The relationship with yourself is the most important one you’ll ever have because it’s a lifelong relationship. You’re stuck with you for the rest of your life, so you might as well like yourself. No matter how much you dislike or fret certain things about you that you just can’t get past, you’ll never be able to trade yourself in for another one. Imagine how much more beautiful life would be if you got along with you. How much easier it would be to cope with life’s stressors and achieve your goals once you’ve mastered a kind and loving self-dialogue. When this happens, self-hate will become a thing of the past, and self-acceptance will be a new reality. The good news is that self-love can still occur, even for those of you who’ve hated yourself for most of your life. You weren’t born into the world having self-animosity. It was learned from somewhere. Just as you learned to despise yourself, you can equally grasp how to love yourself instead.
The first step to being your own friend is to be aware of your internal dialogue. Is what you’re telling yourself something you would say to someone you genuinely love and care about in a similar situation? If the answer to this question is a resounding “no,” you know that you’re not speaking to yourself in a way that’s warmhearted and helpful. Just as you won’t have much luck developing meaningful relationships by continually scolding others and putting them down, you will equally have trouble loving yourself by doing the same. How would you be honest with this loved one, but still be caring and therapeutic at the same time? What would you say to be constructive, helpful, and also reasonable? Practice telling that same thing to yourself. Don’t just say it only once, but continue to do so until you start to believe it. You’ll get more comfortable doing it as you go along.
Be aware in this hypothetical scenario that lying to your best friend wouldn’t be advised, and neither would being dishonest to yourself. We’ve often become accustomed to thinking negative most of the time because being positive hasn’t felt genuine or even truthful. The fact of the matter is that life isn’t infinitely positive, so thinking enthusiastically about everything isn’t very useful. Rational thinking can be helpful in any situation because we can be rational during both the positive and the negative times. It’ll feel weird at first. Perhaps just as strange as a lifelong enemy all of a sudden showing you a random act of kindness.
Remember that we are never defined by our perceived shortcomings or by those seen by others around us. Our mistakes, failures, and inadequacies are only a percentage of what makes us who we are; they never make us one thing or the other. Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone fails. For example, If you get rejected on a first date, that doesn’t mean you’re a complete failure, just as getting a second date would never make you entirely a success. I’d argue that most of you wouldn’t condemn others as quickly and eagerly as you would condemn yourself.
A part never did, never does, and never will equal a whole. When you just think in black and white, life feels like only one thing or the other. With no middle ground, it makes us all more likely to feel intense negative emotions. These negative emotions encourage us to act against our best interests, to cope ineffectively, and be more likely to fail again in the future. To break this cycle, you must first break the labels. Also be sure to not give yourself positive labels, for as soon as you make a mistake you’re more likely to chastise yourself with a negative one. Label your actions, but never your total self.
Use these tips to begin to change your self-dialogue and to start loving yourself. Remember that change is always hard and uncomfortable, or else it would’ve happened already. Visualize how life would be if you continue to change nothing. If you persist in beating yourself up, putting yourself down, and talking to yourself as you would speak to someone you despise. Best of luck as you begin to disrupt this negative self-talk cycle. Don’t you think it’s time to like yourself again?