It sounds so easy: Love yourself! Embrace your imperfections! Forgive yourself!
But that is much easier said than done for those of us who struggle with an inner voice that keeps a detailed score of every mistake we make, every dumb thing we say and every way we don’t measure up. However, here are some steps to develop a kinder, gentler relationship with yourself.
Talk to yourself like you’re a child.
If you truly listen to that voice in your head, you might be surprised to realize how mean it really is. Your internal critic talks to you in a way you wouldn’t dream of talking to anyone else. The next time it pipes up, ask yourself: “Is that how I would talk to a 5-year-old?” If not, change your tone.
Let’s say you’re not getting the hang of a new sport. Your inner critic is having a field day, saying things such as, “You’re terrible at this. You should just quit.”
Is that the way you’d talk to a small child trying to learn something new? No, you’d probably encourage them with, “You’re doing great. No one is good at something new at first. Keep trying!” Be that kind to yourself.
Don’t compare your insides to people’s outsides.
How much suffering has Facebook envy caused? It appears as though everyone else enjoys a perfect relationship, straight-A children, a beautiful home, a fantastic job, gorgeous vacations, healthy, home-cooked meals and fancy dinners out.
Comparing yourself to others has always been self-defeating, but social media exaggerates the effect. A review of studies recently found that making Facebook comparisons is more likely to trigger depression than offline comparisons.
Try to remember, though, that Facebook doesn’t reveal the reality of someone’s private life, only how they wish you to see it. It’s all about perception.
Make a self-love audio recording.
A lot of articles on self-love recommend complimenting yourself, which is a great practice. But some people find talking to themselves awkward, and self-compliments don’t carry the same power unless you speak them out loud.
So instead, make a list of things you love about yourself, such as, “I love your sense of humor,” or “I love how big your heart is,” or “I love your shoulders.” Then, using the voice recorder on your phone (or a tape recorder if you don’t have a smart phone), read the list as if speaking to a lover.
Make time every day to listen to your recording. You’ll be amazed how your self-image starts to shift.
Repeat this phrase when you’re frustrated.
Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone says insensitive things, forgets people’s names and birthdays, loses something important, buys something they shouldn’t have, fails spectacularly at something, embarrasses themselves terribly, agrees to do something they shouldn’t have, neglects to do something they should have, etc. Yet for some reason, we expect utter perfection from ourselves.
The next time you find yourself wincing at something you did (or didn’t do), love coaches Scott Catamas and Emily Orum recommend you say this phrase to yourself: “How perfectly human!”
It’s a nice reminder that being human means making mistakes.
Engage in radical self-care.
In our culture, we have the tendency to prioritize everything and everybody else — our spouse, our children, our work, our home — and put ourselves last. But how much do we have left to give when we’re on empty? Don’t we deserve some TLC too?
Radical self-care means putting your needs, especially your health, front and center, not on the back burner. One easy way is to start taking a high-quality daily multivitamin. Rainbow Light’s Vibrance line of eight multivitamins — with choices for women, men, moms-to-be and teens — contains essential nutrients, certified organic fruits and vegetables, probiotics, prebiotics and enzymes to nourish your body and is free of GMOs, artificial additives and gluten.
Once you’re into the multi habit, you can work toward exercising more, eating healthier foods and getting enough sleep. You deserve it!