I’m hoping you don’t, but isn’t it so often the case we speak to ourselves in a way that is not particularly nice? Things like – ‘I’m so stupid, hopeless, worthless, a loser’…yet every time we put that negative tape in and press play, we are basically giving our six year old selves a ‘serve’.
Many of you reading this know that when you come to see me I have two requests from you. The first one is to be kind to yourself (if you want to know the second, you’ll just have to come see me – it’s not as sexy as the first though…).
Be kind to yourself – it sounds relatively simple and easy doesn’t it? The sad part is though, that most of us would never to talk to another human being the way we talk to ourselves, especially not a super cute 6 year old (that is me in the photo by the way!) Why then do we reserve the right to treat and talk to ourselves in such a harsh manner? This very thing, I believe, can get in the way of us realising our truest potential.
“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
– Lucille Ball
I know with myself that even when I want to do the things that will make me happier, healthier and more fulfilled, it doesn’t always come from a place of self-compassion. Very often it’s that bossy voice in my ear ‘you should do this, it’s GOOD for you’. I don’t believe that really sets me up for consistency in sticking with things. It’s just something else I have to do because I feel I ought to.
What if instead, we worked on developing self-compassion?
Self-compassion could be considered a Buddhist construct as a way of relating to ourselves with kindness. Not to be confused with conceit, arrogance which shows a lack of self-love.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”
As Kristen Neff, a psychologist who studies and measures self-compassion, says,
“Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?” Oooh, that’s good!
If you want to develop healthy self-esteem you must first develop self-compassion. Research has shown that people who do this well have greater social connection, emotional intelligence, happiness (such a transient thing in my mind), resilience AND most importantly (again…in my mind), greater life satisfaction. For me, when I sit down and think about what I really want from life, it is a sense of contentment.
How do you want to feel?
Make a list. Keep adding to it. You really want things that give you an emotional response.
This is my list (done some years ago).
I want to feel.
How’s your self-talk these days? What messages are you giving yourself on a daily basis?
Tune in to the background sound – what stories are you telling yourself?
They are just thoughts – they don’t mean anything. Try not to attach too much meaning to the story you are telling yourself. There is a technique you can try, whereby you become the observer of your thoughts – almost as if you are standing outside yourself watching yourself on a movie screen.
“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”
– Louise L. Hay
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to find a photo of you when you are little and put it in a place where you are going to see it every day. Tell that little person how much you love them. If you can’t tell your adult self, tell your child self. Your cells will still get the message.
Herewith some of the resources that have really helped me (and continue to do so) over the years.
Sane New World – Ruby Wax
The Subtle Are of Not Giving a F**K – Mark Manson
Self Compassion Kristen Neff
The Desire Map Danielle La Porte
Hypnotherapy with Leigh Milne. I am forever grateful to Leigh for helping me overcome some pretty serious anxiety and negative self-talk. Leigh is currently available on Tuesdays in the clinic.
I’ll leave you with this.
“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance”
– Oscar Wilde