The other day, my husband was watching Total Bella’s (I’m sorry for throwing you under the bus like that hubs)- and during the episode one of the girls was talking about just having a baby and being self-conscious of her post baby body. Now, I admit, I’m not as devout a follower of the show as my husband (I’m serious) but I do consider watching it as kind of a guilty pleasure of mine. Normally I don’t get into reality TV, but something about these girls just hooks me. Anyways. When I heard one of these drop dead gorgeous women saying they felt self-conscious of their body my ears perked. The therapist in me said “what is she telling herself about herself to make her feel that way?” the woman/mother/human in me said “me too sister, me too”. By the end of the episode she had realized what a super hot bad ass she is, and proclaimed she will wear her stretchmarks like a badge of honor and never photo shop them out. She went from self-conscious about her mom bod, to telling herself “you know what, it’s okay that I don’t have six pack abs and flawless skin on my belly. I want my daughter to see how beautiful I am and how proud of my body and accomplishments I am” (for the record that isn’t an actual quote from her or the show- It’s what I tell myself she told herself, mmm-kay?) I want to visit with the therapist side of me for this post because I feel that’s (what we tell ourselves) an area that isn’t talked about often and I think it merits some attention!
These days the words “self-care” get tossed around like a football. So often so that we often forget what self-care really means. It has become another “catch phrase” of a sort. And when people picture what self-care is, they think of exercise or eating healthy, or taking a bubble bath. Sure all of those things can be a part of self-care, but those things aren’t really a full picture of what self-care really is.
So what is self-care? Well, I’ll dive into it more in another post, but to get your feet wet in what self-care really means- Self-care is self-kindness, it’s being kind to yourself and treating yourself as you would treat a loved one. Self-Kindness…really is an interesting concept, isn’t it? Hence the title for this post. I don’t know about you, but myself, I am quick to be my own worst critic. It can be difficult to see myself as anything but flawed sometimes. And sometimes my inner critic is just straight up rude and negative and I have to tell her to take a hike with all her negativity. Now I’m not saying you should always be easy on yourself or that you should make excuses for yourself (maybe that’ll be a post for another day!), but when we talk to ourselves, rudeness and negativity just aren’t necessary.
So what is self-kindness? Let me break it down for you:
It starts with how you talk to yourself. Seriously. What we tell ourselves about who we are inside and out really defines how we feel about ourselves. And it’s easy to let our inner critic out thanks to our good ole negativity bias. For example, recently I experienced feeling like a horrible mom. My son had acted out in public and I felt the eyes of the world on me…as I’m sure other parents can relate. Leaving with my tail tucked under my legs, I came home and thought “why would he act like that? Is this because I’m not parenting him good enough? I have been kind of slacking structure wise this summer…I shouldn’t let him watch so much tv. I should be doing more, I’m not doing enough”. Now….this whole conversation with myself wasn’t all bad. It is important to take a look at areas in our life we can improve….and that’s why the therapist side of me has a day job. But do you notice my “should of”, do you notice the word “slacking”? Would I talk to a client or a friend this way? NO! I would say “how your son acts is not in your control. What is in your control?” and then we would look at areas in my life that I could improve on, i.e. more structure to my son’s day and less screen time- sans the negative shaming talk.
So how did my story turn out? Well, I let my inner critic get the best of me and I wallowed in my mom shame for a day- then I talked to some friends (shout out to my bestie for telling me “YOU HAVE FOUR KIDS!” not that I had forgotten or anything, but just to remind me that hey, I’m doing the best I can trying to split myself up). After that conversation, I really thought about how I had talked to myself and how critical and judgy my inner critic was. So I reevaluated what was in my control and focused on that. And I can tell you, it felt SO much better.
So now I part with what I say to clients, friends and family who are being a little harsh on themselves- treat yourself as kindly as you treat everyone else. I’ll try to do the same.
Until next time,