How much of a friend are you to yourself?
I have asked clients that question in the past. Not as a bald introductory question but at some time, when it is relevant, during the session. Some people look quizzical, others amazed that I asked the question. It was not something that they had ever considered.
When that thought was first posed to me, I didn’t really understand it. It had never occurred to me that I was allowed to. Like myself? Be kind to myself? What did that mean? I always tried to be kind to other people – but myself? It was quite a strange thing to think that I was a person in my own right and worthy of treating as a friend.
So how kind are you to yourself?
What happens when things don’t go quite as you had hoped? Things go wrong at work; you fall out with someone; you make a fool of yourself; you were made redundant; your relationship breaks up; you didn’t land the job you wanted or any one of a million things.
So what do you do? Beat yourself up? Scary little voices tell you how worthless you are? We all know those voices and we don’t have to listen to them. You can change them. They don’t have to have power over you to belittle you and diminish who you are.
Instead the voices could be kind – whispering, gentle, friendly messages instead.
What would you say to a friend? Reassure, say kind words, tell them it’s not so bad, you’re great, you’ve always been great. It’s their loss if someone can’t see how talented you are. ‘Of course, you’re not useless, remember when you did X, how great was that?’
Do you say any of that to yourself?
Learn to be your own best friend. We forget that we need reassurance, building up, help as much as the next person. So why not give it to yourself.
If you have always been hard on yourself, beaten yourself up, listened to those negative voices in your ear, think about changing that – the tone, the volume, its accent. Turn the voice into Donald Duck’s, banish it to outside the window and see how silly it looks as it tries to get back in and continue berating you.
Take a deep breath, pull yourself up to your full height and tell yourself whatever you would say to a friend. Be kind. Noone else can hear you, and you know yourself better than anyone else.
And yes, you can do whatever it is you want, and you can do it well. And only you can do it in your own way. You are an individual. You are you. If you have always been hard on yourself it takes time to get used to saying things like ‘you did that really well’, ‘you’re good at that’. ‘I’m not sure X could do that’. It bears repetition to really hear and learn a new way of talking.
And congratulate yourself – for being you.