Author: Vasilios N. Kiosses
Psychologist- Person-Centred Counsellor
It seems exceedingly easy to cruelly target myself the moment I begin to wonder what I have done, how I have existed and how I have created my relationships. To corner my idol in the mirror and to raise my finger like a teacher, stressing to myself how inadequate he is, how he did wrong and how he could have behaved differently.
To scold him, highlighting the new ways in which he should behave, to get mad because he wasn’t fast enough to react otherwise and to get disgusted by him for failing. This self-feeding accusation is most reflexive, as if it has been deeply rooted within me and nothing can be done about it now. The mind has built such notions which now resemble impregnable castles and it is now hopeless to try and demolish them. The strength to build them was not solely provided by me, but principally by those closest to me, who either silently or not created such foundations for living and behaving that never suited me.
Even now in retrospect, I can effortlessly become a judge, ready to charge the guilty. I start demanding from myself another way of acting, which is however unknown to me, as there was never anyone there to guide me. I feel inadequate for not knowing earlier, for not being able to listen to things differently, for not having the strength to summon my powers so at the time of beating myself up I could also have saved myself. I outrageously demanded from myself to know! It’s truly scary, how strict I can get with myself sometimes.
What has made me so strict? What powers this feeling of responsibility that I always felt I had? What is it that makes us expect complete personal adequacy from the beginning, without even knowing what we are up against?
I assume that on the whole, once self-trust evaporates, I begin to expect even more from me. The feeling that I am not competent enough activates a series of reactions that make me victim of my demands. And then I fret because during the vortex of discomfort I could not see clearly. Just as in an explosion, when at the very moment of being blinded by the waves of dust, I expect to have the perfect eye vision of a raptor.
It frequently reminds me of a young explorer fighting to dig up treasures. As soon as he finds one he holds onto it, but after a while he throws it away in search of a better next, shinier and more precious. And so he goes on digging and toiling. He succeeds in finding what he was looking for. He then throws it away though, while plotting how he can find an even more attractive and unique treasure. I don’t know if he finds it in the end. I know for certain that he is very tired, he is sweating and his hands are protesting. I also know how he kept nothing of what he found, as nothing looked precious enough. I know that he wronged himself through the stress and that in the end he demanded that he had found the ‘precious treasure’ from the very beginning. He neglected however how precious he himself is. He neglected how tired he was; despite success or not. He neglected looking in the mirror while holding what he had found and taking pride in it. He neglected taking a step back and taking pride in his hard work. He forgot he has a right to feel tired, he forgot to take a break. There was no one there to remind him that everything he has obtained is forever his and how at any given moment, any decision he made, was right at that moment.
Rogers C. (1995). On Becoming A Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy, Mariner Books.