Be the best YOU you can be

Being Kind to Yourself

I've been struggling to get to sleep the last few nights. There are a few worries and concerns that even my before-I-sleep mindfulness sessions haven’t been able to help with.

I realised that I was being really hard on myself for what I had – and hadn’t - been able to achieve that day.

I tried something that should be innate, as I’m a mindfulness teacher – I tried being kind to myself. I changed the narrative, and started praising myself for what I had achieved that day, and the fact that I had tried my best, with all the best intentions.

This is something that should be innate (see I’m being hard on myself again!)

The change was overwhelming. I felt my whole body change. Almost instantly the muscles in my body relaxed, and I felt myself almost smile.

Why was this a surprise? Why did this feel so new to me? I’ve been teaching this concept and – I thought – practising it.

Why did I find this change in tactic so overwhelming?!?

When you take part in the 8 week mindfulness course, it’s only in the last week that we learn about and discuss the idea of kindness – kindness to others but as well as to ourselves.

For most people, being kind to others isn’t particularly a challenge. When we come across someone in distress, or someone who has made a mistake – it’s easy to be kind, once we’re aware of the choice we have in how we react.

It’s sometimes more tricky to be kind to people we dislike, but we tackle this with the Metta – the loving kindness meditation, wishing others love, health and happiness.

BUT! It’s so much harder to be kind to ourselves. There’s a concept called the Negativity Bias – where it is estimated that 80% of our thoughts are negative. That’s a lot of thoughts! Many of these thoughts will be subconscious, and we won’t even be aware that we’re thinking them.

Many of them will be pre-progammed beliefs – things we heard as a child and started to believe.

The problem with these early beliefs is that we heard them as children, before we were able to rationalise and say to ourselves ‘Is this right? Do I believe this?’

As children, we may easily misinterpret what we hear adults and care-givers tell us. However, these beliefs last throughout our lifetime.

As a coach and creative wellbeing practitioner, it’s my job to help work out what your beliefs are.

Becoming AWARE of these beliefs is the first step along the path to working out what you really think – with your adult head on – and tweaking those beliefs to help you move forward.

With all of this, I thought I had a reasonably good handle on being kind to myself.

But apparently not! We’re all much harder on ourselves than other people. It's an easy route for our brains to take – as it can be a bit lazy – it prefers the path of least resistance – it prefers the instantaneous beliefs, rather than the effort of having to rationalise the irrational.

The best way of changing your own negative mind chatter is first to become AWARE.

Becoming aware of your thoughts and what you’re telling yourself will help you decide how you want to continue – perhaps there’s a reason you’re thinking negatively and you choose to carry on down that route.

However, you also have a choice – you can CHOOSE to change that negative self-talk into something positive.

I changed my thinking last night to congratulating myself on doing the best I can. That’s not to say I think I’m perfect and having nothing to work on and try and improve. That’s not what mindfulness or coaching is about.

It’s about being realistic and accepting what IS.

However it’s also about balance – balancing those negative thoughts with positive ones.

The more you practice, the more you’ll find that your brain naturally chooses the positive route.

The best way to start is to say to yourself 'Would I say this to a friend?' of 'What would my best friend say to me?'

So, why don’t you start practicing today? Soon, your brains will decide the positive route is the path of least resistance.

That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to end each day being kind to myself. Saying something positive.

Wish me luck :-)

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