The Golden Rule is "Treat others as you want to be treated," but I propose a new rule - "Treat yourself as you would treat others." I would never talk to someone else in the hyper-critical voice I use on myself. I pride myself in being a good listener and offering friends advice, which often includes be kinder to/easier on yourself, give yourself time, and celebrate your successes and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. But I often find it difficult to take my own good advice. I think these positive affirmations apply to other people and turn a harsh eye on myself.
Writing is a good example. I always tell my clients that mistakes are what early drafts are for, that no one gets it right the first time, to just move forward, get it all out, and worry about polishing the work later. And yet, in my own work I get frustrated when it's not perfect right away and question everything about my abilities and worth as a writer. Why can't I listen to the good advice I give others?
This week, OC87 Recovery Diaries (which recently published an essay of mine) published an essay on positive self-talk. Author Beck Medina writes about cultivating a nurturing and understanding relationship with herself, often so much more difficult than supporting and lifting up others. She says, "I’m working hard to be the support system I needed rather than my greatest enemy." Easier said than done.
So what if we tried (emphasis on try) to be as kind and supportive to ourselves as we are to those we care about? I would never call a friend or family member stupid, talentless, or question their great worth to me. So why is it so easy to do to myself? Instead of New Year's resolutions, I've been doing this thing where I try to set sometimes-ambiguous goals for myself, like try to take rejections less seriously and as a learning tool, instead of defeat. So this year, I'm adding "Be kinder to yourself" to the list. I consider myself a generally kind person, or, at least, I try to be. So I can try to apply that same generosity and empathy to myself. I'll fail, a lot, I'm sure. But let's all try our best to treat ourselves with the same love and patience we muster up for the people we love.