Sunday, 26 June 2011

With Friends Like These...


Imagine if you had a friend who was always putting you down? If you’d known that person through childhood, but as you grew, they had become more and more hostile towards you?

They’d tell you you were too fat, or too thin… that your face or body was just the wrong shape… that your nose was too big, or your eyes were too close together or too wide apart… that you were ugly…

They’d remind you of all the mistakes you ever made; all the things that, with hindsight, you could have done and should have done, but didn’t…

They’d tell you you were useless, fit for nothing, not worthy of love… and they’d do this when you were at your lowest point… kicking you while you’re down, over and over again…

And, sometimes, maybe when they got drunk, they’d try to kill you… cut your wrists, strangle you or throw you off a bridge…

You wouldn’t accept this sort of treatment, would you?

You’d tell them to get out of your life. In fact, you’d probably have the police do that for you.

Strange, then, that we accept such sustained criticism and destructive negativity from ourselves – truly the one person in the world who is always with us, and who we should be able to rely on at all times.

Are you friends with yourself?

Many people aren’t, and that’s likely true for the majority of our species. I know it was the case for me until last year.

We torture ourselves, then make the excuse that it’s okay… like a battered spouse who feels they can’t escape from their abusive partner, so they accept it.

It’s not okay. We don’t have to accept it.

Next time you stand in front of a mirror, listen to your thoughts while you look at yourself. If there’s any criticism, know that it comes from the dysfunctional, egoic mind and not from your true self.

The storage device in your head is not you – it just records what you’ve done, where you’ve been, who you’ve met and what you’ve seen - and when it mocks, insults or criticises you, it only does so because it’s not working as it should.

Accept only positive, productive, encouraging thoughts which nurture your true spirit and free you from self-criticism and self-doubt.

Become the friend that is always there.

98 comments:

  1. Very nicely put! More people should truly value their own friendship! Wouldn't the world be so much lovelier!

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  2. Everyone should read this... everyone. Great post!

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  3. If I have an addiction it is self flagellation. Like so many with this damn hyper-critical monkey on my back, I struggle with silencing the ever present self critic. It helps a little to know that I'm not alone. Thanks.

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  4. i blogged about that just yesterday. It's a hard reality to accept and also confusing. All you wanna do is be friends but they have an agenda.

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  5. It certainly would, Amy! :-)

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  6. I'm sure you can throw that monkey off, Sidney. :-)

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  7. Thanks, Totsy... think you may have got crossed wires a little, in that the blog is about how we are rarely true friends to ourselves. :-)

    I think I would have left the party you went to at about 7pm and went straight to the fast food joint. ;-)

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  8. Love this blog entry!
    A toxic relationship with yourself is the worst relationship you can have. Start affirming your life and make peace with your heart and your head.
    Well done, Les!
    Ari (@RandomHoots)

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  9. We learn this from our parents.

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  10. Thanks, Ari! Totally true - it's the one relationship we have control over, so we should never accept it to be poisonous.

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  11. If everyone learned this from their parents, Zongrik, we wouldn't live in a world like this.

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  12. Ah, Branli... thanks! :-)

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  13. How very true. Sometimes we need to be reminded — thank you.

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  14. Very nicely put...came here on Gladys's suggestion. Am glad I did. Thank you!

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  15. Addition to my previous comment: "A flood of positive affirmations can wash away every bit of negative thinking in your mind." Affirm Your Life - http://affirmyourlife.blogspot.com/

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  16. I think I started to be friend of myself when I imposed my will over a manipulative and negative friend who was supposed to be my best friend but in the end seemed all what she accused me to be: jealous, insecure and childish.
    She really kicked me while I was down because she was convinced I needed it to get better. I don't, I'm better off without her than with her letting me more and more down.
    Well, I also did the 31 days path to self-love I found on Beliefnet.com xD

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  17. Excellent post. I was directed here by someone posting the link to this...and it came at a really opportune time, when I haven't felt more alone with myself.

