I have come through a period of a certain amount of self-doubt and self-recrimination. This happens on a regular basis and I am convinced that this time of year makes it worse. So I talk to myself. May be when I lay awake at night. May come about me as I have my morning coffee. Can become a real issue when I spend too much time in the car. Usually the times when I reflect on who I am and what my life is all about.
Heard an interesting radio interview this week where the person talked about the self-talk many of us do. She questioned how we would feel if someone else talked to us in the same way we talk to ourselves. Think about it. I know for myself it would be traumatizing. It would be insulting. It would push me over the edge. I would be angry. I would want to lash back. Stand up for myself.
Two lessons I learned through this. The first is the fact that self-talk, self-recrimination can have a devastating effect on our persona. It can have the same effect on our mental health as trauma would. I found that rather troublesome. Only because I came to a quick realization that what I took as a normal course of action for myself, could have the detrimental effect of trauma.
The second lesson learned was more of a reminder of things I have learned in the past. Not only learned but also written about. Perhaps like many other life lessons I need reminders. Remember the saying; “experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want”? That means I am experienced. That means I have had many life lessons. Unfortunately I often forget what I have learned through my experience.
Self-compassion. The theory is quite simple. Do you know that as humans we have an innate desire to be understood by others particularly during periods of distress? We never outgrow that. Our pain and anxiety reduces the more others understand and care. Our physical health improves when others show they care, when they show they understand, when they reach out to help. Using that same principle on ourselves is just as important. Beating up on ourselves is not healthy. Giving ourselves a tongue lashing over events in our lives is self-defeating. This is where self-compassion is so important. We need to better understand ourselves. We need to be kinder to “me”. We need to be able to reach out and help “me”.
It goes without saying that we make mistakes. So does everyone else. That is part of being human. We are not perfect. So when we err against someone else we want them to understand, to forgive, and to forget. Do the same for yourself. When you have screwed up accept that as being normal. When you are able, accept the lesson you have learned and move on. If we spend too much time in beating ourselves up the world will pass us by. And as the world turns we will get lost in a cauldron of shame, self-remorse, and low self-esteem. Not something anyone needs. So be kind to yourself. Give yourself a compliment. Pat yourself on the back. And most of all forgive yourself. All of us are making positive contributions to an imperfect world. We all try. And quite frankly that is all that matters. And quit talking to yourself except if it is positive reinforcement. Make it a good one.