Have you paid attention to the way you talk to yourself? Is it friendly or downright hostile? Read our three tips on how you can start building a friendlier relationship with yourself.
Self-compassion is not laziness or letting yourself off the hook. Instead, it means treating yourself like you would treat a good friend. A good friend supports you, comforts you and cheers you up, but also provides a solid voice of reason when needed. We spend a lot of time reprimanding ourselves for things we have done, even though forgiving ourselves and moving forward would be a far better solution.
If loving yourself feels like a distant concept, the following three tips may help you to start acting in a more self-compassionate way.
1. RETURN TO THIS MOMENT
Living in the moment often reminds people of meditation. Meditation, on the other hand, may have lots of negative connotations: it may feel tedious or difficult. However, concentrating on the current moment does not require sitting in a lotus position, and can instead be done on the bus or during your work day, for example. Living in the moments comes naturally to children, but even us adults have not completely lost this skill: we may have simply forgotten it along the way with all our responsibilities, duties and worries.
When you find yourself reprimanding yourself for mistakes, worrying about the future or getting anxious about different things that worry you, return to this moment. You can do this by taking a deep breath and reminding yourself that ultimately, this moment is the only thing you will ever have. This insight seems simple at first, but can be very relieving. If your are constantly thinking about what was or what will be, you may miss what is happening in your life at this very moment. Returning to the current moment may feel challenging at first, especially if there are a lot of distractions. By repeatedly using your breathing to anchor yourself, you can improve this skill and free yourself of the grip of the past and future.
2. WATCH YOUR THOUGHTS
Many people’s minds are constantly making noise: going through past events, planning the future and responding to stimuli. Your mind is constantly commenting on everything that happens – including your own thoughts. For example, if you make a mistake, you may criticize yourself and tell yourself that you are incompetent. Naturally, this will make you feel miserable, which in turn will give rise to the thought that pitying yourself makes you weak. The vicious circle is complete.
Especially in difficult situations, it is important to find a way out of your head and understand that you are not your thoughts. You can watch your thoughts come and go like passing cars, but you do not have to get on every single one of them. You can let them drive away without judgement, and then forget about them. This will give you time to identify an important car once it arrives.
Applying this logic to your thoughts will calm any overthinking tendencies and improve your approach to your emotions. You can think of yourself as an alert watcher of your mind. The next time you encounter a challenging situation, distance yourself from the mental noise caused by the event. By being more merciful towards yourself, you can eliminate unnecessary friction from problem situations and find solutions more easily.
3. “HOW AM I DOING?”
You encounter an acquaintance on the street. “How are you?” they ask, and you answer, “Fine.” You may grumble about how busy you are at work and mention your plans for the weekend. Even if you would be the unhappiest you have ever been, your answers in this conversation would probably stay the same. It may not be a good idea to open up about your deepest secrets to every passer-by, but what about yourself? How often do you ignore your negative feelings like in the small talk described above?
The start of a new year does not have to be the only time when you consider your goals and current situation. You can choose to listen to how you feel every day, for example when brushing your teeth. Ask yourself: How am I today – really? What could I do today to make myself feel better? When you encounter your feelings frankly, often and without judgement, you will find it easier to overcome any hurdles life may throw at you. You know that you will always have someone you can count on: yourself.