It was 2002, I was 18 months out of college and I was starting to dream about going to an MBA program in the not-too-distant future. My braces were finally off and my dozen surgeries were DONE. Consciously or not, I think I was in this vibe of – things are gonna get better now. I was hoping the hard stuff was behind me – maybe even the shame and self-hate around my appearance. I was focused on saving money and hopefully moving out of my parents’ house soon. But I was thrown a curve ball…
At 22 years old, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
WHAT THE FU%*???
NOBODY on either side of my family had this. I already had a challenging childhood and adolescence and NOW the Universe wants me to deal with this?
WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS? WHAT HAVE I DONE WRONG? WHY AM I GETTING PUNISHED
These were the questions that flooded me in those first days, weeks and even years. I felt like I was being punished and denied the things I loved most.
I share this because this represents the epitome of my deeply engrained habit of beating myself up. The epitome of internalizing circumstances and taking EVERYTHING personally. My behavior of verbal cuts to my heart continued to get amplified with this new health diagnosis. Every blood sugar reading, every choice to have a slice of pizza, every decision about what I put in my body was another reason to beat myself up for making the ‘wrong choice’. I suffered in such silence.
Can you imagine what I told myself about performance reviews at work? Or about relationships? Well, let me just say it was NOT pretty. I don’t know where perfectionism gets all wrapped up in how I was a bully to myself, but I know that ball of yarn was a hot mess of never enough. EVER.
I realized at one point that as much as I thought I was hiding this about myself, everyone else could see it plain as day. And I think that’s really what shook me up and made me want to do something about it. Because I didn’t want those who worked for me to feel like they could never be enough in my eyes, and it’s only because I worked with folks brave enough to say it – that I started to go down the path of finding out what else was possible for how I treated myself. I started to discover there was another way to propel me forward other than listen to my constant negative thought patterns. I found that there was another voice inside of me that wanted to lift me up, just as was my propensity to do so for others. And slowly but surely and still today, I continue to work on how to NOT be hard on myself and instead be my own best friend.
This is not a linear journey and there is no magic bullet, but I want to share with you what I’ve learned along the way. Because my deep desire for you my friend is to seriously unravel and undo all the things that you are doing to yourself that is anything less than being your own best friend.
Tips For How To Be Your Own Best Friend
1. Buy Yourself Flowers
I used to think that flowers were something that is given to you by someone who loves and cares about you. I thought that the things you REALLY wanted should be the gifts that other people would give to you, because that would mean you deserve it. But I realized that I can actually love on myself and buy myself those flowers. Buy myself that piece of jewelry. This may sound silly, but let me tell you, it’s these little micro steps that change those deep seeded beliefs and behaviors. This concept might also link to other challenges around scarcity mindset – so that might need to be addressed as well. In my practice, I’ve learned how deeply linked these topics often are. Working through them in my own life, and with many of my clients.
2. Let Those “Friends” Go!
When I look back at who I was as a teenager, WOW, I can’t believe how long I held onto friendships that were HORRIBLE. And those patterns of keeping people in my life that didn’t really honor me absolutely continued for a long time. But what I realized is that I am WORTHY of unconditional love. I deserve to be treated exactly the WAY I WANT to be treated. I don’t have to be understanding and hold infinite space for people that haven’t earned it. So, if you want to be your own best friend, you got to also make sure that the folks around you love you and cherish you for exactly who you are in this moment. It’s a heck of a lot easier to be kind to yourself when you are surrounded by others who show you what that looks like.
3. Build Awareness
It can be really scary to start to pay attention to all the ways and in all the environments you are beating yourself up. Over time your thoughts can even get more sneaky about how they beat you down. But you can’t heal what’s not revealed, so it’s really important to pay attention. Sometimes for me I don’t realize what’s happening until I have an emotional outburst and it’s only in the exploration of that, when I realize there was a terrible thought on repeat in my head that I was internalizing. One example of this was the first time I put a video on my LinkedIn account – I realized that I kept playing that video and critiquing myself so hard – but I didn’t realize I was doing it until after I felt emotional for a few days. Like WOW – how crazy is it to not even know it?? That’s why I’m saying folks that awareness is part of the process, even if you think you’ve got it all figured out.
