How Being Kind To Yourself Can Change Your Life
You are such a failure.
You are too fat and unattractive, you need to lose weight.
You are not good enough at your job.
You are hopeless – why did you ever make that mistake.
Everyone must be thinking that you are so [boring/unattractive/slow/silly] …
Would you ever say these words to someone that you loved and cared about? Could you imagine talking to your child, your best-friend or your parent in this way? Yet if you were to tune-in to the voice in your mind, your own internal narrative, do you find that sometimes you talk to yourself in a harsh and critical way?
Many people are incredibly harsh and critical when speaking to themselves. Often this just comes naturally, without them having very much conscious control over it. For some people, it is a by-product of a culture which encourages us to be self-depreciating and modest. For others, being harsh and critical may have become a way to motivate themselves to do better and push harder. Yet taking this tough-love approach has been shown by various studies to be much less effective than a more compassionate and kinder form of motivation.
One of the reasons for this, is that the way we speak to ourselves often then forms the basis of the beliefs that we have about ourselves. We have to be careful what language we use to speak to ourselves, because these words then form the basis of our belief systems in life. These belief systems then dictate our actions and how we behave and interact with the world. So, for example, if I keep telling myself “you are not good enough, you are a failure”, over time I will begin to believe that this is true but it may then also affect things that I do in life. For example, I may not apply for a promotion at work because I don’t believe that “I am good enough” or I may not go on that date because I don’t think that “I am good enough” for the person I am about to meet. The language that we use to speak to ourselves really does matter, because it shapes our self-perception.
Often people are afraid to be kinder to themselves because they think that this means just giving up on themselves and accepting things the way that they are. However, this is far from the truth. Being kind to ourselves often actually involves prioritising our long-term goals and dreams over short-term pleasure. A good way to think about it is as though you were parenting a child. Would you let that child always give in to every impulse, to skip school because they didn’t feel like going one day, to give up on their hopes and dreams because they were tired or to eat packets of biscuits and watch TV instead of doing their homework? You probably wouldn’t – because you love them – and this means wanting what is best for them long-term. In the same way, being kind to ourselves means coaching ourselves kindly and compassionately but also in a motivational way. It means thinking about what is best for us both long-term and short-term too.
So, if you were to tune in to the inner voice running through your mind – how does it speak to you? Does it speak to you kindly and compassionately or harshly and critically? Being kind to yourself can transform every area of your life because the moment you are kind to yourself, you suddenly have the backing and support of the person most able to get you to your goals and your dreams… yourself.
A helpful question to ask yourself can be: do you want to go through life being your own worst enemy or your own best friend and cheerleader? Who does it serve by you being so harsh and mean to yourself? Being kinder to yourself doesn’t mean giving up on yourself – in fact it means quite the opposite, it means coaching yourself and cheering yourself on to get to your goals in a kind and yet motivational, a compassionate and yet inspirational, way. If you would like some support to boost your confidence and self-esteem and to talk to yourself in a kinder and yet motivational way so that you can make lasting changes in your life, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can do this, I believe in you.
You have unique talents and strengths.
You made a mistake but can learn from it and move forward.
You are doing the best that you can.
You can get to those goals – let’s make a plan.
How would your life change if you started talking to yourself like this instead? What would you finally allow yourself or encourage yourself to do that you have been holding yourself back from?