I think that the vast majority of people in America are masochists without knowing it. We spend much of the day lost in thoughts that make us feel anxious, worried, or upset. We look in the mirror and don’t like what we see. We do things that we know aren’t good for our physical bodies. We hold onto the past and let it continue to hurt us over and over and over.
I recently discovered a fact that gave me pause. In Tibet there is no concept for self-loathing or self-depreciation. It does not exist. In Buddhist traditions self-worth and self-esteem are given and not dependent upon any external or internal expectations or values.
I heard a story about the Dalai Lama recently as well. He was at a conference with a bunch of Western meditation teachers and when they told him of the challenge their students were having with feeling unworthy because of lack of self-esteem he was floored. He actually stopped the conference and had them explain this.
Imagine living in a place where everyone had the same value regardless of their circumstance. Imagine not spending your day wishing you were different, knowing that you were okay at all times.
You could speculate about why our culture is so filled with people who feel less than; is it the competition and comparison that pervades our way of life? Is it the influence of the media? Is it pop psychology that insists on focusing so much on this topic, reinforcing the tendency?
In the end who cares. What really matters is that you decide to STOP torturing yourself. Ghandi once said that we must become the change we want to see. Begin to treat yourself as if you were already the person you long to be. Become your own best friend. STOP TORTURING YOURSELF.
Here’s a way to begin. Spend a day or two writing down some of the thoughts that have become broken records in your head. Then, on a piece of paper create a list of these thoughts. Look at each one and ask yourself, “Is this really true?” “Is this thought helping me or harming me?” “How do I feel when I think this thought?” Pick one that you can challenge and write down the antidote. Finally, take this new thought and keep it in your head like a mantra, saying it to yourself 10, 20, 100 times a day, whatever feels good. Before you know it you’ll start to feel good. Peace in the body begins with peace in the mind.