Have you ever found yourself calling yourself names like ‘idiot or ‘loser’ ‘ugly’, ‘fat’, ‘stupid’? Do you ever reprimand yourself for mistakes you have made in your head continuously? Have you ever pushed your body and mind way past the point of exhaustion and hunger till you’re almost about to collapse? If the answer to all these questions is ‘yes that is me’, don’t worry you are not alone in this. Harsh self-talk and the subtle hostility of pushing ourselves to breaking point is pretty common.
The past month was extremely stressful for me – I was handing over my pharmacy and I ended up putting myself on the back burner. I stopped working out, I wasn’t sleeping because of all the the things that I was obsessing about, my healthy eating routine of eating every 3 hours went out of the window and I did find myself calling myself names at times 🙁
You all know my pharmacy was my baby to me – it was the biggest part of my life for the past 6 years but over the past year we had a love hate relationship and as much as I loved it and I loved most of my patients It was also making sick as not only was it virtually impossible for me to take a sick day or a day of rest – I was pushing myself to the point of exhaustion every single day and I was finding myself resenting it. My team, friends and my family helped me through it and I am ever so grateful.
Now that the handover has almost been completed (we only have a few little things left to iron out) I am thinking back to the past weeks and how many times I called myself names without even thinking about it. And I realised if I do this I am sure many of you must do it too. A harsh or critical inner voice towards ourselves can create a lot of stress, anxiety and even heartache. We tend to also often experience feelings of unworthiness when we ‘beat ourselves up’ or put ourselves down. We get sick, frazzled and mentally tired when we push ourselves too hard to a burn out point. I have often seen people reach this point and I always give people what I am told is great advice but I do not always follow my own advice. The classic example of learning how to practice what you preach right?
Many people, including myself for many years, believe that if they don’t crack the whip with harsh self judgement they won’t accomplish their targets, however studies have shown that this is in fact not true. In fact self-limiting or destructive thought processes, like that annoying critical inner voice that calls you an idiot diminishes our motivation and energy and eagerness whereas self-compassion and affection increases them.
When we learn to be compassionate to ourselves we also become more resilient to the challenges and stress we face on a day to day basis, positivity makes us more productive, and better able to overcome bad habits and addiction and have better and more fulfilling relationships with others apart from the fact that it’s just a more joyful and easeful way to live : )
Here are three simple ways you can start being kinder to yourself today:
1. SOFTEN YOUR INNER VOICE
The way that we speak to ourselves can often be harsh, cold and demanding , especially if something has gone wrong today or we have made a mistake. But who here has never ever made a mistake? So today promise yourself that you will start practicing nicer and more loving self talk. Talk to yourself Like you are talking to your best friend. Because you all know you will always be kinder to your friend that you are to yourself.
If you find yourself sounding sharp or harsh in your thoughts, see if you can stop take a short pause and change the tone back to warm and kind. Say affectionate and encouraging things to yourself like, “Well done for giving that a try”, “That was a very kind/honest/good thing you did”. Congratulate yourself when you do something great “well done for that” or “you should be proud of yourself”
When you’re having a bad day, try using the kind of tone of voice that you would use to speak to a loved one who is hurting or a child that you love. Repeat soothing words to yourself. Things like, “It’s ok, everyone makes mistakes sometimes. You’re human”, “Take it easy darling”, “Oh this is a tricky moment. May I be kind to myself in this tough time”.
2. DO THINGS THAT NOURISH YOU
What are the things that nourish you in your life? Nourishing things are the things that recharge your batteries, relax and rejuvenate you. The things that light you up, bring you joy and feed the soul. Some examples of nourishing things are, working out, yoga, going for a walk, swimming, going for a massage or a facial, taking photos, having a cup of fresh juice in the sun, taking a long warm bath, painting or any other hobbies, spending time with a pet or loved one, meditation, reading a good book, or simply taking a break to watch a robin in a tree or take a nap – we don’t sleep enough in todays age. (I had a robin in a tree in my garden today – I spent 20 minutes watching it go from branch to branch and it honestly was a really soothing 20 minutes)
It could be as simple as taking a 15 minute break to have a cup of tea today, going for a walk by the sea or carving out some time each week for that hobby you love. Asking your husband to watch the kids for 15 minutes, lock the bathroom and have a 15 minute bath.
The invitation here is instead of always pushing yourself, can you make time to care for yourself and enjoy yourself? Yes, you deserve it. No the world will not stop if you stop for a few minutes to take care of yourself!
3. TAKE A BREAK
We all have moments of pain and distress. When the day to day demands of our lives stretch us to our limits, when we feel grief for losing a loved one or arguing with a friend, when we experience heartbreak or betrayal, or we are overcome with anxiety, depression or hopelessness – and we struggle or fight against ourselves and our feelings, it feels like drowning in quicksand – yes I know I have been there myself. We only add more suffering to an already difficult moment. This is a feeling many young mummies also have when dealing with a child that does not understand much yet and is demanding and throws tantrums every day. It happened to me this summer when I found myself betrayed by someone who I considered a close and important friend to me.
These are the moments we need to be kindest to ourselves.
When you have a situation in your life that is challenging, painful or causing you loads of stress, take a pause for a moment. Tune into your body and see if you can locate, and feel into, where you feel the physical sensations of the emotion in your body.
STEP 1) Is to bring acknowledge what is happening. By doing this we can begin to let go.
So step one is to say to yourself either out loud or mentally:
“This is a tough moment”
STEP 2) Is about realising we are all human and balancing the experience of having difficult feelings (everyone has those sometimes). There is no need for us to feel so lonely in our experience or ashamed or even guilty – as this is all part of our journey as human beings.
In this step say to yourself either out loud or mentally:
“I am not alone in this”
STEP 3) Is about offering yourself compassion. This is a challenging moment so here we try to bring affection to the table into the balance out our pain.
Put your hands over your heart as a gesture of kindness, or if there is another movement or symbol that feels right for you, do that instead. Something that makes you feel safe and calm.
Then saying to yourself the third phrase:
“I need to be kind to myself”
If we bolster this kind of self-compassion we can find connection, softness and soothing when we find ourselves in a difficult moment or we are hurting. We need to bring kindness to ourselves in difficult times.
What do you do to nourish yourself? How do you practice kindness towards yourself? Let us know in the comments bellow.