Being Nicer to Myself

A phrase I’ve written for publication several times that continually disappears from final edits is some version of “be nicer to yourself.” Usually it’s in reference to myself, but I have also applied this sentence to others when the scenario calls for it.

It seems that this statement is read as hallow or cliché, but to assume either would be a disservice. You see, when I say I am trying to be nicer to myself, what I mean is I am actively working to undo and prevent the injuries I have learned to unleash onto myself. I am retraining my thoughts as they come and am practicing the act of loving myself more. This is no easy feat.

We are taught to compare ourselves to the success, beauty, and lives of others. We are taught that we are not enough and should always strive for more. We are told to lose more weight yet also build up our muscles. Told that we must force ourselves into binary notions of gender and sexuality. Told our skin and hair, colors of the earth, are too dark and unruly. We are taught that we must cater ourselves to the comfort and ease of others.

We are hardened. Teased when we show emotion and dismissed for being too sensitive. We are told to toughen up and that it’s never okay to cry. We are told that our stories are not unique and that we must sell ourselves to find success. But success itself? It is money and material, of course. Emotions are our debts. We have been taught to look to the capitalist model and now it has infiltrated our own thoughts.

When I say I am being nicer to myself, I am reminding myself that it’s okay to be vulnerable. That to be vulnerable is to be strong and to show emotion is to be human. I am giving myself permission to make mistakes and not know all the answers.

I am encouraging myself to ask for what I want. I am worshiping my body and treating it gently. I am not to letting the curves of my love handles, roundness of my breasts, or rolls of my soft belly dictate the clothes I choose to hug myself with. I am reminding myself that it’s okay to be serious yet also seek joy.

When I say I am being nicer to myself, I am forgiving myself. I am forgiving myself for repeating the unkind words I’ve be taught to say — the ones that hit me where it hurts and target my existence.

I am forgiving myself for the times I remain hardened and icy to the ones I love most. When instead of reminding myself in those moments to breathe and explore the root of my anger, I opt for silence. I am forgiving my geyser of a temperament when in place of ice, I spew fire, channeling my own hurt onto others.

I am also forgiving myself for causing pain to others, both in the past and future. Forgiving myself for misreading situations and misusing cues others seem to have mastered. Most of all, I am forgiving myself for when I don’t yet know how to change the flaws I see in myself.

So, when I say I am being nicer to myself, know that I am practicing patience with myself. Reminding myself that I do deserve to receive the love I seek to impart on the world. That I alone am enough.