This summer was about healing my hip and my heart.
Perfect timing since I'm in the middle of writing a series about self-compassion....
Back in the day, if there was a way to plug a speaker into my brain, you would've heard me tell myself, "You're such an idiot."
It sounds so awful, but I would tell myself that a hundred times a day. (Unfortunately, I don't think that's an exaggeration.)
For the record, I'm far from an idiot. I graduated college with above a 4.0 and I have enough emotional intelligence to be well-liked by most people.
Still, that's what I silently told myself. "You're such an idiot." Over and over. It makes me cringe now.
Why was that my constant self-criticism?
Of course it's important to think about root causes, but I changed my conversation with myself before I understood that conversation.
Once I became aware...I started to notice when I called myself an idiot...and I started to think differently.
It wasn't automatic. If I called myself an idiot 100 times a day, maybe I heard it a handful of times at first.
~ No, actually you're not an idiot. You just did something you've never done before and it takes time to get good at new things, Sheila.
~ No, you're not an idiot. You were nervous and you communicated the best you could in that moment. Everyone gets nervous and stumbles on their words sometimes.
~ Sheila, you're not an idiot. You expressed your thoughts even though it was scary. It doesn't matter if people agree with what you think. That was actually really brave of you to make your point.
Yup, I changed my inner dialogue with self-compassion.
Magical things happened.
1) My brain got quieter. I stopped analyzing everything I said or did and stressing about how people would perceive it.
2) When I was no longer worrying about what I'd just said or done, I started to be present for the first time in my life.
3) When I stopped worrying so much about what people would think, I started allowing my imperfect self to be real with people.
4) When I finally let people see me worry and struggle, people could relate to me more. My relationships became stronger and deeper.
Yes. All of that came from changing the conversation I was having with myself.
When I'm tired or stressed, I'm still quick to think, "you're an idiot." But the words are a signal to me now. When I hear them, it's time for self-compassion.
What message(s) do you hammer yourself with?
~ No matter your weight, do you still remind yourself that you're fat?
~ No matter how many successes you've had, do you still tell yourself you're a failure?
I'd bet most of my money that, while you're not perfect, your recurring message is largely untrue.
Or, maybe there's an ounce of truth to it, but you're seeing it in a fun house mirror, way bigger than it actually is.
Either way, friend, it's keeping you small and/or disconnected.
Some people worry that self-compassion will make them soft and less successful, but the opposite is true.
~ If you remind yourself how dumb you are every time you open your mouth in a meeting, how likely are you to keep speaking up?
~ If you tell yourself you're fat every time you put on spandex, how likely are you to keep going to yoga?
When a situation is hard -- and then we're also hard on ourselves in that situation -- ouch.
When we're understanding of ourselves, we're more likely to put ourselves back into a challenging space.
The truth is that self-compassion makes us more resilient.
We're constantly being presented with challenges. (The last year and a half! One thing after another!)
Every single second, we're navigating a situation we've never navigated before.
~ The flushed cheeks and stuttering, the mind going blank, the not knowing what words to choose...that's what happens when we're stressed.
~ The curve between starting something and mastering it...that's the trajectory of learning.
What if you did the best you could in every moment and allowed that to be enough?
Instead of being beating yourself up, what if you loved yourself for showing up?
This week, when you do something that makes you want to kick yourself, what if you applaud yourself?
Because you did your best.
Because you're deserving of love and kindness (from yourself).
Do you believe me?
Let me repeat that.
You are deserving of love and kindness from yourself.
Let's be really honest here. When you read that, does your head think it makes sense, while the rest of you resists?
Maybe you think, "that won't work for me" or "actually, I am -- (fill-in-the blank)."
If you want to ditch this kind of dialogue, but recognize that you need help, then this is my invitation to have a conversation about how to change it.
Sign up for a time to talk to me here.
Life is so different (so much better!) now that I don't bash myself all day.
I would love to help you feel better, too.
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Sheila Devi is a Life, Leadership, & Career Coach. What's in the way of where you are now and where do you want to be in a year? Is it the vision? (I'll help you get really clear on what you want and how to make it happen.) Is it the logistics? (I'll help you find a way.) Is it other people? (I'll help you navigate relationships.) Interested? Click here for a complimentary call.