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How to Speak to Ourselves With Kindness

Negative self-talk can be very damaging to our sense of self and happiness.

Key points

  • Many people find it easier to praise others than to speak to themselves with kindness.
  • One of the most difficult parts about negative self-talk is that the things people tell themselves are oftentimes true.
  • Combating negative self-talk first requires becoming aware of it, both in oneself and others.
Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash
Source: Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

Many of us struggle with the voice inside our own heads. We spend so much time complimenting and praising other people, but struggle when it comes to speaking to ourselves to kindness and compassion.

This is a dangerous pattern because negative self-talk can be very damaging to our sense of self and our overall happiness. I want to discuss the ways we can learn to silence that voice that sits inside many of our heads telling us we’re not beautiful enough, successful enough, or worthy enough. My hope is that after today, you will feel equipped to silence that voice for good and let more peace and kindness into your life.`

Not all true statements are helpful

One of the most difficult parts about negative self-talk is that the things we tell ourselves are oftentimes true. This could lead you to think that if what I’m saying to myself is true, then shouldn’t I make the space to share these things with myself? The answer to that is no, and I’ll tell you why. Sometimes the truth is not helpful; it’s hurtful and painful. We’ll explore the fine line between brutal honesty and constructive feedback that can help us better ourselves today.

For example, let’s say you’re interested in exercising more and becoming healthier. Negative self-talk in this situation may mean you look in the mirror and think “I hate the way I look.” These thoughts can feel very real to us, but they will not serve us in our pursuit of happiness.

Human beings have a tendency to say really mean things to themselves that they could never imagine saying to someone else. When we notice that we’re speaking to ourselves in a way that we wouldn’t speak to others, we must ask ourselves if the messages are helpful or not. It’s important to differentiate between thinking things that are harmful to our self-worth and thinking things that are meant to gently remind us of our goals.

We are capable of improving upon anything in our lives, even if we can’t change certain things like getting older or a physical disability, we can learn to adjust and accept our circumstances. That’s the key to turning around negative self-talk. We must recognize that when we speak this way, we’re only further hurting and keeping ourselves stuck in the very place we may want to grow out of. And we must remember that most of the time we have the power to change things, whether it be our actual situation or our mindset. Meaning that the things we judge ourselves for may no longer be true at a certain point.

Let’s use some examples.

Before we dive in, take a second and think of something you personally struggle with when it comes to negative self-talk. As we go through the steps to combat our own negative self-talk, think of the example you came up with so you can apply it to your life.

Become aware of self-talk

To overcome the pattern of negative self-talk, we must first be aware of it. If you’re not sure if this is something you do, take a second to think if you’re ever self-critical throughout your day. Let’s use the example of the desire to exercise more again to illustrate. For those folks who speak negatively to themselves regarding their health habits, they might pass by a mirror and think, “You look fat and horrible.” Or they might see a photo of themselves that they hate and think, “I look awful.” Those are horrible thoughts and things we would never say to someone else. So why do we find these things acceptable to say to ourselves?

If you were trying to motivate a friend to lose weight or work through a personal issue, you might say, “I love you just the way you are and I support you as you work through something that is difficult. I’m here in any way that you need me.” I believe that we can speak to ourselves in this way too; it just might take some practice.

Change thought patterns

Once we’re aware of our negative self-talk, the next step is to change our thought patterns. More specifically, we must replace negative self-talk with kindness and compassion. The more we practice kindness and love towards ourselves, the easier it will be for us to reach our goals.

In addition to being aware of how we speak to ourselves, it’s important to notice if we’re spending time with people who also participate in negative self-talk. If you do, you can either cut ties with those people or set some clear boundaries with them. For example, if you spend time with someone who is always criticizing things like your job, your looks, or other people when they’re not there, it’s important to tell them to stop and that you’re not comfortable with what they’re saying. At the end of the day, it’s only important what we think of ourselves, not others.

Avoid negativity on social media

Negative self-talk, and negativity in general, can be amplified on social media. People feel safe behind their screens and are more emboldened than ever before to share their opinions with the world. People can be cruel in this online space, and we should do our best to not participate in that negativity. It will only perpetuate our own negative self-talk towards ourselves, but also others as well.

Over the years, I’ve worked with many well-known celebrities. A common theme amongst these famous people was how much they were affected by words they read on social media. We must remember that our words matter and that someone is on the receiving end of the comments or messages we leave. Because of this, it’s important to show kindness towards everyone. When we show kindness towards others, we’ll become better at being kind to ourselves.

Practice kind thoughts about others

In addition to practicing kindness towards others, it’s important to practice thinking kind thoughts about others. These kinds of behaviors change our negative mindset into a positive one. And when we slip up and find ourselves engaging with negative thoughts, we shouldn’t criticize ourselves, we simply correct the behavior and move on.

As humans, it’s hard to change. It’s even more difficult to change a pattern you’ve practiced for a long time, such as the way you speak to yourself. But, we’re capable of changing anything if we put in the effort. By changing the way we speak to and think about people, we are capable of changing how we see ourselves and the world. A beautiful outcome of spreading positivity is radical self-acceptance. When we love ourselves, our positivity and compassion can pour out into the world and make it a better place.

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