You know those days where you just feel totally off? Nothing feels good, nothing looks right and you just feel utterly uncomfortable? Yeah we all have those days, for some people it’s only from time to time but for others it is a constant.
If you deal with this daily, or just periodically please believe me when I say that your negative beliefs about yourself are not facts. They may feel like they are, but they are just ideas or hunches picked up during over time that have become set in stone through the years as a result of negative thinking patterns. Sounds a bit clinically put right?
A lens through which we see the world
How about thinking of our self-esteem like a lens through which we see the world? It colours what we see, how we interpret it, and what we remember. People with high self-esteem believe that they are good and worthwhile people, and will see lots of examples of this in their daily lives. People with low self-esteem, however, have a bias against themselves and they naturally tune in to any bit of evidence that confirms their negative self-belief, dismissing or ignoring any evidence that contradicts it. With all these negative thinking patterns, we can gather a store of evidence against ourselves.
The first step towards change!
So the first step in changing your self-esteem is to start noticing examples of when your thinking is biased against yourself. As you start to see how unbalanced your store of ‘evidence’ is, you can start to explore alternative ways of seeing yourself that are more realistic and fair. Only once you’ve noticed biased thinking can you fight it with self-compassionate thoughts.
The tips below are helpful in cultivating both self-compassionate thinking and self-compassionate behavior:
- Ask yourself what would you tell your friend/child – and then tell yourself exactly that!
- If you find yourself thinking “yes, but…,” counter this thinking with more self-compassion – being tough on yourself is a life-long habit for many of us, and we may initially reject our new efforts at self-compassion. Be prepared to counter any arguments you make against self-compassion.
- Commit to self-compassionate actions – there are always reasons to be found for why now isn’t the time to give yourself a break or treat yourself. You need to stay firm in your belief that this action is worthwhile and that you deserve it, no matter how busy you may be. Ignore inner protests insisting that you don’t deserve it or there are far more important things to do – unless there is an emergency, looking after yourself is a major priority.
- Little things can have a big impact – doing something quite small for yourself (like taking half an hour to read your book) can be just as beneficial as something bigger (like buying yourself a new car).
- Catch yourself being good – notice when things are going well and when you are doing a good job, and compliment yourself.
Having compassion is a wonderful trait, being able to offer it to yourself is a practise that some of us need to try. Notice when your treating yourself badly and try and change it, for a day….for a week. Until it becomes natural! I’m still having to remind myself somedays to not entertain the negative thoughts I have, it takes time. So, that’s all for now. Until my next post, see you all online. Charlotte x