It’s Taken Me 46 Years but I’ve Finally Decided to Like Myself
Life feels a bit more gentle lately. I haven’t made any significant adjustments to my work or home life. But I have made an adjustment to the way I approach myself.
Being self-critical has always been a way of life for me. Constantly second-guessing and berating myself have been the core themes of a running silent commentary throughout my waking life.
This demanding, critical voice in my head has been a steady life-companion with certain reliability in continually updating me on my shortcomings, pinpointing all my flaws, and ensuring I not waste precious time on appreciating any of my qualities or accomplishments.
Recently I’ve come to question whether taking such a punitive approach to myself is justifiable or indeed beneficial at all. Perhaps this self-scathing manner wards off any sense that I am conceited, arrogant or consider myself in anyway superior to others.
But the costs have been many - I’ve basically betrayed myself. Instead of being a kind, encouraging and compassionate companion to myself, the self-support I would wish for greatly for each of my children, I’ve drained my life-force energy— being continually on alert to how I could have done something better or on guard for what I needed to complete next. As such, never stopping to commend myself on how well I have done or on any virtues I have demonstrated.
As I type this now even, the labels ‘selfish’ and ‘self-centered’ spring to mind. Mmm, my inner voice tells me it is perhaps better to keep with the old ways and not acknowledge my worth and express my appreciation for myself. NO! This certainly cannot be true — I’ve given that approach a fair trial and I’d say it hasn’t really helped anybody including, foremost, myself. What about you? Has chastising yourself been of benefit?
Give the self-love movement a go if you tend to naturally harbor a judgemental approach to yourself. It may sound corny but I have found regularly reciting to myself “I love you and I am listening”, stemming from one of Sarah Blondin’s lovely podcasts (http://www.liveawakeproject.com/show-reel), subtle yet very powerful in transforming my relationship with my self with a flow on effect of feeling greater general ease within my life.
If you want to take your efforts to adopt this kinder approach to yourself further, Kristin Neff is an expert in self-compassion research and her website (http://self-compassion.org/) has very helpful guided meditations and self-compassion exercises to reinforce this concept that maybe being on the side of yourself can be a good thing.
Gratitude is now well recognized as a powerful tool in creating cognitive change to improve well-being. The gratitude journal is a popular personal development tool. Typically people are asked to record in this journal at least three elements of their day for which they are appreciative. How about you step this up to match that gratitude list with aspects of yourself for which you are appreciative?
Just maybe, in line with regularly pausing to really listen to yourself, and acknowledging and recording your unique qualities and contributions to this world (no matter how insignificant that determined critical voice may tell you they are) you might slowly become aware of greater ease in your life stemming from a more comfortable, compassionate relationship with yourself.
Can’t hurt to try a new way— what’s that old saying by a rather clever fellow? “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” (Albert Eistein).