Your own

We start off being kind to ourselves, but what happens later? 10-month-old Grady likes what he sees in the mirror at the beach cottage. Dam Neck, Virginia, June 2014

We start off being kind to ourselves, but what happens later?
10-month-old Grady likes what he sees in the mirror at the beach cottage.
Dam Neck, Virginia, June 2014

“The worst bullies you will ever encounter in your life are your own thoughts.”
Bryant McGill

Does any of this sound familiar?

She doesn’t really like me.

He never cared about me.

I’m too fat/skinny/short/tall/pale/dark/quiet/loud/dumb/nerdy/old/inexperienced.

I never feel like part of any group I’m with. I don’t belong anywhere and never will.

I give up. I fail at this every time I try to do better.

I could go on and on, and I’ll bet you could too.  The ways in which we taunt ourselves might differ slightly, but the underlying messages are identically destructive. Why do we do it?

On the other hand, bullies don’t just say overtly cruel things.  Sometimes they lie to us by pretending to be friends, tricking us into doing what we wouldn’t normally do, or creating false hopes destined to be dashed.  We can bully ourselves in this way, too.  Does any of this sound familiar?

Everyone else does it; why shouldn’t I?

I know it’s bad for me to feel such anger toward someone else but hey, I’m only human.

Nobody will ever know about this but me, so it can’t possibly hurt anyone.

Mae West was right– too much of a good thing can be wonderful.

Oh, who cares?  One more doughnut/drink/purchase/cigarette/gambling loss isn’t going to make much difference now.

I think there are very few of us who have not been bullied at least once in our lives by a cruel person.  Even if they hit us with words instead of fists, it still creates damage.  But I agree with McGill that most of us take far more abuse from our own thought patterns than from others. Perhaps mean people were the ones who trained us in the art of putting ourselves down, but that doesn’t mean we have to continue their pattern of spiteful talk.

Today, let’s stand guard over the bully in each of us, and not allow anything ugly to win the day.  Most of us learned to be pretty good about curbing our inhumane talk to others, although we may need to work on what we say behind their backs.  But I think our most difficult struggles will be against the bully inside our own heads, telling us we deserve the self-defeating thoughts we repeat.

Celebrate Be Kind to You day today! I think we could all use more kindness, and if we begin inside our own heads, it’s bound to spread beyond us.

32 Comments

  1. HarryS

    Dear friend Snoopy

    Have we met the enemy?

    Is it us?

    • Yes, Harry, I think so– very often, anyway.

  2. blseibel

    Be kind to you day! What a nice thought, I really need that. I’m stressing about packing, moving and storing my stuff. I’m still having anger at my husband and so often coming down hard on myself just as in your examples… I’m a bad mother , daughter and was a bad wife, failure, failure, failure. I never realized I was bullying myself but I’ve recently come to understand that my soon to be ex was bullying me and verbally abusive. Thank you for the thought to quit bullying myself and be nice to me today! Once again, your blog has helped me see things in a new and better way.

    • It’s surprising sometimes how long it takes us to realize that the way someone else treats us isn’t loving or even civil. It can be particularly confusing when that person does show us love in other ways. One reason I appreciate character-driven fiction– the kind that avoids stereotypes– is that it can open our eyes to how complex humans can be; how a person is rarely all good or all bad, and how a basically good person can still ruin the life of another with careless and unintended cruelty. Just as we can be bullied by others without realizing it, we can do the same to ourselves, as you are experiencing. And like so many other types of abuse, we can turn around and do the same to others without intending or seeing it. All the more reason to “take every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5) and not allow our negative thoughts to drown out the truth that we are loved and capable of good and even great things. I honestly think that loving others becomes much easier when we are kind to ourselves, and the reverse is true also; when we are kinder to others, it follows naturally that we will be kinder to ourselves.

