Self-abuse is the opposite side of self-esteem and is much more common than we think. Much of us make judgments about who we are, what we deserve, how valuable our work is, etc. These judgments are usually made internally, often keeping secret and minimizing the achievements. Contrary to this phenomenon, we in turn magnify the errors.
Consequently, we tend to a higher level of self-demand, having the feeling that things can always be done better . Therefore, self-esteem can be diminished. The actions we carry out are despised, having the thought that anyone could have done better.
How does self-treatment develop?
Self- esteem, in general terms, is the ability we have to value ourselves . It also involves the challenge of facing the negative thoughts that other people may think about us.
Low self-esteem makes us more open to criticism from others, increasing the probability that we even take it as absolute truths. It is then that the "internal dictator" of self-abuse begins to develop : we minimize achievements, increase the perception of errors, feeling shame for them, and so on.
Self-abuse: the origin of the "internal dictator"
We are exposed to the valuation and judgment of others from the moment we are born. The lack of motivation that we suffer from an early age shows the ability we have to defend ourselves from criticism.
If from these early experiences, our failures have been punished and our achievements, to some extent, reduced, we will probably end up seeing ourselves as people with few resources.
What's more, we will have the feeling that not failing is especially important; otherwise, we will have to deal with the judgments and criticisms of others. If the motivation not to fail becomes more important than the achievements, we may, by not taking criticism in a constructive sense, lose all the value that it can bring us.
In this dynamic, criticism from others can be internalized, making us see ourselves as people of little worth. In turn, these criticisms of ourselves become much more ruthless than other people can do : we can harbor the belief that we are invalid, unlovable, etc. Consequently, self-esteem goes hand in hand with self-abuse: we can believe that our essence is based on our achievements and these at the same time are perceived as having little value.
How to realize self-abuse?
Normalizing self-treatment is very dangerous . Not only does it harm self-esteem, but it can also lead to more dangerous forms such as mood disorders, specifically depressive disorders.
Self-abuse does not appear suddenly. This type of aggression towards oneself has been anchored for years in our lives. Sometimes it is even difficult to identify the criticisms of others and ourselves. When self-abuse is established in our lives, even the most constructive criticism we get from others to improve ourselves is seen as failure. For example:
- Have you ever been recommended to do a task in your work, differently for better results, and have you been thinking about how badly you do it?
- How many times have you turned your mistakes even though your effort has been recognized?
- Have you ever thought that you are not worthy of the job you have, that someone could do it better than you, and at any moment your bosses are going to find out?
Stop our life to stop the "inner dictator"
The voice of the "inner dictator" can be so strong that it can paralyze our value- based action . If we interrupt activities that we consider valuable, we will fall into the trap of our experience (the judgments by others from our earliest childhood, in addition to the judgments at the present time). In other words, we will base our lives on trying not to fail.
Trying not to fail means not being willing to experience doses of discomfort on the way to values . However, we will not get rid of the "internal dictator" of self-abuse: it will probably tell us that we are in the situation we are in because we are afraid and we are not able to face it.
But what is the role of self-esteem?
Have you ever stopped to observe your situation as if it were another person who acts based on what an acquaintance tells him, according to the latter's judgment? If we consider this, we will realize how our mind, in self-abuse mode, takes us away from what we consider important. Listening to this internal dialogue and believing it as an absolute truth can be frustrating when it comes to pursuing objectives: many times, the mind will tell us that we are not capable.
However, trying to eliminate the "inner dictator" is like eliminating weeds in a garden : we can pull them up, but they will continue to grow. Reading books on self-esteem also do not help eliminate these forms of self-abuse; they only teach guidelines to improve self-esteem, but they only constitute one more knowledge compared to the experience of many years.
However, there is the option of looking at this struggle between self-abuse and self-esteem from another perspective: the practice of self-compassion . Self-compassion allows us to observe this struggle from another perspective, allowing us to fail and observe what happens in our inner world when discomfort appears.