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Ep 6 Transcription "Breaking the Cycle of Self-Condemnation"

Leona:

Hi friends. Welcome to the get off your affirmation podcast. I'm Leona Evans, and I'm here today with my son and cohost Matthew J. Evans.

Matthew:

Hi, it's great to be here.

Leona:

Well, it is great to be here because today we're going to be talking about one of my favorite topics. I love to take a hold of a topic and really dissect it. Especially one that either hasn't been talked about before or one that we think we know everything about. I love the Socratic method of questioning. You remember Socrates who was Plato's teacher used to have a way of questioning people and taking apart their preconceived ideas and helping them reconstruct and reform their ideas to be deeper and more powerful and more helpful in their lives.

Matthew:

Yeah, that's one of your favorite methods of sharing information. You you've taught me that and shared that with so many people.

Leona:

So that's the purpose of get off your affirmation to be able to take our preconceived ideas and beliefs and restructure them and reframe them so that those beliefs can help us be our very, very best self. Well today our topic is self acceptance. One of the most fascinating and misunderstood topics in all of psychology and spirituality. The truth is we can't really love ourselves unless we accept ourselves. And because self acceptance is such a misunderstood topic, let's begin today by using a definition from one of the world's foremost psychologists on the subject of self-esteem, dr. Nathaniel Branden, his definition of self-acceptance is the refusal to be in an adversarial relationship with our own nature.

Matthew:

I remember the first time you read that quote, how, how shocking it was to me, how kind of simple, it seems like, Oh, just, just don't be against yourself. You know, that seems like, well, why would I in the first place?

Leona:

very good question. Why would we be against ourselves? Well, there is some very good reasons and they all stem from the socialization process, which takes place when we're very, very young children and don't know enough to protect ourselves or keep out of harm's way. We want to taste things and touch things. Some of those things that we want to get close to are not safe for us. And just when we find an open door that leads to the outside, or we're finally trying to figure out how electricity works, suddenly we'll hear a voice saying "no, no, not don't do that. Don't do that!" And we see a great deal of concern on our parents' faces and we feel confused and wrong somehow. And we're not exactly sure why. We begin to grow very insecure about the choices we make. All we hear is our parents' anger.

Matthew:

The parents just want to keep the kids safe. And the kid is feeling frustration because all they want is love and approval from their parents, and what they're getting, as you said, is what feels like anger.

Leona:

Yes. And that anger brings about a sense of shame within the child. We feel like bad children, who've done something wrong and somehow we've let our parents down. And so we become very concerned about making mistakes. We do everything we can to try to please our parents, but because we're so young, we can't always be on our best behavior. And so we continue to grow and find ourselves in more complex social situations. And we learn a number of other rules. Don't get angry, don't stay angry, don't make waves, don't be frightened. Don't complain. Don't get into any kind of trouble, otherwise you will be shamed and people will think of you as a bad boy or a girl. And so we become very careful about making mistakes. We try to avoid them, but when we do make them as is a normal process of learning and growing, we haven't developed the coping mechanisms to be able to handle those situations with equanimity. We deny our mistakes. We lie about our mistakes. We blame others for our mistakes. We do everything we can to justify our actions so that we can be lifted out of a place of shame and be acceptable and lovable once again.

Matthew:

Wow, no wonder we're so afraid to make mistakes, and why we have so much anxiety and feel so stressed. It feels like it can just consume our lives.

Leona:

It can. And it does. It creates that bifurcation in consciousness. And as Nathaniel, Brandon says, it causes us to be in an adversarial relationship with our own nature. We deny the qualities that haven't been approved by society and push them so deep into our unconscious that we don't even realize they're there. The way to heal this human condition is through genuine self acceptance.

New Speaker:

Self-acceptance is unconditional it's beyond approval or disapproval. The practice of self-acceptance allows us to experience rather than deny what is true about ourselves at any given time. It gives us the courage to remain present to the reality of our own behaviors, and frees us to recognize the many and varied aspects of our personality without self hatred or self rejection. We're growing and evolving every moment of our lives and refining our character flaws is a natural part of this process. But if we choose to justify our faults or attempt to disown them, we not only fail to learn valuable lessons, but we risk ending up with a lethal buildup of unbridled energy that becomes buried in our unconscious mind.

Matthew:

Wouldn't it be amazing to be able to live without that self-condemnation and without that judgment, I mean, I can only imagine how freeing it would feel to, to not be constantly nitpicking myself and ragging on myself, and giving myself such a hard time for things.

Leona:

Yes. It's really exciting to look forward to the time when we can truly relax into ourselves and accept all of who we are. And so today I would like to respectfully challenge each of you within the sound of my voice to get off your affirmation and start practicing self acceptance,

Leona:

Striving to become good, probably causes us the greatest amount of grief. The fact is that we are good. Living our lives, knowing that we're good, and recognizing that we have so much potential within us that we can share with the world. That's what gives us the greatest joy of living, not striving to be perfect or pretending that we're not bad. We're not bad people. We're good people. We were created by the universal omnipresence source of all creation. And we are inherently good, but we're not finished. We're good people who have a lot of learning and growing to do. And we are at the greatest peace within ourselves when we understand that and accept that without false expectations.

Matthew:

But that's like the hardest thing to really work out because we have so much conditioning from the voices inside ourselves telling us what's right and wrong. And then from everywhere else, starting from childhood and going through our entire life.

Leona:

Exactly. And that's why we need to learn to identify those voices and understand how they're affecting us and how to handle them more effectively. We're so used to thinking of ourselves as one identity. We say, I feel, I think I believe. And yet when we really start analyzing the many aspects of our consciousness, we see that we're a compilation of different voices that have different agendas and different points of view. One of the most commonly discussed is the inner critic. The inner critic is that aspect of our own consciousness that imitates all the critical voices we've ever heard. The inner critic wants to protect us from failure. So it will tell us not to take risks. It will tell us that we failed. It will tell us that we shouldn't have tried. It will brow beat us until we are so desperately unhappy with ourselves that we don't know where to turn.

Leona:

The problem is that the inner critic has taken on too much power. Again, as I mentioned before, the more wounded we are as children, the louder, our inner critic's voice will be. And so in order for us to heal, we need to break the cycle of the critic's abuse and decide to no longer give our critic the power to determine our value. But that doesn't mean we can get rid of the critic entirely. And I don't think our goal is to get rid of the critic. Although some have gotten so angry with the critic that they've tried to banish the critic from their consciousness. That's kind of like trying to push a beach ball down into the water and watch it come up again. It's not about getting rid of the critic. It's about finding out what the critic can do best, and not letting it have the overriding voice.

Leona:

In other words, taking the microphone from the critic saying, I'm no longer going to consult you in terms of whether I'm a success or failure. I'm going to go to another source, which is another aspect of consciousness that is often called the Divine I am, or the lLght within us or our Higher Self. That's the self that can comfort us. That's the self that can be our spiritual mentor and guide us through our mistakes without condemning us. But it's not the critic. The critic is actually good at finding mistakes. So I always like to tell the critic to go figure out my income tax or see if there's anything dirty in the laundry that I failed to notice. That's what the critic does. They find mistakes. So they're the editor. For example, if I have an essay that needs to be edited, I'll call out the critic and ask her to find the mistakes in the essay. She's a very concrete black and white thinker, and she's able to pick out those types of errors very easily, but I won't ask her to evaluate my goodness or to judge the value of my essay. I have another source will be there to honor my efficacy, which is richer and truer than anything that the critic has to offer.

Matthew:

So it's not about trying to get rid of any part of our consciousness. It's about using it in the right way, because the critic is just trying to do its job, but it's doing too much of it. The critic is calling us names and berating us, and we believe that that's the truth of who we really are.

Leona:

Exactly. And that's why it's so important to learn, to differentiate the voice of the critic from the other voices in our consciousness. One of the best ways to do it is to have a conversation, an internal conversation with our inner critic. My critics name is Aunt Rose. Now I don't have an Aunt Rose, which is why I decided to name her that, but the name is a means of identification. I can always tell when she's come into the forefront of my consciousness, because she'll start out by saying, "What have you done? What a terrible mistake. That was really stupid." She calls us names a lot, and is constantly there to be berate us and cause us to feel just like we did when we were children. And that's not fair, that's not true.

New Speaker:

That's not the most effective evaluation we can have of ourselves.

Matthew:

So then when you hear the inner critic starting to come up, how do you deal with it without starting to judge or condemn yourself at the same time?

