I've come a long way in my journey of self-love, thanks to the work that I've done on myself, and I feel that I have become a more loving, compassionate person than I used to be (that's for sure) to myself and others.
However, more often than not, I catch myself talking to myself in less than a loving, kind, conscious way, in my moments of "stupid mistakes."
One afternoon recently, I was opening up a lid for the cold tea I made, but I had forgotten that I left a tea strainer in the jar to let it sit for a while.
As I opened and lifted up the lid, out came the strainer with it, and the strainer fell right onto the counter spilling some tea.
In a flash of irritation, I blurted out to myself, "what are you doing?" in a most berating tone.
I caught myself. It wasn't a big deal, but I was definitely irritated and critical with myself for the tiny little accident I had. It wasn't kind.
If I was not kind in this little incident, how much more impatient and critical have I been for other "bigger" mistakes?
I knew the answer of course. I had been my biggest critic pretty much all my life.
Growing up hearing criticism from family members who were well-meaning, unconscious, or just having a bad day (a lot of bad days at that) I adopted their way of relating for myself.
I had to (thankfully) unlearn that way of being along my path of self-growth.
I can say that I am 100 times less critical than I used to be, but after this little accident, I realized that I have remnants of the "old ways," and that I may have been attracting some unwanted comments from others in my life.
A little impatience, a little put-downs, a hint of criticism. They seem so harmless but they can do little chipping away of love a little by little and accumulate into bigger hurt.
If I can't be kind to myself in the little things, how can I expect others to be kind to me in the same way?
I recognized that voice, "What are you doing?" in that irritated tone. I heard it from someone I love.
But this time it was my own voice.
I was very much hurt and annoyed by this person's critical voice, and I wanted him to stop because I didn't feel loved with that voice.
But in this moment of self-awareness, it dawned on me that I cannot expect others to treat me more kindly if I cannot do that for myself.
It begins with myself.
I must tell you. I did the exact same thing 2 days later with the tea, almost in the same exact manner.
I paused and stopped and laughed at myself. "How stupid of me," I said, but with a little more patience and love this time around. And I added, "I love and accept you still with all your silly, silly mistakes."
So, how can you be more loving with yourself?
Here are some steps:
1. Catch yourself talking to yourself.
Next time you make a small mistake, notice how you react to your own mistake. Is there an internal voice that is critical and berating? Is the tone harsh and unkind?
Just notice. Bring awareness to it. Bringing awareness is the first step in making any kind of changes.
Now, you might find yourself being annoyed at the critical self (being critical of being critical) if you are skilled at beating yourself up, like me. Notice that too.
2. Notice the sensations.
How does your body react along with your internal voice? Does the body tighten? What do you feel?
Once you locate the sensations, see if you can breathe deeply into those areas and create just a little more space around them.
3. Say something nice and mean it.
After you find a little more space in your mind and body, say to yourself, "I still love you and accept you."
Now, I guarantee that some of you will feel silly doing this, especially if you scoff at affirmations. (Yes, I've seen those Saturday Night Live skits.)
But think about this. Do you want to hear those words of love and acceptance from ones you love? If you do, first, you have to be able to give that to yourself.
Try it. You might feel fuzzy and loving toward yourself. I did. That's a whole lot better than beating yourself up.