Have you ever listened to your inner chatter? Try it for the next day or so. You might be surprised by how evil you are to yourself. Note how often your inner critic — your gremlin — makes appearances.
Most of us have an enemy living inside our own head! (Reflect on that. Most of us walk around with a “non-friend” in our heads. We spend hours with someone being mean to us — not believing in us. That saddens me to my core. No wonder so many of us overeat, drink too much, and under exercise.)
Most of us are extremely cruel to ourselves.
We need to learn to be on our ow side!
We need to stop using a belittling tone of voice and rude language that we would never use on the clerk at Starbucks — let alone a loved one! Too often self-talk is hurtful, harsh — harmful! We have different standards when speaking to ourselves than to a family member or friend.
The “golden rule” has to go both ways; yes, do unto others as you would want others to do unto you, BUT also do unto yourself as you would do unto others. We have to learn how to have empathy and compassion for ourselves. (I am lecturing myself here as well … my inner voice is not always kind. I am working on her, but it is a process.)
Don’t misunderstand me. “Self-compassion” is not a synonym for self-indulgence! I am not arguing “lean into skipping workouts and eating seventeen pieces of cake daily.” Don’t justify skipping the gym with, “Well, Kathleen told me to be compassionate.”
Compassion has its roots in “caring”; care enough about yourself to make healthy choices. Think enough of yourself to expect yourself to try. Hold yourself to high standards because you love yourself.
I am not advocating for self-indulgent self-talk. I am just saying, don’t berate yourself. Have productive and compassionate self-talk. When you make a less-than-ideal choice, note it and learn from it, but note the choice without conflating the choice with you being a bad or worthless person.
Let me give an example: You chose to skip a workout to watch TV.
Negative self-talk: “I am so lazy. I skipped my workout. Why do I even try to be healthy? I will never succeed. Might as well have some ice cream. I am a loser.”
Self-indulgent self-talk: “Who cares? Who needs a workout? Kathleen told me to be nice to myself. C’est la vie. Life is worth living.”
Compassionate self-talk: “I don’t love that I missed the workout, but life happens. I would not mind if I had planned to miss a workout for something fun, but just to watch TV seems like a waste of a skip. The question is, why did I miss it? Why did I not have energy? Why did I want to watch TV? Did I not get enough sleep last night? Did I not eat well through the day? Am I sad? How can I learn from this experience? I don’t respect that I missed the workout but I am only human.”
Rigorously assess the ACT (the missed workout), but do not connect the ACT to your worth as a human being. Address the incident. Don’t attack your character.
If you “fall” off your health horse, walk yourself firmly — yet kindly and with compassion — through the experience; note your emotions and learn from the experience. Be your own best friend.