Be Gentle With Yourself.

Imagine a friend of ours coming over. When we saw her, we realized that she has gained some weight. Do we tell her: “You’re so fat. You’re so ugly. You’re lazy. You don’t work out. That’s why you’re fat. You’re fat and there’s nothing you can do. You’re hopeless!” 

Another time, maybe our nephew is having problems with his math homework. Do we tell him: “You’re so stupid! You are never good in math or in anything else! You’re just stupid and no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to grasp it!” 

Or our friend, who is struggling with his music career. Do we tell him: “Just give up. You’re not talented. You’re wasting your time.” Or a colleague, who is struggling with her relationship. Do we tell her: “You’re pathetic. You’re always unlucky in love. There’s no way for him to love you. Of course he doesn’t love you. You don’t deserve love. Nobody loves you. You’re worthless.”

Do we tell them these things? I guess most of us would say, “Of course not!”

So, why don’t we say those things to them? “Because those words are just mean,” we may say. “Because it feels heartless to do so. Because we’re afraid that these harsh words will hurt their feelings and make them feel worse. Because we know words are that powerful.”

The thing is, if we don’t say these things to our friends or our colleagues or a little kid, why do we say these things to ourselves? Some of us even repeat these words to ourselves way more often than others. Why do we say I can’t do this or I am not good in this or I am fat or I am ugly or I suck at this or I’m such a failure?

If harsh words that we say to others can hurt their feelings, what about those harsh words we say to ourselves? When we say harsh words to others, there’s still a distance. A distance between us (who said those words) and the others (who received those words). Even with this distance, we know our words can hurt their feelings deeply. Imagine the time when we say those harsh words to ourselves. There’s no distance whatsoever. Imagine how much more it hurts. Imagine how severe the impact could be.

So be gentle with yourself. We know how nice it is to hear others saying good things about us; or giving us compliments, support, and encouragement. Let’s do this to ourselves more often from now on.

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*) inspired by a conversation I had with my friend Eva a long time ago. photo credit: D. Sharon Pruitt from Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc

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