Five Ways to Be Kinder to Yourself

Often, people are kinder to others than they are to themselves. It is true what they say; you are your own harshest critic. Do you find that that you are more forgiving of others than you are of yourself? Do frequently you catch yourself saying you are a failure?  It is time to ditch those nasty habits and start treating yourself with the compassion you deserve! But how, you ask? Using these mind hacks, you can retrain your brain to stop negativity in its tracks and start treating yourself with the respect you deserve.  Each tip has a simple mantra you can repeat as a reminder to treat yourself with kindness.

Stop Ruminating

Rumination is when you replay an event repeatedly in your head, dissecting every detail of an event and imagining what you could have done to change the outcome.  Why must we torture ourselves by rehashing a past we cannot change? Why must we agonize over our behavior when we know everyone else involved has moved on? It may seem hopeless to try to combat these types of thoughts since they seem to happen without invitation. However, you can acknowledge that you are ruminating, and politely remind yourself to cut it out before you get lost in your own head. Remember that the past cannot be changed, and the present is an opportunity to do better.

Mantra:  “Stop ruminating!”

Daily Practice: Positive Affirmations & Gratitude Lists

Positive Affirmations may be a 90’s cliché, but they really work. Looking in the mirror every morning and saying positive phrases can improve self-esteem and boost mood. There are daily positive affirmation apps you can download to help you get started. Hearing is believing and eventually you will believe what you say if you do it often enough.  Likewise, keeping a daily log of everything you have to be grateful for can really help you look on the bright side of life.  Even on your worst day, you could still be grateful for the little things. Write these things down to remind yourself that there is still a lot of good in your life when times are tough. Do not stress if it is difficult at first, it will become easier with practice.

Mantra: “I am loved.”

Stop Buying Negative Thoughts

Would you buy something at the grocery store that is expensive, bad for you, and you don’t really need?  The answer to that is maybe, but that implies that you have a choice about what to buy. It is the same with negative thoughts; like toothpaste or a cereal, you can simply choose not to buy them. When you realize that you are thinking negatively about yourself, recognize it, and dismiss it. You can thank your brain for the thought it is trying to sell you, but say no thank you. When self-doubt creeps in remember that, much like a product on a shelf, you do not have to buy what the mind is trying to sell.

Mantra: “Thanks for the update, but I’m not buying that today.”

Forgive & Let Go

It is perfectly natural to react badly to being cut off in traffic, and you might call the other driver a jerk or honk your horn. This reaction may be justified, but where did it really come from? Generally, people default to placing blame without really understanding the whole picture. Maybe the person who cut you off did not sleep well the night before. Normally, feeling like this is temporary, but sometimes it can escalate. Accepting the fact that you don’t know all the circumstances and forgiving another person instead of flying off the handle, is key to learning how to forgive yourself.  As with the positive affirmations, this gets easier with practice. Be kind to yourself, and start forgiving yourself like you would want others to forgive you.

Mantra:  “I can only control what I do.”

Visualize It, Verbalize It, or Make It Real

If you suffer from nagging worries, you are not alone. Worries can get stuck in your head so you can’t seem to think of anything else, and can take on a life of their own.  When worries become too much to bear it helps to say them out loud, write them down or imagine them to be something else. Acknowledging your worry and saying it out loud (or posting it online) may help clear your head.  Writing your worry down or drawing a picture of it then tearing it up or shredding it may work too. You could also imagine that your worries are an Internet popup that you can click to close, a text you can delete, or a piece of trash to throw away.  Even some apps can help you visualize getting rid of your worries. So, put those worries out into the world and get rid of it!

Mantra: “Get rid of it!”

We all think about how to be kind to others on a daily basis, but we rarely think about how to be kind to ourselves. We all say things to ourselves that we would never dream of saying to another person, hold grudges against ourselves, and punish ourselves for past sins, but we don’t have to. With practice, we can all live a life where we are just as kind to ourselves as we are to others.

Final Mantra:  “I will be as kind to myself as I am to everyone else.”