Do you ever notice what tone of voice you use with yourself when you make a mistake?
We all talk to ourselves (it is part of the human condition) though some people are not aware of what language they are using.
For example: you forgot to pick up your dry cleaning (again) and you wanted that clean shirt for tomorrow’s presentation. Do you say, “sheesh, you idiot, why did you do that again?” Or do you say, “Oh well, I guess I’ll wear a different shirt. I’d better put that reminder in my calendar next time.”
When you realize you did something you did not intend, do you have compassion for yourself? Do you speak with yourself the way you would speak to a beloved friend? Or do you self-flagellate and add insult to injury?
Quite simply, the way you treat yourself has a lot to do with how much compassion you can extend to others as well. If you realize we all make mistakes, that it is not a character flaw, and resolve to do it differently next time, you can learn. If you criticize yourself or use harsh words, you break down your relationship with yourself.
Language can powerfully shape the way we think. If you speak to yourself with kind and loving words instead of harsh and blaming ones, you honor your being’s inherent tendency for growth and development. When you blame yourself or put yourself down (even if you do not intend, or if it is just habitual) it can erode the trust you have in your own wisdom.
It is interesting how I can observe family members or friends when they do this, but I didn’t realize when I was inadvertently doing this myself. I first discovered this during meditation. I used to “say” things like – oh dear, can you REALLY not concentrate for more than 30 seconds?”
Now when I meditate I say (to myself): hmm, how interesting that I’m thinking about X or Y. Then I gently pull myself back to my breath, or my body, whatever I am focusing on for the moment. Then 2 minutes later when I am planning my work for the day (while meditating), I say: “it’s okay, I know you are concerned about that. But it will be there when you are done meditating. Come back now.” It is a loving voice, gentle forgiving.
If you cannot access your thoughts through meditation, try a “thought download” – take a sheet of paper and just unload all of your thoughts for 5-10 minutes It might surprise you what is in there.
Curiosity and compassion will get you SO much further than blaming and shaming.
Happy Wednesday, all.