For Lent, I'm giving up self-contempt.
"You're not enough. No one even likes you. You always screw it up. When will you get your act together?"
Are you well acquainted, like I am, with this internal voice that berates, accuses, and condemns?This is the voice of self-contempt. It is the root of untold amounts of emotional pain, sabotage, and relational schism and one of the biggest threats to living a life of joy and connection.
Self-contempt is challenging to overcome. Fighting it rarely works, neither does simply releasing it, because something else will always fill that space. But replacing self-contempt with self-compassion--offering yourself the kindness that you would offer to another-- is a strategy that works.
Next time you notice the contemptuous inner voice begin it's rapacious monologuing, instead of acquiescing to it's lies or resisting it, I invite you to respond in a way you perhaps have never considered.
First, bring your awareness to this voice in your head and rather than allowing it to push you over, or ignoring it, or doing battle with it, instead just notice it. Bring a mindful, non-judgmental attention to it.
Then shift your focus to the area around your heart and silently say to yourself, "I am good. I am beloved. I am enough." As you repeat these words to yourself, alternately tap your left shoulder then right shoulder for 15-30 seconds, helping anchor the feeling neurologically through bilateral stimulation.
May deep self-compassion, which is your birthright, be yours this Lent.
Ryan Kuja (MA, The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology) is a writer & trauma-informed spiritual director. His work has appeared in a variety of peer-reviewed journals as well as at Sojourners, Red Letter Christians, Fathom Mag, and Missio Alliance and his book, From the Inside Out, is a clarion call for the integration of action and contemplation. You can find him on Twitter @ryankuja or at his website, http://ryankuja.com