Whether it’s in relationships, work or just trying something new, having thoughts that you’re not good enough, worthy enough or able enough will hold you back. I see this a lot in counselling. Alongside our work on the problem that brings my client to counselling, I’ll also be looking at their opinion of themselves. How loving and caring they are in their thoughts about themselves and their general level of self-care. Because love and self-care don’t just make us feel good they help us achieve the things we want in life. They give us a buffer against stress and the problems that come with it. And as this is stress awareness month, this is a timely blog.
But before we start, I just want to say I’m not talking about arrogance or thinking were better than other people. In fact, those are signs a person isn’t feeling secure in (or kind to) themselves. In fact, having a loving, kind and understanding view of yourself has nothing to do with comparisons to other people. It’s knowing we’re enough as we are.
In my ebook on counselling that’s coming out soon, I talk about the two kinds of self care; thinking of self-care and doing self-care. Here’s a taster to help you build your own essential practice of self-love and self-care.
The thoughts we think are powerful. Particularly how we think about ourselves. If you struggle with thoughts like I cant do it, I’m not good enough or What will people think? then you’re coming from a place of disadvantage. You’ve used the power you have (your self-thoughts) to dis-empower you before your start. Or, if your thoughts are focused on blaming others or the world, then you’re giving your power away. This doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes get blocked by other people or things in life. But it does mean that if you’re waiting for everyone else to change first, you’ll be waiting a long time.
If these thoughts are so bad for us, why do we think them? They have one goal in mind – to protect us. This might surprise you if you know how uncomfortable they are. But lets look at whats actually happening. Say you’re ready to try something new and you’re fired up with excitement until these thoughts start appearing. A steady drip-drip of negativity puts that fire out and stops you taking action. Or if you do take action, they’ll be waiting in the wings to tell you how badly you’re doing or how everyone thinks you’re a joke. So you stop.
Although were consciously trying to make life better by following a goal, doing something we enjoy or bringing some happiness to ourselves or others, unconsciously, our minds (and our negative thoughts) are trying to save us from something it sees as bad, scary or painful i.e. change. Our minds don’t like change! Its unknown and uncontrollable. We fear disappointment or ridicule. As we don’t know how things will work out, our mind decides we’d better not risk it. It does everything it can to keep us safe. But if we look more closely, our negative thoughts are acting as if they do know how things will work out. They’re assuming we’ll fail. And this comes from deeper, often hidden beliefs that were not capable, good enough or worthy enough. But the truth is we get to choose what we believe in life and if your current beliefs about yourself are holding you back, then they really need to change.
Action follows thought but your actions also reinforce your thoughts and beliefs. So it’s not just thinking caring and respectful thoughts about ourselves, its about doing what is caring, respectful and in our best interests. This might be as simple as taking time out to do something that makes you feel good (and not putting everyone else’s needs first). Or it could be doing something that might be difficult or unappealing at first but will benefit you in the long run (like getting fit or going to counselling).
Just as a nurturing parent ensures their child has time to play and is given love and attention, they also make sure the child does their homework and cleans their room. They don’t do this through bullying or putting the child down. They patiently (but firmly) explain why its important, offer help where needed and praise when earned.
By joining our self-caring and self-respecting thoughts with self-caring and self-respecting actions, we’re building a new relationship with ourselves. One where anythings possible. Because even if we fail (and there are times we might) we know we have somewhere safe to come home to – ourselves.
I hope this has been useful to you. If you need any help with this, get in touch or sign up to my newsletter for updates.