Interesting concept this, self-laceration
Laceration means to have a deep cut or tear on the skin. The self-laceration I refer to is like a deep cut or tear but deeper than our skin — it’s how we hurt ourselves with the things that we say and do. It’s the things that we put off, the things that push us further away from ourselves, the things that make us align with being mischievous, temperamental, cynical or maybe even depressive, and not ourselves.
It’s like getting excessively drunk every so often and causing harm to ourselves and the people around us. It’s committing to that toxic relationship. It’s staying in a job we hate. It’s the anxiety we find ourselves in as we drown in overthinking. It’s the self-pity we dwell in by feeling sorry for ourselves all the time. It’s the low self-esteem. The easy way outs. The short-term pleasures. The denial. It’s anything that we consistently do that brings harm to ourselves.
We may do one or many things that pushes us away from ourselves
I first ever heard of this as I read through Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov — he shows this through characters who have their own self-laceration and don’t know about it or are quite cynical about it. A brilliant way to show us that the same can happen to us — we may have our own approach to facing the things that make life feel unbearable and push us away from ourselves at the same time.
It doesn’t only have to be bad habits, it can be good ones too. We may hurt ourselves with our short temper, anxiety or self-pity, but we can also do it when caring for others or being kind to them. We may choose to care or be kind because we know how terrible the opposite is, but we may go so far that people take advantage of us and we may be in denial about it. It’s quite interesting, isn’t it?
But why do we harm ourselves to sort of save ourselves from discomfort?
It’s not always easy to figure out the root cause of these harmful habits that we develop, sometimes we are aware of them and sometimes we are not. Sometimes we’re afraid of what may happen — the unknown can be a scary place and we may choose to go back to certainty and its temporary comfort. Sometimes we may find ourselves too overwhelmed to do something about our discomfort.
Finding this answer isn’t a quick task, sometimes it takes time to dig deep into the dirt and soil of our past to find that one root, that one seed that started it all. But that’s something we have to do for ourselves, we have to figure out why we chose to use this path to make sense of life. And regardless of how long it takes, we have to commit to finding this answer for ourselves.
It may not make sense at first, but over time, pieces will be added to our puzzle, helping us make our answers much clearer along our journey.
And we shouldn’t always wait to find our answer before we begin changing our lives
There’s no better time than the present to begin fixing the habits that make us dislike ourselves. Waiting only procrastinates our progress. These habits are the solutions we have found to our problems and as we know with problem-solving, there are many ways to solve the same problem — there aren’t really any wrong ways, but there are better ways, there are more valuable ways.
We need to look to our lives, look at how we face our problems, our hardships and our sufferings, and decide whether this is actually helping us or pushing us away from ourselves. We need to see understand our habits — if they are self-lacerating, then we need to work towards making them self-improving.
And regardless of how far we have strayed, we can always redeem ourselves
I understand it’s difficult not to judge ourselves on our past choices. We all do it to get an idea of who we are. But we didn’t always get it right back then, we don’t always make the best decisions, sometimes we caused pain and maybe even heartbreak. We didn’t always say the right things or handle situations in the best way. And if we look to our tragedies alone, it’s easy to feel discouraged.
Our past is not who we are though, it’s who we were, it’s the choices we made, it’s the life we experienced and sure, we can judge ourselves on it, but we have to do it from who we presently are, from where we currently stand. If we were right, we can draw confidence to continue down this path. If we were wrong, we shouldn’t be discouraged, we should do something today to make us proud going forward.
We can redeem ourselves by no longer putting off our own progress and taking responsibility for the better life that we want. We should have that conversation, say no to the things pushing us away from ourselves and hold on to the things that align us with ourselves, like hope, faith and courage. We can build better habits by committing to self-improvement and not self-laceration.
And those skin wounds, they will heal
If you care for them, if you tend to them and commit to the process of recovering them, they will heal. They won’t disappear, you will be left with a few scars, but those will be symbolic.
Like hieroglyphics on the ancient Egyptian pyramids, they will tell your story.
They will empower you along the rest of your journey as they remind you who you were and who you must be today.