Please note: This post is still in edit!
How to be your own bestie: Today we will talk about ways you can befriend
yourself and 13 baby steps that can take you out of the comfort zone that
holds you back. The time has come to focus on random acts of kindness
and friendly gestures that can help you become a better friend and
fellow human being. To yourself. After all, you are the only person
you will have to live, and put up, with for the rest of your life…
HOW TO BE YOUR OWN BESTIE
Welcome to day four of seven in Theme: Kindness. As usual, I’d like to take a minute to address any newcomers before we get into the swing of things (returning readers can just skip ahead to the next paragraph): Welcome to the Coaching Couch! This is my blog where I (Evalena) write about personal and professional development. Since this is part four of seven in this series, it might be a good idea to start from the beginning and catch up. If that’s something you’d like to do, the links to the previous posts are here: We started by reading about how random acts of kindness can help with pain and stress relief and followed up with 50 good deeds you can do today. After that, we discussed how caring is sharing and what we can do to spread the joy.
To you who are reading this, whether you just found your way here or is a member of my faithful readership, I’d like to say that I hope you find something that resonates with you in here. And that you might be inspired to take on my upcoming, week-long kindness challenge that I’ll introduce by the end of this theme. If you have special requests for topics you’d like to see me write about, feel free to leave me a message about this in the comments below, by e-mail or on one of my social media accounts.
Right! Now that I’ve had a chance to wish you welcome onboard, I think we are ready to jump right into today’s post. Come with me to the sun deck and I’ll tell you more about the 13 baby steps that can take you out of the comfort zone for good and help you form a happier and more loving relationship with yourself.
Disclosure: Some of the links on my blog are affiliate links and I may earn a small commission
from them. To learn more about these links, what they are for and why I use them, please click here.
In my previous post, we were talking about how difficult it can be to get out of the comfort zone. We also took some time to reflect on what may be at the heart of that feeling you can have that something is holding you back. Even in situations you have dreamed of, and looked forward to. Now that we have established the cause behind this feeling, let’s shift our focus and start talking about what you can do to get yourself in a place where you could get on with the kindness challenge.
The goal of this post is partly to help you get out of the comfort zone, partly to give you a chance to feel the difference it makes to the quality of your life. How being able to befriend yourself can help you change the philosophy of your life around to actually serve your dreams. And allow you to transform them into smart goals. Do you remember that I mentioned that some who take on this challenge may need to start practising self acceptance before even thinking about what they can do for someone else? That, perhaps, the first person you should select as a recipient of your acts of kindness is You? Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to do today.
We are going to take a look at random acts of kindness you can bestow upon yourself. Because everybody needs self-care and it’s nigh on impossible to care for other people while you feel overwhelmed and overworked. This is an extended exercise in how to be your own best friend, and I can tell you right now it’s not something you can do in a day and be done with it. In any relationship, building trust, rapport and love take time, so this is something you’ll have to keep working on for the rest of your life. It is ridiculously easy to forget about yourself when life is hectic and slide straight back into old habits if you don’t pay attention and keep checking yourself.
I believe that kindness, at its core, is linked to your philosophy of life and that the philosophy of life is like an agreement you make with yourself. A kind of rule book, if you will, where you establish what values/beliefs/attitudes you have. Thus, your rule book holds the tenets you want to guide your life and the way you relate to, and connect with, the world around us.
It is important to understand that, in the beginning, your rule book is written by the people who are raising you (parents and other significant people), but at some point in your teens (normally) the editorial responsibility is passed on to you. From that moment, you have full creative control and the freedom to edit all parts of your rule book as you see fit to fit in accordance with the kind of life you want to live. But for various reasons, many never do. Instead, they spend their lives following someone else’s philosophy of life. Even if it chafes, or suffocates. And that may actually not be as strange as it first sounds.
Humans are creatures of habit, and we all have a tendency to get stuck in our ways, whether we like them or not. We do as we always did. Better the devil you know, as the proverb victims like to say. I think that’s so flipping sad. Which is probably why I talk more about taking baby steps when I am dealing with the topic of self growth than I do in all other areas I teach and coach in total. And, for the record, I talk about baby steps a lot!
Here’s the deal though: Changing your way of thinking, being and acting is a process. Forming new habits, learning to think in new directions and becoming comfortable with a completely new set of behaviours can only happen over time. Which is why we are about to take a look at the 13 baby steps I believe will be useful tools to help you get out of the comfort zone. If you make sure to practice all of these, or at least the ones you can consider doing to begin with, you will, indeed, be taking baby steps towards increased wellness, self growth and self respect. And, to sweeten the deal, it will also take you to a place where you can become your own best friend. Take one step at the time, or as many as you like by all means, and let it take however long you need the process to take. Just keep holding yourself accountable so you don’t start to grow roots in a different comfort zone.
A humble suggestion, if the idea still feels alien, is to pick just one small step and try the idea that feels least difficult to do. If you manage to do that, you can either do the same thing tomorrow or try something new. Try to include at least one act of kindness each day and try to push yourself to dare just a little bit more each day. Very soon you will begin to feel the difference, I promise you that.
ARE YOU HAVING A (REALLY) BAD DAY?