4. Disrupt Your Thoughts
Once you have some semblance of awareness of how and when you beat yourself up with your thoughts, it is time to disrupt that ‘ish!! I don’t care HOW you do it, you just got to disrupt it!! Here are some suggestions for how to do it:
- Get outside – change your surroundings
- Spend time with an animal or your pet – get some self-soothing
- Jump! Jump! – in other words, move your body, shift your energy around
- Listen to your favorite music – play that playlist that reminds you what a rockstar you are (I literally have a playlist called “Rockstar Reminder” – email me and I will send it to you!)
- Give yourself a DIFFERENT thought on repeat – one that actually serves you…
5. Pick A New Thought
The truth is that you can’t STOP a thought from coming, but your CHOICE comes with what you do afterwards. And so instead, choose a thought that serves you to create a new pattern for yourself. Some may call this a mantra or an intention – and I don’t care WHAT you call it, but pick a message you want that is being kind to yourself. Here are a few to get you thinking:
- I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be
- It’s my birthright to choose joy
- I am not wrong
- Every cell of my body is happy and healthy
- I can do this!
6. Use Creative and Tactile Anchors
I have found, not just for myself but for my clients as well, that visual and physical reminders and tactile experiences can really anchor in how you want to be with yourself. Here are a few ideas that can bring this to life a bit:
- Put up a cork board of images that remind you of how you want to feel emotionally
- Use a mala or any physical item (possibly even a stone) as you recite the mantra you want to repeat. For example: “I am attracting a job that brings me joy and prosperity”.
- Create a vision board for the relationship you want to have with yourself
- Go for a jog or take a shower or any other kind of physical activity that you do with the intention of releasing the thoughts that no longer serve you and move that stuck energetic pattern
7. Forgive Your Past
I’ll be honest, this concept has never come easy for me, but after enough ‘doing the work’ I realized that I was ALWAYS doing the best I could in each and every moment of my life. And I just had to forgive myself for being so harsh to myself. For being the reason for so much of my own suffering. Even today, I have to forgive myself for those times when I ‘make myself wrong’. Oh my gosh, here’s a perfect example that’s extremely recent; I was on a hybrid trip of work/vacation and while there was a part of me that said ‘don’t do it’ – the ‘don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today’ part of me pushed the button to update my computers operating system. Yep, you guessed it, my computer completely fritzed out! I’m currently writing this blog on a spare computer…2 weeks later… because the issue is still not resolved. SO – trust me when I say I had to do some DEEP BREATHING to not beat myself up over choosing to do that upgrade. Like I say folks, work in progress…we’re all a constant work in progress.
8. Tap Into Your Support Team
This can take on a number of different forms. Maybe you put together a Board of Directors for yourself. Maybe you identify who in your orbit can be your biggest cheerleader. Of course, you know that I think having a coach or therapist can also be game changing for getting what you need to break your patterns. At times I even had a nutritionist on my team who understood the emotional side of what I deal with. The key here is to identify what team you need and then LEVERAGE your support. Call them when you are spiraling downward – not after you rode out the storm! This can help disrupt your patterning, especially if you are the kind of person that goes into your shell when the snowball of self-hate is building and building.
9. Be In Gratitude
This one can be TOUGH, but it can also really help shift things. For me, sometimes being hard on myself is wrapped up in being resentful about being in the situation I’m in. Let’s just take the situation where I can easily beat myself up for making the choice for REAL, full sugar, ice cream (yum!). I can choose to listen to the voice that says “that is a terrible choice” or I can choose to be grateful that I do have the option to choose that ice cream because insulin exists. I’m not talking about bypassing your feelings, or forcing positivity, what I’m talking about is finding the grace for yourself and the situation. Gratitude may also help you find the lesson you are learning and ultimately reveal what is serving you.
10. Set Your Intent
Maybe it seems weird that this is the last thing I’m mentioning as opposed to the first, but here’s why. Even with all this sage council I’ve given (can you see my smirk?), what works for you might look entirely different. You may try things, but it doesn’t seem to stick. You may try other things and encounter so much resistance that you don’t go through with it. But it doesn’t mean it’s not possible to find your way forward with it. If you hold the intent of not beating yourself up, let this be enough in the moment and trust you’ll discover what works for you and/or who is best fit to support you.
I hope this has been helpful for you. I hope you decide you’re done beating yourself up and I hope you start to take even small actions to shift how you’re treating yourself – physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
If this feels overwhelming, or you don’t know where to start, consider if it makes sense to work with someone to support you in being a better friend to yourself. If you want to explore possibilities to work with me, schedule a free call here.