Kindness has been on my mind a lot lately.
I've seen it in myself, and with so many of the ladies in my Challenge Groups -- the shaming, the cutting words, the shitty ways we speak to ourselves after we've "messed up", done something "stupid" or "failed".
It's pretty incredible how much we can shit on ourselves. Yup, I said it, shit on. You know you do it, too. Hell, I would be shocked to find a woman out there who has never once said something shitty to herself. Let's face it, we all do it.
This is something I've been actively working on changing in my own life -- paying attention to the thoughts that go through my brain, and catching myself when I have a thought that's unkind or doesn't serve me. And I've found that just by getting curious with my thoughts and allowing myself to be aware of them, that they have been happening less and less.
But the other day, I caught myself being really unkind to myself about something -- I don't remember what it was, but I was BLOWN AWAY at how harsh & negative I was choosing to perceive myself in that moment. And I thought to myself, "Jesus, Amanda. Why can't you just be kind to yourself? You're doing the best you can."
And it really got me thinking...WHY do we do this in the first place?
This is something I've been grappling with for the past few weeks, and based on my own personal experience and what I've learned from my never ending endeavour into personal development books, I have a few theories...
Why we aren't kinder to ourselves:
1. Our Ego
Our Egos often are the reasons we don't accept ourselves for where we're at. You know all of those thoughts of you won't be happy/worthy until you're a better person, or you have a better job or you're in a relationship, or your making more money? Yup, that's your ego talking, girl.
For all my perfectionists out there, I know you feel me on this one BIG time because I was RIGHT there with ya --- Self proclaimed recovering perfectionist at your service.
We think we don't deserve happiness or praise because we haven't reached whatever standard of perfection we think we need to attain. But we don't have to be perfect to be happy NOW.
2. We repeat what we see
Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right? Well, it can also be a detriment to ourselves if you're imitating the wrong person.
Most people I know have someone in their lives (a family member, friend, teacher) that is just an all around negative nancy, expressing judgement after judgement, being highly critical of other peoples actions and behaviors. Chances are, they are probably also expressing these feelings with respect to themselves.
When we're surrounded by people who are unkind to others and to themselves, especially at a young age, we learn that that is OK. Heck, that it's normal & just what you do!
3. Compare compare compare
We live in a society where so much of other peoples lives is on display and, because of that, it gets super hard not to play the comparison game. So, instead of focusing on what is going well in our lives, we focus on what we don't have, or what we feel like we "should" have accomplished by now.
How we can turn that Negative Nancy around and show ourselves some love & kindness:
1. Pay Attention to your Thoughts
Notice your automatic negative thoughts, and try to replace them with neutral or positive ones. For example, instead of saying something like "I'm so stupid" or "I really messed that up", try replacing them with "I made a mistake, but I can learn from this" or "I'll do better next time."
2. Speak to yourself like you would speak to your Best Friend
When your best friend messes up, do you tell her what a terrible person she is and that she isn't worthy of feeling happiness? Hell to the no. (And if you do, you just aren't a good friend...sorry to break it to ya.) You lift her up and tell her that mistakes happen and that they don't DEFINE you.
So the next time you catch yourself being unkind to yourself, I want you to think, what would I say to my best friend if she were saying these things to herself?
3. Focus on the GOOD instead of the SHIT
So often, we put all of our focus on what is NOT going right in our lives (and so often, we have no control over those things!) I want to encourage you to start focusing on what is going WELL in your life. On all of the things you HAVE done. On your successes.
Start to notice all of the little things you accomplish each day and congratulate yourself on those things! Take five minutes before you go to bed and write down 3-5 things you accomplished that day. By focusing on what you DID do instead of what you DIDN'T, you'll be in a much better mindset to accomplish the other things down the road :)
Personally, I've found that by implementing these things into my life, that I've been much happier. It's so crazy what a small shift in perspective can do to one's happiness -- Just by CHOOSING to be kinder to myself on the daily. And it has made me so much more compassionate for others as well...
Yup, let's just say that this girls road rage has significantly decreased in the past few months. Which, for anyone that knows me super well, knows that this is HUGE for me.
What has been your experience with this? Have you been able to get curious with your thoughts and shift them to something positive?
I would love to hear all about it! Feel free to share in the comments below, or to message me directly if you'd like to chat about it some more. I'd love to hear from you!