I was recently talking with a woman about some of the struggles she was having in her life. I watched her face and saw sadness and disappointment in her expression. She spoke of how she should do this or should do that. She seemed unhappy with how she was handling her life both now and in the past. I felt her sadness and offered her an alternative perspective.
“Everything you’ve done has not been a failure. You have learned from each of those experiences. Build on that knowledge and use it to move forward into the future you envision for yourself.”
I started thinking about how often people are hard on themselves, more so than they would be with anyone else. What makes it easier to treat others kindly but not ourselves? We are taught to treat others as we would want to be treated, but what about the other way around? Is it possible to do unto ourselves as we would unto others? Think about it…..Say your friend is going through a rough time and has gained some weight through it all. You listen to her berate herself for putting on weight and how she describes herself with disgust. You say to her, “You look fine. It’s not that bad. Besides, you’re going through a rough time. Things will turn around once everything gets back to normal.”
Now, how would you respond to yourself if you were in her situation? I imagine it would sound similar to what your friend was saying about herself. We so easily have compassion for others when they are having a difficult time in their lives but fall short of showing any to ourselves when we most need it. As with most things, I wonder from where this thinking originates. Does it stem from something we were taught or does it just come naturally to us? How do we turn it around? The answer for me comes in four simple words that someone once said to me. “Be kind to yourself.”
When we talk to ourselves with criticism, we reinforce feelings of negativity, thereby lowering our self-esteem. We then use those negative feelings to build a false belief system regarding who we are. We tell ourselves we can’t do things the right way, we never finish things, we don’t know what we’re doing, we can’t do it as good as other people, etc. Negative self-talk robs us of our energy, our motivation, and our ability to achieve our highest potential. In order to look at ourselves with honesty, we must first begin with accepting what is, e.g., I went off my diet all last week, but now I can really see how stress lowers my levels of resiliency. This week I will look at ways that help me cope with stress and take care of my body by eating well. Acceptance of “what is” allows us to look at the situation from another perspective, one in which choice is available.
Take some time this week to notice how you treat yourself. When you do something that isn’t in line with the direction you want to go, do you judge yourself harshly? Remember to be kind and look at what you learned from the situation. Use that knowledge to make different choices that are more aligned with your highest and best good. It is what we all deserve in this life.
Yours in transformation,