Suza Scalora used to live with an emotional abuser – someone close to her who constantly told her she wasn’t good enough. This must have been true, she thought, because it came from the person who knows her best: herself.
As a “recovering perfectionist,” Scalora, a life coach and co-founder of the workshop-based organization Love 365, knows just as well as anybody how damaging negative self-talk can be. It’s relentless – a ceaseless internal dialogue that is always critical and never satisfied. “I used to torture myself,” says Scalora, recalling a book she wrote that, when it finally arrived from the publisher, brought her nothing but pain. “I opened it and started looking at it and all I could see was where I fell short. I had this feeling that after I finished the book, I would somehow be complete, I would be happy, but I wasn’t. That was a massive wake-up call.”
It took a lot of self-examination to realize that nothing external could make Scalora feel worthy; it was something that was going to have to come from inside of her – something that, ultimately, she had always had but ignored for far too long. “People are like bright light bulbs,” she says. “As the years go by, layers of dust cover and dim us, but these layers are really just fears.”
And the thing is, these fears don’t really exist. “None of these thoughts are true, they’re just ideas you have,” says Scalora. “But if you believe them and keep trying to hide from them, you can’t move on from them.” That’s why Love 365’s workshops, which are held four times per year at the Center for Living Peace at UC Irvine (Center for Living Peace’s founder, Kelly Thornton Smith, is a co-founder of Love 365), focus on articulating negative, judgmental and shameful thoughts out loud to at least one other person.
“I liken it to mold,” says Scalora. “In a dark, damp place, these thoughts can grow and proliferate, but once you bring them out into the light, they can’t survive.”
And our thoughts are not as strange as we think. “These are things that people are afraid to say, and then they get up and say them and they’re still there; nobody is acting like they’re a total loser, because we all have them.”
The three-hour workshops are just a starting point for a healthy self-relationship, however. Articulating the negative soundtrack that so many live by can help ease daily self-abuse, but breaking the habit entirely takes practice, patience and self-compassion. Scalora tells a story of a woman in her 60s who is still struggling with an event that took place when she was in preschool, when a boy her age walked by, pulled on her jacket and told her she was ugly. Until recently, she believed it.
“Negative thoughts are habits, and we become our thoughts,” says Scalora. “[Love 365] is really about becoming conscious, really waking up, and taking responsibility for your life.”
Feel the Love
The next Love 365 workshop, Love You 365 – The Key to Your Happiness, is being held at the Center for Living Peace at UC Irvine on February 22 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
949.753.1455 :: love-365.org
Center for Living Peace
949.854.5500 :: goodhappens.org