We don't talk much about being gentle with ourselves as the best way to live a happy, productive and fulfilling life. Rather, the world promotes striving, forcing, controlling, manipulating, judging and criticizing ourselves instead. We think this way of thinking and being will motivate us, help us be productive and achieve our goals effectively, but it actually has the opposite effect. Evidence has shown that criticizing and judging ourselves makes us feel like nothing we do is ever good enough, contributes to a lack of motivation, depression, anxiety, addictions, procrastination, perfectionism, and low self esteem. By being gentle with ourselves, there is more of a chance we will achieve our goals, enjoy the process and the end result. Being gentle and loving with ourselves gives us energy, strength, motivation, peace, joy and love. This is the only environment that will foster health, mentally, emotionally and physically as well as high self esteem. The bible says, 'Rather it shall be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.' - 1 Peter 3:4. If a child fails at something, you wouldn't berate them because it will make them feel worse than they already do, will foster low self esteem, they will internalize the message that they are not good enough and they will connect their worth to what they do rather than who they are. Alternatively, acknowledging they did their best, and that at least they tried is a success in itself. You would help them understand that failures are a necessary part of life and growth. You would let them know they are inherently good and worthy no matter what they do (behavior). Some behaviors are not good and require consequences, but that is separate from who they are as a person. You would love them the same regardless of what they do or don't do. You would help them learn from the failure and utilize it the next time and then help them let it go. We need to use this same approach as adults, because that child is still within us and part of us. Becoming aware of our negative, critical thoughts without judgement is the first step. Then comes replacing the thought with a more realistic, positive, gentler one.
Being gentle with ourselves also includes acknowledging our feelings, no matter what they are, or whether we think they are "acceptable" feelings or not. It's necessary to work through and process feelings in order to learn what they are telling us. Journaling is a great way to achieve this, among other tools. Acknowledging our successes, no matter how small, is another way to be loving and gentle with ourselves. These free us to be more integrated and whole individuals, and we will be more productive, motivated and balanced as a result. Even the bible talks about the importance of being gentle with ourselves. 'Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.' - Colossians 3:12.
Achieving gentleness with ourselves can be difficult if you grew up in a family that was very negative and critical, but it is possible if you believe it is. It takes work, but will be well worth the effort in creating a joy-filled, productive and successful life filled with love and peace.
Please contact me and I will share how I can collaborate with you towards a beautiful life you only dreamed was possible.
Peace and blessings,