You are a beautiful creature worthy of every joy that life has to offer. I hope that you can unlearn the power to rob yourself of that worthiness by adopting kinder inner practices. I hope that little by little, you will start to see that all along you’ve been worthy and all along you’ve been enough.
In the past year, I have found that I’ve been able to significantly reduce a lot of my anxiety and affect other positive internal changes simply by altering the voice of my self-talk from that of a deranged, screaming football coach with no regard for my emotion to that of a calm, reasonable, therapist-like figure. It sounds cheesy yes, but once you start to take note of how you treat yourself, you’ll likely realize that you can be pretty cruel. Replacing these harsh, critical thoughts with practices that support, nurture, encourage and accept the person that you are right this moment (yup, no matter what) can lift years of weight off your shoulders. So today, I wanted to share some of the ways I choose to be kind to myself and I hope that they can help you as well, or help you discover your own practices.
1. Thank your body and your mind for its day’s work.
Admittedly, this is a little embarrassing to share but it’s something I’ve been doing recently that has been very grounding and elicits a deep sense of appreciation for my body and mind. Stand in front of the mirror (clothed, naked, in your underwear, dressed as Mary Poppins – doesn’t really matter) and either aloud or in your head say “Thank you” to yourself. After a long day of physically and mentally taxing rehearsals, my message normally sounds something like: “Thank you for supporting me through the day. Thank you for being the vessel through which I get to experience the joy that comes from dancing. Thank you for graciously accepting the days challenges and for communicating when it’s time to stop and when it’s time to push. Thank you for showing up for me even when I’m unkind to you.” If you want to direct your gratitude to your mind, things like: “Thank you for committing to learning something today.” or “Thank you for having the courage to try, even though things didn’t go perfectly” can work. When you do this, it’s very important to ignore any voices of judgement. If you choose to do this before getting in the shower for example, don’t stand in front of the mirror sucking in your stomach and criticizing the reflection in front of you. If you want to do that, though I don’t advise it and want to tell you there’s nothing about your physical body you need to criticize, save it for another time. This moment is for gratitude.
2. Find a daily affirmation that works for you.
This takes almost no time or effort once you’ve settled on an affirmation. You don’t even have to make one up, a google search will reveal thousands of them for you. All you have to do is find one or a couple that are relevant to you and carry them with you from day to day. If you fear that you’ll forget, write it in your notes on your phone. Text it to yourself. Put sticky notes in your agenda. Personally, once I started establishing a daily affirmation in the morning (I’ve been using the Five Minute Journal), I found that when I was having moments of struggle throughout the day, instead of going to a place of frustration or getting down on myself, my mind would recall my affirmation and it would instantly help. For example, when I feel like I’m not living up to the standard I need to be, I would say to myself: “I am exactly enough.” When I feel lonely, or left out, or disconnected, or not valued, I say: “I am loved abundantly”. Here are some of my favourites:
- “I am smarter than I think, stronger than I realize and capable of handling all that comes my way”
- “I can do hard things”
- “I am exactly enough”
- “I am loved abundantly”
- “Begin again”
3. When you have a negative thought, judgement or criticism towards yourself, ask yourself: “Is that mine?”
This really resonated with me when Samantha Skelly talked about this practice on her podcast Hungry for Happiness. Ask yourself about your thoughts and the stories you tell yourself: “Is that mine?” Sometimes crappy things people say stick with us without us even realizing it. Someone could have said years ago when you expressed your desire to work for yourself that “only rich or privileged people get to do that” and now you can’t help but allow that thought to stop you from pursuing what you want. When restrictive, judgemental or otherwise negative thoughts come up, ask yourself if the thought is even yours or if you actually believe it because often times it’s other people’s projections on you and not how you actually feel. You can open up so many possibilities for your life when you stop living by other people’s limits. Be kind to yourself by establishing your own limits that actually work for you, rather than against you. (These are called boundaries)
4. Eliminate self-deprecating humour.
This has been quite a popular conversation topic lately among many people I admire and there’s one particular contributor to this conversation who I think makes a pretty damn strong case for eliminating self-deprecation. So rather than trying to paraphrase, I leave you in the capable hands of Elizabeth Gilbert:
“You guys, I can’t do it anymore. I can’t attack myself. I can’t insult myself. I can’t respond to a compliment by offering up a list of my flaws. I just… can’t. It feels like such a violation of the sacred. I don’t have the heart for self-deprecation anymore. Somewhere along the way, over the past few years, I’ve lost the dark (and particularly female) talent for self-criticism, and for tearing myself down. It feels like sacrilege. My mouth can’t form the hateful words. And I can’t bear it anymore, to hear another woman demean, degrade, or diminish herself. It shocks my senses and hurts my heart. To witness a woman denying that she is beautiful is like watching an angel drink gasoline. It’s like watching a Phoenix rip off its wings. I just can’t be around it anymore. It hurts too much. This is my official plea: I beg you to stop doing that. You are a magnificent creature. Start knowing it. Stop lying about yourself.” – Taken from her Instagram (@elizabeth_gilbert_writer)
5. Use terms of endearment for yourself.
My friend recently told me she’s been doing this and oddly enough I’ve actually found myself doing it too. In the moments where you are responsible for comforting yourself, insert terms of endearment into the equation. For example, “Honey, you did your best” or “Darling, it’s all going to be okay” or “You’re doing amazing, sweetie”. It sounds embarrassing and silly but there’s something oddly nurturing and calming about using one of those soft words towards yourself. It’s kind of like the comfort a mother would bring to her child but you’re doing it for yourself.
6. If your best friend wouldn’t say it to you, don’t say it to yourself.
If your best friend wouldn’t tell you that you’re a shitty dancer and you’re never going to make it in this industry, don’t say it to yourself. If your best friend wouldn’t tell you that you’re too timid to ever go after what you want it life, don’t say it to yourself. If your best friend wouldn’t tell you that you’re too stupid to get a good job to provide yourself with the life you want, don’t say it to yourself. And if your best friend would say any of the above to you, please, get a new best friend.
All the love,