I remember running a training where a participant said that if someone behind him was talking to him the way that he speaks to himself, he’d punch the guy in the face. I’ve heard it said that our unconscious doesn’t understand sarcasm – that we take those “jokes” we make about ourselves very much to heart.
How do you speak to yourself? What words do you use? What’s the tone? Would you use those words and that tone with someone you loved and respected?
I want to say something so that people outside the circus tent hear it, too: self-compassion, being gentle with ourselves WILL NOT make us complacent, weak, lazy, or any of the other fear-based threats so many of us have been subtly and overtly taught. Being critical of ourselves forces us into a trauma state – the urge to fight, flee or freeze – which halts creative, spontaneous thought and growth.
Being critical of myself is how I was raised, and it was my default inner voice, so learning how to be gentle and kind to myself instead is an ongoing and involved process. I meditate; I read inspirational daily readers; I attend 12-step groups; I surround myself with people who love, respect and see me for who I am; I do things that spark joy, I try to move my body every day and feed it with foods that nourish me; I do some kind of service that helps someone else out.
I can tell you this with 100% certainty: I like myself; my day-to-day, hour-by-hour life; my work; my body; my relationships and the labyrinths of my own brain infinitely better when I know that I won’t treat myself with cruelty and condemnation, when I am as gentle with myself as I would be with someone or something truly precious. In short, it’s infinitely easier and more enjoyable to be alive when the bully no longer has the loudest voice in my head.
What do you do to improve how you speak to yourself? What could you do?