Our culture is full of some serious vitriol these days. Facebook, Twitter, news media outlets, and even group texts are pushing some pretty caustic rhetoric straight through our eyeballs and into our brains. We have so much consumer noise to filter through, it’s hard to stay positive. (Spoiler alert: staying positive isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.) The harsher the external voices shouting at us over the screen in front of us, the harder it can be to practice kind self-talk.
I don’t think I’m alone in this. I find that during times of national and political crisis and upheaval, I slip into old patterns of negative self talk. You might be wondering what I meant when I used the term “self-talk." Seriously, what kind of hippy woo-woo bullsh*t is that? Here’s a crash course on self-talk.
Self-talk is the voice in your head, the invisible responder, the captain of your brain ship. It’s a sneaky little bitch that tells you all of the terrible things you believe about yourself, erodes your self confidence, lies to you about what other people think or feel about their relationship with you, feeds your anxiety and depression, and usually sounds a lot like the most critical influences in your early life.
You Might Also Like: Take The Cake: Why Does Self-Love Feel Harder Than Dieting?
Self-talk is the voice that talks you out of following your passions. It convinces you that your fear is too big to conquer. It tells you how you need to be different than who you are, or that you’ll never be the person you want to be, so give up now. It determines your self-worth. It is set to self-destruct and often obliterates everyone else in its convoluted path.
Basically, your self-talk sounds a lot like an angry band of YouTube garbage trolls.
(Seriously. People who comment on YouTube channels sound like actual demon wads of chewing gum.)
So, practicing kindness can be hard. I mean, have you ever tried to be nice to someone who you felt really didn't deserve it? But, you can do it.
1. Remember that you actually deserve kindness.
You might be like me and believe that kindness is the best tool to get through challenging moments with people you love and also disagree with. You have been at odds with other people. You have found a way through without alienating the other person. You probably believe they deserve your kindness. Well, guess what, buttercup? You deserve kindness, too.
2. Fight your instinct to criticize.
If you grew up in a home that valued good behavior over everything else, this is the hardest of the voices to rewire. You can definitely channel Stuart Smally, but maybe channel someone who is a bit more grounded in real life and has scientific proof to back up why it’s important to be kind to yourself, like Brené Brown. Shame about “bad” behavior can be hard to disqualify. Shame is not worthy of the strong, lovely shoulders it rests on. You are allowed to be human, you are allowed to explore what works for you. You are also allowed to find YOUR true north, instead of borrowing someone else's compass. Reaffirm to yourself that you are worthy of walking a path that you determine and loving yourself while you do it, even if you don’t do it expertly.
3. Say the things you wish someone would have said to you as a child.
You know what I wish someone had told me as a nine-year-old kid? “You’re a great human, and I see you.” So, every so often when I feel like I am literally the worst person alive, I envision taking my own nine-year-old self’s hand and looking at those thick bangs and that bad perm with fondness and great affection and tell her that she is a great human; I see her. And then I sometimes tell her that she’s going to be a-okay, even though she can’t possibly imagine how.
4. Pretend you are your favorite pet or child.
Just kidding. You love all your pets the same. Seriously, though. You would never tell your pet or child what a worthless piece of trash they are. You would never tell them they’re not worthy to breathe the same air as you, to live in your house, or to take up space. You feed them, take great care of them, and always have their best interests at heart. And the mere thought of anyone mistreating them or directing verbal abuse towards them will set your soul on fire in a terrible way. So pretend you are your pet or your child. Say the kind things, practice the extraordinary kindness you are capable of giving everyone around you. You deserve to be treated well, too.
5. Write it everywhere.
This is a way to utilize those damn mantras you hear so much about these days. Hang those kind words on your bathroom mirror, set them as your home screen on your phone, put them in direct eyesight of your most easily seen places. I put them on my front door, my computer, and my kitchen pantry door. I allow them to become part of my daily landscape, which makes those self-kind words normal.
6. Ask for help.
This might be the most uncomfortable way to rewire that sh*t talking Bossypants inside your head, depending on how you relate to the world around you. It might also be the most powerful. Ask the people in your life who love you and sprinkle their kindness around like glitter for some kind things they think about you. I ask my BFF and my husband for some kind kudos when I’m struggling, and they always have something wonderful to say, even if it’s hard for me to believe. But I accept their words and try to believe them anyway.
You are capable of change, and I believe you are good. Why? Because unless you are a certified sociopath or a YouTube troll, you are a generally good person and you possess the power to change. I believe the truth about you, and your own truth is a powerful force of change.