Learning to be kind, accepting, and compassionate towards yourself is a prerequisite for happiness, it is not optional. The only way emotional healing and growth can happen in your life is if you choose to become your own best friend and cheerleader.
Self-judgment, self-hatred, and self-criticism will keep you stuck, and sabotage your healing and growth. Those things have the power to imprison you for life.
To learn to apply self-acceptance, compassion, and kindness towards yourself is like tilling the soil, so good things can grow in your garden. It is an absolute must for emotional and mental healing to become possible.
Each time you notice your inner bully popping up, telling you that you are not good enough, unworthy, or that there is something wrong with you, become curious and ask yourself, where is this toxic message coming from? Where have I heard these words before?
Often, they are messages from significant others, sometimes primary caregivers, that you have internalized over time. In the past, that person needed to be physically there with you to be able to tell you those painful words, but today you no longer need them for that. You have integrated their negative message and have become your own adversary, telling yourself the same destructive things.
For example, you might have had a father who told you, “You will never amount to anything”. And today, these are the very words you keep telling yourself. Perhaps you are not even aware that you have now turned against yourself by using the same destructive message, limiting your ability to explore your highest potential, to experience happiness and life satisfaction to its fullest.
Over time you have believed the toxic messages that you have received in the past, and you have formed core beliefs about who you are. Our beliefs are frequently hidden scripts than run our lives. They might sound something like that, “I am not good enough”, “I am deficient”, “I will never amount to anything”, or “I am unloveable”. The relationships you choose to have in your life mirror back to you what your core beliefs are, they show you how you think you deserve to be treated.
And for most of us, this is an unconscious process. You will fall in love with people who share those negative beliefs about you, you will reject those who want to love and accept you, or you might behave in a way that will lead another to see you in that light.
Changing those destructive messages about yourself is therefore at the core of creating a happy and fulfilling life. Are you ready to start a new chapter, letting the burden of self-judgment and self-rejection go, replacing it instead with the healing balm of self-acceptance and kindness? Great! Let’s roll.
1. What are your core beliefs?
Grab a notebook and a pen, become quiet for a while, and spend some time with yourself without any distractions. Take a look at the relationships you are in, and ask yourself what they tell you about your core beliefs, that is, what do they show you about how you believe you deserve to be treated?
If in most of your relationships you feel respected, valued, and loved, that would tell you that you see yourself as being worthy of love, and deserving of respect and appreciation.
However, if in the majority of your relationships you get the message that you are unloveable, get frequently put down, feel like you don’t measure up, and that there is something inherently wrong with you, then that would tell you that your core beliefs align with this kind of destructive treatment of yourself.
2. Replace the poison with loving messages towards yourself.
Once you know what your limiting core beliefs are, the fun part begins! The next step is to take control and replace them with positive, encouraging messages. Knowing that your toxic beliefs are not truths. They are just the result of repeated negative messages pointed towards you, of how your brain has tried to make sense of past painful life events.
A belief is nothing more than a thought you decided at one point in your life, either consciously or unconsciously, to be true. All beliefs are learned, and they can be unlearned. All beliefs are a choice, and choices can be changed.
You are deserving of your support, love, and kindness. Every human deserves to be treated with love, kindness, dignity and respect, just because they are, it is our birthright, and you are no exception to that rule. This is something you can’t earn, nor can you do anything to lose it.
If you want me to show you step-by-step how to replace your negative thoughts with life-affirming ones, check out my following blogs: “You Can Be In Control: Stop Being Tortured by Your Painful Thoughts and Learn to Replace Them” and ”The Power of Cognitive Defusion: to Let Useless Thoughts Go and Improve Mental Health”.
3. Practice Breathing Compassion meditation.
Find a quiet place, get still and centred. Look for a comfortable place to sit or lie. Next, follow your breath. As you breath in, visualize love and self-compassion entering you like a golden light. The golden light will start like a spark in very the centre of you, and with each inhalation will expand, moving towards your head and all your limbs.
You will see the golden light filling you from head to toe. When your whole body is full of kindness, love, and acceptance towards yourself, notice how warm and relaxed you feel. This is your natural state of being, you are made for good things, that is the fuel you run on.
4. Mirror work.
Once a day, look in the mirror, find your eyes and say your new self-affirming beliefs out loud. There is something very powerful about seeing your own image and affirming your rightness out loud at the same time. When you do that, you are consciously reversing what has been done to you in the past. Back then, negative messages were used to tear you down, and now you choose affirming words to build yourself up.
For example, you could look at yourself and say, “I am loveable, worthy, deserving of kindness and respect. I am a unique and valuable human being”.
Over time, with consistency and daily repetition, those words which might feel like strangers in the beginning, will take root and become your new default belief.
5. Choose behavior that aligns with your new affirming beliefs.
Your last step is to align your behaviour with your newly chosen positive beliefs. Beliefs without action are useless, and each choice matters. Each time, you choose to water your newly planted belief by aligning your behavior with it, you strengthen your own worth and okayness.
However, if you choose a behavior that undermines your newly adopted beliefs, you weaken them.One of my favourite sayings is, “Choices become behaviours, behaviours become habits, habits become character, and character becomes personality“. You will reinforce your new thinking habit, or weaken it, one choice at a time.
If you choose to reinforce it regularly, with perseverance and discipline, this new way of thinking will become who you are, it will be your character. You will be a person who is loving, kind, and supportive towards themselves. And, when that happens, the sky’s the limit for you.
This post is part of the blog series "Creating Happiness", your inspiration to promote positive change in your life.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ms Daniela Beer-Becker, Psychologist
Daniela is a regular contributor to the Blake Psychology blog and author of the "Creating Happiness" series.
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