How do you address and call your loved ones?
Do you have terms of endearment for them?
For example, dear, darling, my love, etc…
Some of us might have multiple terms of endearment and do not hesitate to show our affection in addressing them.
Think about them for a second…think about our partner/ spouse, our child, our dear friend, and let’s notice how we express our love to them. It might be through actions, kind words, physical touch, spending time with them, or all of the above and more!
Now let’s spend the next moment to notice how much of the above is done towards and for ourselves. How do we address ourselves? How do we talk to ourselves? How do we express love and affection to ourselves?
For me personally, my default tone used to be of irritation or impatience. In the past, I hardly spent any dedicated time to notice and pay attention to myself. As a result, I was not very mindful of what was happening to me, how I was feeling, and what I was needing. More often than not, I treated myself as if I was emotionless, always demanding perfection, always criticising myself. A go-to phrase or comment I used to direct at myself was….”Tsk! Dian! Come on! What’s wrong with you!”
Being critical and even punitive of myself seemed productive and motivating. Or so I thought. What I didn’t realise was that I took a hard hit from receiving the harsh comments, emotionally and physically. I would feel very defeated, anxious, and I would also feel very queasy, and shaky in my body, and these feelings lasted for a long time (or they never really went away). Practically, it took me a long time to actually be able to refocus on what I was doing/ needing to do, and the outcome of my subsequent efforts was seldom a true reflection of what I was actually capable of.
Fast forward to the present, having learned about the concept of self-compassion, I am personally experiencing a more productive way of navigating through the hard-knocks of life – which is to truly be kind to myself! There are three components of self-compassion, as conceptualised by Dr. Kristin Neff: mindfulness, self-kindness, and common humanity.
The concept sounds simple, but it takes a lot to change, and it’s a constant work-in-progress. One trick that I have found helpful as a reminder is to notice whether we treat/ address ourselves the same way we do others.
Back to my earlier questions…
Do we pay attention and talk kindly to ourselves?
When we struggle, do we criticize ourselves or do we soothe and encourage?
When we make mistakes, do we punish or empathise?
When we’re sad, do we get impatient or comfort ourselves?
Have we spent quality time with ourselves?
Do we know how to physically soothe and comfort ourselves?
Do we tell ourselves enough that we’re loved?
When we speak to ourselves, is our tone of voice harsh or gentle?
It is never a futile endeavour to start respecting, loving, and appreciating ourselves. Be assured to know that this is actually a more productive and effective way in processing and getting over difficult times. No action/ gesture/ word is too small, no age/ time/ situation is too late to start.
For more information on self-compassion and practical tips, please read here).