Being a person that aids in peoples healing journeys on a daily basis I have found that many of us find it easier to be kind to a total stranger yet we cannot extened that same kindness to ourselves! Why is this? Why are we our worst critics?!
Going through a messy healing journey of my own and learning to stand in the power of who I am has lead me to the relisation that the answer to the above lies in self-love!
Self-love is a way of relating to yourself that does not involve harshly judging or punishing yourself for every mistake you make, or every time someone does better than you. Research on self-love shows that it is associated with a decrease in anxiety and depression, we tend to be more optamistic, we can recover from stress more quickly, and we are more likely to engage in healthier behaviors such as a healthy diet or daily exercise.
The 3 aspects of Self-Love
Self-Love has three separate but related aspects:
1. Be Mindful: Be open, curious, non-judgmental, STOP dwelling on your mistakes but learn from them and move forward!
2. Be Kind: Treating yourself with kindness. Extending the same care and support to yourself that you would to a good friend or loved one.
3. Reliese you are human : As humans we are not perfect, nor should we be expected to act flawlessly.
Extend yourself some self- love with these 7 steps:
1. Recognize and Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings
Pay attention to your inner thoughts and experience. Take notice if you are shifting into a negative state of mind. The minute you realize that you are thinking negative thoughts about yourself stop and acknowledge those feelings!
2. Accept that the feeling is there.
Make a conscious decision to sit with whatever feeling is there and try to accept it—because it’s there anyway—rather than pushing it away. If it’s a negative thought, look for the underlying emotion (anxiety, sadness, or anger), or scan your body to see where you feel tension or discomfort.
3. Imagine what you might feel if you saw a loved one experiencing this feeling.
In your mind, imagine your loved one being scared or sad or feeling bad about themselves. Then think about what you might feel. Perhaps you would feel the urge to help or comfort them. Try to direct this compassionate mindset toward yourself. If you notice any resistance or thoughts of “I don’t deserve compassion,” acknowledge them, and try to direct compassion to yourself anyway. You may want to ask yourself why you think others deserve compassion but not you.
4. Think about how everybody messes up sometimes.
It’s tempting to think that you are uniquely messed up. Even the most successful people make serious mistakes. Making a mistake doesn’t undo all of your accomplishments and successes.
5. What would it take to forgive yourself.
If your behavior hurt you or another person, ask yourself what it would take to forgive yourself. Think about whether you want to apologize and make amends to the person you hurt. If you hurt yourself through addictive behavior, avoidance, ruining relationships, or otherwise behaving unwisely, make a coping plan for the next time you are in a similar situation so that you can begin to act differently.
6. Encourage yourself.
You may say something like, “It doesn’t help to beat yourself up,” or, “Everybody makes mistakes sometimes.” You may want to acknowledge yourself for trying, even if you weren’t successful. You may tell yourself to focus on the positive aspects of what you did as well as the negative ones, or that behavior change is a process, and you need to keep trying.
7. Be a life coach to yourself.
Rather than punishing yourself with negative thoughts, gently guide yourself in a positive direction. You may ask yourself what led to the destructive behavior, whether it’s really what you want to be doing, and what the consequences are. Tell yourself that you have other choices, and it’s never too late to change. Then think about a concrete step you can take right away to move in a more positive direction or get up and try again. If someone else was mean and you let them get away with it, think about how you can set a limit or boundary to stop this from happening again.