  3. Julia, the best solution to this problem I heard in a comedy. In the “Nutty Professor,” Jerry Lewis said: “You might as well be happy with yourself. You’ve got to live with you for a long time.”
    None of us can escape ourselves. Yet we have the ability to make it so, that we don’t have to.
    -Alan

    • Alan, so true! It reminds me of the lines from a song I love, “Any Major Dude” by Steely Dan:

      “I could tell you all I know, the where to go, the what to do
      You can try to run, but you can’t hide from what’s inside of you.”

      I never heard that quote from Jerry Lewis but it’s a good one to remember! Sometimes living with ourselves is our biggest challenge…but as you say, we can master it.

  4. Megan

    What a great reminder! This makes me think of Ann Lamott who taught me the phrase “Be Kind to Yourself.” We are all so hard on ourselves! If only we were as kind to ourselves as we are to others!

    I love this photo of G!! What a smile!

    • I love that look of delight on his face in so many of the photos and videos from his first year. Instant mood booster! That’s why I binge-watch Grady videos when I’m feeling down.

      Yes, we need to be kinder to ourselves. Somewhere along the way, most of us picked up the habit of being mean to ourselves as a sort of false humility or discipline, but when we look at those who are strongest and most exemplary of faith and unselfishness, it’s a curious fact (almost an afterthought, something we don’t see until we look for it) that they almost always seem to enjoy being who they are, without expecting perfection of themselves or anyone else. It’s something to strive for.

  5. This is an area I’ve been working on, Julia. Treating my self with the kindness I give to others. It improves one’s outlook considerably.

    • It really does! It’s a win-win situation.

  6. Ann

    Be kind to me day🎉🎉🎊🎊🌻🌻🌻 what a wonderful idea! No negative self talk allowed!

    • Ann, I’m glad you are joining me in that effort. Today, too, and every day! BTW you look marvelous today. I can’t see you from here, but I just know it. 😀 We have a blind friend at church who sometimes tells me “you look lovely today.” Jeff and I were talking about it, and I said I don’t think it’s totally said in jest; he can pick up from our talk, our hugs etc. many “cues” that I have dressed up, put on make-up, cologne, etc. — in other words, “cleaned up” — 😀 as I typically do for Sunday church — and so I think he “sees” what we might not realize he can see. In that spirit, then, I remind you how good you are looking today. 😀

  7. Sheila

    Julia, I suppose our own thoughts really can undermine us, a subtle destruction from within. Would that be an implosion? I love the warm, sweet, and genuine smile that “Baby Grady” has. May he always like what he sees! His little self is also one that reflects the caring, nurturing, and love that his wonderful family has given him, so unselfishly. I love your thoughts on this blog! 💻 💛

    • Sheila, yes, I think that’s exactly what causes an implosion. Not only do I need to quit planting little dynamite sticks and IED’s inside my head; I need to be on the lookout for those that have already been planted– by me or others– and gradually, gently disarm them.

      Grady is so much fun! I have some videos I want to post soon on the page (yes, I know I’ve been saying that for a long time; hope springs eternal). Each age and stage is a gift. Sometimes when I look back at the early photos and videos, I miss the sweet little baby Grady, but the boy Grady is so interesting and fun, it’s easy to get over missing the baby. 😀

      Thanks for your encouragement about the blog. As always, it’s greatly appreciated.

  8. Julia, many people in the Upper Room chapel are being blessed by your thoughtful words. Just wanted to let you know some are asking for your blog website. You are loved!! Hope life is treating you and the family well. Love and Light! Cherie

    • Cherie, how sweet of you to mention the Upper Room. I’ve GOT to get over there TODAY — yes, I did get lots of “extra views” so thanks to whomever gave my URL. I really miss the fellowship there. We are doing OK. Basking in the love and light you are sending. 😀 Thanks so much for being here! And for being there! (At Upper Room)

      • Ann

        I posted your URL on the UR site. There were many positive comments from others who had read this and Cherie asked for your address. You have lots of fans!

