Are you concentrating on what you like and love about yourself, or on what you don’t like?
Are you focusing on your flaws and beating yourself up?
Are you being critical and harsh with yourself?
When we’re unkind in this way we can become low and depressed, and we can start to feel worthless. We look for anything and anyone to make that feel better.
When what we’re really looking for is gentleness, understanding and compassion.
We can be so harsh with ourselves, when we could be kind.
We can be much, much harsher with ourselves than we would be with anyone else.
We can hold such punishingly high standards, and then beat ourselves up if we don’t seem to be meeting them.
We can be so down on ourselves, and we can feel inadequate.
We can believe that everybody else has things sorted, and we compare our insides to their outsides. We believe that we’re not good enough, and that we have to do this or that to make ourselves good enough.
But what if we could extend the same understanding and kindness that we offer to others, to ourselves?
What if we could just give ourselves a break?
So that we could stop to breathe, so that we didn’t have to endlessly strive, so that we didn’t have to be anything other than what we are.
What if we could love and accept ourselves in whatever state we show up in that day?
For whatever feelings are there, for not having it all figured out, for not always knowing the answers, for not being perfect, for forgetting to be kind to ourselves!
It can be hard to be kind to ourselves, when we don’t like ourselves, and it’s hard to like ourselves when we’re being self-punishing.
We punish ourselves, often unconsciously, when we don’t like ourselves. We sabotage our own efforts. But we can become aware of this, and we can consciously choose to start being kinder to ourselves, to reverse this cycle, because it works the other way as well.
Sometimes we don’t want to love and accept ourselves as we are, because we believe we’ll then be stuck there.
But the irony is that when we do fully accept where and what we are, and offer ourselves compassion and kindness, things naturally evolve and change as they’re meant to, often with very little effort on our parts.
There is no longer the forcing, the fear and lack based chasing; the desperate need to get somewhere or to prove ourselves. To prove our worth to ourselves and others. To have something to show for our efforts, and something to be proud of.
The truth is we can be proud of ourselves for showing up everyday, even when it’s hard. We can be proud of ourselves for cutting ourselves slack, and choosing to be kind, even when it’s easy not to be.
When we treat ourselves well life becomes much easier. Fear and harshness close our hearts down, cutting off the love supply, which is why it feels so bad. Love and kindness opens them back up, and gets us flowing again. We don’t have to force to make that happen.
If we bring gentleness and self-compassion to any problem, it opens up the space for kinder and more creative solutions to emerge. There is a relaxation and an expansion, as opposed to a constriction and a tightening.
So next time you find yourself feeling low, down on yourself or frustrated notice how you’re treating yourself. Whether you’re being harsh and judgmental, or whether you’re being kind.
Notice how much more you like yourself when you’re treating yourself well. Notice how much better you respond to that person, and to that kind of treatment.
Notice how you relax, feel more secure, how you soften and open up. How you can then extend that same kindness and compassion to others. How much less frustrated and resentful you feel. How you’re no longer as angry with yourself or the world.
There is great strength in gentleness when used in this way. It isn’t weak and it isn’t flimsy, it’s strong and it’s solid. It’s the best kind.
So give yourself this gift and notice the results for yourself. Start small and see where you end up. But best of all notice how much better you feel in each moment you practice this, every day.