I’d like to take a quick moment to say hi to Joel’s mom! You have a kind and supportive son and I’m excited he’s shared my blog with you!
I don’t know about you, but I can be my biggest bully.
I’ve belittled, demeaned, and talked down to myself. I’ve told myself I’m not good, smart, successful, interesting, funny, or worthwhile. That my opinions don’t matter because there are people out there who word it better. That my interests are lame, or that my time isn’t spent doing the right kinds of work.
I’m just downright rude to me.
But I’m working hard on it! After years of resistance, I’ve finally opened up to the possibility that I don’t have to be such a jerk to myself – that it’s okay to be nice, even when I’m not doing my best.
Why is self-directed kindness important? It might actually make you healthier! Recent studies have shown that more compassionate self-talk could actually have a positive impact on both mental and physical health, as well as showing that negative self-talk and persistent criticism can exacerbate anxiety and depression.
Positive self-talk can boost your overall self-image, which you may find makes it easier to seek out new opportunities or take risks.
And, I believe kindness starts at home. When you’re kind to yourself, it’s easier to be kind to others.
If you’re like me and are coming off a lifetime of self-directed negativity, then the change toward kindness and compassion won’t happen overnight. But there are a few small things you can start doing today that may help!
Talk to Yourself Like a Friend
One of my favorite strategies is to see my self-talk from the perspective of a friend. I think this has two angles:
- Would I say these things that I say about myself to a friend?
- Would my friends say these things to me?
Hopefully the answer to both of those questions is no, and if that’s the case, use it to help you talk more nicely to yourself!
When you think something mean about yourself, see it from the perspective of a friend you trust, and then consider what they would say to you instead. Or, pretend you’re saying the same thing to a friend you care about. If that makes you feel really bad to do, then you shouldn’t say it to yourself.
If you want to dive deeper into strategies to specifically stop your negative self-talk, check out this post on the topic.
Learn Your Self-Love Language
Maybe you’ve heard of the book/website/international phenomenon “The 5 Love Languages®”, which states that we can categorize our expressions of love, affection and companionship in five distinct ways: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.
Well, I proclaim that we can apply this concept of a love language to ourselves by discovering what can we do for us that shows love and appreciation. How do we spoil ourselves a little more? What is it that we do, just for ourselves, that makes us feel good?
For me, it’s a nap! Napping is my self-love language. It’s a thing I do solely for me.
If you want to, use the five categories above as a starting point for discovering your self-love language. What nice things can you say to yourself? What can you do to give yourself a break? What can you buy or produce just for you? Can you steal away a few minutes to be alone? And physical touch… well… give yourself a hug! You’ve earned it.
Find what you can start doing for yourself today that will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, and do it often.
Throw Away Your Negativity… Literally
I can’t take credit for this exercise – someone in one of my social media arenas posted it as something her therapist suggested. But I think it’s worth including here, with my own little twist!
When you’re feeling particularly negative about yourself, write down how you’re feeling. Put it all down to paper, then tear that sheet of paper off the pad and throw it in a box. Literally throw away your negative feelings. It’s okay if they linger because we can’t always control our thoughts. But make the symbolic gesture.
My twist: On a day you’re feeling strong, come back to the box and read them again. Are they true? Are they real?
If you can, write responses that counteract or balance the negativity. If your negative thought was “I am worthless”, write a couple things that make you worthwhile. Look for that positive or neutral response when you’re feeling low again.
Compliment Yourself Daily
This one has become such an important part of my morning routine!
I have a daily affirmations journal exercise, and it always includes a reason to like myself. Some days it’s small things, like “I only snoozed my alarm once”. Some days it’s big things, like “I’m really good at my job and here’s why”.
You don’t have to keep a journal to do this – though I recommend it, because it’s a visualization of your positive affirmations when you’re feeling down – but every day, compliment yourself at least once.
It really can be the most mundane thing you’ve done that’s worth acknowledging. Did you hold the door for someone? Did you say something kind to a friend? Did you finish a difficult task? Did you think of a good idea? I believe that you can find one good thing you’ve done each day, and I want you to give yourself a standing ovation for it.
It’s important to be kind to others, but it’s equally important to be kind to ourselves. Find time to focus on you for just a few moments today, and say something nice!
Are you working on a self-kindness campaign? I’d love to know how!