So you’ve got this ‘friend’ right? She’s been a ‘friend’ for as long as you can remember. But most of the time she’s not very nice to be around. She’s mean. Really, really mean. She tells you you’re ugly/fat/scrawny/stupid. Sometimes she keeps at you until you burst into tears. She tells you your dreams won’t come true. That you’re kidding yourself if you think you’re going to succeed.
To be honest, you can’t remember the last time she said anything nice to you.
But you still spend a hell of a lot of time with this person.
Why? Why would you do that?
Because she’s you.
Have you ever stopped to think about the way to talk to and treat yourself? If one of your friends spoke to you the way you talk to yourself, would you think that was OK?
Of course you wouldn’t. So why are you letting yourself be so damn mean?
Stopping the self hate and exchanging it for kindness makes sense. But self love gets a bad rap – some people think it’s about being arrogant or having a big ego. It’s actually about healthy self-respect.
It’s a simple equation: higher self love = higher happiness.
So here are a few ways to be kinder to yourself and nurture self love:
1. Put yourself in your best friend’s shoes. Talk to and treat yourself the way your best friend would. Listen, empathise, comfort and soothe. Give yourself a hug. Tell yourself that you are awesome and that you are doing the best you can.
2. Don’t compare yourself to anyone. You are amazing. There is literally no one else like you. That gorgeous, confident work colleague you wish you could be more like probably wishes he was as creative, funny and wise as you. It’s all relative. And, if you do admire something about someone else, tell them. Everyone loves a compliment and it’s true that you get back what you give out.
3. Be discerning about who you spend time with. Toxic people drain you (you know who they are). Spend time with people who have a healthy respect for themselves, and for you. And stop seeking approval. It holds you back and stops you being the incredible person you already are. Not everyone has to like you, but you have to like you.
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”
Thich Nhat Hanh (Buddhist monk/teacher)
4. Write down all the things you like about yourself. This is really hard, but worth the internal struggle. At first you’ll find yourself criticising instead of applauding but push through. Start with something small or physical – maybe “I like the colour of my eyes” or “I like that I’m organised” and build from there. Keep adding to your list too. You’ll soon see that you’re awesome in so many ways.
5. Set a low bar for happiness. This sounds weird but by setting achievable daily ‘happiness’ measures (sunshine, a decent cuppa, a chat with someone you like, a hug from someone you love), you’ll reframe ‘everyday’ into ‘exceptional’.
6. Become conscious of straying from the self-love path. Wear a wristband and every time you catch yourself being mean to or critical of yourself, swap it to the other wrist. As you become aware of the frequency of your self critical thoughts, you’ll find that the wrist swapping slowly reduces.
7. Reward yourself with 30 minutes. Take a long bath, go out for a walk, read a few chapters of a good book, meditate, do a bit of yoga. If you can’t manage 30 minutes, take 10. You can spare it and you deserve it.
Seven simple ways to self love, but they all come down to the same thing.
You — inner meanie = happiness.
It adds up.
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