Yesterday marked the start of Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 and this years theme is kindness.

What do you think of when you hear the word “kindness”? I’ll make a reasonable guess that You are not high on that list…? One of the things that my lockdown-induced immersion into Mindfulness has reinforced to me, is the importance of self-compassion. 

I’m not a psychotherapist, but I have tried out a few different techniques over the years, and so I thought I’d share these with you this week. The first is around the way we speak to ourselves. Call it your inner critic, your inner voice, The Chatterbox or some other name – it’s that inner dialogue -the narrator of the movie of your life. It’s you. Talking to yourself.

It can be quite shocking to realises that the way you speak to yourself. The tone that you use as well as the words, can be rather spiteful. Imagine speaking to somebody you care about like that! So here’s a few things to try…

Personify and detach from your inner critic

An exercise that I found helpful a few years ago, was to personify that naughty voice in my head. You know the one…she’s a right catty cow! Well, actually it turned out mine was a bit like a pathetic grey man in a grey suit who had no imagination, no spark and was a bit of a jobsworth really. I felt a bit sorry for him, and I certainly took his words to hold less sway than they had done before. 

Flip it

When you hear the inner critic – see if you can flip the sentiment. Often that inner voice really comes from a figure of authority or a parent in your youth who ultimately had your best interests at heart. What is it that they are trying to tell you? What would you like to say to the parent / authority figure? “Thank you for caring about me, but I’m going to do this anyway”…? Or maybe its a massive F@*k you – that can be cathartic and energising as well!

Speak to yourself like you would speak to…

Your child. Your best friend. Someone you care for deeply.

Being mindful

We can be our own worst bullies, and we don’t even realise we are doing it. Mindfulness can help with this because we learn to become aware of our thoughts as they arise and see how they affect our physical body. If you are already on the road with Mindfulness and have tried meditation, have a look at Loving Kindness Meditation (sometimes called Metta) which is a way of practicing wishing other people and yourself well. 

So, if any of this resonates with you, see if you can pick out one phrase that crops up in your self-chatter and try one of these techniques to see if it helps shift your outlook a little, and give your mental health a small boost.

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