A really bad day? Maybe it starts with you having overslept, or you wake up feeling properly rotten after a restless night. The result is the same. You start your day on a bad note and it only gets worse as it progresses. You spill your coffee and you skip breakfast but miss the bus/tube (subway if you’re from the US) anyway. Or get stuck in a traffic jam. You’re late for work, have to skip lunch and come afternoon you’re wishing you’d had the sense to just stay in bed just instead of giving this miserable day as much as a chance.
Yes, some days can truly feel like an endless uphill road. Covered in ice. On a rainy day. And, of course, it is a day where you have neither an umbrella nor a pair of hiking boots at hand. When it’s really bad, it’s not just one bad day. Oh, no. Sometimes days like these seem to come in as close together as hama beads on a string and form what feels like endless periods of misery.
If you’re having one of those days today, try to stop what you’re doing, take a few deep breaths and say something kind to yourself. Too often, people allow the anger and frustration bad days can bring to become punitive and they blame themselves for every single thing that has gone, is going and still can go wrong. Just don’t. There’s nothing you can do to undo what has already been done, but you can still turn the day into something infinitely better than what you’re experiencing right now.
Here are four simple things you can do to put your foot down, break the cycle and be kind to yourself. Three are tips you can use when you’re in the middle of chaos and the fourth is perhaps of a more preventative nature. A tip that can help reduce the number of bad days. Yes, it is possible, but it may take some time before you notice the difference.
TAKE A BREAK TO CALM YOURSELF
This may sound like really bad advice, but it’s important to stop a bad day from getting worse as soon as possible. It’s so easy for them to escalate and turn into a negative spiral where you begin to lash out at yourself, and others, in ways that can have disastrous or even fatal consequences.
First of all, remove yourself from the “disaster zone.” Whether it’s a plate of food on the floor, something going wrong at work, an argument with a family member, unruly children who won’t listen or whatever it may be, you stressing yourself out and beating yourself up over it won’t fix the problem. And neither will losing your temper nor starting to shout and/or throw things around.
Get out of the house if you can. Go stand outside the door, take a short walk or go and stand by an (open) window for a while. Take a few deep breaths. Listen to the sounds from outside the building. Smell the air. If you don’t live somewhere where the air feels fresh (hi, London!), you can always plug your headphones into your phone and listen to something soothing. Maybe some music you like, a book you’re currently listening to, a podcast, sounds from some nature show or a video with a laughing child? Stick your nose into something you like the scent of. Perfume on a handkerchief? A little cinnamon? (Trust me!) It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s something you like. Touch something soft. Pick up the cat, if you have one. Wear a soft mitten you like or a sweater that never fails to make you feel good. Taste something you associate with joy or feeling safe. Engaging as many of your senses as possible with positive and calming stimuli will help lift your mood.
I’m ready to bet that you’re never in a situation where all of these suggestions would be impossible, but you can be smart about it and make sure to have a small crisis package with a few things you know will help in your pocket, purse or glove compartment. You can also train yourself to react to certain things that you can easily carry with you. Need a few suggestions? Consider:
- A few special tea bags?
- A small bottle of essential oil or perfume?
- A tiny piece of faux fur or fleece?
- A small photo album with pictures of your loved ones, your favourite place on earth or something/someone you dream of?
- A lozenges tin with some small tablets, anise seeds or a square of dark chocolate?
- A special playlist on your phone?
Only you know, or can find out, what would work best for you, but remember what I said about us being creatures of habit. This is also something you can practice. If you start doing something special every time you’re in your feels, your brain will soon connect the dots. Ahh, we’re sad? Let’s get a cup of herbal tea and that soft blanket! Or maybe it will be something like Dayum, that made me angry! Quick, grab the cinnamon and launch my special playlist! Once the dots have been connected, your brain will let you know what you need to do before you even realise it.
Learning how to do deep breathing exercises is always beneficial and a great strategy to have access to on a bad day. Or at the end of a bad day. It’s a great idea to do something special before you go to bed. Like a little tomorrow-will-be-a-better-day ritual to help you end the day on a high note. Try taking a hot bath with a special bath bomb or bath oil. Give yourself a massage. The scalp, hands and feet are easy to massage yourself and it can be very soothing. Make a hot drink (not something you drink every day!), light a candle and read a few pages in a good book. Dance around the bedroom naked, or in your sleepwear, to music that makes you happy.
Try and experiment with different varieties, flavours, smells, etc. until you find the combinations of things that suit you. You will know when you have found the right one and then you’ll have the tools needed to stop a bad day in its tracks and take control of what happens next.
PLAN OR BOOK A TREAT
Don’t be too harsh on yourself if you tried to put a stop to a bad day, but it felt like trying to stop a train with your bare hands. You haven’t failed and you’re not a failure! Sometimes it doesn’t matter what we do. We can try every trick in the book we learned, but the day devil has simply decided to be bad.
To sink into self-loathing (again) because we did not succeed in anything is a rare bad idea. No one gets better, or learns faster, because you say bad things to them. It’s just as true when it comes to yourself as it is to talk about anyone else. Let go of the misery and give yourself something to look forward to instead. This is of course to some extent wallet-related, but you can come up with something luxurious, exciting or special that suits your budget.
