Straight Talk – Be Kind…..To Yourself
Written by Stella Nicholls
It has often been said that we are our own worst critics. This may not be true for all people, but I do tend to catch myself being more harsh on myself than I probably deserve.
My husband once said that if anyone else spoke to me the way that I sometimes do, he would ‘punch them in the face’. Jokes aside, he’s right, why do we criticise who we are, how we look, how we process the world?
We are all unique individuals and the differences that we see within ourselves should be embraced.
Canadian based poet and artist, Rapi Kaur puts it so beautifully ‘how you love yourself is how you teach others to love you’.
Those hidden insecurities that may make us unapproachable, prickly, judgemental or critical are perhaps less about how we interact with other people and more about how we see ourselves in relation to others.
So how do we start being kinder to ourselves? There are plenty of self-help books out there with lots of great ideas. I personally need things spelt out to me in black and white, practical things that I can do, otherwise, I just float along and tend to lose resolve. Here are some that I have found helpful, but I’m sure the list is endless.
- Take time for yourself each day to do something that brings you meaning or satisfaction. I started learning to play the piano again after all these years. I’m still a long way off from being a polished performer but I do have fun plonking away on the ‘old ivories’.
- Recognise the things that you are doing well – give yourself a pat on the back when you get something right and even if you get something wrong, talk kindly to yourself, you’ll do better next time, it’s not the end of the world.
- Stop listening to that incessant nag that is your inner voice telling you that you are, too fat, too thin, too old, too young, too slow…yes, there may be things that we aren’t good at naturally but so what? Only a minuscule portion of the population will come first in a race by the very definition of what coming first means; but the rest of the thousands that came in second, third…..two thousand and third (you get the picture) embraced the journey and achieved in their participation. If nobody raced because they knew they couldn’t possibly win, then the person that actually could win would have nobody to race against!
- Let go of past mistakes, failures, things you missed because you may have been too nervous, not ready for, or forgot to follow up on. Put them to bed, tuck them in firmly so that there is no escaping back into your waking thoughts.
- Value yourself for who you are, don’t overly focus on the value that others find in you. I self-published my memoirs a few years ago and whilst it was very therapeutic, helping me to let go of a difficult part of my life, I started constantly seeking the affirmation of others who had read it. A lot of people gave it a good review, a ‘real page-turner’ some said but heaven forbid if I got a negative remark or someone didn’t take the time to read it. It made me feel insecure and vulnerable. It was only after I had spoken to someone about it, that they pointed out that I was constantly seeking the approval of others when all I needed was to seek my own. Once I accepted that I felt at peace, I had achieved a lifelong dream and I was proud of it.
- Lastly, treat yourself. Whatever you find ‘treat-worthy’, do that. It could be a movie, a walk in the country, a trip to the spa, reading a good book, for me it’s a large chocolate on a Friday night followed by a packet of crisps. Friday is ‘treat day’ in our house.
Let’s try and be kinder to ourselves, less critical, after all, there is enough to contend with in this life without us adding to the noise.