It might sound silly, but hear me out. When was the last time you said thank you to yourself?
It's testament that you can spend all day waiting for someone to express their gratitude, or acknowledge the work you've put in, and receive nothing by the time you've finished. And - unless you're passive-aggressively saying thank you to someone who walked through your opened door without recognising the action, or letting someone into our lane without so much as a wave of the hand or a flash of their hazards - you're unlikely to get a thank you in every instance you believe it is deserved. Some of our best work often goes undetected, but is essential to the final outcome, and it can be frustrating if it is glazed over or forgotten.
Here's where the ground-breaking revelation softly, and lovingly, taps you on the face. You always have someone to say thank you to you for your actions; you've guessed it already. Yourself. What's the harm in giving yourself a figurative pat on the back for unloading the dishwasher, or verbally praising yourself for cooking a nice meal? There's nothing stopping you from being kind to yourself on this level. It's free, will make you feel great and you will only get questionable looks if you obviously re-enact it in public.
In reality, we all become defensive when something is our fault, or seek out our flaws and try to hide them. There is often a conception that we should all strive for perfection. If anyone finds the most perfect person in the world, then please let us all know. My very correct opinion is that not one such person will even exist. I've written about this topic a few times; it's truly amazing to know that so many millions of us actually believe that perfection is the equivalent of being superior, and that in some way embracing our flaws or accepting responsibility will put us lower down in whatever hierarchy system this is. I'm here to break the mould - I see so much power in someone who can fully express their flaws. I know we are all capable of it.
At times, we will all experience illegal tenants - that I like to call our inner-critics and saboteurs - that squat rent-free in our heads. Notice how I used the word squat instead of live? The truth is that these fictional beings only prey on us when we are at our most vulnerable, or when we start to exhibit signs of self-doubt. Just like abandoned houses, these squatters appear when we display moments of feeling down and low. You need to remember that you are the landlord - I would have called you the bodylord but it gave me slight True Crime vibes - and you have the authority to evict them by the element of surprise. And what is this element of surprise? Acknowledge all the positive things you have done/are doing and reward yourself for it. If it makes you smile, each time the squatters come to play in my head, I imagine that my positive reinforcement is battling the saboteur's shade. It's like my superhero mindset is fighting off villainous doubt.
Keep a journal
Want to tackle the rent-free villains that are tracking their dirty shoes all through your mind? One of the best ways to alter our mindset and monitor our self growth is via the old-fashioned form of pen and paper.
Journaling doesn't have to be carefully thought out colour-schemes, or the paper version of grand designs, it can be super messy if that's what you require. For one, I have absolutely no design or drawing sense and find it hard to partner colours together before it is too late. Something deep down inside me still believes that purple and green can live harmoniously - personally, I blame the Mystery Machine and Scooby Doo for this confusing encounter - but when I make these faux pas, it's really no big deal. This journal is for me to follow my thought process; there's plenty of time for decoration later.
Journaling, just like writing or exercise, can be sloppy and imperfect when you do it. Don't shoot the messenger - especially if you are a diligent bullet journalist - but your page can be filled with bullet points, errors and - I hear them gasp - lines that are wonky or don't align. The only real requirement is that whatever you are documenting is clear to you. In particular, my journals often include celebrations, compliments and affirmations. There's also a lot of dog hair, but that's not really important here. By acknowledging, for example, three things you were brilliant at, difficult tasks that you tackled for the first time, or simply praising your efforts, these can become mindset-changing tools that will later provide you with motivation, reassurance and courage. Likewise, documenting activities that you need to improve on - as long as it is written in a considerate and loving way - can also give yourself a clearer understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. In my opinion, it is easier to give yourself more refined critical feedback after you have learnt to appreciate yourself a little more.
For the last few weeks, I have praised myself on my dedication to exercise and reinforcing a positive, balanced routine in my day-to-day life. I've also penned that I should probably spend less time looking at the sweet section whilst completing my Tesco food shop if I'd ever like to develop a six pack. What can I say? No-one is perfect! However, by highlighting and observing my strengths, I have been able to have a much more nurturing internal conversation with myself when looking at my weaknesses. I'm also able to joke more with myself on some of these ideas too.
