Adding Machine

Forgive yourself. This is the kingpin for a happy life. When I tell people this they often get the feeling that this is an impossible task. This is so impossible that I may as well have asked them to reach the moon by climbing a ladder!

Severe depression can be torture that lasts for years? decades? a lifetime? There are many possible causes for this. However, one of the most common cause stems from negative self talk. We all have negative self talk. However, this type is particularly nasty. It’s the voice of a person that’s self loathing! If you have a problem with self-loathing then you should stop loathing yourself.

Wow, that was easy to say! Unfortunately, it’s more complicated to discard. This nagging feeling has very deep roots. The thoughts that come with self-loathing have been playing 24/7 for many years! In fact, the roots often go so deep that many people feel that it’s impossible to reduce the torture of this! They believe this so strongly that they won’t even try!

I drew the cartoon to be used as a tool to help me get over my negative self talk. The story is an analogy about forgiving yourself for your perceived flaws. I do so by telling a story about a cute little adding machine. It’s very smart. However, after it has an accident, it can no longer calculate even the simplest formulas. It always gets the answers wrong. As a result of this, it’s full of self loathing! It considers itself worthless and is continually plagued with suicidal thoughts!

The idea behind this story is for people to have compassion for the cute cartoon figure. OF COURSE IT GETS THE ANSWERS WRONG! IT WAS DAMAGED! HOW CAN THIS ADDING MACHINE NOT UNDERSTAND THIS? IT’S BEING SILLY!

I then turn this around. The reader may also be filled with self loathing. OF COURSE YOU COME UP WITH THIS WRONG ANSWER! YOU WERE ALSO DAMAGED, ABUSED, BROWBEATEN, ISOLATED, NEGLECTED, or OSTRACIZED!

The purpose of this cartoon is to get people to think. Why can they have compassion for the adding machine but are unable to have compassion for themselves? I want to jog them out of their stupor. The adding machine was taught to believe (incorrectly) that his self worth is dependent on his ability to compute. Once he lost that, he lost his self worth. The damage is only part of the problem. The real problem is the belief that self worth = ability to compute! Until this belief is changed the trauma will forever perpetuate!

The reason why I’m telling a fictitious story of an adding machine is because it eerily echos a common problem that many people face. I’ve met countless amount of people that are ‘stuck’ in their despair and are clueless how to escape this. They can’t comprehend that it’s even possible! Perhaps it’s because their popularity/bank account/youth/employment prospects/athletic ability/is fading and they’ve learned (incorrectly) that self worth is equal to one of these things. (*) Their fear and anger amplifies the problem!

Many people want to improve their ability to think accurately without the onslaught/distraction of their negative self talk. However, trying to achieve this by berating themselves for these thoughts will not work. In fact, it does the exact opposite! It’s the same as trying to cure a rash by scratching at the irritation! It will backfire and will only make it worse! THE ONLY WAY TO ESCAPE THE SELF LOATHING IS TO LEARN HOW TO FORGIVE YOURSELF!

That’s a big ask! People that suffer from self-loathing have had the negative self talk bombarding them for years. This was drilled into them through repetition therefore they need repetition in order to counter-act this damage! This is why I made this drawing. I urge you to tape it onto your wall in an area that you will see it many times each day. My recommendation is to place it somewhere in your bedroom. That way it will be the first thing that you see when you start the day! This picture will remind you of the story. I encourage you to click on the link to download this photo. I designed this high resolution print so that it can be printed out as a 4×6 photograph.

*Family problems are depressing. However, this gets magnified greatly when a person believes that their self worth is = to their ability to nurture, manage, or provide for their family. This makes a bad situation 5 times worse? 10 times? 20 times?

Self hatred will always cause family problems. This is because a man that hates himself will project what he despises onto those around him. This applies to the partner who loves him, but also to his children, colleagues and friends. Projection can cloud your vision and skew your perception of reality. This makes it hard to see a situation for what it is, and instead, morphs a person or situation into something it is not. When you engage in projection, you become susceptible to self-victimization and blaming other people for something you need to address within yourself. Projecting is like dumping clutter into someone else’s living room and then hating them for being messy. It’s a way to avoid the responsibility of dealing with your own emotional clutter and instead, making it someone else’s fault. Projection is often a calling for self-reflection and setting healthy boundaries. This is the main reason why people sabotage their relationships.

Perhaps those last couple of paragraphs got your attention about how important it it to shed self hate. Even if you put the adding machine cartoon on your wall that you can see several times each day, it still sounds like a monumental task. After all, you’ve browbeaten yourself daily for much of your life and it’s hard to reverse this! This is why I made another drawing. It tells the same story but from a different angle.

Imagine a five year old child starting to learn arithmetic. He tries very hard but sometimes makes a mistake. Think about your own childhood. You made mistakes as well. It’s part of learning. You needed the feedback of making an error in order to help you to learn mathematics.

Unfortunately, this youth doesn’t understand that making errors are part of the learning process. When he makes an error, the only thing that he knows is that he failed to get the correct answer. He berates himself for this and he starts to hate himself for his shortcoming. His self criticism plays on and on in an endless loop in his imagination. With each pass the negative self talk becomes more and more nasty until he starts to wonder whether or not the world would be better without him!

Remember that we’re still talking about a five year old child. If you lost the image of a toddler, you’re not alone. More than likely you got sucked into your own movie that plays on an endless loop. It’s hard to imagine a child going through this vicious self criticism but it’s all too familiar to your own story! Although you lost the image on the toddler, the story is the same. He/you are torturing yourself for your mistakes. Learning is done by trial and error. However, you’re too critical on yourself to allow this method. It would be silly if the five year old child tortured himself with self loathing and suicidal thoughts. However, it’s OK for you to do this. NOT!

I’m being facetious again.

The above drawing of a child’s math test is another that I encourage you to download and print this out as a 4×6 photograph. This can be downloaded by clicking on this link.

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