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.

*) 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


28 Responses

  1. love this part “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”

    i’ll do that 🙂

  2. Hanny, ini juga hal yang sedang aku pikirkan sejak beberapa waktu yang lalu. Prakteknya masih kesulitan tapi lebih baik dimulai dari pada tidak sama sekali tho 😀

  3. Instead of being gentle or hard, what about being truthful? Being open? True that we need to be gentle to ourselves at times, but what is gentleness without real truth?

    1. A girl with flowers on her hair entered a coffee shop. She was wearing a pair of dirty shoes. A guy said: ‘Today I saw a girl with flowers on her hair!!!’ and another guy said: ‘Today I saw a girl wearing a pair of dirty shoes.’ Both guys are telling the truth 🙂

      1. If it was me in that coffee shop, I’d say, “Today I saw a girl with flowers on her hair, who wore a pair of dirty shoes.” It’s more beautiful, isn’t it? 🙂

    1. My dear! Meet up in Jakarta, soon, okay! Can’t wait to hear more about your upcoming beautiful project! It’s always a pleasure to spend time with such a talented, passionate, and wonderful soul like you *hugs*

  4. This is my second time reading this article. I like it. I looove it. Be gentle, when we even don’t want to hurt others but why we have to hurt ourselves. A very nice article. Thanks 🙂

  5. I love your blog Kak, it’s so inspiring and motivating as well. Keep writing, your post can change someone’s mindset and life without you notice it 🙂
    Love you! 😀

  6. Wow! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a totally different subject but it has pretty much the same
    layout and design. Outstanding choice of colors!

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Legs and Apples
Do it because it’s fun. Because it brings you joy; because it’s meaningful to you. Do it because it gives you simple tiny pleasures. Do it because it makes you smile.
The view from De Klok
I took another digital detox this weekend—I limited myself to a 5-minute screen time on Saturday and Sunday to quickly check my business account. I closed my social media account for the rest of the days.
Hanny illustrator
I am an Indonesian writer/artist/illustrator and stationery web shop owner (Cafe Analog) based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I love facilitating writing/creative workshops and retreats, especially when they are tied to self-exploration and self-expression. In Indonesian, 'beradadisini' means being here. So, here I am, documenting life—one word at a time.