Thinking loving thoughts about yourself can change your life.
If you are like a lot of people, you may spend a lot of the day criticizing yourself mentally. For instance, maybe you have a constant stream of thoughts running through your mind that goes something like this:
I’m so stupid.
Or, I’m fat.
What’s wrong with me? I’m ugly and lazy.
Many of us think these types of things on a regular basis; in fact, thoughts like this are so common that often we don’t even question them. Maybe we believe that by thinking this way, it makes us better people. Perhaps we think that we’re being tough on ourselves, and this will whip us into shape. Or maybe we think that thinking negative things about ourselves is a sign of humility and that it is normal and harmless.
I suggest, however, that thinking about ourselves negatively and harshly should not be normal. It is not harmless and is actually very damaging.
On the other hand, it is absolutely good and right for us to think loving thoughts about ourselves. And in fact, learning to do so can drastically improve our lives.
Speaking to Our Friends, Speaking to Ourselves
It is quite odd that we speak negatively to ourselves so often. We say demeaning things to ourselves that we would never say these things to our friends or to a young child.
After all, we recognize that our friends and young children need someone to believe in them and to see the best in them. And we understand that when we believe in people and support them, it makes it easier for them to succeed and to be the awesome people they are.
So the question is, why don’t we think the same things about ourselves? Why do we think that everyone else deserves loving encouragement, but we deserve harsh, negative words from ourselves?
This painting is “Boreas” by John William Waterhouse.
Sometimes when we speak harshly to ourselves it is because we don’t really realize we are doing it. But frequently we are aware and thinking speaking harshly to ourselves will make us a better person.
This is not true.
Rather, speaking to ourselves lovingly is the best thing we can do for ourselves. That is because when we speaking lovingly to ourselves, we speak truthfully, and truth allows us to see our world more clearly.
If you are not sure how to speak lovingly, these three truths might help you:
One: Who you are at your core is this amazing, unique person. You can do excellent and beautiful things—you need support, love, and recognition of who you are to keep moving towards this good.
Two: Mistakes are inevitable. You don’t have to beat yourself up about your mistakes. You can use them as valuable feedback to help you know how you can keep heading in the right direction.
Three: When you make mistakes, you need more love, not less. We all want to do good. We all want to live well. Mistakes and acting badly are really painful because they are our misguided attempts to get the love we desire. When we love ourselves in the midst of our mistakes and bad behavior (without ignoring or excusing them), we are giving ourselves the love we are looking for, and this helps us get back on track.
As you continue to think loving things about yourself, you are not only being a good friend to yourself, through your love you are creating the ideal conditions for you to keep doing well in all areas of your life. You deserve that kind of love.
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Published by shellypruittjohnson
My name is Shelly Johnson, and I am a writer and philosopher with a Ph.D. in philosophy. One of my primary personal and philosophical interests is how we can learn to love ourselves and each other better in order to cultivate personal and political resilience. I teach ethics and a variety of other courses at a local college. I am the author of the blog Love is Stronger. I am also the author of three logic and critical thinking books for high school and middle school: _Argument Builder_, _Discovery of Deduction_ (co-author), and _Everyday Debate_, published by Classical Academic Press. You can reach me at email@example.com.
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