Many people are so much harsher towards themselves than they ever would be towards one of their friends or family members. As a hypnotherapist, I’ve heard countless people tell me about how they spend all day criticizing themselves in the privacy of their own minds. Why do they do this? Sometimes it’s because people have impossibly high standards — they feel like they need to do everything absolutely perfectly, and if they make even the smallest mistake, they tell themselves that they’re a total failure, and they might feel an overwhelming sense of guilt that’s completely disproportionate to the little thing they did wrong.
Perhaps you can think of examples from your own life where you know you’ve been excessively harsh on yourself, where you dwelled excessively on something you did wrong, or where you were unfriendly, unfair, and unkind towards yourself. Or maybe you’ve noticed yourself having a generally negative, self-critical attitude that holds you back from being able to feel confident, at ease, and comfortable in your own skin.
Learning to love yourself doesn’t mean ignoring your faults, or giving yourself a kind of blank check to make as many mistakes as you want. The process of developing a loving, compassionate relationship with yourself has a lot in common with being in a loving relationship with any other person. In any healthy, loving, long-term relationship, each person in the relationship may sometimes express frustration at something their partner has done or said. Sometimes it might be something trivial, like leaving the cap off the toothpaste. Sometimes it might be something more serious that needs to be properly discussed. But all of that happens within a context of love, mutual caring and trust. The loving, committed relationship that those two people have provides a safe context for each partner to openly express their emotional needs and their concerns.
Relationship expert Dr John Gottman carefully observed many couples interacting, and he tracked which couples remained happy and fulfilled together over time. He found that in healthy relationships, every negative interaction that takes place needs about five positive interactions to counter-balance it. Healthy couples might sometimes argue hotly, and might even say hurtful things to each other, but for every example of that happening in their relationship, there are five other times when they interact positively, affectionately, playfully and lovingly.
This research can also be applied to your relationship with yourself. As you learn to generally be kinder, warmer, and more loving towards yourself, you’ll find that it becomes much easier to also be appropriately firm but fair with yourself when you make a mistake. Instead of excessively dwelling on your faults, you’ll discover yourself being much more balanced in how you aim to do your best in life, and to live in accord with your personal values, while also allowing yourself to be human. Therapeutic hypnosis can help you gradually and instinctively develop a kinder, more compassionate relationship with yourself. Once that starts to happen, you’ll find that any disputes you have with yourself occur within a context of love, safety and trust, just like it does in any healthy, long-term relationship.
Self-love is, therefore, your fuel and foundation. If it’s not there, your entire life will feel unstable and uncertain. But if you truly love yourself, life moves forward with ease and everything magically falls into place. You’ll have greater resilience to withstand any challenging life event or personal adversity. Depression, anxiety, stress, and the strive to be perfect, will vanish in the face of pure optimism that self-love creates. You will always know that this moment shall pass and say, “I am okay, because I will treat myself fairly no matter the situation.”