Learning to Be-friend Yourself

With Valentine’s Day later this week, we often think about being kinder and more loving towards our partners, friends and family members. But, we rarely think about including ourselves on the list. In fact we are often more critical and rejecting of ourselves and our bad qualities and habits than anyone else in our lives. Chances are that if you’re criticizing yourself for where you’re falling short and telling yourself that you’re failing, improving your health and well-being will be much harder.

Why is this? Because studies show that feeling someone is cheering you on or being encouraging of you, makes it more likely that you will be inclined to stick to the changes you’re trying to make. We know that feeling supported is key in helping us adjust to changes in our lives including new parenthood or moving to a new city. Still, many of us are automatically self-critical and feel negatively towards ourselves without even thinking. To help you be kinder and gentler to yourself and more likely to continue with taking steps to stress less and live better, try these 3 tips.

  1. Befriend yourself. Instead of being self-critical, think about the words you would say to a good friend who was trying to change something about his/her life. You would never say to them like you do to yourself, “You’re a loser. You never finish anything you start. You’re just lazy, etc, etc.” Instead, you’d more likely be comforting and reassuring, even encouraging. Pretend you’re talking to them and use the words you’d say to them. It will help you feel better and improve your chance of succeeding at the changes you’re making.
  2. Make self-criticism less automatic. Often we don’t realize that we’re thinking negatively about ourselves until we start to pay attention to it. What we tend to notice first is that we’re feeling bad or down or not motivated. Start asking yourself what thoughts you’re having when your mood changes and becomes more negative. Many of my clients are surprised how frequently they have self-critical or self-rejecting thoughts when they keep track of them. Several who have been addressing this in counseling, told me recently that the more they replace these negative, self-critical thoughts with what they’d say to a friend, the better they feel, so give it a try. 
  3. Practice self-compassion. In fact, the definition of mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment on purpose without judgement. I say “with self-compassion.” This means that you extend the same lovingkindness to yourself that you do all your loved ones. One of my favorite ways to do this is to repeat to myself this lovingkindness meditation from Dr. Joan Borysenko that goes, “May I be at peace. May my heart remain open. May I know the beauty of my own true nature. May I be healed. May I be a source of healing to others.” Say this once or twice a day especially if you’re having a hard time with self-criticism. It works!

More resources on self-compassion:

Chopra Meditation Challenge

Self-Compassion Always (video from Dr. Sanford’s YouTube Channel)

Love ThySelf-To Thine Own Self Be True

There are bucket lists, rainy day lists, pros and cons lists, but what about a DO list? Do you have a list of things you actively want to do for yourself but just “can’t find the time?”  Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to put that plan into practice.

While most people associate Valentine’s Day with lovers, and couples, kids and families, the perception that we can love ourselves gets a raised eyebrow. I’m not talking about THAT kind of love. I’m hinting about love of self and pampering ourselves for a change.

We already know that women don’t take the time or feel that they can’t.

Here are some easy and quick ways to be loving yourself this holiday.

  1. Get a massage or spa treatment of your choice. You deserve it!
  2. Splurge on a nice “something-something” for yourself you’ve had an eye on.
  3. Get yourself some flowers – and they’ll be the perfect choice!
  4. Like to journal? Start a fresh journal for the year and write about the ways you can practice self-care!
  5. Do you find that you’re very self-critical? Give yourself a break, at least for today.

The heart can be a mysterious place but it doesn’t have to be. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today’s guest author is Mollee Bauer, founder of pregnancy.org, the premiere website for info and support for pregnant and new moms.

Give yourSELF a Valentine

Please indulge me for a moment whilst I tell you about my outlook on Valentine’s
Day (VD). Remember that I am married, so while I have a “Valentine,” I believe that NOBODY is “ineligible” for VD.

I think VD is a “Hallmark Holiday.” It’s a day for the flower, card, candy and nice
meal sellers to cash in. It’s a day filled with joy – yes, for some. But it’s also a day for loneliness, depression and guilt for others. I asked my husband years ago to not buy me anything for VD. I’d rather get a token of his affection on a random day when it’s not expected. Instead, I indulge my Self on VD. I’d like to challenge you to make this VD all about your Self, too, no matter what your “Valentine” status is.

So how do you do this? Some of the things that I have done include going for a mani/pedi (go during the middle of the day so they are not crowded if
you can), getting a massage, locking my Self in my bedroom and reading ALL DAY, looking on the Internet for my favorite flower arrangement to buy for my Self the day after VD (at a real discount!), and cooking my Self my favorite dish to enjoy on my own.

What things can you think of that you might like to do for your Self on VD? It doesn’t have to cost any money, can be done any time of day or night, and does not require another person (though maybe you’d like to share your VD gift to your Self with someone). It’s your challenge! Leave your ideas in the comments section!!

Belated Valentine’s Wishes

Totally forgot about V-Day until last week’s post was done. Since this month’s theme is healthy relationships, here’s what poet e.e.cummings says about love.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear
no fate(for you are my fate, my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

But who is he referring to?  A lover, spouse, child, parent or cherished friend?  Those we hold most dear in our lives who remain with us in spirit wherever they are.  What is most important is that we are loving towards our loved ones even when we feel angry, frustrated, disappointed, or unhappy with something they’ve done.  This is what is meant by unconditional love. 

Wayne Dyer recounts how he and his wife decided after having the same fight over and over, “It is more important to be kind than be right”.  Let’s keep that in mind in all our relationships, carrying each other’s hearts gently with the utmost care.