Many of us pick up the message along the way that if we want to be better people or if we want to improve ourselves, we must be really hard on ourselves. We learn to criticize and berate our every shortcoming.
As a result, many of us get locked into a cycle of bullying ourselves, which often produces self-loathing. For instance, our emotional cycle might look something like this:
This is an extremely painful cycle.
It is also extremely unhelpful for growing the ideal you. Harsh criticism, bullying, and self-loathing might bring about short -term change because it motivates us through fear, and fear can be an effective motivator initially.
Whenever we treat ourselves harshly, however, we deplete our own confidence, resilience, hope, and joy, which are the very resources we need to make long-term change.
So what is the alternative? It is something I call self-directed kindness.
Imagine a time when you were feeling lonely and sad and someone showed kindness to you. Do you remember how you perked up? Do you remember how it gave you hope that you could keep going? Do you remember how it built you confidence and helped you believe that you were special after all?
This is what kindness does. And it is not only kindness from others that strengthens and encourages us. Our own self-directed kindness does this as well.
This is why self-directed kindness is the ideal soil for growing your ideal self. The more kindness we show ourselves, the more we build our own confidence, resilience, hope, and joy, and these are the very inner resources we need to correct any problems we have or to let go of self-destructive habits.
If you are wondering how to practice self-directed kindness, you might enjoy this post:
Healing Our Hearts Through Self-Directed Kindness