Maybe you can invite yourself to dinner? Book a (theme) weekend with your best friend? Or maybe it’s finally time for a luxury weekend with yourself on the theme “take my dreams seriously”? Time to stop dismissing your dreams as childish fantasies and instead start turning them into smart goals? Something really exciting, interesting and, yes, even luxurious, to look forward to could be a free weekend where you can set up an action plan for how exactly your dreams could be realized.
Such a weekend can be spent at home and it does not have to cost a penny extra, but taking yourself seriously is something too many people ignore. Do not do it. Part of being kind to yourself is wanting the best for yourself, just as you want the best for your friends, your children or your family. But you have to start by caring for yourself as you care for them. Because you’re worth It.
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS AND CELEBRATE YOUR WINS
Sometimes, when you are in the middle of a really bad day, it can feel like everything is happening to you. Or as if nothing ever goes your way. It’s not so strange if it feels that way, but if you could measure the truthfulness of this statement you would see that it is not true. We only have a tendency to let the bad overshadow what is actually good.
For more than 30 years, I have distributed gratitude journals to people around me. If you do not know what I’m talking about, I can tell you that a gratitude journal is like something in between a diary and a so-called BuJo, or bullet journal. Here you start on the first page, just as usual, and write down something you are angry, sad or disappointed about. Then you turn the book over and start (from the last page) writing down something you are happy or grateful for. Things that went well, things you are proud of, etc.
I can reveal that I doubt quite strongly that it has ever been a welcome gift! A lot who got one have later told me that they became quite angry. That they took it a bit like I was trying to tell them that there was something wrong with their lives. And that was exactly how it was. But now we come to the heart of the poodle: Sooner or later, this book is still picked out of the corner of shame it was first passed to. It usually happens in connection with a really bad aunt day when the recipient only had to lift a whole pile of pent-up anger. The words flow and the pen literally flies forward over page after page, while all the injustices and injustices they have borne are lined up. It’s almost like poking a hole in a boil.
The beauty of this journal comes after that first list of vomits, as I usually call it, has been written down. For most people, the bad side is fine. It is limited. Usually it is the same things we harrow over and over again when we get upset. I know, for example, a person who stubbornly falls more than 20 years back in time and starts pulling up the same perceived injustice every time they get upset about something. It’s like an old wound that never gets the chance to heal. But when all the sorrows and sorrows have been entered in the journal, you soon discover that the next time you want to write about some misery, it is already there. And in the end, you simply have to do something about it.
On the other hand, the plus side usually continues to grow. Once we get started and start thinking about it, we will soon discover how much there is that we actually like. How much can make us happy. All we have to be thankful for. It’s very difficult to keep playing Ior, you know that poor donkey in Winnie the Pooh, when you have a clear picture of how it really is in your hand.
Personally, I try to think of something to add to my list every morning. It can take months between laps I have something sour to come up with (although COVID and some political decisions and figures have been stressful lately); but I have never experienced a day when I did not feel an infinite gratitude for something. Not one! Since I started posting my feelings. Want to say.
SELF-CARE AS A PREVENTATIVE MEASURE
Sometimes preventive measures are far more effective than crisis measures. And there is actually something you can do to reduce the number of bad days in your life. Yes that’s true! This is because very often when we have a bad day we get hung up on things that, after all, do not really matter that much.
If, for example, you spill your morning coffee or breakfast porridge over the freshly ironed blouse / shirt, the minutes before you have to rush out the door, it can trigger a chain reaction that ruins the rest of the day. But really, it may not be the coffee or porridge that is the real problem. Could it be that you are getting too little sleep? Are you too poorly organized that you do not have a complete replacement? Do you have too little time for yourself before you have to go to work? Or maybe you have a cloud of unrest that hangs over you and makes you feel a little extra fragile?
Self-time is a word that often makes me grit my teeth because it is used by people who are exhausted and want to get away from their kids, partners or other family members for a while. What bothers me is that people who do so indirectly put the blame for their bad day, or bad mood, on their loved ones. And I think that’s a bit dishonest. What if we could instead see our own time as something we need to feel good, have more energy and avoid ending up in those states of panic when we just want to escape from home? And, perhaps more importantly, as something that is as obvious a need as eating or fulfilling one’s needs. No (healthy) person is ashamed that they need to eat or poop, but very many have been taught since childhood to rest is equal to laziness and something you can devote to “when I lie in the coffin.”
In my youth, the idea that it would somehow be beautiful to wear out prematurely and die young was also glamorized. “To become a beautiful corpse.” Something so stupid in the bench that I almost have to pick out my little book and write down some new lines of vomit on the minus side. We have a single life and it is so infinitely valuable. There is so much to discover, so much joy, hope, reconciliation and compassion. And then we should not even talk about all the exciting places we can see and explore, because then this post never ends.
My belief is that it is unconditional love we cannot feel (at least not fully) until we accept ourselves. Loving oneself can be almost impossible to imagine, but acceptance we can manage. That’s something we’re up to. We accept a heavenly mass that we do not even like, and we manage to be polite and treat neighbors and co-workers and, even, some family members with respect and kindness. If we can do it for them, we can reasonably learn to do the same for ourselves. It’s a good start. But I like to push boundaries, so I suggest you take it one step further.
