In our Western culture, judging ourselves and others harshly seems to be the norm. Most of us don’t even realise how harshly we judge ourselves. I challenge you to go through the day, after reading this, and notice all the times you criticise or judge yourself. Notice how you are when you look in the mirror and see something you don’t like; or notice what you say to yourself when you come into the kitchen and see that you left it messy.
Self compassion researcher Dr Kristin Neff says we don’t need to beat ourselves up so much. In fact she tells us that when we are self-compassionate, we become less anxious and less depressed. If we constantly beat ourselves up, it increases our anxiety and depression levels.
One way Kristin says we can start being kind to ourselves is thinking about an imaginary friend who is unconditionally loving, accepting, kind and compassionate. She asks us to imagine this friend can see both our strengths and our weaknesses. Reflect on what this kind, loving friend feels towards you, and how this friend not only loves you but accepts you exactly as you are, with all your human limitations. The friend knows we are all imperfect yet is kind and compassionate towards us. What would this dear friend say to you when you are struggling with a problem?
To be kind to ourselves can sometimes just be noticing and acknowledging that a situation is hard and allowing the thought that a kind loving friend would tell us that we can get through this; that just because we have made a mistake, it does not make us a bad person. Our kind friend would also take time to remind us of our strengths, rather than just focusing on our weaknesses.
If you’re interested in finding out more about this, go to Kristin’s website www.self-compassion.org
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash