Tag Archives: negative thoughts

Negative Self Talk: Perfectionism

I touched on an important idea in my first therapy session of the new year.  Plenty of my shame-driven negative self talk (and I have a whole lot of it these days) isn’t even my own.  It dawned on me in a way that it hadn’t before: a whole lot of the bad things I throw at myself in my own head began with someone else’s shame (my mother’s mostly), which was was transferred to me before I ever knew what to do with it, and I’ve now adopted it as my own.

The negative messages began early; perfectionism, especially.

Though highly intelligent, my brother and school were like oil and water and never really worked.  He acted out a lot and hated authority (gee, wonder why), and was regularly abused by my parents for that and his bad grades.  I was powerless to do anything about anything that happened growing up, but I got a big message loud and clear: imperfection could be very dangerous.  My good grades, staying squeaky clean, being naive and innocent, over achieving, it all kept me safe.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be any surprise, then, that one of the first panic attacks I remember having came after I got my very first B in second grade.  Perhaps it shouldn’t be any surprise, then, that my anxiety goes crazy and my negative self talk is at its most nasty and vile when I feel like I have failed in even the most minor way.

It can be debilitating, constantly berating yourself at every turn for every little thing.  I am continually working on it in therapy, but lately if I’m not beating myself up about something I think I’ve somehow failed at, how I’m not perfect at whatever it might be, I stop myself only to beat myself up about beating myself up.

Today, for instance.  Since it’s a federal holiday and the courts and 98% of law firms in this town are closed, I’m trying to give myself the freedom to take an additional day off from working to process my life, to write, to do laundry, to enjoy my family, to clean my room, to eat well, to maybe get creative and/or take a walk.  I have incredible amounts of guilt and anxiety over it, though.  I have guilt and anxiety about taking good care of myself on a day when I have the actual ability to take care of myself.  I have to repeat it because it’s so clearly illogical – I have guilt and anxiety about taking care of myself.

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I am not an idiot (that was my favorite self-insult this last therapy session).  I am not dumb either (what I was just calling myself for feeling guilty about taking the day off to continue to care of myself).  I am not a failure at business (like I constantly tell myself I am or will be).  I am not failing at weight loss surgery (appx. 90 total pounds down).  I am not failing at exercise (I got 5 miles in over the last week).  I am not a failure.  And I don’t need to be perfect.

Now how do I let that go?  How do I embrace the idea that I don’t even NEED to be perfect in the first place?  Perfectionism doesn’t serve me anymore; I don’t need to be perfect to stay safe, but the message is still there.  Still loud, still clear.   I suppose I may fight against the message of perfection for the rest of my life (in all kinds of ways), but at least I’m fighting.

Let me try to keep this in mind today as I continue to allow myself the freedom to take care of me before all else…

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The Negative Thought Reels

My negative thought reels are on overdrive today. Here’s what they have to say:

On Love and Relationships

You’ll never be loved. You don’t deserve love.  Your own parents didn’t love you enough to treat you with kindness and respect. Even as a child, you were unworthy.  How could anyone else manage to love you, when the people who were supposed to care about you most didn’t think you were good enough for their care?  You’ll never be good enough for love from anyone.

Don’t forget that you’re damaged goods, missy.  All that child abuse baggage, that asthma, your fun mental illnesses, the obesity, the debt you’re in, the lack of employment.  What respectable man could ever begin to love a woman like that?  That’s right, there isn’t one.

Remember when she told you that you’ll be alone for the rest of your life?  She was right.  You’re alone and you will always be alone.

She was right about everything.  You’ll never be good enough for anything. Ever.

On Life

If you were to die tonight,  do you really think anyone would care?  They wouldn’t. It would be weeks, maybe months, before anyone really noticed that something was amiss.

Your own family wouldn’t come to check to see if you were okay.  They don’t call or text you anyways.  Your “friends” wouldn’t check on you either, even though you hadn’t responded to their messages.

Let’s face it.  It would probably be a bank representative who came to inspect the house after foreclosure who finds you.  By then you’d merely be a decomposing corpse, bloated and partially eaten by your pets, who ran out of food weeks before.

On Success

You’ll never amount to anything. You’re nothing. You came from nothing. You’ll never be successful.  You’ll always struggle, because you’re nothing.

You couldn’t cut it in the big leagues.  What makes you think you can cut it out on your own?  What makes you think you were ever good enough to try something like self employment?  You’re an idiot and your business is going to fail, no matter how much effort you put into it.  Why would clients ever pay for nothingness like you?

You’ll never be smart enough, savvy enough, pretty enough, or enough of anything to make it in this world.  Why keep trying?

***

I try so hard not to think these things, because I want to believe they’re not true.  But some days, when you’re sick and tired of going at life all by yourself, with no one by your side, with no one that really gets what you’re going through, these thoughts creep in and find ways to contradict any positive/logical messages you throw at them.  Some days, the night comes rushing at you and you’re left sitting wondering what the hell the point of it all is.  What the hell is the point?