It can happen when you least expect it…Your day starts out in a sunny and positive way and then…Circumstances and frustrations beyond your control challenge your good mood. Before you know it, a dark cloud descends, anger bubbles up. Not only are you mad at the unfairness of what has occurred, you are also beating yourself up for not being able to fix or control what is not in your power.
Beating up on ourselves can happen over just about anything…from making a wrong turn, forgetting something at work, or self-doubt over small, medium or large decisions that are weighing on you. The pile-up of circumstance, frustration and negative self-talk can be paralyzing.
It takes great concentration and awareness of our daily self-talk to begin to change the conversation. Can you even allow yourself to entertain the notion of talking kindly and compassionately to yourself? What would it feel like?
To get the hang of it, start with a positive situation that can give you the idea of how it works and how it can feel. Here is an example of my own recent experience with self-compassion and positive self-talk.
Not too long ago I undertook the task of connecting and setting up a small new TV…Definitely NOT my strong suit! I was feeling quite nervous and unsure about it. But, I was determined to give it my best try!
I took my time, didn’t rush and read the instructions carefully…several times over. With each successful step, I felt encouraged and hopeful that I might actually be able to do it! And…I DID! my self-talk was proud, happy and glowing. It not only felt wonderful to succeed at the task, but also to be able to cheer and congratulate myself for my accomplishment.
In thinking about it, I have come to know that there were four important steps to my kind and compassionate self-talk as I was engaged in a new and daunting task. Here’s what helped me in this process:
- Patience – I took my time. Whether it is reading instructions or accessing some introspection to think out the pros and cons of a major decision, give yourself time to be with your task. Digest and process it.
- Encouragement – Yes! You can encourage yourself rather than feeling dependent on someone else to provide it for you. Finding encouragement from within is a sign of your positive relationship with self and the trust you place in your abilities.
- Be Understanding of Self – I entered into my project not with the expectation that if I didn’t succeed it would mean I was a failure. Instead, I took on the project with the understanding that if something went awry, I had options…to give myself more time or to ask for help.
- Allow Your success – Sometimes when we do accomplish or succeed at something, we tend to gloss over it, both on the outside and inside. We may be afraid of success just as much as we are of failure. “If I do succeed, will I have to succeed ALL the time? I can’t risk putting myself under such pressure and then feeling the pain of failure.”
As the month of February approaches and we are surrounded by Valentine’s Day cards of all varieties expressing love and caring for family, friends, and pets, don’t leave yourself out! Work from your inside out. Loving and valuing self gives each of us a greater capacity to then spread love, caring and compassion to this who mean the most to us.
“The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship you have with yourself.”