Be honest with me, are you someone who cringes whenever you receive a compliment? Yes, me too. It's rather comical how we will often seek praise and recognition from our partners, friends and colleagues, but the moment we receive exactly what we were after we find it hard to stomach. I'm so with you all on this.
It's easy to see how this might be a negative, and that we may not have a high self-esteem, but I don't think this is the case necessarily. Modesty has been ingrained in us from birth. In fact, you'll be surprised at how much easier it is to accept a compliment from yourself rather than from someone else. Personally, I think we are able to congratulate ourselves without embarrassment because it's a very private moment in our minds - unless you're screaming it down a megaphone whilst unicycling through a high-street and juggling flame torches - as you're not drawing attention to it. Whereas, if someone else compliments us, then it becomes a shared experience. What do you think?
Telling yourself that you've completed something exceptionally, that you look fabulous or that you have responded to a situation in the correct way just reinforces the ideas that you can succeed, achieve and be brilliant. I have every faith in you, so you should too.
Some good compliments to try over and over - in front of the mirror - are:
I love who I am and what I stand for
I look and feel gorgeous today
I did really well when supporting my friend
Woh, how good was my painting last night?
Unlike our regular clothing retailers, these compliments fit any size, personality and can be adapted to fit your circumstances. So get scrubbing at the mirror, start pulling faces at yourself and then whack out a compliment or two whilst you're squeezing your blackheads/spots, or applying your makeup!
A smile a day
A rather fascinating fact is that the people we are surrounded by will see us more than we see ourselves. That's right, unless we're passing by a shop window, car door mirror or any other shiny object, we never truly know what we look like for over 90% of our day. Although, I'm sure window cleaners may be the exception here.
Another fabulous fact is that seeing a smiling, friendly face will release endorphins into your brain, which continues the stream of happiness throughout and will make you feel good from head to toe. These chemicals positively reinforce your brain and can act as natural painkillers too. A small piece of advice I was once given by a teacher was that smiling to yourself when you feel ill, tired or low can help you to reduce some of the symptoms. For example, smiling when you are tired can take away the heavy feeling around your forehead and it can also motivate the muscles around your eyes. When I have felt ill before, I have found that smiling to myself provides that little bit of sympathy we all crave when we're poorly. Even when you're feeling low, a quick flash of the teeth or friendly face can reassure you.
Let's face it, we all make faces in the mirror. Incorporate a nice, big grin - something overtop that you'd normally find in a story book or in a retelling of The Gruffalo - into your regular mirror routine. Honestly, I'm not sugar-coating anything here. I do it, you do it, we all do it. Whenever you put a baby in front of a mirror there is considerable amazement and hours of fun. We're exactly the same as adults.
Always have your back
Being secretive souls, as we often are, we can be afraid to share some of our experiences and embarrassments with those close to us. I'm not wrong when I say that no-one likes to be made a fool of. In these moments, the last thing we need is our own conscience reiterating the shame or annoyance we may feel.
As human beings, we will all have moments when we upset someone we love or do something we shouldn't have done. It's the fact of life; no-one is perfect. However, while it's easy to be cross with ourselves during those stressful times, we actually need to be the opposite: supportive and loving. Why? We will always be scrutinised by those around us. We will always be judged by those around. We will always behave in a way that someone else disapproves of. Day in and day out, we will experience scrutiny, criticism and punishment. On top of all of that, we don't need our minds doing all that too.
When things go awry, be that helping hand. Try and be the reassurance that you need to tackle whatever situation you're faced with. Picture it as giving yourself a figurative hug. You've got to remember that you're the only one who truly knows what you're thinking, and you're the only one who truly knows what you need to make it better. There's always plenty of time to re-evaluate your actions and consider how you'd approach it differently, but the most crucial time is when it has just happened.
If you have read to the end of the blog, I thoroughly hope that you all ended up smiling a few times, toyed between a few compliments to try and now feel like you can take on the world.