Find a moment, say a quarter to begin with, which is just yours. That moment is the cornerstone of your own time. It should be a moment that you always know is yours, no matter what happens, and you should take advantage of it every single day. I’m a night owl who hates early mornings more than pea soup (and I really do not like pea soup!), But for me that moment had to be in the pigsty before I woke the children. In the beginning, it felt like the worst bargain to give up an extra half hour in the bed heat to squeeze myself up, light a candle and sit all alone on the couch with a cup of coffee and my brand new notebook. I remember sitting there and cutting my eyes and thinking it felt silly. Shamefully clean off. But I had studied psychology and knew that it takes 30 days to get used to something new, so I was locked in hardening for a whole month.
When I was still sitting there, I thought, I could at least take the opportunity to write down this week’s menu. And a shopping list. And so it came about that I slowly but surely began to become more organized. My morning helped me focus my thoughts, and it was the beginning of an adventure that took me – a lice-poor, outstanding mother of five from Sundsvall – and my children out of what had become my comfort zone for a whole new life in London. But it did not happen in one day, I can promise. It was a long series of small steps that eventually took me to what had been my childish imagination. My dream that I turned into a goal. A goal that I, in the end, reached. And so can you.
Allow yourself to take that moment every day. Think about what exactly you would need to replenish your energy reserve. For me, it was silence and candlelight. What do you long for? Make sure you do something that gives you joy. You can draw, write a diary or any type of BuJo, start writing poems, learn to play a musical instrument or do something else that you love or dreamed of doing. Be kind to yourself by giving yourself a little bit of free time every day and feel what it is you are longing for. Really long
IS YOUR SELF-IMAGE SKEWED?
Skewed self-images have ruined more lives than we realize. We are so full of impressions of how we should be and look that we rarely manage to see our own reflection and remain completely neutral to what we see. In fact, most of us see things in the mirror that are not there. We get the impression that the nose is too big, that the lips do not look as they should, that the eyebrows are not symmetrical enough and so on. We stand there pinching the pork (whether we have anything or not), pulling hair tests and making faces at ourselves. And every time we do, we chisel away another shard of self-acceptance. In addition, we send signals to those who see us do so.
Children learn early on to look for faults in their own appearances when the most beautiful person they know, usually a mother or father, daily stands and hates their own appearance. Or in words say that at least they are not nice. Most people look like one of their parents, so if I look like you and you say you’re ugly, then I must be ugly too. That’s what the little child thinks. But no, says the parent, Not you. You’re really nice! But children are not as gullible as we would like to think. They understand. They know. This is a vicious circle that we need to break. For our own sake and for the sake of all children. We can not just continue to accept that people stop living their lives because they have realized that they are not good enough. Because of a nose. Or an upper lip that does not look like anyone else’s.
To love one’s own reflection is as difficult as to love oneself for one who lives in self-hatred. But it is possible to find a place where you can make peace with your appearance. Part of that development is learning to actually see yourself as you look. Not the way you think you look. Another part is to focus more on who you are, on your potential and who you want to be. It is an important step in the work of becoming your own bestie. To never be happy with who, what or where you are or with what you have achieved so far in life is to be unkind to yourself. And then you probably would not behave towards a friend.
Be kind to yourself by striving for self-acceptance. Try to find a place where you can let go of things that do not really matter. When people die, the image of what they looked like fades in our memories, but the feeling they gave us when they were close we will never forget. What they did lives on in us. A crooked nose? No, that’s not what we remember. That was never what mattered.
Here are four tips on things you can do to accept, and become friends with, yourself and your own reflection:
DECIDE TO BE KIND
Kindness begins with your philosophy of life and part of it is your way of thinking. Think, for example, of how different your whole world experience is when you feel happy. If you have children, pets, siblings, parents or a partner, you probably know that patience runs out when you are angry, stressed or dissatisfied with something. If you have never done or said anything you regret to any of them, I would guess that you are either an angel or that you suffer from selective memory loss. We are, quite simply, not brilliant representatives of ourselves when we are out of balance. And it affects us at least as much as, if not more than, it affects those we love.
Being kind is not just an outward act, but in the highest degree something that affects ourselves. Be kind to yourself. Be honest and acknowledge that you are, in fact, a good person. Be at least as generous in the way you are to yourself as you are to your family and friends. And yes, there is something you can decide on.
SMILE AND COMPLIMENT YOURSELF
In the list of 50 suggestions for good deeds, I mentioned how a smile can mean so much to another person. That it is something that brings us closer together. But some people can go whole days, weeks or even months without being met by a single smile. Now we can not like to walk around and demand smiles from other people (even if some men seem to believe so), but what we can do is at least smile at our own reflection.
When we smile, the amount of so-called joy hormones in the brain also increases, and you feel happier and more satisfied. If you would never dream of meeting your bestie, or the one you love, with a grimace and a comment about how ugly he is, it might be good if you decided to stop doing that to yourself. Worth a try, anyway.
TREAT YOURSELF AND ENGAGE IN SELF CARE
Self care, or self-care as the author Cecilia Ekhem calls it, is an expression that has become popular in recent years. Sadly, however, many people seem to associate it with expensive purchases of everything from special skin care products to yoga cards and trips abroad. However, self-care does not have to cost a penny. Taking good care of yourself can involve so much, but it is definitely to be kind. Against himself. Getting enough sleep, eating fruits and vegetables, getting some form of regular exercise for body or bud based on your own conditions are all good examples of self-care. Sitting in nature, listening to the sound of chirping birds, the wind in the trees and running water. Or maybe just sitting at home and cuddling under a blanket.
