I’ve recently finished listening to a book called The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris. One of the chapters focuses on acts of self-kindness, along with kind words and actions and self-kind talk.
As I always do when I read or listen to books, I takeaway some gold nuggets which I can use either personally or professionally for my business to pass onto clients.
This one was a great one for me because, in my experience personally and working with so many clients over a lot of years, I hear mostly self-flagellation, being over self-critical and dwelling on the negative or what’s gone wrong or not so well rather than the opposite.
Whilst pretty much we know and understand this appears to be a common default system built into us which originally was meant to be something that would protect us and make us more aware to deal with the ‘cave person’ challenges of the past, whereas today it only seems to cause stress, reduction in self-belief, self-esteem and self-confidence.
So, how can we change the flow and flip this over to our advantage?
In a way the answer is simple isn’t it? All we need to do is to stop one thing and start another don’t we? Stop being self-critical and more self-rewarding. Simple! Job done! Hmm, sadly it’s not as simple as that is it? If it were we’d all be doing it.
We are creatures of habit, so this is more about habit changing rather than change of thinking.
Here are some ways in which we can try and flip things over and focus more on the positive rather than the negative, and praise ourselves like we do others.
- Every time you find yourself giving positive reinforcement or feedback to a colleague, family member, friend or employee; make a point of giving yourself two of the same immediately after. This can be done quietly to yourself at the time
- Give yourself a previously agreed allocated amount of time to be self-critical in any given day. For example, I will acknowledge what I didn’t do and should have done for no more than five minutes. Put a timer on and give yourself the ‘check’ you need and have been habitually doing – then stop when the timer alarm goes off
- The next step is to put the timer on for ten minutes and switch this over. Now your job is to give yourself positive reinforcement focusing on what you did do well or right and acknowledge or praise yourself
- The aim of the above is to change the habit to something that’s constructive and positive measuring things the right way so you feel better at the end of any day or week rather than the opposite
- Lastly as Russ Harris says, start acts of self-kindness, and words of self-kind talk, moving towards actions of self-kindness. You never know you might get to really like it, enjoy it and want this every day!
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