Be kind to yourself
"Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens" (Louise Hay)
Try approving of yourself and see what happens ...
That is so difficult, isn’t it? Accepting and approving of yourself are among the most difficult habits to learn and implement. We are so critical, so harsh and unforgiving towards our own attitudes, skills and results ...
Look at how you treat a friend or life partner when they get something wrong and then consider how you treat yourself when you do the same. So often I think we don’t treat ourselves with affection, understanding and empathy. Or at least, the tolerance and understanding we exercise towards ourselves have a much lower threshold than we use for others.
There are many reasons why we are so ready to criticize ourselves; one of the most common and widespread is that we believe that in being good and perfect we will gain more attention and love, and when we fail, we are not worthy of such feelings. This is a completely distorted view, but it's so fed by our own culture that we accept and embed it unconsciously.
Another significant reason is that we feel embarrassed of approving our weaknesses and mistakes because we believe that we will appear weak and incapable, and above all, complacent. But in reality to be able to feel empathy and compassion for yourself is a quality that makes you feel stronger inside and helps you to try again and do better. There is no advantage, psychologically or emotionally, in continuing to attack yourself, continuing feeling that you are never good enough.
Instead you have everything to gain when you learn to be kinder and softer, less critical and more compassionate towards yourself. We are human, and as such imperfect. But imperfection is the nature of life; without imperfection there is no space for evolution and change, so every imperfection is just a positive seed for change.
Nobody loves you for your perfection. On the contrary. When you claim to be perfect, you create standards so rigid and so far from the heart of people that they feel uncomfortable in your presence and in doing so you alienate yourself from the most spontaneous feelings you could experience.
When you stop using so much energy living up to the high standards and expectations that are only in your mind, you create a lot of space and time to have fun and appreciate what you already have. Even more important than that, you let go of the stress and the pressure that are poisoning your life and that contribute to making you unwell.
Developing the capacity to love and taking yourself less seriously, accepting the fact that you can create a mess, and from that mess learn something more, should become a healthy daily habit for everyone. Because in reality as Kristin Neff, an expert in self-compassion says, "therapists have known for a long time that being kind to yourself isn’t a selfish luxury, but the exercise of a gift that makes you happier”.
(photo courtesy Flickr - Kate Ter Harr)