Life isn’t perfect. Things go wrong, we make mistakes, accidents happen, and life may not pan out the way we hope. Our reactions can often contribute to the problem. But is your default reaction to find somebody or something else to blame for your problems?

Sessions that I run provide a safe place for people to inquire into their emotional struggles and how it can lead to unease and eventually discomfort in the body.

Clients typically struggle with the similar issues; emotional turmoil arising from a situation. In an effort to try to resolve the problem, or make sense of it, people often end up over-analyzing and dwelling on it, resulting in on-going emotional upheaval.

This thought map best illustrated the journey from external event to external thoughts to internal thoughts.

Whats significant is that even thoughts the trigger may be an external event and some of the thoughts and emotions are directed externally, and some degree of blame often thoughts around the situation are usually inwards.

As you can see how a situation and lead to thoughts and emotions that are self directed.

Getting upset, frustrated, or impatient with yourself can be a punishing experience.  And if your personal standards are unrealistically high, you may find that you punish yourself quite a bit.

But there are times when we are filled with self-loathing without even being aware of it.  Personally, I’ve noticed that my self-attacks are usually quite stealthful, taking the form of derisive questions that echo in my mind: “How could you forget her birthday?” or “What were you thinking?”  “What is wrong with you?”

While it is easy to blame others when your expectations are not met, it is even easier to blame yourself.   

While we usually try to control our temper when it is directed toward others, most of us don’t even try to control the severity of our self-attacks.   Social constraints like empathy and fear can moderate our harshness with others, but there are no parallel restraints when it comes to self criticism or attacks on oneself.  If you are harsh in your judgments of others, you are probably even more intolerant and cruel with yourself. Anger turned inward can be the most vicious anger of all.    

To look at how this works, ask yourself: 

How often do you attack yourself?

  • What kinds of attacks do you mount? (verbal, physical, brutal, or prolonged) 
  • What are the warning signs of self-attacks?  (tension, irritability, picking, headaches)
  • Is there an early point in the process where you might have a better perspective, and a chance to move in another direction?
  • As the investigations proceeds, try to discover which of your limitations most often trigger your attacks.    

Consider, for example, whether you are most angry with your perceived shortcomings in:

  • Self-control (over-eating,  over spending, promiscuity, drugs, etc.)
  • Self-discipline (lazy, selfish, greedy, etc.)
  • Awareness (insensitivity, ignorance, forgetfulness, self-absorption, etc.)
  • Abilities (physical, intellectual or social)

Once you begin to understand the causes and qualities of your self-attacks, try to seek a broader perspective:

  • Avoid unrealistic expectations and – don’t expect perfection.
  • Consider whether you really had control over what you imagine you should control.

Finally, learn from the situation and then move on:

  • What is this teaching you about yourself?
  • All humans are light and dark. What are some parts of the shadow self (part you dislike ) still need to be accepted.
  • Instead of rejecting or attacking a part of yourself that is unworthy, unlovable, failure, weak or vulnerable to accept these.
  • How can you love yourself more?
  • Try offering yourself the compassion you would provide to someone else

We all fail to meet our expectations from time to time, especially if we are challenging ourselves in our lives.  Yet there’s no need be hard on yourself — its better to work on being more tolerant of your limitations, release the past with light, send energy and light into the future, and to keep reaching for what you want.

Thoughts directed at the self are the ones that often lead to over-analyzing emotional upheaval and ultimately to health issues.