I believe in the importance of pampering yourself, but by that I do not mean wasting money or eating / drinking anything. For me, indulging is about understanding the importance of rewarding yourself with things that help recharge your batteries and replenish your self-esteem. Sometimes, of course, it can be to buy something. You do not have to wait for someone else to give you what you want (and be angry if they do not get the nod). You can give yourself gifts. But here too, of course, I have a little tip. Buy no small items and nothing you can consume. Things we eat or drink and things we consume fairly quickly have no longer any value. They make us happy for the moment, but in three months we do not even remember that we bought them. Self-care and indulgence is about creating added value. About giving yourself something you really want and / or need, instead of what you are craving right now.
The eternal criticism of everything and everyone is a misery that we all commit to some extent. And that’s a damn mess. Man needs to practice compassion and positivity  instead of criticizing everything and everyone. In all your roles, as a manager, colleague, parent or friend, the way you treat others is something that has consequences. Our kindness, or lack of kindness, can make or break another person’s day. And, by extension, our own.
Stop criticizing and judging. What does it matter to you what the neighbor’s kid has for hair color? What difference does it make in your life if your neighbor drives a SAAB or a Volvo? And why spend time criticizing other people’s clothes or commenting on their appearance? Work on believing in yourself instead and try to come to terms with the fact that your liking or disapproval does not matter at all. It just makes you feel bad. Part of being kind to yourself is choosing the best for yourself. And to get the best, you have to believe in yourself and stop worrying so much about what other people might think or say about it.
Best of all: the less time you spend criticizing and judging others, the less time you will spend racking yourself up. In the eternal judgment and critique there is also a tireless comparison that is not useful. You are good enought. You are important. You are loved. That goes a long way, right?
ARE YOU TOO HARD ON YOURSELF?
Stop trying to be perfect. This is the next small step that comes after you stop criticizing and judging. Perfection only brings with it a lot of problems. First and foremost because perfection is an illusion. What is really perfect? Who is really perfect? And is it not, to be completely honest, a little sad when everyone suddenly realizes that perfection is a duck face? Or tattooed eyebrows?
People who set perfection as some kind of standard for themselves usually feel unsuccessful because that perfection can never be achieved. And that’s what, commercially speaking, is the genius of the whole concept. That it is unattainable. And that is precisely why it is possible to get otherwise completely normal-minded people to put almost all their money and a large part of their mental health at risk in order to try to reach that perfection. Because then… Yes, what?
If you are too hard on yourself and are constantly on the lookout for appearance or performance perfection – have you tried to stop for a moment and ask yourself what you think that perfection will give that you do not already have ? Or could not get even without perfect eyebrows? Or without coming in a certain clothing size? (Or whatever perfection you are looking for.)
I have a hard time imagining anything more unfriendly than making it impossible for someone to join. To feel that they are good enough. To be themselves. This applies regardless of whether it is yourself, a friend or someone you love that you treat so. But the fact is, you probably would not do that to anyone else if you did not do it to yourself. Instead of setting “perfection” as your standard, try to improve yourself one step at a time and set new goals as you achieve the old ones. But you. Let the goals be about something other than your appearance.
Here are, in conclusion, five small steps on the way to becoming your own bestie. Try to show, or give, yourself:
Forgive yourself. Whatever it is you think you have done. Whether or not you’ve actually done something really horrible. There must always be room for reconciliation and, if you think about it, our entire judiciary is based on that principle. Even those who have done something really terrible can get forgiveness and a second chance.
Are you punishing yourself for something you have done? Or maybe for something you said? Did something happen that you are not particularly proud of? Did you fail to stand up for yourself and let someone else treat you badly while you had to bear the blame? Did you miss a chance at something special because you were too scared to…? Did you get lost at work? Did you forget something you should have done?
No matter what it is you regret, punish yourself for or are ashamed of, you must work to forgive yourself. The road to that Atonement can go through different routes for different people. Some find it in the belief in something greater. A higher power. Others seek it through meditation or some type of diary writing. There are also life coaches, psychologists, talk therapists, deacons, Samaritans, mentors and a whole host of other people, services and non-profit associations who do nothing but help people who are in your situation. For one thing, you need to know, even if you have not taken it to heart yet. Whatever happened, whatever you did, or did not do, another human being has been in exactly the same situation. Or one that is very similar to yours.
When we get caught up in our own fear of what people will think, think or say about us (because it is usually the fear of eternal judgment that our self-hatred is rooted in) there is a technology that usually helps most people I have worked with over the years . Think of a celebrity who has done really well and been ashamed in front of all the cameras in the world, but who has nevertheless continued to go out and meet representatives who never stop asking about it and people who laugh at (or spit on) them. Who may try to deal with drifts of letters and comments online, both from disappointed fans to outraged “friends of order.”
