A while ago, I posted on social media (@happywellmag) about the idea of running a week-long #happinesschallenge.
In case you missed it, the essence of the post was this:
What would your life look like, if for one week, you stopped doubting and criticising yourself?
If, instead, you believed in yourself?
If you only spoke kind words to, and about, yourself? If, for one week, you just stopped being so darn hard on yourself?
It was one of our most popular posts to date, largely (I feel) because it resonated with so many people. As humans, we’re pretty good at the whole negative self-talk, beating-ourselves-up thing.
But yesterday, as I re-embarked on this mini happiness challenge (and promptly revved my negative self-talk engine), I realised that saying you’ll be kind to yourself and shake virtual self-belief pom poms is one thing. But actually being kind and nurturing self-belief? Yeah, it’s a lot harder than it looks. And to be honest, it doesn’t even look that easy.
So, how can you really be kind to yourself?
To get us (because I’m on this journey as much as you are) started, here are some tips and wisdom I’ve discovered/heard/tried-and-tested:
Find the bliss in every moment.
This is a distraction tool for when you are in the middle of emotionally and mentally beating up on yourself, but it’s also a good happiness strategy too. It goes like this; right now, no matter where you are and what you’re doing, you can find pleasure and bliss in the moment.
As I write this, my cat is on my lap purring his furry butt off. That’s major happy vibes for me. But even if he wasn’t there, I could focus on how good it felt to handwrite something – which was the original form of this post – or sit comfortably, without worrying about feeling sore or tired.
If I was on a bus, I could appreciate the rhythmic and surprisingly relaxing movement of the wheels rolling over asphalt. If I was in the middle of a fight with my friend, I could appreciate how even though I thought she was being a jerk, I had somebody in my life who would pull me up on my sh*t and care enough to tell me how they really feel. Or, I could just pay attention to the air on my skin and the sweet chirping of a bird outside my window. There’s bliss in every moment. You just have to find it.
Say thank you.
Once you’ve found something pleasurable about right now, say thank you for it. Yep, it’s all about the gratitude, lovely. Why? Because it works. Say it loud. Say it proud. Say it often. And say it with meaning. And even say it when you’ve been slam dunked with the challenging stuff too. Thank you for this lesson. Thank you for this experience. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Focus on the good stuff.
Let’s be honest: it’s really hard to stop negative thinking and negative self-talk completely. So for now, let’s not even try. Instead, whenever you find yourself indulging in some nasty thoughts, just think about good stuff. Stuff you’ve done right. Stuff you like about yourself, or at the very least, how you’re nailing the whole breathing-consistently-without-dying thing. Nailing it. P.S. I heard this the other day and while it’s forehead-slappingly obvious, it also gave me a giggle and made me feel good. Maybe it will for you too? It is: You have a 100% daily survival rate. I.e. you’ve made it through every single day of your life. Yep, even the really bad ones.
Find your affirmation.
Okay, so it’s almost impossible to effortlessly slide from: ‘Oh my gosh, I’m such a fat, lazy, idiot’ to ‘I’m a loveable, divine goddess’ in one swipe and actually mean it. It’s such a quantum leap, right? Which is why you have to – or at least I recommend that you do – find an affirmation that feels right for you. Don’t say or repeat anything that doesn’t feel right. It just isn’t doing you any favours. Instead, find something that reminds you of your true magnificence while also feeling real. Lately, mine has been: ‘I am human.’ This gently reminds me that while I can definitely be a screw-up sometimes, I’m also capable of some pretty incredible things too. After all, the Sistine Chapel was painted by a ‘mere’ human.
And when all else fails … do something else.
Do something that feels good. Do something for YOU. Paint. Dance. Watch funny cat videos. Distract yourself as though you were a toddler screaming for candy.
Now, you might be thinking, ‘But none of that stuff actually addresses my negative self-talk!’ And you’re right.
Because the way I see it, if you want to walk to Bliss Town (which reads even lamer than it sounded in my head, sorry), then you aren’t going to pack your bags and begin the trek to Grumpy-and-Mean Ville. You walk to Bliss Town, right? Cos that’s where you want to go.
In the same way, if you want to be kind to yourself and think happy, full-of-love thoughts about yourself, you – wait for it – be kind to yourself and think happy, full-of-love thoughts.
Now, that doesn’t mean that shadow work and diving into your bad moods, negative self-talk and inner demons isn’t a valuable endeavour. It is. And I support all of that stuff wholeheartedly.
It’s just that there’s a time and a place to do that. Maybe it’s when you’re journaling, talking to your therapist or if you’re just wanting to indulge in a bad mood.
But the other times, when you actually want to feel better? That’s what these tips are for.
Enjoy and be kind to yourself!
For more enlightenment and self-care, don’t forget to check out our Truth or Dare Self-Discovery + Happiness Game!
Cass also owns and runs Wild Spirit Co., a creative copywriting (which is just fancy word for ‘writing’) agency devoted to helping soulful small businesses, entrepreneurs and start-ups communicate their brand with confidence. You can hire her for website copywriting, eBook copywriting and editing, sales page copywriting, article writing, blogging, editing, proofreading and more. Visit her site at http://www.wildspirit.co
A quintessential daydreamer with a penchant for cloud-watching, reading, yoga, hula-hooping and crisp, mountain air (or really, nature of any kind, but mountain air sounded way cooler), she can usually be found with a book in one hand and a journal in the other. The pen, of course, will be tucked behind her ear at some stage and quickly forgotten as she floats through the rest of her day.