No one is harder on themselves than women. I truly believe that. If we were given a printed-out report of how many times we berate ourselves or engage in negative self-talk each day, I think we would be astonished as to how many pages the report entailed. This isn’t to say that whatever we are criticizing about ourselves doesn’t have a nugget of truth in it. None of us is perfect. But instead of punishing ourselves repeatedly with negative self-talk, we should use these opportunities to motivate ourselves to figure out a better way.
Try to use negative self-talk as a turning point to look inward and start practicing better “self-love.” This can be accomplished in many ways: Affirmations, prayer, meditation, journaling, exercise, vigilant self-kindness, and forgiveness, to name a few.
Most of us have been struggling with some kind of self-hatred, whether it is exhaustingly consistent or comes in ebbs and flows. Maybe you don’t even recognize the subtle effects the lack of self-love has on you, but it manifests itself in your relationship with food, your spouse, your kids, your need to please.
As we get older and become wives, mothers, caretakers of parents, etc. our relationship with ourselves and capacity for self-love seems to diminish. It slides lower and lower down the list of our priorities until we find that we are completely disconnected from ourselves.
We engage in endless comparisons with others, and most of the time decide that we come up short. Other times we find ourselves judging other women. Again, this may make us temporarily feel better, but oftentimes the judgment we attach to others is simply a projection of the lack we may see in ourselves, and is essentially the same thing as negative self-talk. Comparing and judging, I believe, is what eventually leads us to a habit of negative self talk that is so consuming, we don’t even realize we are engaging in that behavior constantly.
These habits are hard to break, but by using subtle shifts in our thinking, I believe we can drastically re-train our egos to not be so hard on ourselves and others. Start be acknowledging every time you have a negative thought about yourself or find yourself comparing yourself or judging another. Just acknowledging that you are having these thoughts will throw a wrench in the negative stream of consciousness our mind wanders in to.
I challenge all of you reading to try acknowledging every time you have a negative thought toward yourself. Every time you think, “I’m not smart enough” or “I’m not thin enough” or “I don’t play enough with my kids” or “I let them watch too much tv and eat too much junk food,” stop and acknowledge that you are being unkind. You will see how much these thoughts perpetuate and take up space in your brain.
Other ways to start to break this habit is to engage in small efforts. Tonight before bed, clean your bedroom. Clear out the clutter, light a candle, put a large glass of water near your bed or some cozy warm tea. Put on some nice scented hand lotion. Make it a safe and comfortable place for you. This simple act of self-kindness will go a long way.
A few books I recommend to help you “dig deeper” in this practice include the following:
Small and simple shifts in your thinking and your day will set you on a path to being kinder to yourself, which can have powerful and lasting effects in your life and in others’. Let us know how it works and if you start to see the difference!