Be a Friend to Yourself

Are you your own best friend or your own worst critic? Does your mind generate a constant chorus of self-talk criticizing you and your choices? Is it time to change your mind – specifically, your way of thinking and talking to yourself?

The words we say to ourselves go to the very core of our being. These words shape what we think of ourselves and what actions we take. The brain believes what we tell it and we become what we think about most. We can be our own strongest motivator or our own worst enemy. We can, in fact, create our own happy or unhappy state of mind.

What words and tone do you use when you talk to yourself? Chances are, it’s unlikely that you would ever talk to a dear friend or loved one with the same tone and criticism that you shower on yourself. In fact, there is probably no one whom you treat as badly as you treat yourself.

Our culture sanctions the idea that you should be hard on yourself. Do you believe, as many do, that self-criticism serves to keep you in line? And, that if you weren’t self-critical, you would become overly self-indulgent?

Has all this self-criticism and negativity helped? Has it motivated you to improve or meet your ideal? Studies show that children and adults are more motivated by encouragement than by threats. Research also suggests that giving yourself a break and accepting your imperfections may lower stress, depression, and anxiety, and improve happiness and life satisfaction.

The most direct solution to short-circuiting self-criticism is to give up judging and evaluating yourself and to replace this with self-compassion, an acceptance of yourself despite your perceived weaknesses. This is not about self-indulgence or lowering your standards but rather about accepting your humanness and accepting that ups and downs are part of life.

Cultivating self-compassion provides a foundation of love, acceptance, and security for yourself despite the circumstances of your life, despite your failures or disappointments. Self-compassion looks beyond your actions, values you for yourself and your imperfections, and respects all aspects of your humanity. In short, you exercise self-care and give yourself a break!

Many of us find it easier to extend compassion to others. One way to extend it more to yourself is to commit to treating yourself as well as you would treat your friends and loved ones. Encourage yourself and acknowledge all of your efforts, just like you would for a friend. Be kind to yourself and be your own cheerleader, your own motivator, and your own comforter.

What would your life be like if you had a more positive set of attitudes, beliefs, and feelings about yourself? Find out by gifting yourself with self-compassion and by being a friend to yourself

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