We’ve all heard the term “The Golden Rule” – the basic rule of reciprocity, teaching us that we should treat others as we would like to be treated. But what about those who struggle with perfectionism, feelings of guilt, a generalized sense of atelophobia, who are often harder on themselves than on others? What about those who sometimes treat others better than they treat themselves?
In addition to teaching and encouraging our fellow human beings to be kind and compassion to others, to treat others the way they would want others to treat them, what about instilling the idea of treating ourselves with kindness and compassion, treating ourselves the way we would want others to treat us?
If you happen to be one of those type A-perfectionists who beat themselves up over the smallest mistake while providing the most comforting and compassionate words of advice and healing to your friends and family in their times of doubt, you are not alone. And guess what? It’s OKAY to show yourself the same kindness and leniency that you would extend to your best friend, your sibling, or your child. It does not make you “weak” to forgive yourself. You are not forgetting the experience or the lesson learned if you decide to move forward and not let that one thing keep you down. Forgiveness is actually much harder than continuing to beat yourself up, so really, forgiving yourself makes you strong.
When one of those important people in your life come to you after making a mistake and they’re feeling really down on themselves, what would you say to them? Probably something along the lines of, “You made a bad choice, but it does not make you a bad person” or “You’ll come out of this a stronger person, you’ll learn and grow from this and end up a better version of yourself” or the best one – “I still love you, no matter what.” And yet, when you are feeling down, the self-talk you use sounds more like: “How could I be such an idiot? I knew better than to do that” or “All those people that told me I wasn’t good enough are right, I’m a failure” or “I suck and I can’t do this.”
Thoughts like those put you in a downward spiral of depression and self-doubt and pain, rendering you incapable of doing your best work and being your best possible self, which leaves you prone to making more mistakes, which only validates your hateful self talk. Thus, engaging in this kind of self talk only makes it true.
At the end of the day, you have to be your own best friend, your own mentor, your own mother or father or whomever the figure is in your life that you go to when you’re at your lowest. So next time you’re feeling that doubt, and you begin that destructive self talk – stop. Stop and think about what you would say to your best friend or your child if they came to you feeling that way. Say to yourself what you would say to them. Say “You made a mistake, and it’s okay.” Say “It doesn’t make you a bad person, and you’re only going to come out stronger and learn from this.” Say “I still love you.”