Leona:

Sometimes I'm more effective than others, obviously, because this is an ongoing process. The most important thing is to know who she is and what she does. And when I hear that voice, that demeans me, and when I get triggered to feel like I'm an inadequate child, then I know she's talking. That's not who I am, who I am is enough, is good. enough, was created in goodness and light. Just as we discussed before, if I made a mistake, I will ask another part of consciousness that I call the inner observer. The observer is able to judge in the highest sense and evaluate a situation, give objective input and help me to correct a mistake if I made one,

Matthew:

But not get into all the condemnation of the critic.

Leona:

The critic has been on a loop for all these years, and it's just playing over and over again in our mind reinforcing the fact that our worst fears are true, that we are no good, that we're not worthwhile, that we're not enough. That is what we're working with. Our goal is to experience an objective, acceptance, a recognition of what we have done, how we behaved, whether or not it's effective without blame or shame, and how to go about making changes in a constructive way. For example, if the inner critic is evaluating a mistake on my essay, she's likely to call me names. "You idiot. That was so stupid. How could you do something like that? Who told you, you were a writer?" Now in contrast, the observer will say,,"I see that you've researched your essay well. However, in this first paragraph, there's an item that you need to research for accuracy."

Matthew:

Wow. So it's the difference between feeling emotionally berated and depressed and just getting constructive feedback on something tangible.

Leona:

Yes, you see the critic is coming from fear and coming from shame. The observer is coming from a place of wisdom. The observer accepts us as we are. The observer knows that we are enough and more than enough to do whatever it is that we choose to do with our lives. And the observer also knows that we're in a process of growth and unfoldment. Making a mistake is not a sign of failure. Making a mistake is an opportunity to learn from it and grow from it. It can be that simple when we practice self-acceptance.

Matthew:

Yeah, that takes a lot of work, a lot of positive self-talk and a lot of focus to really be dedicated, to not getting caught up in the constant negativity of the critic. So I want to ask you something, how are self-forgiveness and self-acceptance related?

Leona:

Well, they're very definitely related, and I think we get a big jumpstart on self-forgiveness when we recognize that we've been approaching life from the opposite way. As I said before, instead of being sinful individuals who are trying to be good, we are good by nature and are in a normal, natural continual process of growth and unfoldment. This means we can honestly admit our mistakes without feeling self-condemnation or shame and go about the business of correcting. We don't have to forgive ourselves because we didn't condemn ourselves in the first place.

Matthew:

That's very different from the way I normally act. I get caught up , in a lot of that self-condemnation, , or being caught up in not forgiving.

Leona:

Well, you know, there are a lot of ways that you do practice self-acceptance, as a musician. You make corrections every day without thinking of yourself as a bad person or feeling guilty .

Matthew:

Yes, for sure, that's part of the practicing process, being in a rehearsal or being in a lesson, you're constantly getting feedback. And it's definitely easier to take that kind of feedback because I could separate it from myself. It's not myself as a person, it's myself as a player in that specific instance.. But when it comes to the more personal stuff, it's definitely more difficult. So for example, I forgot someone's birthday and I felt tremendously guilty. I beat myself up over it and I felt so horrible. You can get a gift or a card after the fact, but it's obvious that I messed up. You know, how do I not beat myself up so much over that?

Leona:

Well, obviously you've been listening to the inner critic, who's been telling you what an idiot you are, how stupid you are, what a bad friend you are, how unredeemable you are, what a bad person you are, calling you all kinds of names and berating you. The truth is you forgot your friend's birthday and you wish you had made a different choice. Now, how do you go on to deal with the problem from a more rational perspective?

Matthew:

I'm not sure because, I mean, the only thing that comes to mind is, how could you do that? You say you're a friend, and then you do something so careless. And it just keeps spiraling out from there, but never really getting to a lack of blame or shame.

Leona:

Right, and that's because who's talking? The critic is talking and you've recognized him. And you have a name for your critic. I know because we've talked about this for years. You know, the sound of that voice because he's always blaming, he's always shaming. But now that you are learning to observe yourself, you recognize that this path of blame and shame is not going to get you anywhere near self-acceptance. It's going to continue with self-rejection and wreak havoc on your self esteem. So the best thing to do is tell the critic to gently step aside and ask someone else's opinion, someone that lives within the spectrum of your consciousness. Try the observer. What does the observer say? The observer would probably say, "You forgot your friend's birthday. You feel bad that you did it. Take some time to be sad, make amends with your friend and work on ways to be more careful with your calendar." And that's about all there is.

