You’ve heard it before, the Golden Rule: Treat others as you want to be treated. Although there are many qualities it represents, it usually signifies one quality in particular: kindness. We are told to treat others with kindness, because we want to be treated with kindness. If that’s true, why do so many of us treat ourselves unkindly? Why do we mentally beat ourselves up for making a mistake or not doing something perfectly? Why are we so apt to give others a break, but when it comes to ourselves, the behavior is unacceptable?
The truth is that harsh self-criticism and self-punishment are usually the result of childhood training patterns. When we were “bad,” we had to face the consequences, some worse than others. After years of this conditioning, the pattern was well-enough established in us that we no longer needed others to punish us; we could do it all by ourselves. Have you ever witnessed someone saying things mean like, “You idiot!” while referring to themselves? Maybe you? If so, the next time you notice you are criticizing yourself harshly, take a moment to step back and ask yourself, “Where did I get that from? Who do I know that says that? Whose words are those?” More than likely, those words did not originate with you. They may have come from a teacher, a parent, or some other family member. As smart as you were as a child to adopt them, you are even smarter as an adult to discard them.
As you begin to discard those overly-critical and sometimes down-right mean thoughts, start to replace them with more loving, nurturing thoughts instead. Choosing a simple, “I love you” in place of a critical thought will shift things for you in ways you may not even be able to imagine. Over time, you will transform your self-talk from negative to positive and will see the wonderful ripple effect of this practice in all areas of your life. This is because you are the common denominator for every relationship and experience in your life. You are the center of your life, and everything extends from you. When you are kind to yourself, when you speak lovingly to yourself, when you give yourself a break, you are living from a foundation of self-love. When you’re living from a foundation of self-love, you naturally attract people, situations and events that are loving, and your life experience begins to shift and expand, becoming more beautiful and more full of joy.
Next time you notice that you’re feeling irritable, take a moment to pause and check in with yourself. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, put your hand on your heart, and ask yourself, “What’s going on? What do I need right now?” You may be surprised at the answer you receive. Often times, it’s something simple that can be met easily, such as: “I need to take a break” or “I need to get some fresh air.” When you take the time to fill that need right then, in that moment, you are taking care of yourself – you are loving yourself. When you love yourself by taking good care of yourself, you feel better, you have more energy, and you are happier overall, which creates a ripple effect, which positively influences all those you come into contact with.
So really, loving yourself and being kind to yourself isn’t just for you, it’s for your loved ones and in truth, the whole world. Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone was kind to themselves and loved themselves? We would have a world full of loving people with less stress and less violence. Since the world is made up of individuals, your decision to love yourself and take good care of yourself adds to the collective whole. It makes a positive difference in the world, even if you don’t see it.