Oddly enough (well, not oddly, it’s a bloody brilliant podcast), I was listening to the My Favourite Murder podcast the other day and something Georgia said that one her therapists taught her struck 100 cords with me. She talked about how being kinder to yourself is a long journey and how it definitely doesn’t happen overnight, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. She also gave some brilliant tips and that’s what got me thinking about all of this.
So then, how on earth do you break the cycle and start being kinder to yourself? As a super-critic (of myself) here’s what I’ve found has helped me the most:
*Ahem* …using another person’s voice. Georgia said this one on the podcast and it’s seriously one of the most helpful things I’ve heard. Basically, you know how everyone says to say kind thoughts to yourself throughout the day? Yeah, well that can be hard and it can also make you feel a bit like a dick if you really don’t believe what you’re saying.
Instead, pick a person and imagine them telling you those nice things about yourself instead. So use their voice, down to any details you can imagine. Use someone that you know or someone who you’ll know their voice a lot so that you can really hear them saying it. I know this could sound weird to do at first, but whenever I’ve been feeling seriously crap I’ll use this technique and I just feel better. I believe it more than if I just try to say nice things to myself with my own voice.
Unless you were a butt-ugly child, chances are when you see photos of yourself from when you were younger, you think you were a little cutie. All my fellow very self-critical people out there, you know how negative, judgemental thoughts can just start passing through your mind like waves? They just keep coming and it doesn’t seem like anything you do is ever really good enough? Try this one. The next time you notice a thought like that in your head, before you say it to yourself now, imagine that you’re saying it to little you. So you at say 4 or 5 years old, or whatever age you were at your cutest. That little you is right in front of you, would you really say that stuff to them? ‘Cause it’s still you, just at a different age.
When I started doing this I caught myself thinking so many critical things about myself. I was like my god, I was a sensitive little child and if I said half the things I go to say to myself now to litle Julia? There would be a 100% forecast that she would be crying her outs out permanently.
Seems like a simple one and one that people reiterate, but it’s not for nothing. I think a lot of the time, when you’re very self-critical it’s because you feel like you didn’t reach where you wanted to reach, in whatever circumstance or time frame you’ve set yourself. It’s like there’s always something more you could have done. I try to consciously remind myself that there is no such thing as perfect for anyone in the world, there are only changing social standards. There is no point in spending my life critiquing myself over something I can never attain. And despite what social media makes it feel like, everyone is facing their own demons (it’s just that 10 seconds later they’ll be snapchatting their brunch or something). Maybe we should just collectively agree to get rid of the word ‘perfect’ from our vocabularies all together?