Laugh, Love, and Let Go: Breaking the Cycle of Beating Yourself UP
“All you need in the world is love and laughter. That’s all anybody needs. To have love in one hand and laughter in the other.” – August Wilson
As the song goes, “All you need is love…” And while that sounds amazing, our lives are made up of things we love, and things we don’t. It’s a study of contrasts: whatever shows up that we don’t want or don’t love in our lives helps us define our focus… to get more of what we love and want.
Contrast helps us determine where we go and how we do it. Or what we stay away from and what we seek out.
Motivation and developmental research have long demonstrated the ways our brains are wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain, and most recent studies show we’ll go to extremes to avoid discomfort. Which is the perception of pain.
To be able to understand how to break our old cycles (what we don’t love), and use the healing power in laughter, loving, and letting go, it’s important to look at how we got here. It’s difficult to move ahead without taking a look back.
Several years ago, I worked on a documentary to help kids get fit, and hundreds of children showed up for the casting call, all dealing with weight issues and bullying. Initially, my role was as the motivating fitness expert, but it turned into much more.
Hearing their heartbreaking stories, I realized they felt powerless and were incredibly hard on themselves due to years of unkind teasing. My mission shifted to helping them feel powerful by accessing their “inpower” – the power within them. Guiding them to choose how they feel about themselves, what to eat, how to move, and how to feel strong and empowered. This work with kids showed me what’s possible for each of us.
Stuck in a Cycle:
Many of us have ended up trapped in negative cycles, too often criticizing ourselves based on our flawed past or perceived versions of who we think we should be to fit in (and succeed) in the world.
In the past, fitting in was crucial for survival in tribal communities since interdependence was vital for thriving. Each member had a role to play, contributing to the community’s overall success and well-being.
I once heard this:
“We spend 18 years of our lives trying to fit in, then every year after that wanting to stand out.” As a kid, I desperately wanted to be popular. So, I flunked out of advanced classes to be “regular,” thinking it would make me happier. Ironically, I probably distanced myself from the people I would’ve truly connected with.
The Critical Cycle:
We all know moments when we are our own harshest critics. Hey, it’s hard not to be tough when you’ve messed up! But we end up over-focused on perceived flaws and mistakes, thinking we’re not good enough or smart enough, and reminding ourselves of all our past oopsies. But did you know self-criticism can harm your mental health?
Maybe you’ve seen the horror movie where the phone rings … It’s the villain and the call is coming from inside the house! I think of this as the inner bully beating us up. Our internal monologue can become increasingly negative, and it’s us bullying ourselves!
Research shows that 70% of us criticize ourselves daily, and hurtful words from the past can linger in our minds.
The damaging effects of self-criticism on mental health cannot be overstated:
- It creates a toxic internal environment, eroding our well-being.
- This relentless self-critical voice becomes a never-ending loop, attacking us with every mistake or perceived flaw.
- It leads to anxiety, depression, and a diminished sense of self-worth.
- Self-criticism holds us back from taking risks and trying new things.
“Who were you before the world told you who to be?” I think the core characteristics we had as kids still exist within us to some degree, though they might be masked by seriousness, perfectionism, or adulting responsibilities. The truth of who we are lies in how we saw ourselves as children before we learned to hide our true selves.
As life unfolds, we naturally develop patterns of behavior in response to our experiences. We may become perfectionists, pleasers, rule followers (or breakers), or achievers. Others may adopt roles as bullies or slackers afraid to try. These patterns emerge as survival strategies, often earning us acceptance, attention, results, or love, which reinforces our actions, prompting us to continue them.
The truth is, those patterns don’t define who we are; they’re just what we do. However, we often beat ourselves up for falling short of our own expectations.
The first step to breaking free from this negative cycle is to lighten up!
Laugh and Lighten Up:
Laughter is a universal sound that connects us all, and it holds tremendous healing power. A good belly laugh can soften even the hardest-hearted. Finding humor in everyday situations is a game-changer, helping us gain perspective and not take ourselves too seriously.
Remember, perfection is an illusion, and we learn by stumbling and making mistakes along the way. In movies or television, there are “missed takes” and “CUT” we do it again. You learn, and you re-do. “DO OVER!”
Laughter truly is nature’s antidote, scientifically proven to reduce stress, boost our immune system, and release feel-good endorphins.
Finding Humor in Life’s Quirks: Embrace Your Quirkiness
Laughter becomes powerful when we can laugh at our humanness. Life is full of unexpected twists, mishaps, and blunders. Instead of berating ourselves for perceived failures, let’s chuckle at the absurdity. Remember that time you tripped in front of a crowd? Laugh about it and share the story with others. Embracing humor shifts our perspective, creating a lighthearted approach to life’s challenges.
The Transformative Power of Love
“Love is all there is.”
Self-love is the cornerstone of breaking free from self-bullying. It’s about treating ourselves with the same kindness, compassion, and acceptance we extend to others. If it’s difficult to imagine self LOVE, I teach my clients to start with self LIKE.
- Catch yourself doing something right.
- Nurture a positive self-image and celebrate your uniqueness, your quirks.
- Uncover self-care practices that feel good to your mind, body, and spirit.
- Embrace your true self, including the parts you may not want others to know.
- Remember, you are worthy of love and respect, and it starts with liking yourself first.
Cultivating Supportive Connections – Find Your People
Love thrives in the presence of meaningful relationships and we all need connection. The key is to surround ourselves with trustworthy people who uplift and inspire us. People will either drain you OR give you energy, so find the ones who feed your soul. Find people who create a safe space for you to be vulnerable. Sharing your journey with loved ones who understand your struggles makes you feel seen and celebrated, especially during moments of triumph.
The Liberating Act of Letting Go
Release Regrets and Embrace Forgiveness: Moving ahead is a challenge without knowing where we’ve been. Letting go of regrets and forgiving ourselves is vital to break the cycle of self-bullying. We all make mistakes; it’s part of being human. It’s how we learn and grow. Instead of dwelling on the past, choose self-forgiveness and learn from your experiences. Free yourself from the burden of regret and embrace the lessons learned. Let forgiveness fuel personal growth and self-compassion. Let yourself off the hook.
Embrace Change and Surrender Control:
Life is an ever-changing dance of uncertainty. No one can control what happens, so learn to embrace it rather than resist it. Letting go of the need to control every aspect of life creates space for growth, spontaneity, and serendipity. And fun! Don’t forget about fun!
Practicing mindfulness, breathing, being present, and feeling gratitude helps us to appreciate the beauty in the present moment. By surrendering control and accepting life’s twists, we find freedom and inner peace.
It’s time to break free from the cycle of self-bullying and the old ways of beating yourself up. You can avoid listening to those old voices by practicing awareness and acceptance.
It’s time to embrace a new way of doing your life – your way. Find joy, acceptance, and personal growth through laughter, love, and letting go.
Find out what self-defeating patterns need to be released! https://www.theresabyrne.com/mental-fitness-assessment
Discover the secrets of Mastering Your Mindset through My Mastery Program: https://www.theresabyrne.com/neuro-fitness
Check out My TedX, The Danger of Your Inner Bully: https://youtu.be/MnqDRhO16bE
Connect with Theresa Byrne: https://theresabyrne.taplink.ws
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