Today, we at Nourish are challenging you to take a moment, and a breath, and delve into some meaningful introspection. We first ask you to reach deep within and reflect on how you treat others when they are in need of support. We suspect most people find that, when it comes to family and friends, they are willing to offer endless amounts of love and compassion.
Now, for the difficult question: do you treat yourself the same way?
For many, the answer is no.
We are taught from an early age to treat others the way we want to be treated (a valid thought, regardless of how cliche it can be). However the message omits one very crucial reminder: how we treat, and speak, to ourselves matters, too.
We live in a society in which being nice to ourselves is not highlighted as a priority. In fact, with modern media and beauty standards, we are constantly reminded that we have "flaws" that are in need of fixing. Whether it be our slightly crooked teeth, or lack of a flat tummy, we have been subconsciously taught that these physical features are an indication of our self worth.
Today, we want to challenge that ideal.
An article written by Mayo Clinic, entitled "Positive Thinking: reduce stress by eliminating negative self-talk" discusses how the reduction of negative self talk has significant health benefits for individuals. Some of these include decreasing rates of stress, depression, and cardiovascular disease, as well as a boost in the immune system and increase in overall lifespan. This sounds fantastic, right? Who knew that being nice to yourself might actually be good for your health, too?! However, most negative thinking patterns were instilled at an early age, and therefore take a significant amount of work and perseverance to alter.
So where do we start? Our negative talk did not develop overnight, and unfortunately, neither will our positive talk. Much like a friendship, the relationship we grow with ourselves needs consistent effort and watering in order to flourish. Therefore, as with most goals, we start from the beginning with small, daily changes in habit. Here are a few tips to help move towards a more loving and kind existence within your own being:
The first and foremost step is to challenge your self-talk and think about it critically. From an outsiders perspective, how realistic is it? For example, does having an "imperfect" smile make you less generous, less loving, less funny, etc? Of course, not. Take a step back, whether this involves deep breathing, journaling or simply sitting with your thoughts, and question the evidence of your accusations against yourself.
Once you begin to challenge this talk, Psychology Today, in its article "4 ways to stop beating yourself up once and for all," suggests that the next thing to do is stand up to, and replace negative self talk. This may mean implementing positive affirmations to yourself, recognizing/congratulating things you've done well, or finding the 'silver lining' in a situation you may deem completely negative.
Treat yourself as you would treat a friend--the importance of this can not be undermined.
Do a social media cleanse. This could mean taking a complete break entirely, or it may mean unfollowing/unsubscribing to the people that make you feel less-than.
Embrace your quirkiness! We're all weird in our own ways, so remind yourself that it is something to be celebrated. Imagine if everyone in our society had the same interests, dreams, hobbies, jobs--how boring! Now relate that to our physical appearances. The world cannot run strictly on conformity.
Know you are not alone. Everyone feels self-doubt and lack of confidence from time to time. It's okay, and can actually help us to grow. However, it becomes harmful when it negatively impacts the way we love and treat ourselves. Recognize negative emotions; carry onward; and beyond this, take comfort in knowing you are not alone.
Over the past few years, there has been a rapid increase in online movements surrounding body positivity and diversity--it is a start, but it is not the end of the road. We must look inward to find a solution to change the outside world. Treat yourself with the sincere love that you would offer a friend, and you may find that you will create more than just a ripple, but a wave.