“Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.”
I remember my aunt, my mother’s oldest sister, as a woman who was consumed with worry. So much so, that at times she would talk to herself. She mumbled when no one was around, and I’ll never forget how that freaked me out.
The fact is, we all talk to ourselves and we do so all the time. We have been cultivating a kind of chatty, bantering relationship within ourselves since the day we were born.
If we are fortunate enough to learn to talk to ourselves with understanding and patience, the people around us will likewise feel our kindness, empathy and acceptance: As we can only give to others what we have inside ourselves. That includes the experience and practice of self-compassion.
Stop and listen to how you talk to yourself. Much of the verbiage is clearly abusive, rarely nurturing. It is nothing we would ever say to a precious child – which we all are, of course.
In his book The Road Back to You, Ian Cron wrote: “God looks at you with the same soft gaze the adoring mother beholds her sleeping infant with. If we could look at ourselves with that same quality of affection, how much healing would take place in our souls.” Ian’s words touch us where unconditional love and acceptance are most needed: within ourselves.
There’s not a formula or four easy steps to find self-love, but we can stay open to the message of just how precious and loved we are. This can break the cycle of self-judgment and self-shame; of letting our own harmful words rattle around inside of us; and of falsely believing that what is wrong with us is who we actually are.
When we become aware of our destructive self-talk, it is a moment of grace. When we can pause and gently say to ourselves, “Well, there I go again,” it is an opportunity to treat ourselves with needed kindness. And when we stop long enough to wonder from where these self-doubting, self-critical thoughts arise, we have begun to change the conversation.