Be Kind to Yourself.
Sometimes the simplest of words ring the truest. I was told this by a therapist once, and well, it stuck.
Self-Talk: a person’s internal dialogue, which can be positive and motivational or negative and demotivating.
In other, less technical and fancy words, self-talk includes all the mess we tell ourselves. This includes the good, as well as the bad. It can look like a motivational pep-talk you give yourself before entering an interview, and it can also appear as biting criticism you punish yourself with when you feel you haven’t “measured up.” I believe that too often we do not realize how impacting our self-talk truly is. We are constantly stuck in our own heads, after all. How much of the time are you stuck with your own voice, which lacks grace, love, and patience? How often are you willing to freely offer up kindness to others while refusing to offer it to yourself?
“You are your worst critic.”
I forget exactly when I heard the statement above for the first time. All I know is that I’ve heard it over and over, again and again by so many friends and family, and I am guessing that you’ve likely heard it too. However, hearing and recognizing are altogether different. In fact, knowing and believing do not necessarily go hand in hand. We can realize the negative self-talk we indulge in and acknowledge the damage it does without truly believing that we deserve and need something different, something much more truthfully kind.
What are the barriers to being kind to oneself? What stands in the way? So much can block self-acceptance and self-kindness, but a big one that stands out to me is comparison.
Comparison: Bleh. Yuck.
It’s that aggravating, itch-you-can’t-scratch, readily-available, pesky little life-sucking bug, isn’t it? Measuring one’s life, relationships, career, family, and looks against the state of another’s usually ends in one of two ways: arrogance [feeling better than] or self-degradation [feeling less than]. It is so incredibly unhealthy and unfortunately so common. And there are far too many comparison tools readily available for us. The presence of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media outlets provides us, afterall, with unlimited ways of glancing at a snapshot of another’s life, holding it in view of our own and judging one’s own life based on the circumstances of another.
How silly, though, and how harsh. After all, the beauty of a mountain landscape does not make a sunset at the beach less marvelous to see. Both take my breath away and remind me of the goodness of life and of God. Human beings-we are the same, I strongly believe. And thank goodness we are not all the same. Each of us, created with distinct personalities, preferences, and quirky little habits. Recognizing our differences does not have to depress us but rather can push us towards appreciating the complex beauty of this life and of the human condition.
So, how are you treating yourself, what words do you tell yourself, and in what way are you being gracious and kind to yourself today?
Learn more about Lydia Minear, MA, LAPC’s Counseling practice @ East-West Psychotherapy Associates here.