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Time to Stop PVA (Personal Verbal Abuse)

I have a bad habit. I call myself names. No one else does. Or ever has.

Not parents, sister (well—sometimes we did as kids), friends, teachers, coaches. I have been fortunate that way. So why am I doing to myself?

Langur Monkey, Madhya Pradesh, India

My self-accusatory tone is invariably over something minor: spilling water on myself while doing dishes or forgetting something I went upstairs to get (and have come back down without)—though sometimes a little more major: forgetting to rent a car or losing a bill under a pile of papers.

But still, these are not really that big a deal—all fixable—and yet, I criticize, put myself down.

Langur Monkey, Madhya Pradesh, India

The accusations begin with the milder, Oh Dotty! then escalate depending on the infraction toYou dummy! to Stupid! toYou stupid idiot!

I don’t need to take this from myself. Here I am, trying to clear the path to find my truest self, and I undermine it by chiding myself over trifles.

Just this past week, I caught myself blame-sighing, Oh, Dotty! when I began to take a wrong turn to get to an appointment. And it hit me.

I need to stop doing this. Now.

Langur Monkey, Madhya Pradesh, India

I have learned/am learning to forgive myself in so many other ways—resting when I need to and not feeling wimpy; asking for help; saying No when necessary—so it is time to put this bad habit behind me.

My mistakes, misjudgments, errors, and forgetfulness will continue, but it's how I respond that will matter. I know I will mutter the self-critical words again, but I will need to catch myself.

I want to treat myself the way I treat others (reverse Golden Rule). I would never use those accusatory words on family members or friends, (and if I have, I deeply apologize).

[When we were young, I know my sister and I sometimes called each other names. It wasn’t often, but I remember. Sorry, Patty. I'm glad we grew out of it!]

We’ll see how it goes. For now, I am going to try to simply let mistakes be just that, mistakes. I'll maybe shrug my shoulders, or laugh and say, Oh, well. Then move on.

I feel lighter already.

NOTE 1: Yes, these are Langur monkeys from my trip to India! I not only am still processing the 1000s of photos I took, but also am processing the effects the trip had on me. I have been changed, and will be writing about it in future blog posts.

NOTE 2: I just read an article from last week's Washington Post, entitled, "Be Kinder to Yourself. Research shows it could make you healthier." Here's to better health!

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