For some reason, it's much easier to be kind and understanding towards your friends than towards yourself. But why would you treat yourself any different? This is how you can work your way towards more self love.
Just like your friends get into situations where they really need you, there are situations in which you really need yourself. For instance when you made a mistake at work, or when a quarrel with your partner made you feel restless. If a friend comes to you at times like these, you probably try to comfort them and to be understanding. Now try to remember a time when you were feeling bad. Did you use the same comforting words then?
Strict and critical
If you are like most people, you probably didn’t. Most people find it easier to be kind to others than to themselves. At the times when we need friendly, kind words the most, we are often strict and very critical.
The key to happiness
Of course, deep down, we know a little kindness brings us much more than perfectionism and self criticism. Still, it’s often hard to practice that. In our society, the idea still prevails that happiness is to be found outside ourselves. A nice home, good relationship, nice kids, challenging job. We aim for perfection in everything we do. If we fail, if we’re having a hard time, we scold ourselves and struggle through the days – looking for the ultimate happiness we never really seem to find. That’s because the key to happiness is not outside ourselves, it’s in us.
Practice and patience
If things are peaceful and calm inside us, the world will be, too. Anyone who's aware of that fact, has taken the first step in the right direction, towards self compassion. Awareness is the first step towards change. But because we are conditioned to scold ourselves, the mind doesn’t change overnight. It requires lots of practice and patience. The journey towards self compassion is not an easy one, but it’s definitely worth your while.
This will help you to get started
1. Awareness is the first step towards change
Try to challenge yourself each day to make your internal dialogue one of positive, encouraging words. We often don’t realize how we talk to ourselves. This exercise might help you to do just that. Write down what you would tell a good friend who made a big mistake. Which words would you use, and wat tone of voice? Once you’re done, do exactly the same, only address your words to yourself. The two texts are probably quite different.
2. Be kind to yourself (and find out what you really need)
We’re all different and we all have our personal needs regarding positive thinking. Find out what’s important to you and turn it into positive mantras. Are you a real perfectionist at work? Remember that failing is OK. You don’t have to be perfect – being flawed probably makes you much more fun to be around. Another example: are you a sensitive person and do you fantasize about being immune to the power of other people’s words? Then resolve to let go of unpleasant words. It might help you to be a little kinder towards yourself.
3. Practice makes perfect (so allow yourself some time)
If you’ve gotten aware of the way you talk to yourself, you can change it. It doesn’t happen overnight and it involves lots of practice. At first, it probably feels a bit awkward and it’s not easy. However, after a while you will find that friendly, kind words will take up more space in your vocabulary, and in the end, it will be your default setting.
Source: ‘Hartvol’ – Marlous Kleve
Text: Joanne Wienen - Photo: Brooke Cagle