Do you talk nicely to yourself, like "Way to go!" or "I look great today." Or is your inner dialogue more commonly, "I'm an idiot for that," or "My stomach is disgustingly flabby." We know it's wrong to hurt someone we care about. Yet we do that to ourselves! Do you talk to friends negatively when they do something wrong or fail? Or do you save that for yourself?
I was like that before my self-love was strong. I'd beat myself with nasty words when did something wrong. My light bulb moment came when my friend trashed herself for making a mistake. I challenged how she could call herself a big idiot when she was such a bright person who did things well. And her mistake wasn't a big deal. She called me a hypocrite and pointed out that I did the same thing. She'd heard me call myself demeaning names many times. That got me thinking. She was right And when I put myself down, I felt worse. Since then, I've made a conscious effort to be kinder when I make mistakes.
Shortly after that consciousness raising, I knocked a cup of coffee over and it soaked some papers I needed. My knee jerk response was to direct a bunch of expletives at myself. And the critical self-talk began:
*"I'm so F-in clumsy."
"What's wrong with me?"
"Why am I too #!*#^ stupid to not be more careful.'
"I always screw things up!"
As I made myself feel worse and worse, a voice inside my head reminded me that I was working on loving myself and planning to launch The Self-Love Movement. But I wasn't walking the walk. It hit me that while I was trying to love myself I didn't speak lovingly. I thought about how we can hurt or help ourselves depending on the quality of our self-talk.
In that moment, one of my favorite self-loving habits was born -- replacing critical words with "silly." I'm no longer a dummy. I'm silly when I klutz out and silly when I break something. It took time to break the habit of insulting myself when I made a mistake and use "silly" instead. "I wasn't stupid or F-in clumsy for not having a firm grip on my coffee. I was silly. I'd smile as the words came out.The warmth of self-forgiveness crept over me like a loving blanket. All of a sudden the spilled coffee lost its importance as being kinder to me took precedence. While this incident didn't stop my habit of immediately berating myself for a mistake, it did raise my consciousness to begin a new habit -- using gentler words when I did something I didn't like.
The first few months I'd say the negative word, catch myself, and say, "No, I wasn't a moron, I was just silly." Each time I did that I smiled broadly, and still do to this day. Calling myself silly is a great act of self-love. It says I no longer want to judge me in harsh ways and it's okay to goof up (another kinder word). It's also instant self-forgiveness. It took me over a year to catch myself faster and make it a solid habit. But the road to this new habit made me smile each time. Now I usually use "silly" automatically.
I was put to the test when trying to get sponsors for a project. I called a big company and the man I spoke to was enthusiastic and asked for a proposal by email -- quickly. To save time, I rewrote one I'd sent to another company. After I hit send, I realized that the cover letter still named their competitor as my favorite product. As it went out I cried, and "stupid" came into my head, knowing that I'd blown my most promising sponsorship opportunity.
I took a deep breath and said out loud, "That was one of the silliest things I've ever done." It gave me instant self-forgiveness and I hugged myself. While I was disappointed I felt good knowing I loved myself enough to be kind about it. Needless to say, I never heard from that man again, but I got other opportunities that worked out.
I equate "silly" with self-forgiveness and a desire to be kind to me. Every time I call myself "silly," it reinforces my self-acceptance. Find your own words to replace those that aren't loving to take the sting out of the imperfect things you do. Each time you do it says, "I love me!" That feels so much better and can build the confidence that beating yourself up deflates. When you approach situations from a place of self-love, life improves. Since January is Self-Love Month it's a good time to try to begin to create self-loving habits.
When you don't love yourself, you're often harder on you than on others. When you goof up, it's good to think about how you'd reassure a friend who's done what you did. You'd be kind, wouldn't you? Well do that for you, too! Be reassuring instead of tearing yourself apart. Don't get angry at yourself for being human! Forgiving yourself for not being perfect supports self-love.
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