Thursday, August 22, 2013

Just put down the hammer...

Humans are very self critical.  My guess, we are the only species that is.  Do you ever see an animal judge itself?  Animals are great examples of living in the present moment.  We have that gift when we are born, but we start developing mental/emotional beliefs and habits from our external environments.

Sadly, some of the worst ones are self criticism/judgement.

Many people spend their whole lives trying to live up to high expectations, often picked up from messages received from their surroundings.  We reject everything about ourselves and deny anything good.  We try to be someone that we are not.  Jon Kabbitt-Zinn, one of my meditation mentors, says we are "hammering" ourselves all day, day after day, and often over beliefs that weren't even ours to begin with.

It's time to put down the hammer and pick up something else.  Self kindness and acceptance.  It's simple, but not always easy.  And if you are in chronic pain, it gets harder not to be critical, and more important NOT to be.

The last thing you need is fighting a mental war along with your illness.  When you're sick, you no longer have the luxury of negative thoughts.  Everything needs to be done to make yourself as healthy and happy as possible, and one of the best ways to do that is to put down the hammer.

Being positive is a greater challenge when accompanied by illness, fatigue and pain.  It's easier to fall into the trap of self criticism because you might always feel behind.  Relationships may have to be put on hold at times, and you have to back out of plans.  These things happen with chronic pain/illness.  The key is to be able to see that for what it is and accept it, rather than be hard on yourself.

I have been hammering on myself more these days.  I started this project with such zest and intent, but I have been fumbling along ever since.  Things haven't gone right, there have been delays, and I am learning as I go.  And remember, I have chronic pain too!

Suddenly, I realised that this project was to help those in pain.  Well guess what, I have chronic pain!  I need to help myself too!  And here's a good start:  stop making myself feel bad.  I am doing the best I can, with what I have to work with.  And we all are.  What more can we ask of ourselves than that?

So, put down the "hammer" and pick up some self acceptance instead.  It is what it is. 

"Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional."  The Buddha 

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