“You’re getting older, what do you expect?

Think about all the times in your life you’ve berated yourself for doing something wrong? I bet that most of those instances weren’t particularly serious, that is, they weren’t life-threatening or particularly harmful to anyone, but the level of self-flagellation was brutal. Many of us just seem to be heavily invested in beating ourselves up and feeling guilty about everything. That’s why they call guilt ”the gift that keeps on giving.”
It’s important to realize that some guilt is useful; after all, it helps form a conscience. Guilt is helpful in stopping us from being unethical in our business relationships or mean-spirited toward those we love. But leaving dishes in the sink or not making the beds doesn’t fall into the same category. Ruminating over such mundane situations accomplishes nothing. Unless, of course, they create an Academy Award for the most guilt, then at least we’d have something to put on our mantel.
Think for a moment of the hundreds of different ways you make yourself feel bad throughout the day. Trust me, I’ve done it more than most. I learned this dynamic well. I had great teachers, starting with my grandmother, who used to wear black all the time, just in case somebody died.
Trying to lose weight always elicits major self-flagellation. I usually start well in advance of the actual process of shedding pounds by spending a few months torturing myself with how awful I look and continually asking myself, “How did this happen?” The answer is obvious..I ate too much. But that doesn’t seem to quiet the monster of self-loathing that many us are familiar with.
My voices continue in an inspired chorus: “You’re getting older, what do you expect? What happened to that 24 inch waist, now it’s your thigh measurement, isn’t it? I wonder what year you’ll fit into that size six you used to wear? Maybe they can put it on you when you”re dead.” Then when I’m actually invested in some type of program, the voices remind me that I didn’t exercise enough, even if I ran a 27 mile marathon; or that I just finished eating a meal consisting of a lettuce leaf washed down with a bottle of water.
Similarly, my friend Shirley always talks about how she stays late at work to catch up, even though her overtime is starting to exceed the amount of hours she was actually hired to work. In some ways this drama gives us a form of negative validation, but it saps our energy and devours our spirit. If Shirley spent the same amount of time on the task at hand she would probably go home early. And if I walked as much as I talked about losing weight I might be thinner. If we could spend more time being aware of our thoughts, we just might be able to stop beating ourselves up.

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