Are you your own toughest critic? I am. Can you dole out stinging opinions to yourself like a black jack dealer? I can. Are you hard on yourself more frequently than you would be with a loved? You bet I am.
We all fall victim to this unconscious mental script now and then. But you know what?
It’s no way to live!
If we're out in this world striving to become our own best friends, our own dearest company and the best version of ourselves, why do we turn so viciously on ourselves the moment things gets rough?
I’m not good enough…I shouldn’t have said that…why did I say it that way?…I should have said something…I can’t believe I wore this out of the house…I am not funny I shouldn’t have made that joke…he thinks she’s prettier than me…they’re obviously laughing at me not with me…
Any of those sound even remotely familiar? It’s our little ego popping up and hammering away on our self-esteem. And you know what? Most, if not all of that, is not even true!
So here are three simple ways to start the process today of being kinder to oneself:
1. Be mindful of how your internal monologue sounds day in and day out.
Like any other habit, we can habitually talk down to ourselves. You know how you’ve always been told since childhood to “think before you speak?” Try it internally.
You can have harsh thoughts (since our minds are working at hyper speed these days), but take a moment to say, Whoa…that wasn’t nice. That right there is the kind of thought that is harming and punishing and mean. That is the kind of thought I’m not going to think towards myself anymore.
2. Develop a mantra. Whatever you want.
Choose something that will immediately jar you back into your state of self love, of “unlearning” the harsh, punishing thoughts that you so often barrage yourself with. Write it down and place it on a post-it on the rim of your computer screen at work, or on your steering wheel in the car, or put a reminder in your phone. Be diligent with this mantra, use it to reverse some of (and eventually all of) those unconscious thought patterns.
3. Only say things to yourself you'd say to your best friend.
I use this analogy again and again, but seriously think of how you’d approach your dearest loved one. You know when your best friend has been, say, dumped by a guy who is such a loser and she keeps sobbing and mourning the relationship for months and months? You know how you want to say, “Oh my God get over it you’re so much better than him why are you still sniveling?!”
But you don’t, do you?
No! You approach her tactfully, brimming with love and respect, and you help her pick up the pieces compassionately, understandingly. When the time comes to really help shake her out of her stupor, you still are kind and loving, albeit a little more direct.
I think we are under the misconception that because nobody else hears what’s going on inside our heads, we can speak to ourselves however we want. Well, I’ve been under that misconception long enough and it’s time to change my tune. If I can’t set a standard of how I’ll stand for being spoken to by myself, how will I know how to react when others treat me poorly or are too hard on me?
Set the example within your own thoughts. Be mindful, employ a mantra, be patient and compassionate. It’s all a process. Learning to tune in and be aware of how our thoughts sound is the first step.
Our body and mind can be the most powerful tools to living a fulfilling and happy life, if we learn how properly to use them.