    Thank you. I twitted, FB'd and 1+'d.

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  18. Good advice. It can be a inner battle sometimes but it's as important to keep mentally fit as it is to stay physically fit and maybe even more so.
    I tend to maintain a stronger positive image of myself, but the specter of self-doubt and negativity is always lurking behind the curtain ready to pounce in on my weaker moments. Keeping on open door to positive thinking is essential to keep on friendly terms with oneself.


    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  19. Thank you for this post, it's a reminder to love ourselves unconditionally.

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  20. excellent post. it seems you and I were fighting similar battles last year. glad to hear you've overcome. blessings,~ c

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  21. Thank you, damyantiwrites! :-)

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  22. I think you imposed your will on yourself, nuageentrecieletterre, in making the decision to leave that relationship - no easy feat and kudos to you! :-)

    Remember that nobody can ever hurt you, emotionally. They can be catalysts to that pain, in their words and actions, but it's only you who takes those things inside and processes them into pain.

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  23. I hope things are better with you, too, Catherine?

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  24. ClearlyMeLuise28 June 2011 at 04:26

    Perfectly stated. I will share this with people I can think of right now who could be their own best friend if only they would. As I read this I was thinking that maybe the people who don't like being alone are the same ones who don't like themselves. When you like yourself you love being alone because you feel like you're in good company!

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  25. People say 'you love yourself' like it's a bad thing but everyone should love themselves how can you love anyone else if you don't realise how wonderful you are.Everyone should look at themselves (and I dont mean in the mirror)and see how kind, careing, loving and truely wonderful you all really are. Then maybe we can start loving ourselves a little more =^Y^=

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  26. Great insight Les. When you are not good to yourself, you become miserable, and misery only spreads. It does not make for a happy existence with oneself or with other people...and really, who wants that?

    No matter what you believe, the time is here and now - best to accept who you are and make the most of it - for everyone's sake.


    Thanks for sharing,
    eden

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  27. Thanks, Luise - I really hope it helps them! :-)

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  28. Yes, Anon... love within is a gift that extends to external love, with others close to us, to our communities, our regions and countries and to the world in general. Wishing for world peace while hating yourself will always curse that wish.

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  29. Thanks, Eden... the moment we live in is too often overlooked, but yes, it's the only place we could ever be. I meditate in supermarket queues because of that, while others are getting flustered and impatient because they want to be elsewhere, five minutes ago. :-)

    Thanks for reading!

    Les x

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  30. That is soooo true!! Well said, and so many people miss this point. Happiness is a choice, and it also needs to be practiced.

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  31. Indeed it does. Thanks, Rachel! :-)

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  32. Great post, Les. Too many people listen to negative self-talk. How destructive.

    I can honestly say that I like myself and encourage all my friends to feel good about themselves as well. Life is too short to wallow in the negative.

    Enjoy!

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  33. this writing really hit a nerve.. not just my friends but my whole family..starting with parents.. you see i was/am overweight.. growing up my parents tried everything to get me to be "normal" weight .. including telling me what to eat, whenwhere,what and how much..ALL THE TIME! never thought i was pretty growing up.. it wasnt till after my divorce that i found some people liked me for me even if i was fat. i have lost some weight since then but not because of any diet but just not eating as much..just because.. i like myself now and i have great friends and great children too. noone is putting me down anymore..i like that..
    thanks for listening.. Laura Novak

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  34. It's difficult, as a child, to grow up loving yourself when everyone around you is casting criticism on you - but I hope you realise, now, that you should forgive these foolish people and just be happy in who you are? :-)

    My weight has been up and down for years, but while I'm working hard to change things at the moment, I'm very content in myself right now... even though I'm a bit wobblier than I will be in a few months time, there's no self-judgement. I just want to be fitter.

