Have you ever stopped to think about how you talk to yourself? Do you easily slip into a negative narrative? Do you beat yourself up on a regular basis by telling yourself you'll never be good enough or worthy of your own love? Do your self-loathing thoughts leave you feeling emotionally drained, bloody and bruised? Do you allow yourself to get beat up by your self-loathing thoughts and choose not to fight back?
If the answer is yes, perhaps you might want to consider something that might initially surprise you. By subjecting yourself to such mental and emotional torture, you are psychologically abusing yourself. Perhaps you have never considered this before, but beating yourself up, whether it is psychologically, emotionally, or physically, is an act of violence against yourself.
Historically, we have always defined abuse as something that is primarily external, someone treating us with violence or cruelty, but the definition of abuse has yet to include the many ways in which we abuse ourselves with cruelty and internal violence.
As we evolve in to a more conscious species, we need to expand our definition of abuse to include internal abuse, a type of self-inflicted abuse that we habitually subject ourselves to on a daily basis.
So how does psychological abuse show up in your life? For many people, psychological abuse is experienced through feeding thoughts and perceptions that tell you you are unworthy and unlovable. Most people have thoughts like this from time to time, but if your self-loathing is an integral part of your everyday thought process, it can have devastating effects on your psychological and emotional health.
Practicing positive affirmations can have be very powerful in changing the way you feel about yourself, but if you don't become conscious of how you talk to yourself on a daily basis, it will be difficult to break free from the shackles of psychological abuse. From the moment you wake up, observe your self-talk. Do you wake up with negative thoughts about yourself? Or are there certain people, situations or substances that trigger self-abusive thoughts?
Psychological abuse does not just affect you emotionally; chronic negative thoughts about yourself can also affect your health.
So how do you break the cycle? First, ask yourself: What narrative am I still playing over and over again in my head? Everyone has a story, but if it's a story that is causing you to self-harm, whether that be through self-judgement, self-hatred or publicly shaming yourself on social media, then perhaps it's time to create a new narrative for yourself. If you find yourself wanting to hold on to self-destructive habits press the pause button. Before you get ready to talk negatively to yourself ask yourself, would you talk to a young child or someone you really loved dearly the way you talk to yourself?
Become acutely aware of what triggers your psychological abuse? Perhaps it starts when you look at your naked body in the mirror as you get dressed in the morning. You hate what you see staring back at you and you start telling yourself you're too fat or too skinny.
Or perhaps it happens when you're at work, you make a mistake and you start to tell yourself how stupid you are. In this instance your self-talk sounds something like this, "I always get it wrong, something must be wrong with me, I'm so dumb. I never get it right."
What external action does this kind of self-talk trigger? What do you use to numb yourself? What external substance do you look for to give you temporary relief?
Ultimately the biggest question you have to ask yourself is what am I running away from? What part of myself am I avoiding or numbing?
Seek the help of a therapist to help you investigate the root of your negative patterns or spend time alone looking deep within yourself to see if you can reverse the self-hating cycle you have fallen in to. It is possible to change your negative self-talk, but initially it will take a lot of work. If you are used to telling your mind that you're not good enough at some point it will start to believe it. Talking more positively to yourself will feel strange and perhaps false at first. On the conscious level, you are telling yourself positive messages but on the subconscious level your mind is on a negative autopilot. It takes time to reprogram your subconscious beliefs so be patient and compassionate with yourself during this process.
And finally, stop using yourself as a punching bag, stop saying things to yourself that are psychologically and emotionally abusive and focus on cultivating positive states of mind that builds healthy self-esteem.
Let go of what no longer serves you. Break the cycle, and step in to your authentic power.