We tend to spend a lot of time thinking about being kind and compassionate towards others, but revert to being harsh on ourselves. Are you judgemental? Hard on others? Chances are you judge yourself harshly. You may think this keeps you in line and on track, but it’s old… maybe you needed to at one time, but we now know that this negative self-talk leads to depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. Don’t worry, you won’t lose your ‘edge’… but you might take yourself less seriously!
The following quote by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love” describes her commitment to herself that precedes love for others. She began a practice of writing love letters to herself. If that just sent a wry ‘gulp’ through your body, then this is especially written for you my dear… after all, you have to live with yourself your whole life… might as well shake hands.
This was a practice I had started about a year earlier, when I was in the worst of my depression — to write compassionate and loving letters to myself in a notebook, saying to myself everything I had always wished somebody else would say to me. Until I learned how to speak to myself this way, I had no chance of peace. Other people can love you. Other people can comfort you. But other people often come and go. And if you can’t soothe and reassure yourself in your darkest, loneliest hour, nobody can.
My promise to myself is this: I will walk beside myself for as long as I live, holding my own hand, taking care of the soul with which I have been entrusted. I will do that always, whether anybody else is in the room with me or not.
You must learn how to tell yourself that you are loved. You must tell yourself this again and again until slowly you learn to believe it. Start writing yourself love letters. It feels weird at first, but keep going. Practice. Practice more. Practice EVEN more. You’ll need it someday – or you may need it right now. Life can be hard, but without your own certain love for your own tenderest self, it is simply impossible.”
Just imagine how things might change, or feel, if you knew at all times you had a cheerleader right beside you, encouraging you, forgiving you and letting you know you’re OK when you’re busy criticizing yourself. Imagine if our children learned this too, how much less anxiety, stress and depression would we see?
This might be the hardest thing you will do, but just try it. Even if it feels hokey, silly or self-centered. Be your own best friend.
Let yourself know… you got this!