Speak Kindly to Yourself

Do you talk to yourself?

HOW do you talk to yourself?

Are you kind, encouraging, affirming? Or are you critical and fault-finding?

I recently saw an internet piece about speaking kindly to yourself. I don’t think I ever done that, even though I talk to myself a lot! I am quick to beat myself up about my social awkwardness and impatience. I berate myself for my untidy desk and for leaving unwashed dishes. Why would I talk to myself kindly when I always notice the ‘wrong’ things? Perhaps the air of criticism I often feel comes mostly from myself 🙁 ?

The writer of the post made sense, though. If I talk kindly to my family and colleagues, they are more likely to be happy and cooperative. Don’t I owe the same to myself?

I was at a conference where an ice-breaker was to tell a stranger two things you were good at. I baulked. It felt wrong to be saying good things about myself (like boasting). And of course, my first thoughts were of all the things I wasn’t good at. It felt so much easier to talk about those things (to apologise for those things!).

These two events challenged me. Can I identify things I am good at, and could I talk to myself kindly about them?

Well, here goes. My list:

I’m good at the English language – reading, writing, editing, nuance. (Not superb, but good.)  I’m good at saying ‘sorry’. I like to be at peace and I am usually the one to take the first step at reconciliation.  I am basically a sensible person and I have discernment. I’m good at administrative tasks. I  I asked my adult daughter if she could identify anything I was good at. She said ‘parenting’. That’s reassuring!

And there are some things I’ve learned to be good at.

I’m good at making my bed. My bed is made everyday before I leave the bedroom. Pulling up the covers on my side of the bed is almost part of the same action as twisting my legs over the side and placing them on the floor. Then it’s a quick sprint around the bed to pull up the other side. A few seconds on tucking, smoothing the quilt and arranging the pillows – and it’s done. (May not be hospital matron quality!) But before I’ve been up two minutes I have a sense of accomplishment and the room looks inviting to return to. And it’s not a task left hanging over my head to come back to. It’s not natural. I learnt this!

Another routine I have deliberately practised into a habit is to put away all my clothes every night – into the wash or into the wardrobe. I wasn’t always this way. Now, I don’t put even one thing on the chair – because that’s a slippery slope! No matter how late or how tired I am I take two minutes to put everything where it goes – and when I wake in the morning the room is tidy.

Now I feel like I should tell you all the things I’m bad at – to provide balance. But I will resist. This blog is about talking kindly to myself … my words to myself should not always be about the mistakes and weaknesses.

What about you?

This is not meant to be a boast-fest about myself but to encourage you to identify, value and embrace those things that you do well. And to let you know you can be proactive about developing habits that will become part of your ‘good at’ profile. You have permission to speak nice things to yourself and commend yourself for what you are good at. Take time to encourage yourself just as you would encourage your kids.

So, give it a go – whenever you are tempted to beat yourself up, try speaking kindly to yourself instead.

Lexia Smallwood
Managing Director

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