Think of English Crown Prince Charles who, when he was married to Diana who was the princess of the whole world, told his current wife that he wished he could be a tampon safely resting in her womb. Yes that’s true! He did. And the telephone line was, of course, tapped by the English intelligence service. And someone leaked the recording to the press. It became a SCANDAL! But he could not go and hide anywhere and not be ashamed. Think of all the politicians caught with their butts only, as they say, in all sorts of embarrassing or even dishonest situations. Some had to resign, of course, but everyone knows what they did and it is written down in various archives or, if it happened in modern times, on the Internet. Everything is left on the Internet.
Think of the American actress Jennifer Lawrence who on more than one occasion managed to fall in the best gala in front of the entire celebrity press and all other super celebrities. Think of Donald Trump, who was caught lying more than 25,000 times since he became president and accused of one crime and embarrassment after another by family members as well as employees and people who only came in contact with him for various reasons. Think of the Oscars as the Hollywood elite gather to celebrate themselves. How many times has none of the celebrities reading the names of the winners managed to say the wrong name or even hand out the prize to the wrong winner. Embarrassingly worse. OJ Simpson was charged with the murder of his wife. Johnny Depp has just quarreled with the English media in the Supreme Court here in London regarding who actually beat who during his marriage to Amber Heard. She pooped in his bed. He threw a phone at her. They recorded each other’s outbursts and the movies are now online. The whole world knows and they are both in the spotlight. Though Johnny got the kick out of the role of Grindewald the rest of J.K. Rowling’s Fantastical Beasts movies.
At home, I see that a lot of celebrities have managed to show themselves more or less naked in different situations. Former left-wing leader Lars Ohly showed the snot on Instagram when he was going to show off a tattoo. A whole lot of celebrities get to see their love sorrows served as entertainment and are crocheted in the comment fields when they have the hardest time. But what no one seems to let go, no matter how many years have passed, is Mona Sahlin and her damn Toblerone.
Ugh, I feel like my brain got a little foggy from reading about all these celebrity scandals, so examples may suffice now. Just google if you need more misery to compare yourself with to realize that your own might not be terribly unaffordable after all.
No matter what it is you are punishing yourself for, it is time to let go and let the misery drain. Self-hatred benefits neither you nor anyone else. Find the path that can lead you to forgive yourself. When you get there, everything else becomes so much easier. I promise.
One step that comes either before or after the forgiveness, depending on how you work and what your situation is, is compassion. By embracing yourself with the compassion you show your friends and those you love, you can also become friends with yourself.
The best way to feel compassion for yourself is to imagine that someone you love feels hurt. Or sad. Or ashamed of something they did. Imagine that one of them was in your situation right now. What would you say to them? How would you treat them? What would you do to calm them down? How would you make them feel seen, safe, cared for and loved? Why would not you deserve the same treatment as the one you were thinking of? Do the same for yourself.
A hot tip: If you know that there are certain things that happen often, or something that you pull up every time you get upset, you can write down exactly what you would like someone to say to, or did for, you in it. the situation. Next time you are there again, you know exactly what you need to hear. Or what you need to get. Give it to yourself. Sympathy.
SOMEONE TO TALK TO
To have a best friend is to have someone to talk to. Someone who always wants a well. Always have something constructive to bring when you need help. But there is also someone to be quiet with. Someone who can sit by your side in the middle of the worst storm and just be. Just warm one up with their presence. Are you your own best friend? If you are not doing these things for yourself, it may be time to start working on it. Take a moment and think about how you talk to yourself. Do you downplay yourself? Do the words you always make or you never make up in your self-talk come? Or maybe why you can never; that you never learn; or “favorite” what is wrong with you?
Tell your inner critic that he has been fired and practice turning your self-hatred into self-talk. Never say anything more to, or about, yourself that you would never say about someone you love. That’s enough now.
Having someone to talk to is so extremely important, because it helps us gain perspective on our own experiences and sort out our impressions. But unfortunately, not everyone has access to a conversation partner. This may, for example, be because they live alone or because they have some functional variation that makes it difficult to get along. For my own part, an autoimmune disease has changed my opportunities to go out and meet people and the one who never comes out becomes in the long run a little difficult to talk to for most people. It kind of gets uncomfortable. So friends fall away and one spends more and more time alone.
I’m something as complicated as a social hermit. I love hanging out and talking to people, but I also get tired of it and need to rest for long periods after each meeting. And phone meetings can be even worse than physical meetings. It does not get any easier because my memory no longer works properly. (And no, it does not depend on age.)
One strategy that works for me now, but which it took many small steps over a long period of time to reach, is to talk to myself and record the conversation with a dictaphone or camcorder. Before, writing was always my valve, but now I can no longer write so much. Since I have worked a lot to find teaching methods for people who think they are uneducable, I already had access to certain aids. I started experimenting with speech-to-text (is that what it’s called?), But was annoyed that it was so slow. I tested the dictaphone and I started vlogging. All in small pieces that I could piece by piece paste together into conversations or stories.
Now I almost have a black belt in self-talk and storytelling techniques via various aids. But it has taken me several years to get here. I had an incredibly hard time hearing my own voice. I never wanted to be in front of a camera and at first I stared blindly at double chins, my eyes blinking too often and other “mistakes” that made me unable to hear what I was actually talking about. What I was trying to say. But because I believe in 30-day challenges, I drove on and noticed after a while that I saw other things. Heard other things. And, best of all, with the help of my recordings, I was able to help myself remember more.
