How to be kind to yourself (when you’re really mean, normally)

For those of us that are champions at being inordinately hard on ourselves: this one’s for you bugaboo. 


Getting this one is gonna require monitoring your thoughts and keeping them in check by learning how to be honest with yourself when you’re tempted to tear yourself down.  When we’re unkind to ourselves we use all-encompassing, sweeping, all or nothing words that are dramatic and inaccurate.  


Things like, 


“I’m such an idiot.

“Why can’t I ever do anything right?”

Nobody has ever messed up as much as I have.”

“I’m the worst.”


And, my personal favorite, 


“I’m such a failure.”


 Funny thing about thoughts; when they’re directed at ourselves we accept them as gospel.  We don’t question them or challenge them. Why is that? Why do we assume that we have an accurate picture of who we are when we examine our flaws?  Really think about that for a minute. What’s your explanation? 


Got it? 


Was it possibly “Just because.” or “I don’t know.” or something to that effect.  


I’ll wager either of those two “reasons” crossed your mind.  


If we want to be kinder to ourselves we must “take every thought captive”, as the Scripture says.  Then, once you’ve captured it, look at it, really look.  


Then hold it under the mental microscope and ask yourself:


Does this thought help me improve in any way?  Does it make me kinder, more patient, happier, smarter, etc? 


Why do I think this thought is true?  What proof do I have I’m “_____” aside from feeling which can often be wrong?


If I don’t have a convincing answer for this, let go of the burning coal in your hands.  Holding onto it will only hurt you more. You don’t need to punish yourself for being human and making mistakes.  Everyone alive makes mistakes. Often, the ones who are most quick to blame and shame us are the ones who are least accepting of this fact.  They make not only others miserable, but live in constant disappointment and denial themselves.     


Now that you’ve exposed the imposter thought for what it is, do your best to describe what’s really going on and how you accurately feel.  


For example, instead of saying, “I’m such an idiot,” say:


“Because (whatever just went down) happened, I feel bad about myself because I feel like I should have responded/acted/behaved differently than I did.” 


Then, after you’ve reframed the thought honestly, show yourself grace (even if it’s hard): 


“Even though I didn’t handle the situation the way I wanted to, I recognize I’m human.  I’m allowed to make mistakes and learn from them.” 


Then, wrap things up with what you will do differently next time if it applies. 

Sometimes it’s enough to just be honest and compassionate with ourselves.  In the case that there is a way you can be more prepared for the future, you can say something like:


“Instead of beating myself up, I’m going to be more prepared next time by responding like this(whatever that is).” 


And that’s it!  By looking at your thoughts honestly and not over exaggerating the situation with negativity, we can reclaim thoughts of who we are and begin to see ourselves the way our Father in heaven sees us:  imperfect but perfectly deserving of love, grace, and mercy.  


Blessings,

Carolyn 

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