Overcome Your Self-Criticism
By Flavia Bueno via UN Online Volunteering
I am Flavia Regina Bueno, 27 years old and a Brazilian Ph.D. Student, and I am here to tell you the times I was shamed just by being myself.
When I was accepted to be part of this project, I first felt honoured, honoured by being able to be part of something meaningful, and to find a voice, however, I also felt scared. Once this is out there, it's going to be out there, and as much as I hope that this brings some comfort or inspiration, it's very frightening the possibility of shame I might receive for write it "out loud".
I could come here and spend my words on how much I've been shamed because of my body, my personality, my choices, my struggles or even by sharing that been shamed makes me upset. Instead, I've made a different choice.
Please understand me, those are all valid issues, and I know how much they have affected me, and I only imagine how many people out there have been affected by these same issues, however, by sharing in deeper detail how I have been shamed, I would need to share what I've heard from people, and therefore, I could be caught in the risk of shaming them for shaming me in the top of reminding myself of all the bad things I've heard, and I don't see how these can help you or me.
As much I still struggle to understand why people would promote shame, bullying or hate, why would you risk to hurt someone, just because that person may not fulfil certain expectations.
Truth is, I've come to two realizations, 1) most of the time, most of the people would care more about their own opinion and expectations about myself than even ask my own opinion about myself, my characteristics and struggles or my behaviour and 2) that does not mean they are bad people or that they don't have struggles, it just means they have chosen to not care.
So, today, instead of focusing on how other's have shamed me, I will let you know the time I realize that I've been shaming myself. Being honest here, as much pain I may have felt by being shamed in different situations, none was compared to the one I felt when I realize I was doing it myself, towards me and that I actually have no idea of how to stop doing it so.
As much as I've tried to accept myself, that I've tried to increase my self-esteem, as much as I have tried that other's opinions don't matter, I am still not able to apply that in practice. I'd love to come here and say, I've accepted myself how I am, or that I think I am enough no matter what and that I should be leaving for me, for what I want and for what I think it's important, by doing it so I would be telling you a half truth and a half lie.
Rationally, I understand and I realize I have value, that other's concerns or opinions about me are their problems, not mine, I understand nobody walks on my shoes and nobody really knows the joy and the pain of being myself either. That is still not enough to make me stop shaming myself.
Every day, when I look in the mirror, I mentally shame myself for my body. There isn't anyone there telling me, I am fat, or that my body sucks, I am the one doing it. When I believe something is going to go wrong, because I am not good enough, sometimes the only person that said that was me. I am self-conscious about everything, all the time, and I shame myself for shaming myself.
It's a vicious and painful cycle.
I could spend hours here, trying to make you understand why I do that to me. I mean, don't I know how painful it is? Don't I know how hard is to listen "you are not enough"? Believe me, I do. Telling you my reasons could give you a clue to why I behave like that towards myself, however, no reason is good enough to justify it. No reason is good enough to justify shame someone, not even yourself, therefore, I am not doing it here.
You see, self-acceptance is not easy, we are constantly bombarded by standards we don't match, but truth is, who said I need to try harder to fit on those standards, and why should I even care? I even say it all the time, but to other people, not to me.
I don't know what is crushing you down today, or what kind of struggle you may have, I don't even know when I will be able to actually stop shaming myself for being who I am, I have no magic receipt. As the matter of fact, right now, I am thinking "is this text good enough"? "Am I being too dramatic or cheeky?"
I am harsh on me and I still have no clue on how to stop shaming myself, or how to stop all these bad thoughts about me that might not even be true. However and in spite of that I know I will learn, the first step was recognizing I was doing it. I may not be able to change people's opinion about me, I may not be able to change how those opinions can eventually affect me, but I am able to change my opinion about myself, I am capable and worth of self-acceptance, and I can achieve that, doesn't matter how hard it will be.
I know, I can do it, and so can you. You have the power to destroy yourself if you want to, but you also have the power to raise stronger than ever. Share your story, ask for help, start the change from within.