On Hating Myself

If you had a little tape recorder in my head and pressed record, you’d capture all sorts of stuff. But one thing would emerge – the words I use when I talk to myself. The way I react to blunder. To my mistakes.

“I’m such an idiot.”

“Oh G-d, I’m so stupid.” (The word stupid long and drawn out, the ‘s’ savored.)

“I can’t stand myself.”

“Shut up, Yocheved.”

“Oh, you idiot!” (Clearly, I like this word.)

Ya, not so pretty.

I’m sure there are all sorts of ways to understand why my self-talk can be so negative. Take birth order, cultural norms, temperament, unrealistically high expectations, pressure to perform, and throw in some sad stories – and maybe we can figure out why.

But that’s not the point.

The other day my daughter showed me a scratch on her leg. As she started to share how her close friend gave her that “owie,” she started to cry bitterly. Her face was so sad, her eyes so full of sorrow. It was heartbreaking to watch.

“Mommy, no one loves me,” she cried while looking deep into my eyes – so earnestly, so vulnerably.

Why did my little girl believe that if someone hurt her, she was rendered unlovable?

In the face of pain and disappointment, how do we forgive ourselves?

Lately, my negative self-talk has been at an all time high – it’s so noisy in my head, I can barely think. It seems like everyday, I’m being forced to deeply encounter another way in which I am incredibly flawed – with my kids, at work, in the world.

I feel like a piece of silly putty in G-d’s hands, pulled and contorted in all sorts of unnatural ways.

And its hard.

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I am that little girl, body and ego bruised, full of scratches everywhere — and most of them I’ve inflicted on myself.

See, at this point in my life, I thought I would have learned to be kinder to myself.

To change the channel of my self-talk radio to something a little more LiteFM.

But no.

(Another failure.)

How can I break away? Turn off this noise? Erase the shame?


I can give you a neat little answer about gratitude, slowing down, embracing imperfections, knowing I’m not alone, and the never-ending – yet always rewarding – journeys in life.

But I’m not in the mood for a neat answer.

I don’t know why I punish myself so harshly or have so little patience for mistakes or replay things over and over again in my head, each time becoming a bigger, blithering fool.

I don’t know why some failures hurt more than others or why some criticisms sting so much or why some victories, no matter how sweet, are never sweet enough.

(Never enough.)

I just know how it feels.

And it’s hell.

So pass me the Neosporin. Turn up the easy listening music. And sit close.

I need a shoulder to cry on.