Think about how you talk to yourself on a daily basis . Try to remember what you said to yourself today. How did it make you feel? Now imagine saying the same to your best friend. Here’s how talking to yourself the way you would talk to your best friend can help you like yourself more.
By criticizing everything you do, you end up constantly disappointing yourself
We often think that if we change the things we don’t like about ourselves we will feel better about who we are. But what if it’s the other way around ? Do you know those times when, for whatever reason, you get really mad at yourself? Or it is because you tried to put on your favorite pair of jeans and you realize that you can not close them anymore, or rejected an offer of work or missed a deadline or just not let the bad habit you promised you would.
Sometimes there is no specific reason, sometimes you don’t like random things about yourself: your hair, your body, your style, what you are doing with your life, etc. It’s almost terrifying how these feelings can perpetuate themselves and very soon all you do is criticize yourself and nothing you do is good or good enough . You set your standards so high that you can never hope to meet them, and in doing so you set yourself up to fail. You set yourself up to be disappointed.
There is no way around this: fighting against yourself is a lose-lose situation. In some of the most extreme cases, people lose themselves so deeply in self-dissatisfaction that it turns into outright hatred. So much so that, in fact, it becomes part of who they are and how they see themselves.
Therein lies the problem and the solution : our opinions about ourselves depend on how we speak to ourselves. Our internal monologue is, in fact, the story of our lives, just as the way we talk to other people influences their opinions about us (and themselves to some extent), the way we talk to ourselves influences, a turn, in our own opinion, about who we are.
How we talk to ourselves influences how we feel about who we are
Imagine you have some verbally abusive friends . They have a habit, for example, of telling you that you are fat, that you are clumsy, that you are ugly or boring. They also do not congratulate you when you are successful or tell you that you will fail when you need support. You would end up resentful and disgusted with this friend so much that you would start avoiding him. In the same way that someone would stop being your friend if you talk to them like that. Would someone be your friend if you didn’t openly like him as a person? More importantly, would you be friends with someone you don’t like ?
When we find ourselves in an abusive relationship or simply offended by the words or actions of our friends, most of us go out of our way to confront the person and express our disagreement, which can often turn into an unpleasant conversation . Sometimes this can even lead to a friendship breakdown because who really wants to be around someone who offends you, belittles you, or makes you feel bad about yourself in some way ?
We are friends with people who matter to us because they make us feel good, because they listen to us, support us, love us and help us when we need it. Above all, perhaps, we are friends with people who respect us . Imagine your favorite person in the world, the only person you think deserves your kindness and who would never dream of hurting you. Now imagine talking to them the same way you talk to yourself. How would it make you feel? Would his opinion of you change? Would they still want you as a friend?
The rule is simple: if what you say would offend your friend, it will offend you.
We don’t despise who we are by being fat, boring, or inadequate (or whatever derogatory word we choose), we despise the part of ourselves that thinks and says it . Self-hatred, counterintuitively, is not directed at our flaws, but at the little voice in our head that constantly reminds us of those things. We are not happy with ourselves because we are not happy with the way we relate to ourselves, and not the other way around.
It’s not your flaws that you need to work on: it’s the way you talk to yourself. The problem, of course, is that you can’t break up with you. What you can do is change the way you speak to yourself. Talk to yourself as you would talk to someone who cares about you, someone whose feelings you would never want to hurt. Talk to yourself the same way you would talk to someone whose trust and friendship are important to you, someone you respect.