Life is hard when you’re hard on yourself

Learn ways to let go of guilt and let the Savior carry your burdens. Understand the atonement and what it means to you.

It was 10:30pm. I had just come home from a meeting, my kids were tucked away and my husband was right there, waiting for me. I couldn’t even say hi. I was so focused on a comment I had made. A small, insignificant comment that I was sure had offended a woman in the meeting. I stewed. I agonized. I looked at it from every angle. Then I started trying to create a reason to call her tomorrow so I could test the waters, and see if I had offended her. I was so worked up in my issue I didn’t notice he had cleaned up the house, put the kids to bed, and stayed up reading so we could spend a minute together before bed. So wrapped up in myself, I hurt him.Being hard on yourself, whatever the reason, can push that anxiety into a full-blown panic attack, at times. It can be a vicious cycle where some of us feel trapped in its snare.Here are a few ways we throw ourselves into the pit of insufficiency. We all have it, but some of us can’t let it go. The Lord taught us to repent, and promised that when we do it, it is as if it never happened. In Isaiah 1:16-18 it reads, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.”There, feel better? No? I didn’t really expect you to. If you suffer from anxiety and feelings of inadequacy, repentance can be incredibly painful before it gives you relief. Sometimes after repenting we hang on to needless guilt.True repentance involves giving our guilt, shame and problems to the Savior and trusting that he will take care of them for us. The Savior is called the Savior because he chooses to save us from suffering for our sins. He knew we couldn’t make it through this life without his grace and help.To help you understand the atonement, imagine that you take all of your guilt, sins, past hurts and wrap them up in a heavy bag. You carry it with you every day. Then the Savior comes to you and voluntarily takes your bag from you. If you accept his help, he carries it for you. He is capable of cleaning up all the sin and guilt in your bag and leaving you lighter, clean and pure. He knows you cannot do this on your own, and he doesn’t expect you to.

No one is perfect. There is only one person in the history of the world that has achieved this. And with his perfection, he saw the need for our second and third chances. He gave his life so we could try again. The Lord loves you very dearly, enough to sacrifice all for you. He knows you individually. Take that love and accept yourself where you are now. Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Don’t allow others, or yourself, to put you down.You are unique and special. You may or may not be a fantastic mother, sister, wife, husband, father, brother, son or daughter. You may be the world’s best casserole maker, the very best baby tender or the best sandwich maker. Whatever you are good at, focus on it. Let go of what you can’t do, focus on what you can.Comparing gets us nowhere. There will always be someone with a bigger house, more well-behaved children, prettier hair, or slimmer thighs. Comparing ourselves to others not only traps us into a cycle of needing more, it can draw our family into trying to keep up with the neighbors. Your children watch everything you do.Don’t look to your right or left for validation — look up. The only one who truly knows you, knows your heart, is God.Believe in who you are. You are a child of God. He is your father and loves you unconditionally. Show God you appreciate his love by loving yourself, as well. Love yourself enough that the love overflows onto others who are pulled in by your bright spirit.Faith and hope are two very powerful tools. The hope that we hold in our hearts can sustain us in our darkest moments. Gather that hope as you go about your day. Find hope in the joy your children bring you, hope in the sun rising over the hills, hope in the feeling you get when you pray. Sincere prayer can fill your hope to overflowing. Which brings us to our last step.Give it to God. If you are not strong enough, if you just can’t do it anymore. Stop short of pushing yourself to the brink of self-destruction and give your burdens to the Lord. He will lift us in our time of need. We may not get what we wanted, but we will get what he sees we need. Here are some ways to start loving oneself.Fill yourself with joy. Think of one thing you did right today. Remember that the Savior chose to save you personally. Remember you are a child of a loving Father in Heaven who waits for your prayers. Then, go out there and help someone else realize how amazing they can be to. Spread the joy!

Shannon Symonds & Erin Oscarson

Shannon and Erin are a mother and daughter with lots of children and Utah and Oregon roots.