You’re cleaning the bathroom, and you need that brush on the shelf that’s behind the bottle of cleaner which is behind the bar soap which is behind the little glass. So what do you do? Your goal is that brush, but the barriers in front of it are naturally invisible so you dig right in to get the brush, and meanwhile everything tumbles over and the glass breaks.
How do you react?
You blame yourself for being so clumsy. Stupid! I’ve always been clumsy so it’s no wonder I broke the glass. Why can’t I be more careful? And on and on…
It’s human nature to beat yourself up, blame yourself, and to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Why do we do that? On good days, when your confidence is at a healthy level, all is good. You probably would have just gotten the broom and cleaned it up. No judgment/no shame. But on days you’re feeling low, that’s when your unkind self takes the lead (read: inner critic). We abandon any self-esteem we have, while accumulating all our faults.
One approach is to treat yourself with kindness and care, as you would a close friend. This is the essence of self-compassion and the basis of being kind to yourself.
What does “Be kind to yourself” mean?
It means using positive language toward oneself. For instance, instead of berating yourself for breaking the glass and acting judgmental, you might use more patient, understanding and thoughtful words.
By keeping your self-negativity in check, you could reduce self-criticism, depression, anxiety, fear of failure, and perfectionism.
How do you do that?
Here are some ways to develop self-compassion:
- Ask yourself, “What would I say to my best friend in a similar situation?” And how would you say it? Notice the tone of voice you use while saying it. It would probably be softer, gentler and… kinder.
- Take a step back. When you’re about to yell at yourself for making a mistake, let’s say, stop, and think about what your intention was. Think about what happened right before the “mistake” happened. How can you avoid the same situation next time?
- Practice gratitude. Shift your thinking of the negative, for example: I can’t stand all my grey hairs. I’m so old now. Think positively: I’m lucky to have hair. Grey hair is trendy.
- Take a look at why your inner critic is criticizing you. Reword what it’s telling you into something good that you feel about yourself. Is what it’s telling you truly realistic?
- Do something that makes you feel good, and especially something you’re proud of that boosts your self-confidence.
One last quote
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
There’s never been a truer word of wisdom.
If you’re having a tough time finding ways to be nice to yourself, you can go to the Work With Me page and fill out the form. I would love to help!