By |Anna Borges | www.gq-magazine.co.uk
My therapist will be the first to tell you that I’m not always super nice to myself—and for a while, I disagreed. Anytime I talked about myself or my experiences in a way that my therapist pointed out might be unkind, I had an excuse at the ready. I’m not beating myself up, I’m just a perfectionist. I’m not being harsh, I objectively deserve the criticism. I’m not judging my emotions unfairly, I’m just being honest. But spoiler alert: I’m often a total monster to myself and don’t even realise it. Which, TBH, is how negative self-talk and feelings of unworthiness tend to work.
It’s human nature to accept our thoughts as true and normal instead of unpacking them. In turn, they slowly become internalised beliefs that impact how we treat ourselves. Because I don’t often feel like I’m outright bullying or insulting myself, it took me a while to recognise certain thought patterns for what they were: manifestations of a lack of self-compassion that was getting in the way of my mental health.
Realising all of that is the first step. The next step is a lot harder: actively working to undo the habitual self-judgment that, for many of us, is second nature. It’s easy to tell ourselves—or for our therapists to tell us—to be more self-compassionate, but what does that actually look like in practice?
Realistically, it looks like a long journey of interfacing directly and honestly with our most vulnerable thoughts and feelings. I’m still figuring it out. But there is one tool my therapist taught me that I’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of lately. If you’re trying to practice more self-compassion, you might find it helpful too.