Here are some things I have said to myself lately:
Well done Vicky, you idiot.
FFS Vicky quit knocking stuff over
Argh you’re so useless, you forgot to buy bananas and now you’ll have to go back to town again
You’re so disorganised, now you’ve lost that note you needed to send back to school…
… and so on. Sound familiar?
Have you ever stopped to listen to that voice inside of your head? To really pay attention to what it’s saying to you? If yours is anything like mine, you take a level of crap and shit talk from yourself that you would never, ever heap upon anyone else, nor tolerate from someone else. Imagine if you heard someone speaking to your child in that way… I’m betting they would soon get a stern telling off from you.
Just recently, I’ve been trying to pay attention to what that voice says to me. It started when I bought Judgement Detox by Gabrielle Bernstein. The book is about judgement, but there’s a bit near the beginning where she suggests you pay attention to see where you are judging people – but don’t judge yourself for that judgement. That really struck a chord with me, and I have been trying not to judge people, as well as not judging myself. It’s tricky though – this stuff is really deeply ingrained in most of us.
When I had a breakdown, a lovely lady at the gym gave me the one piece of advice I have clung to ever since, and passed on countless times to others:
Be kind to yourself.
Reading that section of the Gabby Bernstein book made me think of this advice. I began noticing the things I say to myself, over the course of a day – and I started contradicting that voice. So when I drop something and reflexively say you’re such a clumsy idiot I immediately counter it with just pick it up and get on with your day; accidents happen.
Interestingly this got a bit meta at one point, where I found that I was shit-talking myself for shit-talking myself. As in, I would call myself an idiot for doing something, and then I would say to myself, Wow, you’re so horrible to yourself, what is your problem!
I am aware this sounds a lot like I’ve just become that person who talks to herself in the cake aisle at Tesco (plot twist: I already was). But this is bigger, and something I really want to get on top of.
Abraham Hicks says a belief is just a thought you keep thinking. The average human repeats 80-90% of their thoughts every day, so if you’re thinking you’re an idiot every single day, that’s not going to do much for your self esteem. What if you could find a way to stop that inner voice from saying that? What if you could teach your inner voice to talk to you in the same way you would talk to a small child who is learning something new, on your most patient of days?
The other day as we walked home from town, S said something wrong, and immediately corrected herself before saying everyone makes mistakes sometimes. I was ridiculously proud; this is something I say to her all the time and to hear her repeat it back to me made me realise that it’s actually going in. Perhaps my child won’t grow up with this ciritical, judgemental inner voice her mother has!
I’ve started trying to catch myself when I talk to myself in a way I would not speak to someone else, in a way I would not tolerate from someone else. And I’ve started countering that with things like:
You’re doing the best you can with what you have
Try again and you’ll get it
Perhaps there was a good reason not to do that.
I’m trying to be kind to myself, both in the initial talk and in the noticing and contradicting. I’m trying to be kinder to myself overall, every day. With no exceptions, no matter what I say or do – there is no need to be unkind or judgemental to myself.
Be kind to yourself, always. After all; if you are not kind to you, how can you expect others to be kind to you? Lead by example. Lead with kindness.