Be kind to yourself

Written by: Nev Amp, Practice Consultant, Rural Alive & Well

From a young age we are taught to be kind and respectful of others.

If a friend is in need we offer suggestions, advice and encouragements and we don’t tend to criticise or undermine them.

When it comes to ourselves however, there seems to be an assumption that the opposite works better. When we are experiencing a challenge or a tough time, we tend to believe that self-criticism will motivate us to do better, and choosing to be kind to ourselves is weak or worthless.

The thoughts we have about ourselves and the way we speak to ourselves is called self-talk. Most of our thoughts happen on autopilot, and we often feel like we have no control over them. Our self-talk is shaped by life experiences, other people, personal beliefs and our interpretations of events. Most of us have experienced some major challenges in life, and as a result, we may have picked up a harsh internal dialogue filled with judgements, shame and blame. It’s important to recognise that just because you talk to yourself in a certain way, it doesn’t mean that those thoughts are factual, accurate or even helpful.

Self-kindness is treating oneself with kindness and care, like we would a close friend.

For those who are not convinced that being kind to yourself has a positive impact on your mental health and wellbeing, here’s a few reasons why you might give it a try.

  • Self-kindness improves your mental health by counteracting the comparison trap and those pesky feelings of inadequacy. We are all flawed and we all have strengths and weaknesses.
  • It helps you be kinder by developing greater understanding, compassion, and empathy.
  • It helps you regain power from critical or judgemental people, as we don’t tend to believe their criticisms as easily.
  • You will naturally become more optimistic and positive.

I would like to invite you to tune into your self-talk over the next week and notice how you speak to yourself.

  • How often do you criticise yourself?
  • How do you talk to yourself when you make a mistake?
  • Do you judge certain emotions like sadness, fear or anger?
  • Do you praise yourself for the things you do well?
  • Do you acknowledge your strengths?

Self-kindness will not eliminate negative thoughts or uncomfortable feelings, but it will assist you to overcome challenges with more ease. Developing self-kindness is a key habit to better improve your mental health and resilience.

If you would like to talk to someone about this or any other challenge you may be experiencing call RAW on 1800 RAW TAS (1800 729 827)

Ready to take the next step?