes us better. But being self-bitter doesn’t make us better. And here’s why.

If beating yourself makes you feel better, that’s its’ own problem. The willingness to hurt ourselves gives us permission to hurt others.

And if you think putting yourself down is a righteous step in the right direction, think again. Putting yourself down diminishes self-esteem and only robs you of believing you can be better. Tell a child they are a fool for long enough, and you will be a prophet.

People who feel they have failed also often feel they have let someone else down. “Oh my parents are so disappointed in me.” But we are not here to meet someone else’s expectations. We are here to meet our own expectations. Our challenge is to be self-accepting AND self-expecting.

St. Augustine got it right, “No saint without a past; no sinner without a future.” If you think you’re without fault, my friend, that is your fault.

And if you think you cannot succeed, remember this: We live on little blue ball spinning at 1060 miles an hour. That we don’t know this or choose to ignore this doesn’t mean the world is not spinning. So stay tuned; what is first will later be last.

Because the wise in 1492 thought the world was flat didn’t mean Columbus sailed over the edge. Addiction is not only addiction to substances; it is also addiction to convictions that imprison us in self-imprisoning mind-sets. All personal transformation requires self-witnessing. Self-witnessing requires self-honesty. And the portal to all honesty is humility. Make sure the sign at the entrance to your mind’s eye reads: “Check your ego at the door.”

To get anywhere in life, the first step is getting out of our own way. But do not be confused; beating yourself up is not an act of character. Honesty without love is brutality. Love without honesty is hypocrisy.

Noah benShea
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