Now I can listen to myself and hear what I talked about, what I worried about and what I dreamed about. I can see patterns where I repeat things that do not benefit me and do something about it. And I can, even, start a big blog experiment and try to turn a lifetime of writing into blog posts that might be useful to someone.
If you, like me, do not have someone to talk to, or if you feel that there is something you can not talk about, I strongly recommend that you try to record conversations with yourself. I started in a dark room where I could not see myself. And in the beginning not much was said. But already within the first few days it started to drip from the tap and soon enough it flowed freely. Give it a chance you too.
We often talk about self-confidence and self-esteem, but less often about self-respect. I believe that self-respect comes before self-esteem. And that self-confidence can be independent of both self-esteem and self-respect. Self-confidence we will talk about next, but we are leaving now. Self-esteem almost requires that we become besties with ourselves already, so we also leave it and instead devote ourselves to talking about self-respect.
Respect is a word that has come to have a somewhat strange shift in value in my lifetime. When I was little, you would show respect to those who were older, to their teachers and all other people with some kind of superior position. Respect was also something you showed automatically when you met new people. Today, many are talking about others having to start. You have to respect me first so maybe I will respect you then. Such behavior is often rooted in insecurity, not to mention stupidity. Life does not work so that you can just slap someone and demand respect from them. Sure, you might be able to force people to tail around for you but that’s not what respect is. Just look at Donald Trump. Constantly surrounded by wagging flatterers and constantly mocked and ridiculed because people with pretend respect tell about all his nonsense. Or sell them.
Respect begins at home with respect for yourself and your loved ones. Remind yourself of your good qualities. What are you good at? What qualities do you have that you can be proud of? You may not be good at sports, but you’re an ace in math? Maybe you have something of a melodramatic drama queen, but you have a good heart and sense of humor? Think about what exactly you have for good qualities and write them down. Then remind yourself of these at regular intervals.
If you fail, make a mistake or do something wrong, it’s really just one thing that counts. Did you do it on purpose? If so, you may need to consider what was behind it and do something about it. Whether it was an accident or a mistake, you have two choices. Let it be another stone on the wall of self-hatred or let it go, lift yourself up and say it’s all right. No problem. It’s not human life, is it? Friendly people choose the latter option. Do what you do. You’re a friendly person.
Remind yourself that you are good enough. That you are sufficient. Write it down along with all your good qualities and qualities. Write down things like: I’m good enough, just the way I am. I deserve… I deserve to feel good. I deserve to be happy. I deserve to be loved.
Give yourself recognition. I mentioned this earlier, but then more as a way to deal with a bad day. However, acknowledgments are always important to note. We always do it when it comes to the achievements of others, but rarely when it comes to our own. So we can not have it. Be aware of your own accomplishments and give yourself recognition for them. No matter how small or large they are. And even if it was something that happened in collaboration with someone else. Celebrate your own part in it all. Praise yourself and enjoy the achievement. Pat yourself on the back and say kudos to me! Or maybe a more colorful Fan, how good I am!
Self-respect is about valuing yourself for who you are and not allowing others to decide what exactly you are worth. It is to trust yourself, dare to think for yourself, form your own opinions and make your own decisions. And that is to refuse to compare yourself with others. When you respect yourself, the rice or rose of others does not matter. It’s certainly nice if they think you’ve done something good, but it’s okay if they do not like it too. If you know that you have done your best, that you have been who you want to be and have been able to stick to your philosophy of life, no other person’s opinion matters.
Finally, self-respect is about keeping your promises. To do what you say you should do. Be kind to yourself by respecting yourself deeply.
BE YOUR OWN BESTIE
If you have managed to take all the previous twelve steps, you are well on your way to becoming your own bestie. Even if you do not have all the steps completely under control yet, you are still well on your way. Just starting to become aware of all the ways we reduce ourselves is a big step forward. To be able to put our finger on everything we have denied ourselves.
When you get to this stage, you have fired your inner critic, found ways to deal with situations that puts you in your feelings, as we say here in England. Which makes us feel very strong and negative emotions. And you have begun to lift yourself up with self-care and and self-respect. Your self-confidence has started to grow and it grows a little more for each success you can add to your growing list of positive events.
Now is the time to start working on your inner advocate. That inner voice that will forever live in the rooms your fired critic lived in. Here you now have someone who does what besties do. Defends you when you are attacked or treated badly. Tells you when you are wrong and helps you to correct. Your inner advocate is always Team You no matter what happens. If it helps, you can try to imagine what this ombudsman looks like. Is it a human or some other being? Is it one or two? How are they dressed? Visualize their inner voice so you always know what it is you are looking for when you need that extra support. The inner voice is you, but in alter-ego form. Pre-programmed with your own words that you fed it with just so that they will be there in situations where you know you need support. Where you know you will wish someone came to your rescue. Be your own bestie and make sure you work on having a skilled inner advocate. A bestie who is always ready,
Believe in yourself. Part of being kind to yourself is to always want, and choose, the best for yourself. And to get the best, you have to believe in yourself. You have to be your own bestie. Thinking about yourself, daring to believe in yourself, is not a bad thing. It is, on the contrary, a prerequisite for you to feel good and dare to take the chances you get and create the conditions to be able to achieve your goals.