Matthew:

Yeah, but that's see if, if I just let it go at that, that would be great. You know, but I, I feel like I always recognize the critic after the critic's been going on for who knows how long exactly it does take

Leona:

Practice. Yeah, it does take practice. And that's why we are practicing self-acceptance by tuning into the voices in our own consciousness, redirecting them, asking for different input, and seeing how reasonable and compassionate it ican be. When the inner critic talks, there's no way to get out. It's a no win situation. You're bad. You're terrible. And that's the way it is. When the observer talks, you acknowledge and accept the reality of the situation. You did forget. You didn't mean to, in some way you were careless. You will work on that. You will update your calendar. You will make amends to your friend and make sure that you make every effort to move forward and let that not be a chronic pattern in your life. This seems so lovely, doesn't it?

Matthew:

Yeah. That's something that I'm going to be practicing. And I look forward to being more comfortable, more at ease with doing,

Leona:

See, just take your work situation as a musician and review how you've responded to things. For example, if I'm the leader and you're ready to play and you start playing, and I say, Matthew, the key is B flat, not A flat, what do you do? Drop to the floor in disgust and self-blame and shame? What do you do?

Matthew:

No, I just transpose to the key I'm supposed to be in, and that's it. I don't beat myself up. Well, maybe I'll make a little joke about howI misread this or whatever. I was careless, but it definitely does not become a huge soul crushing event that I will dwell on for years and years.

Leona:

Yes. And you also understand that you're not a bad musician. You're a great musician who made a mistake. Now, some things are soul crushing and I'm thinking of the Olympics now, because this is one of my favorite examples of how self acceptance can be really, really difficult. Let's take an ice skater who has been working and working and sacrificing friends and social events,working for days, weeks, months, and years, to do a perfect program at the Olympics and then falls on the ice. What does one do when they wanted a medal more than anything in the world and they somehow were careless. How do you accept yourself?

Matthew:

I guess you just have to be trained to accept the fact that mistakes can happen even at the highest level of performance.

Leona:

Exactly. We have to be trained. We have to be trained to think of ourselves as strong and powerful, able to withstand challenges and overcome. We need to be trained to accept ourselves at all levels of our being, so we can take both tragedy and triumph with as much equanimity as possible, regardless of what business we're in. Regardless of what endeavor we decide to undertake, we need to understand that the wounded voice no longer has the power to dictate our responses or to decide what our future is going to be. We need to be trained. We need to use the tools and techniques of self-acceptance to be able to see ourselves as stronger, more powerful, more compassionate, and more capable than we ever thought possible. And this includes self compassion, the ability to put our arms around ourselves metaphorically and not beat ourselves up for what we tried our hardest to do, but didn't quite achieve. We need to be there for ourselves. We need to be for ourselves. This is self acceptance, to realize that we're good people, we're spiritual beings having a human experience. And this includes the ups and downs of life. Not to have an adversarial relationship with ourselves, but a holistic one.

Matthew:

So what I hear you saying is the Olympic ice skater has to be willing to accept that they have what it takes to handle both their triumphs and defeats. And I hear you saying that we can too, but we have to retrain ourselves to believe that we can.

Leona:

Yes, that is very well said. And so here are some important tools that we can use as we practice self-acceptance. Do not use your words or actions to put yourself down. Evaluate situations from the observer's perspective, not the inner critics. Avoid blame and shame. Learn to recognize the voice of your inner critic and spend far less time with them. Let go of the need to defend yourself or make excuses for your behavior, it robs you of your personal dignity. Avoid unrealistic expectations of yourself and others. Remember you don't need to change yourself, you need to find yourself, to awaken to all of the beautiful potential within you. So once again, I respectfully challenge each of you to get off your affirmation and practice self acceptance every day.

New Speaker:

Growing and learning is an ongoing process and I can only see the world the way I see myself. We can only love others to the degree that we love and accept ourselves. Thank you so much for listening. Please get in touch with us on our social media. We really love hearing from you and we look forward to joining you again in our next podcast. Have a wonderful week. You deserve it.

Speaker 4:

[inaudible].

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