There was a time when I was very hard on myself. I took the tough-love approach to my self-improvement. I thought that the meaner I was to myself the more it would motivate me to change. It didn’t. In fact after a while one of two things happened, it was so common for me to be mean to myself that I stopped noticing or on those days when I was depressed being mean to myself just made me feel worse.
It didn’t motivate me to do anything.
Self love helped me see that being a judgmental asshole to myself accomplished absolutely nothing.
Do you want to know a secret?
It took a long time to get out of that habit. I’m talking years. I was committed to changing but no matter how hard I tried the moment I got frustrated at myself I was right back to calling myself stupid or unlovable or untalented. It took deep inner work to realize that in my head it was easier to place the blame on myself when things went wrong. That way I didn’t have to confront the actual issues in my life. It wasn’t that I was in bad relationships because I had little self-worth. It was because I was stupid and you can’t fix stupid. That mentality is a cop-out that stops you from seeing the real work that needs to be done.
Eventually I realized that my bad choices needed compassion so that I could see things from a real perspective. Not one that instantly assigned blame and moved on to the next mistake. Here are some things that helped me embrace compassion for myself.
Be careful what you tell yourself.
Stop automatically going toward berating yourself whenever something goes wrong. Be mindful of everything you tell yourself. In the beginning you will screw up a lot and that’s okay. Whenever something negative and mean goes through your head back it up with the truth. The truth that you made a mistake, you are human, you were having a bad day, life’s not easy, you learned something, you are capable, and brave, and wonderful and whatever bad thing you did or felt or said doesn’t define you.
Open up to your friends and mentors and listen to what they tell you. Their point of view probably isn’t going to come from a place of condemnation and that’s exactly what you need, a point of view that comes from love and compassion. You can then take those words in and allow them to help you foster compassion for yourself.
Own your mistakes.
When you take away that automatic tendency to berate yourself you then allow yourself to start seeing the truth of your mistakes and why you make them. Own that. Own your issues and your tendencies to self-sabotage and then start working at the root of those issues. That’s the only way to cure what ails you, you can’t treat the symptoms and ignore what’s causing them. Love yourself enough to stop the behaviors that are hurting you mentally and emotionally.