Stop the self-torture

Too many of us are into self-torture. It has to stop.

We have to stop punishing ourselves.

It’s easy to take life, and other’s unskilled ways, personally. But, when we do, we pay the cost and our mental, emotional, and physical heath suffer.

I know, because I was the Queen of my own suffering for many years.

One negative comment, a foul look, or cold shoulder from another could ruin my day, and consume my thoughts. Gatherings of my Worry Committee commenced at bedtime, and affected my sleep.

I could turn a perfectly happy me into a tensed ball of humanity who imagined horrors, and suffered greatly. Unspeakable conversations raged in my mind.

I was a people pleaser, and believed my identity and worth came from the approval and validation of others. My happiness and sense-of-self were contingent on situations and other people, many of whom were living the same way I was — asleep and unaware.

Something said, or not said, a look, an unskilled remark, or mistake I’d made, all became fodder for my mind. I’d spend hours or days suffering inside the virtual reality of my own mind. 

What was really happening around me faded into the background as I was consumed with the horror show inside my head and the pit in my gut.

It was a form of self-torture as adrenaline and cortisol surged through my body, keeping me from thinking clearly. I existed in a state of fight-or-flight.

It was expensive to my health and happiness; I was often grumpy, feeling wounded or ashamed. I wasn’t too pleasant to be around.

I didn’t know there was another way, as most of my friends were living the same way. It seemed normal.

I have great compassion for this younger version of myself. I took life so personally, and I suffered.

I’d yet to awaken to the wisdom of asking myself an important question:

  • Will this current situation even matter, or be remembered, in one year?

When I learned this, I considered the many sleepless nights and the days of mental torture I’d spent. For most, I couldn’t even remember what they were about.

The object of my worry was so inconsequential and mattered so little, I couldn’t even recall what had happened.

We, alone, determine the amount of air time we give to the minutiae, the ups-and-downs of life. We choose how much mental and emotional coin we spend by jumping on the mental loop of suffering. Many times, we feed it, and keep it going, prolonging our pain.

Pausing to ask ourselves if we’ll remember the moment or situation in one year, and how much it’ll matter to us then, is a perfect place to begin. If not one year, then five; will it matter in five years?

Next time you notice you are triggered, or the hamster wheel of the worrying mind kicks into action, pause, take three deep breaths, and ask yourself:

“Will this matter or affect me in one year?

If not, don’t spend more than one minute worrying about it.”

This simple practice has improved the quality of my life in a powerful way. I’ve learned to not make mountains out of mole hills, to relax, and not take myself and life so seriously.

As you begin the practice, you may need to repeat the process a few times to remind yourself. Remember to breathe, to be patient, gentle, and kind with yourself, as you learn a new way. It takes practice to change old neuro-pathways and habits of being.

But it’s worth it.

This being human should come with an instruction manual.


Comments are pre-moderated to ensure they meet our guidelines. Approval times will vary. Keep it civil, and stay on topic. If you see an inappropriate comment, please use the ‘flag’ feature. Comments are the opinions of the comment writer, not of Castanet. Comments remain open for one day after a story is published and are closed on weekends. Visit Castanet’s Forums to start or join a discussion about this story.

More New Thought articles

About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories