"Be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here."
-- Max Ehrmann
Many times when we are trying to change something and continually failing to follow through, we may beat up on ourselves for failing one more time, renewing our vow to break through tomorrow. Until tomorrow arrives. In that new present, our current passion, habitual thought, or habitual activity seems so much more comfortable and enticing. Then, we get mad at ourselves again, reiterate our vow to change, and that process may go on for years.
Here's something that puts a different spin on all of that. It is this: stop beating myself up and start loving myself unconditionally. Beating myself up just reinforces a low self-image, imagining that I'm so weak that I cannot do as I want to do, and I do what is habitual instead. We are, after all, very habitual creatures. Habit is a benefit in our lives and it also can be a detriment. Nonetheless, beating myself is the worst thing I can do. It is not helpful, and it is not loving at all.
You can see this in the world where you're out and about and you hear a parent berating their child, yelling impatiently at them, telling them what they are doing wrong. You can hear it on the sidelines at ball games with angry coaches thinking that their loud angry voice is of benefit to the players. You can even find it in the workplace with angry bosses or supervisors yelling at their workers, and finally, we can hear it at home with our spouses from time to time. None of it helps.
No, none of it helps because it is reinforcing the pattern that is supposedly desiring of change. In other words, rather than leading us away from the thing we say we no longer want to do, or the behavior that is somehow "wrong," the verbal abuse simply makes that stand out more. It is the exact same thing within ourselves. Beating ourselves up only reinforces the so-called failing.
Imagine you're God and that you are a loving God. You invented unconditional love. You promote it. Now imagine looking at the failing you. You've failed to follow through or change one more time. As a loving God, are you going to lay on some guilt and anger, or will you lavish total peace with your unconditional love? What would that unconditional love feel like? It would feel pretty dang good, don't you think? You might even begin feeling good about yourself, feeling your value, loving your life, blessing your actions as okay.
Now, if you really wanted to change, as opposed to thinking you need to change, you have a far better chance at fulfillment with the love than with the chiding. Wouldn't you agree?
Next time you want to change something, whether it is to begin something and move in a new direction, or to let loose of something no longer desired, feel the love. You can do the pretending I'm God thing if you need a little more authority, but I am certain that a loving God taught us how to love ourselves. It's part of our DNA. We simply forget from time to time. Be gentle and loving with yourself. You're the only you that exists. You're special. A loving God created you. Take joy in that. More love in the world begins with us loving ourselves.