One question: If you treated your friends the way you treat yourself, would you have any? Many people would say that they are not that bad to themselves. But how do you know for sure?
We don’t really know until we examine what we say to ourselves. We think too fast, and most of us can’t pick up everything we say to ourselves unless we become self-vigilantes. This takes time and a fair amount of effort. A better way is to tune on how we feel when things happen.
If you feel great, you are probably a nice person to yourself. If you don’t, perhaps you are treating yourself with your critical voice.
Our critical voice is usually our parent’s voice or our beliefs about what they are thinking about even though they didn’t say a word. It’s like we woke up one day and had a crystal ball that read thoughts, especially from our parents.
How do you feel when you eat a pint of ice cream or a package of cookies? Do you feel bad, or do you brush it off? How about when you lost your job or blew up at someone?
Most of us would feel bad, defeated, or angry for acting in a way we had no intention of doing it until it happened. We want to be perfect, but perfection is a prison. Even though we don’t belong behind bar, our mind find a way to punish us.
I find that people even say out loud to themselves, “You are so stupid,” “What an idiot,” “ You did it again,” “I’m a loser.” Scolding like these do not build our self-esteem; they destroy our self-worth and perpetuate the behavior that we would like to change.
When we feel we made a mistake, we tend to be sad, angry, or disappointed. We are hard on ourselves as our parents may have been on us. We forget that everyone makes mistakes, and mistakes are great lessons.
When we do things we are not proud of, it’s best not to fault ourselves. This behavior will only enforce the deed for the future. Often, we get mad at ourselves and make a promise not to do it again, but next week, we go back to the same path: doing, regretting, promising, and then doing it again.
Many of our unwanted actions have become habitual behaviors. But don’t despair; there are solutions. It can be solved with simple acts of Self-Compassion.
What is Self-Compassion:
Simply put, Self- Compassion is when we cut ourselves a break. It’s also when we extend understanding and love to ourselves. We all heard the expression that we get more with honey than with vinegar. This is when we offer some honey to the injury we already caused. Yes, we do injure ourselves when we harm another. It’s like we remove a bit of our spirit from our energy.
I learned the practice of Self-Compassion from Linda Howe, a spiritual teacher and author of the book Healing Through the Akashic Records. She taught me to surrender to all the things that I had created.
When my children were young, I used to get very mad at them to make a mess around the house, take too long to clean it up, or forget to do it. I would yell and threaten them to take toys away or ground them.
After I upset everyone, I would feel bad and blame my children and the long workday. It also upset me. My already depleted energy would be in reserve. I felt more tired than before and discouraged because that was not the type of mother I wanted to be. As you can see, I created chaos in my house, not my children or the work.
Practicing self-compassion is simple. All you do is to say, “Of Course.” Once I began to surrender to my actions and practicing self-compassion, “of-course” helped me validate that I did what I did for many reasons. Those reasons weren’t meaningful anymore. But if I wanted to change, I would have to be kind, gentle, and patient with myself by using the words “Of Course.”
“Of Course” as a Practice
- Write down on paper
- Post where you can see it
- Say it often
Write down the words “of course” on paper, sticky notes, red or gray duct tape, or mirrors. Place them on areas where you can see around your space, such as the medicine cabinet, the mirror in the bathroom, car dashboard, inside your closet or wallet, and any area to remind yourself to be gentle and patient with yourself.
When you say “of course” to yourself, you’ll be reminded that you did what you did for many reasons, and that’s okay. Instead of scolding yourself for doing something you consider wrong, you will be practicing kindness. Instead of being mean, you become patient with yourself by showing your understanding.
If you ate the entire box of cookies, tell yourself, “Of course, I ate the cookies.” You only did what you could have done based on the amount of awareness you had at that time.
If you forgot to eat, tell yourself, “Of course, I forgot to eat.” You aren’t condemning or enforcing; you’re simply patient and kind. This practice helps your subconscious reprogram the way you talk to yourself and become more loving. It will change your energy.
You’ll be amazed by the shifts in your life when you become gentler and kinder to yourself. You’ll see how kind other people become toward you. You aren’t doing this practice for that reason, but it’s one of the rewards all the same.
For change to happen, you need to be a gentle teacher and give yourself the love and understanding you would give a small child. That’s because you’re dealing with your inner child, who learned those behaviors many years ago.
Don’t think this is too simple to work! Just write down the words “of course” wherever you can see them throughout your day and use it when you criticize yourself. I suggest posting them on areas you spend lots of time such as your bedroom wall, in your car, and in your office so that you’ll see them often. I used electric red tape and wrote the words with a black marker. I placed the tape on the table in my house’s entrance way, on a picture frame in my bedroom, on my car dashboard, and in my office.
Be ready to answer questions from others who may think you’ve lost your marbles. My children felt I needed a little intervention until my boyfriend explained the meaning to them. I gave everyone the same answer: “This is my self-kindness practice. It’s to remind me that it’s okay to make mistakes because I’m learning to change.”
If you don’t want to go to those lengths, you can be a bit more discreet. Perhaps write the words in the shower, inside your medicine cabinet, on your key chain, and other hidden places that only you have access to.
The bottom line is that it’s okay to make mistakes because you’re learning how to change. You may have been told before to change; perhaps you even told yourself that you needed to change. Of course, you weren’t ready then. Are you ready now?
If you feel you need more time, then tell yourself, “of course, I need more time,” and return when you’re ready. And if your mind resists this practice, say to yourself, “Of course I am resisting. I’m patient with myself.” This is your level of awareness of today as you read these words. You will use the of course soon and be free.
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