How do I speak to myself when I make a mistake?
Ok, so I might not beat myself up when things are going smoothly, but what do I do when I accidentally forget to check the cakes I put in the oven? Or miss my appointment because I forgot to write it in my diary? Or forget to check the sign that tells me I can only park for an hour, and come back to a ticket on my car?
At times like that, am I more inclined to be cross with myself, call myself ‘stupid’, and/or continue to feel that way for some time…..
If responding to human error causes us to be quite unforgiving of ourselves, let’s face it, what is it doing to our sense of self-worth?
It’s a bit like, how would you feel if someone was telling you 24/7 how rubbish you were? In the end you would start to believe it – and that wouldn’t make you feel like you could go around with your head held high.
But, when we find ourselves harshly judging our ‘failings’ and human mistakes, in effect that is what is happening!
What does compassion look like?
One of the easiest ways to think about this, is imagining how you would speak to someone you cared about, like a close friend, if they told you about something they had ‘messed up’ – like an exam or an interview.
The chances are, you would feel very sad for them that this had happened. You would probably empathise with them, letting them know how you felt some of their sadness.
You might also want to speak to them in a caring, gentle way, telling them, it wasn’t their fault, it’s so easy to make mistakes, we all do it. We do it because we are human.
And you might try and cheer them up, perhaps suggesting you meet up for a coffee soon.
In fact it is highly unlikely you would sigh impatiently at them, blame them for what happened, and proceed to let them know how much of an idiot they are.
Why not? Well I am sure first of all because you just wouldn’t want to be so unkind to a friend who was already upset, and second of all, because they probably would’t be staying your friend for much longer if you treated them that way!
So, when we look at it that way, it is easy to see how we are able to be compassionate towards others, and how it is probably something you’re already good at!
There are many advantages to practising self-compassion, but if it is something you are not used to doing, don’t be discouraged if it takes a little practice.
Here are some ways you could start:
- The next time something goes ‘wrong’ for you, try and step back, for a moment, and catch yourself in that situation; what are you feeling now?
- Becoming aware of those feelings is a starting point – what are they: frustration, anger, fear, anxiety, sadness? It might take a little while getting used to naming them, but it is a helpful exercise.
- Sometimes it helps to see if there is a physical feeling that goes with the emotion: Can you describe it to yourself,; can you spot whereabouts in your body it is happening?
- Even if it doesn’t come easily to you (and it won’t at first), try speaking to yourself like you would to that friend who just experienced a disappointment.
- How did that feel?
- If you can persevere with this, it will get easier and you should soon start reaping the benefits that come from having SELF-COMPASSION.
The benefits of self-compassion:
SO, it has got to be worth a try!
Struggling with a sense of low self-worth can be:
- not believing you are ‘up to’ doing whatever it is you are doing;
- experiencing anxiety;
- feeling like a failure;
- believing somehow you are a fraud, and shouldn’t be doing the job you are doing;
- believing no matter how hard you try you can never be good enough,.
Living in this way can be exhausting, and can be a sign that you are not exercising self-compassion.
If it is something you believe is heavily impacting your everyday life, it could be that you would be helped by some support.
Counselling is a safe place to explore any issues that you may be struggling with. You can be helped to overcome self-doubt, leaving you free to live your life as you were made to.
Please get in touch if you would like to find out more about how I can help you, by clicking the link below: