Three simple ways to be kinder to yourself
Why be kinder to ourselves?
When we talk to ourselves negatively and think of ourselves negatively, it reduces the value we place on ourselves as individuals. This impacts on our lives in so many ways, it means that we start to make choices in our lives based on the thought that we aren’t really good enough. Not good enough for healthy respectful relationships, not good enough for the job or career that we want, not good enough to have our thoughts and feelings respected and valued. The impact of this is huge and far-reaching. Here I introduce three simple ways to start to be kinder to yourself in day to day life.
1. Talk to ourselves like we would talk to a friend or loved one
We tend to talk to ourselves in a way that we would probably never speak to others. Consider the way you talk to your friends. Do you tell them that they’re not good enough, do you point out all the things they could have done better or got wrong? Do you tell them that things are their fault? Do you focus in on imperfections? Practice re-framing the things that you say to yourself, as if you were saying them to a friend, loved one or someone who is turning to you for support. You are just as deserving of kindness as anyone else.
2. Reflect on what you have done well today – even the small things
How often do you find yourself lying in bed at night reflecting or ruminating on what went wrong or what you could have done differently? You might berate yourself for the things you didn’t get done or feel that what you did achieve wasn’t enough. Give yourself some credit for the things you do well, don’t minimise them and don’t reduce them. This is about trying to bring balance: even in a really bad day, there will be some things that you did well.
3. Reduce the use of the word ‘should’
Think about how many times a day you use the word should in reference to yourself or someone else. Consider how you feel when someone tells you that you ‘should’ or how you feel when you tell yourself that you ‘should’ do something. When we use the word should, we aren’t accepting the reality of the situation. 'Should' focuses on what we’re not doing or didn’t achieve, rather than what we are doing or did achieve. The word 'should' is based upon expectations; often when we use it we are talking about what we feel is expected of us, rather than what we actually want. You probably won’t be able to remove ‘should’ from your vocabulary completely (I certainly haven’t managed to) but when you hear yourself saying it, it's worth reflecting on where it is coming from. Is it coming from the expectations of others or yourself? Where are those expectations coming from and are they valid? The word ‘should’ rarely, if ever, leads to us feeling good about ourselves.
Being kinder to yourself is acknowledging that you are worthy of kindness and compassion. When we consider ourselves to be worthy, we start to take care of ourselves better in all kinds of different ways.
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