        • Ann, thanks so much for sharing the link to the blog. I was able to get over there briefly yesterday. I so appreciate the encouragement. I don’t know how we would have survived those awful days of shock after Jeff’s diagnosis without the prayers and support of the “cyber chapel” at UR.

  9. Yahhhhh! It’s a Grady photo. Tee-hee, that’s a Q-ute one too. I wonder what we think as a young babe looking at ourselves? “hey, want to play with me? Look mama, a baby!” Wish we could bottle that joy and innocence and save it for when we’re grown-up.

    For myself, any doubts and personal negativity was courtesy of a really terrible boyfriend in high school. I let him have control of who and what he wanted me to be. It’s not easy to have confidence when someone is always trying to change you. I really think I thought it was ok, because my mother was very controlling and negative. That’s how I thought people showed you they cared. I wonder if the leaders of society have doubts? Does Obama wake up and think, “I look old, I’m too skinny, no one likes me” ? I’d recommend a Blog to him, LOL Where you get lots of love and encouragement for just being you. xo K

    • K, YES, I wish we could bottle “Essence of Grady” to use as cologne and room deodorizer, as well as mood lifter!

      I am sorry you were mistreated by your h.s. boyfriend. When I hear such stories, it reminds me that there are worse things than having NO boyfriend (which was always my particular problem). I think so many young girls feel pressured to be in a relationship. And yes, I totally agree that having a negative, controlling parent sets us up for seeing that type behavior as normal and even as a sign of love. Long story there, better leave that one before “I digress” majorly here…I’m glad you have been able to break away from those destructive patterns and see how they harm us.

      As for President Obama (or ANY president, past, present and future), fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) there are far worse things to worry about than whether he or she is unloved. In fact, that would be a “perk” of bearing literally the weight of the world on one’s shoulders; it would tend to put personal problems in perspective. I think that’s how leaders in all fields build the thick skin so necessary to survive. I don’t think I could do it. On the other hand, one of the down sides of power is that one could NEVER really be sure of whether friends were true friends, or just in it for the proximity to power. People in high office are surrounded by those who want to “kiss up” and get what they can. It must be awful in some ways, never to know who is telling you the truth vs. saying what they think you want to hear. SO, we are well advised to have at least some sympathy for those in power. Meanwhile, if the President wants to read my blog, he knows where to find me. 😀 hee-hee

  10. HarryS

    “We have found the enemy and it is us” – Pogo

    • Harry, this is one of the Pogo-isms my Daddy used to love; he would say it often. And it’s so true. So we had best heed the (supposed, but possibly misattributed) words of Abraham Lincoln when he said “Have I not destroyed my enemy when I make him my friend?” 😀

  11. Amy

    I saw this post on Monday but never got a chance to read it. I love this. You more than anyone know how very troubled I have been of late so for one day I will not allow any self deprecating stuff to creep in. I am going to run my errands, clean my house and be kind to everyone I encounter. Including me. Thanks for sharing this. I love you. A

    • You should NEVER bully yourself! From the first day I met you OVER 25 YEARS AGO! 😀 you have been one of the most loving, generous and fun people I have ever known. I have always been blown away by your generosity to anyone who crossed your path. Not to mention you are a total riot to be with. So I will beat up the bully inside your head anytime. And you know what a tiger Mama I can be! Let’s have some chocolate and plan our next mischief intellectual discussion over tea. Love you too!

      • Amy

        OH NO it can’t have been 25 years ago or that would make us awfully close to being old. Yes I am anxious to see you again. Love, A

        • Amy, I’m not just close, I’m THERE! Of course, “old” is a relative term, as my mother loves to point out to me. 😀 See you soon. Meantime have a happy weekend. Love, J

  12. Michael

    Jerry Lewis: ahead if his time, sage advice.

    • I agree! I’m glad Alan shared that quote.

  13. Good one, Julia. Grady is so adorable and you are right. We should be more like that. Love this and still catching up. 😉

    • Thanks Marlene!

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