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    of Feeling Bad About Myself
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Breaking the Habit
of Feeling Bad About Myself

When I was very young,
I needed to be taught
As all children do
How to choose wisely.
And so I was taught
That when I chose badly
Or made a mistake
To feel bad about myself.
The teaching was successful.
By so many criteria
I did indeed
Choose wisely.
But every decision
No matter how wise
Included a bit
Of feeling bad
That never went away.
It just built up over time.
And though I did well
My unhappiness grew
No matter what I did.
If I'd been unable
To learn other ways
To define choosing wisely,
I would have begun
Choosing very badly
When the unhappiness
Became intolerable.
Then one day
Someone told me
Feeling bad about myself
Only gets in the way
Of choosing wisely.
At first I didn't believe,
But the more I tried it
The more I was convinced:
We do our best
And decide most wisely
When we feel good
About ourselves.
A horrible mistake,
Or a step foolishly taken
Is a challenge:
To do different.
To do better.
But NEVER a reason
To feel bad
About one's self.

23 January 2002

by Bill Cattey