We often have a little voice in our head that criticizes us, tells us how bad we are, and bosses us around. Called the superego, it really echoes the voices of our parents and other adults who told us as kids what was right and wrong, and so on. As we grow up, this inner parent can cause all sorts of guilt and self-deprecating feelings. Try this exercise to banish self-hate and its harmful effects.
Goal: To banish the effects of self-hate in our minds or at least banish its most harmful effects.
Procedure: Find a picture of yourself as a toddler or child. Take it to a place where you can sit comfortably and not be interrupted.
1. Breathe deeply, relax and let your mind flow. Meditate on the picture of your young self.
2. Remember the times you were yelled at, bothered, punished, and so on. Feel the feelings of unfairness fill you.
3. See yourself as that child, but now you are growing, growing, growing. You are a giant. You tower over the people who yelled at you and punished you.
4. Yell back at them! Defend yourself! Tell them what you think! Unleash all those words you were afraid to say before! See the grownups cower. They are asking you to forgive them!
5. Relax, breathe deeply. Forgive them. Tell them you forgive them.
6. Ask them to forgive you. They do. You embrace.
7. Let the image fade. In your mind hold three thoughts, in succession:
I forgive all adults who hurt me or made me feel guilty.
I am forgiven by all who punished me for anything I may have done.
I forgive myself, love myself, and am a worthwhile person who deserves love.
8. Finish your meditation as you wish.
9. Keep the picture of yourself as a child to remember that you are still a worthwhile person who is deserving of love, and you always will be.
Adapted from Clean Sweep by Denny Sargent (Weiser Books, 2007). Copyright (c) 2007 by Denny Sargent. Reprinted by permission of Weiser Books.
Adapted from Clean Sweep by Denny Sargent (Weiser Books, 2007).