I grew up subconsciously competing with my half-sister who graduated first in her class of medical students. (Do not, I repeat, do not try this at home.) In the process, I expected way too much of myself and became a perfectionist. (Right now I'm a recovering perfectionist.) I was miserable and exhausted, and my life was not peaceful.
Sometimes we are more judgmental and harsh with ourselves than we would be with a friend--or even an acquaintance. There are several reasons we treat ourselves unkindly. We may be comparing ourselves at our worst with others at their best. We may try to please everyone and in the process lose ourselves. Perhaps we believe the saying "If something is worth doing, it's worth doing well," when, in reality, only a few things are worth doing well and other things aren't all that important.
We may blame ourselves for innocent mistakes we make. Even Mother Teresa, Moses, and Paul had bad days. Mother Teresa sometimes doubted herself and her faith. Moses had a bad temper, and Paul overcame some really bad behavior to become a disciple of Christ. When we strive to become whole, we seek to love ourselves as God loves us--with all of our flaws, imperfections, and frailties.
We may feel guilty because of deliberate sins. God reminds us that when we repent, our sins--though they were once like scarlet--become white as snow. After we forsake and confess our sins, God forgives us completely. Then we need to forgive ourselves.
When we realize that we can't please everyone and accept our own humanity, we begin our journey to peace. When we stop comparing ourselves to others and love ourselves just as we are, we continue on the journey, and when we forgive ourselves and others, we complete it.
© Carol Brown