    If you want to join the weight loss challenge, it would take nothing more than dedicating yourself to a brisk walk a few times per week? :-)

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  35. thanks Les for your interest.. i do like myself better as i grow older and yes ..of course i forgive the silly people that critisized me.. it is in the forgiveness that we all heal.. i think.. hey not too bad ay?? lol LN

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  36. Thank you Les for a profound and a positive post. I always recall the wisdom of a teacher many years ago who said that "Until you are able to tolerate and like yourself, how can you expect anyone else to?"

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  37. That's very, very true, Tee. I swapped words with someone last night who said they want to 'be happy and in love', but they need to find that in themselves before searching for it in others... and then they won't need to search for it in others. ;-)

    Thanks for your kind words! :-)

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  38. Oh I need this reminder! Thank you :). One of my turning points in my teenage years (when I go EMO and all that) was when I heard this: "If I don't love myself, who else will?"

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  39. Hehe, splendid - glad to be able to remind you! Very wise saying, too, yes! :-)

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  40. What a FANTASTIC way to look at one's self. I've never read it said so meaningfully, for lack of a better word. I would never have a friend who treated me that way. I'd dump them like a sack of garbage. And yet, you're right. We tell ourselves things that are constantly putting us down which turns us into "our own worst enemy" - cliche' phrase but apropos nonetheless. Thank you for such a great post!
    Patti

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  41. Thank you so much for your kind words, Patti! We all deserve the friendship of ourselves, but yet most people don't recognise this. Let's hope we can change that perception. :-)

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  42. Very good point about not accepting from yourself the crap that you won't accept from other people without an assault charge. I never thought about it quite that way before.

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  43. Interesting twist, Les! The title caught my eye because I've been thinking about a new post about friends who only take from you. Thanks for the thought provoking POV!!

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  44. Glad it was useful to you, Jen. :-)

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  45. Les my friend, truly, we have seen the enemy, and he is us.
    Thanks for a great post, words to live by.
    Prudence
    http://prudencemacleod.blogspot.com/

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  46. This is a great post. And an important one. I had many friends like these and then there was a time I wanted to be alone but then human being is a social animal. After some time you really need to talk to someone. I remained really depressed with their comments but believe me if this happens its not you, there's something wrong with them.So just chose your own path.Negative people stay say negative. There is no cure for them. Before they damage you. You should turn away from them because I have suffered a lot and they make one's life miserable.

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  47. Hey Farah,

    I don't think anyone is unredeemable. Negative people are lost in that train of thought through some kind of conditioning, and depression is often just a case of conditioning, too.

    Remember that nobody else can make you miserable. They can be catalysts to that feeling, but it is only us that can translate their words or actions into any sort of mental pain, by taking the information into our minds and letting it affect our thoughts to the point we 'feel damaged'.

    But you're right... choose your path; you can choose not to hang around people who constantly project negativity. If you can't lift them, they're only going to drag you down.

    I used to be very negative. That's changed. :-)

    Hugs,

    Les

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  48. Once again, we return to compassion—this time for oneself—often our harshest critic. While we should hold ourselves to a higher standard and reach for our dreams and expectations, we should refrain from beating ourselves up when our humanity shows through.

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  49. I actually had a friend who treated me very much like this. We were roommates and I had to move out due to her increasingly aggressive and inappropriate behavior. She called me stupid, whore, bitch, and retard, and laughed about it. She still follows me around online and tries to interfere with my current relationships because our mutual friends didn't dump me when the friendship came to an end.

    Because of her abuse and my ex-husband's abuse (and her house was supposed to be the safe place to go to get away from him) I'm now having extreme problems with OCD and anxiety. I spend all my time worrying about making the wrong decision that will totally screw up the rest of my life, and I don't trust anyone at all.

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  50. A year ago today my best friend died suddenly, I tried my best to keep her alive but failed. I have hated, punished and berated myself everyday since. I don't know why today of all days you started following me on twitter, which led me to your blogs, but I have to say whatever the reason , it has been a real healer reading them. Thank you.

