A friend asked that question yesterday. I’ve certainly been accused of being too hard on myself before. My step-mother reads this blog and told me I should give myself a break. Steve Lambert, former editor of The Eagle-Tribune, said I was too hard on myself when I wrote the “One of My Biggest Regrets” post.
The short answer is that sometimes I am, most of the time I’m not.
When I was at my absolute worst, I knew my soul was in deep trouble and I hated myself for not having the will to do something about it. I call it my long road through self-hatred. Back then I would be hard on myself by wallowing in the corner or, more accurately, in my car, where I would go on many, many binges.
If I had the ability to cry it out back then, I would have probably binged less. But I’ve never been good at crying, so I’d let the rage fill me and I’d do my best to destroy myself. It’s not that I wanted to die. It’s that I hated and wanted to punish myself. Giving in to my addictions was a lot like taking a thick leather belt and lashing myself a few hundred times.
That’s what happens when mental illness and addiction burn wild with no management. You end up being hard on yourself, and nothing good comes of it. In fact, it just makes things worse.
Today I’m hard on myself in a different way. I come on here and write about what a shithead I was the day before, and in the process I fix my course and work on doing better. That’s much more healthy.
I was feeling stupid yesterday because I purchased a new pair of boots and a pair of pants on Amazon.com. I needed the boots, but not the pants. It was a splurge with money we don’t necessarily have. Call it no big deal, but I know better. Sometimes, when I’m not letting the food addiction or wine guzzling control me, I let the spending addiction control me. Or the Internet addiction.
That’s when I have to remind myself that I’m being a jerk. And then I try to do better.
In the final analysis, I see nothing wrong with being hard on myself as long as it leads to self improvement.
It’s the brand that leads to self pity and self destruction that’s the problem.