Each of us has words we say to ourselves silently that we would never speak out loud to anyone else. These words become so familiar they barely reach conscious thought but they carry very negative energy. With my clients we have excavated phrases like “you are such an idiot”, “you are a fat big”, “you do not even deserve to live”, or “you are worthless” and more. You might be interested in listening for what you say to yourself. This self-contempt is so painful, but is actually meant to protect us. If we say these things to ourselves we will fend off the criticism of others. We will whip ourselves into better shape (smarter, thinner, deserving, etc). Sometimes these words were said to us and we have internalized them. Sometimes we just lived in an environment where our significant others interacted with us in a way to make us draw these conclusions. For example, one of my client’s Dad was a policeman. When he came home after a long day of work all he wanted to do was watch police chase videos on TV or Pornography on the computer which was in the living room. His Dad did not delight in him or show interest in him. He drew the conclusion that he must be an idiot and he now has trouble focusing on tasks — finishing things he starts. This of course confirms his phrase “You are such an idiot”.
The healing of this dynamic has some challenging but very clear steps. Self-contempt is in our control. First we have to excavate these phrases. Listen for them in our background thoughts and self talk. Then we have to challenge their validity. Is it true I am idiot? A fat pig? This challenge immediately softens the energy these phrases carry. Next we have to go into the early scenarios that began this self talk. Go into the living room and feel how much you wanted your Dad’s attention and how he was not interested in you. As you feel this also allow yourself to feel how this really happened to you. You were a cute, creative kid. You deserved attention and support. You needed it. Once you allow yourself to feel your feelings and really validate what happened, you are on your way to healing.
And we can get stuck here. We can shift from self-contempt to contempt of the other and what they did and how bad it was. This is a step in the right direction but not the end goal. Staying in the loop of “it is me that is bad” or “it is you that is bad” is strong and compelling. Self-contempt or contempt of others is self-betrayal. It is only when we accept our selves and what really happened on our own terms and for ourself that we are free. Then we can move to the next step.
Given what happened to you, anyone would have some of the problems you have. It is real that we need support and attention when we are young and we will be left with deficits without this. Pride or self-will may make coming to terms with our deficits difficult. “I was humiliated for this as a child. I do not accept the limitations.”
Pride and “you are a fucking idiot” often dance back and forth in a lockstep.
Try this exercise given by the Guide in Pathwork Lecture #240. In meditation, bestow tender love upon every aspect of yourself, every neglected part, every attitude, no matter how distorted. Face yourself in truth and see if you can then find your true divinity and perfection. This love must come from and to yourself and not by means of hating or rejecting parts of others. Self hate is a prison for all of us. See if you can make it conscious and know that it is not caused outside of you. You alone can change this hate to love by accepting all of yourself without conditions. When we are in truth and love this is never indulgent.
The only way out is compassion. Compassion for our deficits and what really happened, and compassion for those who hurt us.
Then we can build a life based on what we need now. My client is working on finding the attention and support he needs to focus and complete what he begins — to move through life with more ease and grace.