There’s only one person on this earth you can not divorce and that’s yourself. As long as you live, it will be your primary relationship – the one on which everything else is based and based. When I was young, I was horribly provoked every time I heard the expression that you can not love someone else if you do not love yourself. And that, of course, is bullshit. Of course, even those who suffer from self-hatred, or have a clinical depression (to name two examples) can love other people. But perhaps it is so that in the inability to love ourselves, we also lack the ability to fully understand how our way of treating ourselves affects the loved ones. And maybe we can never really feel unconditional love before we have learned to respect, become friends with and love ourselves.
Self-love is not easy to achieve if one has spent an entire life in self-denial and self-contempt. But we can start with self-acceptance and build on it. Learn to be a good friend to yourself. Choose to be kind. First and foremost against yourself but in the long run also against everyone else. Above all, choose to be kind when something goes wrong or goes wrong. People rarely make mistakes intentionally, so there is every reason to believe that whatever you did or whatever happened to you was just an unintentional mistake. No disaster. Or, as my old aunt Wera always said: It was not human life, was it?
Kindness and friendship make difficult, boring or scary situations a little easier to handle. Something more bearable. It can even make someone’s day! Being kind can be quite powerful; it can be easy and it does not have to cost you anything. Allow yourself to embrace yourself with the same kindness that you would otherwise show those you love. Become your own best friend and I promise that you will notice a marked reduction in the number of bad days you experience. And as an added bonus, you will never be alone when you always carry your bestie with you. Yourself.
Hugs and good luck!
Next time we meet, we will talk about a little bigger and more demanding ways to show kindness and do good deeds. I hope to see you then.
- When I talk about positivity and being positive, I do not mean the sticky toxic positivity that too many lifestyle influencers like to inflict on us. It feels important to be able to say that. It is important to be positive and look ahead, but it is just as important to take the day as it comes and get to feel what you feel. I’m eager to help you who want a hand to hold on to something new, but I do not think the way there is about pretending nothing has happened and sweeping all the misery under the rug. Just so you know. 🥰
After 25 years of amateur blogging on various free platforms, Evalena Styf decided to go pro. She would endeavour to piece together over 40 years (!) of writing and decorate an entire wall with her texts. An interesting project, for sure, but, as it turns out, a single wall cannot bear thousands of texts. But if you think this was The End of her dream, you do not know Evalena very well.
The M/S Resilience, the fantasy pirate ship where everything fits, everything is possible and everyone can participate, was born out of a life in tatters. From the Captain’s Quarters, Evalena now curates her content that is largely focussed on personal and professional development, following your dreams and how to go on living, and loving, when everything seems to be falling apart.
From the stormy seas of her life, she fishes out a wide range of topics, memories and stories. She seasons them with care, cooks them in her love for the written word and serves them up on the various blogs that together make up the imaginary ship that bears the name of one of Evalena’s main character traits. Resilience.
YAY, YOU MADE IT ALL THE WAY HERE! NOW, WHAT DO WE DO?
HAVE A CUPPA AND A CHINWAG?*
Are you your own bestie or bully?
How do you feel about self-esteem and being a kind mother to yourself? Do you have too many bad days? A shitty self-image? Or are you simply too harsh on yourself? If you have a moment left, you might be kind and slip into the comments section below and tell us how it is for you. Where are you now and where would you like to be? Remember that if you do not want your answer to appear on the page, start with the word ANONYMOUS. Then what you write stays between us.
*A cuppa is what we call a cup of tea (or any other hot beverage at a stretch), and a chinwag is nifty little word for what you do when you’re making your chin wag = a talk
LEND A HELPING HAND?
If you want to share posts or quote parts of them in other contexts, remember to add me as the source and make sure you include my name, the title of the article, where and when it was published.
Here is an example of what this could look like:
Styf, Evalena. 2020. Article Title. The Coaching Couch. [Blog] 1 January. http://evalenastyf.com/YYYY/MM/DD/title-of-article/ (Accessed YYYY-MM-DD).
Another way you can support me and help me grow my blogs is to hook up with me on social media. Give me a follow on facebook, instagram, pinterest and twitter; and like-share-comment whenever you see an update from me. If you have an open profile, with you name on it, I'll follow you back as long as our values align.
The Coaching Couch on pinterest features a wide range of coaching and personal & professional development boards covering topics from Anxiety to Zoom calls.
My Monthly Missive, aka a newsletter, will be rolled out in 2021. Sign up now to make sure you won't miss out and to secure the special gift that I'll be sending out to each subscriber who signed up before the launch date.
As I transition into professional blogging, I'll happily accept any offer of help and support to get wind in my sails. Most of all, I need help growing this blog to reach a wider readership. I'm well aware of the difficulty getting blog portal readers to tag along to a private domain, but with your help we may be able to grow the numbers enough for google and the other search engines to recognise me. And that is something of a requirement for pro bloggers. It's a "without google's spotlight you don't exist" kinda thing.
When you read, share, like, comment, follow and subscribe, you make me ridiculously happy and grateful. A frame of mind that makes me work harder, which in turn means I churn out more blog posts. Winner, winner chicken dinner! =)