Mental Health

7 Ways to be kinder to yourself

The world we live in can feel demanding and it can be difficult to live up to the expectations of friends, family and society. Here are are 7 ways to be kinder to yourself.

The world we live in can feel demanding and it can be difficult to live up to the expectations of friends, family and society. Often these expectations are unrealistic, leading to harsh inner voices telling us we haven’t done enough or worked enough. The powerful and often unconscious message through advertising and marketing, is that if we don’t meet these expectations then we will be unworthy of love, attention or care.

Given these pressures, it can seem increasingly difficult to feel we are good enough. Below are 7 ways to consider how, in such a demanding world, we might be kinder to ourselves 

Work toward overcoming negative beliefs
Often the negative beliefs we hold about ourselves originate externally, from society, the world we live in, or from those we seek to give us value, love or acceptance. Of course the opinions of others matter, however, it is important to distinguish which are helpful or hurtful, and to remember we have the choice to speak to ourselves kindly and challenge these negative beliefs.

Avoid perfectionism
Some of us often have trouble accepting anything less than perfect from ourselves, often resulting in feeling dejected by our own achievements. Instead, focus on the effort required to work towards a goal, instead needing a perfect outcome and then steadily apply the required effort.

Discard your negative filter
When we focus more on the negatives in our lives, it can make these things seem disproportionately important. If you find yourself thinking that you only experience negative things, take your mind away and recount evidence to the contrary, it is very unlikely that everything is negative.

Refrain from calling yourself names
When you call yourself names, you reduce your self to a single component, forgetting the other valuable and meaningful parts you possess. It is important to register and acknowledge the damage and pain inflicted on the self through these acts of internal name calling.

Rewrite your internal script
When you realise you are thinking excessively negatively, acknowledge the feeling and identify the source of that negativity. Consciously make a new statement for yourself which is more positive, self-caring, understanding and less punitive and destructive.

Do not assume the worst will happen
It can be very easy to imagine the very worst outcome will always happen. However, redirecting your inner voice to a more realistic or truthful one, instead of catastrophising and assuming the worst, can help you avoid the exaggeration often associated with assuming the worst.

Recognise small victories
At points when we find ourselves being especially negative about ourselves or our achievements, it can be very helpful to remember small victories or accomplishments. This helps to continue going, even when we feel as if we can’t. Taking time each day to notice three things we have done or feel pleased about can help us to notice we the improvements we made and that each step forward matters and is something to be proud of.

Sometimes it helps talking through your situation with someone else, in person or online. There are hundreds of friendly, supportive communities on HealthUnlocked, where you can go to get peer-support and connect with people who truly understand what you’re going through. Start here.

Written by Joshua Miles
Joshua Miles is a psychotherapist in Hackney, London. You can contact him here

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