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  51. OMGolly! Les you write so well like you're in my head. Everything you described in the beginning, I put up with as a battered wife. I still have his voice lingering in my head. I get up to get knocked back down. Oftentimes my own teens say, do, or just exude the same manorisms that he had even though they haven't seen him in a couple of years. I came out of an abusive situation still the victim while my teens seem to run the house with control just like the abuser. Some days are better than others, but I know there's hope.
    PTSD from any sort of trauma/abuse sucks! We need a cure to abolish the idiocy that perpetuates PTSD.
    You're in my thoughts and prayers as we fight the good fight together! Thank you for sharing Lesism!
    <3Berteena

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  52. Very true. I often (though probably not often enough) catch myself saying horrible things to myself I'd never think of saying to anyone else.

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  53. I am touched. Really nice and very true. I agree with you that we must be the very first in support and love ourselves. thank you for this post.

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  54. A really powerful post and so true. I'm sure this will touch a lot of people and hope it will help change the mind set of some.

    Over the years I have thankfully become a much better friend to myself. I still have blips every now and then but they dont last long. My outlook on life is positive now. My experiences in life have made me stronger.

    I've learnt not to dwell on the past, you can't change it. Never regret, learn from it. I surround myself by positive people and appreciate and enjoy all the good around me. Life just keeps getting better and better now.

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  55. Powerful. I am sending this to a good friend who really needs this. Thanks.

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  56. And you would never let an enemy get so close. There is a place for constructive self-criticism, but not when it is just beating ourselves up.

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  57. Why has that appalling woman been "bantering" you on twitter? Is she really a doctor? What drives her?

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  58. I wonder if this is why celebrities start having so many problems? When your every move is criticized incessantly, i feel sure they might start internalizing some of it at some point and feel bad inside. It makes me sad because it isolates people from others when they believe they will only recieve criticism. Think before you utter any negative words to another...

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  59. Fantastic post and one we can all learn from. As a writer I spend an awful lot of time in my own company so a good relationship with myself is vital if I don't want to drive myself nuts.

    L.K. Watts
    http://lkwattsconfessions.blogspot.com

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  60. Wonderful post, very well said. We all have such potential and yet are, at the same time, our own worst enemies. Perhaps you'd appreciate this: http://wp.me/1hdaW

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  61. A lovely post. We should all be our own friends. When you are accepting of yourself, you are at you happiest.

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  62. I've been on both sides of this. Only in the last few years have I realized that I should treat myself as good as I do my friends, and I'd never treat my friends the way I used to treat myself. Great post. Thank you!

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  63. Great post, only thing is that I don't need to be my worst enemy that sounds rather like my partner to be honest!!!

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  64. My GOD! You're right!
    I've been my own worst enemy.
    I never thought of this before.
    Never realized this.
    I am astounded.
    Les, you are amazing.
    Love this!
    Your words are just what I needed.
    Keep at it.

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  65. I was led here via someone else's blog. I always have a bright outlook on life and never let other people get to me. I know that other people struggle with that. I hope by reading this, it will help them.

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  66. I am trying a more positive outlook about myself and my life. As my attitude is more positive I can feel changes it may seem slow in coming, but there is change. Thank you for sharing!

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  67. As I read this blog post, I was able to relate to it. It is a strong message for the weak. We must learn to distinguish true friends, from those friends that use others to make themselves feel better about themselves.
    Well written!

    -Erick F.

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  68. Great post Les! Sometimes the blocks are inside our heads, and all it takes is a little introspection to realize what the internal dialogue is so we can change it.
    Mario

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  69. I have posted out for the many Carers in my networks to read... We are the worst at keeping that friend!

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  70. Les, your posts are coming to me exactly as I need them, my next Monday Motivation topic is around Friendship - and as you pose such a unique angle same in a way as you need to love yourself before you can know how to love another.

    May I share your blog with my group? Promise to send them to your pages.

    With loads of respect, Theresa

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    1. Of course, Theresa! If it's useful, use it. I appreciate it! :-)

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  71. Nice Blog My friend

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  72. I know, from experience, what this is like. Maybe I should get a restraining order on myself. I wish it were that simple. It's easy for some of us to strike up a negative inner dialogue with ourselves. I know I've put myself under a microscope I would never subject others to. Not even those who have hurt me deeply.

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  73. Thank you, Les, for this healing post... You are a treasure.

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  74. I used to have a pretty wicked social anxiety disorder and boy was I trapped by those brutal and harsh thoughts.

    I can totally relate to this post. It wasn't until I started to believe in myself that things began to change.

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  75. How true! So beautifully written. We never think of ourselves as our own worst enemy. We need to battle the demons within to be truly happy with ourselves, once we can accomplish that every thing after should be a breeze.

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  76. We have to love ourselves because we are all we got. We were born as ourselves and we will die as ourselves, and we are here!

    That's what Celie means in The Color Purple when she hollers "But I'm here!"

    It doesn't matter if other people compliment us or love us if we do not love ourselves we won't accept love from anybody.

    Thank you for sharing those thoughts. -- Adrienne

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  77. hi Les, thank you for this. I am undergoing Schema Therapy and you just described the Punitive Parent Schema Mode [beating oneself up over something].

    Aiming for Healthy Adult mode and getting there, being in that mode for Longer periods.
    Blessings to you :)

    regards,
    Shar [a colleague from twitter]

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  78. Great blog :) This is something I've struggled with for years. I think I've finally started to get to like myself. maybe not be actually friends but at least tolerate myself and not beat myself quite so much! everyone should read this :)

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  79. I really like this post.

    It's beautifully written and it pushes me to practice the inner debugging job with more intensity.

    Mind can be a minefield sometimes.

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  80. Thanks for sharing. I don't want to so much degrade myself mentally, physically, or harm my being. I just want off this planet as I feel like such an Alien even though I am deeply loved and so many beautiful loving people in my life. I just feel like an Alien and don't fit in here. I would love to ascend out of this reality. PEACE. You are awesome by the way. Never forget it, keep doing what you do 'cause you do it so well and you connect alot of people with your words and wisdom. SHANTI SHANTI PEACE...

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  81. I started to learn this through Kabbalah about 8 years ago. It's a hard pill to swallow in the beginning knowing that the crap in your head is something you, yourself are allowing. With work it does get better and you'll realize you now have mostly good thoughts enter your head and hopefully out of your mouth as well. It also helps you choose better friends, when you like yourself more. You don't accept people in your lives who are just 'haters', you look to find the 'lovers' to add to the positivity you are promoting from within yourself. Great post, thank you!

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  82. Very nicely written - I'm lucky to have some really great friends. Sad to say however, this article could be referring to my family.

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  83. This was a real eye opener. Kind of depressing to realize that you are the source of your own suffering.

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  84. I come from a very critical family as well, especially on my mum's side. Hang on, no, wait - it is ALL from my mum's side.

    However, we need to recognise that if we're unable to be nice to ourselves we're unlikely to be nice to others. Maybe that's why there's so much evil in this world.

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  85. What a fantastic piece. Precisely what my soul needs and wants and what my resilient mind keeps me from. Thanks xx

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  86. Another great post, Les. This is a topic I have been working on a lot lately in transforming the inner critic. Thanks for sharing your insight and experience. All the best, Beth.

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  87. I tell people this all the time. Someone I love has self-image problems because he was abused as a child. I tell him to imagine it was someone else and if he would think it was their fault and of course he wouldn't. Great article.

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  88. Yes les this is a really serious problem..The monkey mind. Here is a blog that I post to daily. Please share it..http://themercurialworld.blogspot.com/
    I had this dilemma most of my life and he helped me to overcome it.

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  89. I've always been an advocate of finding true happiness and love with oneself before we even think about bestowing our own gifts on others. This is why so many relationships falter; because many of us do not value the person within. Thanks for sharing this...more people should come to realize such impeccable free ways of living and growing.

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