Have you ever spent time with someone who is continuously negative and pessimistic? A proverbial wet blanket? I have, and at those times I’m usually trying to figure out how to get away from that person.
But what if that person is me? What if I’m the one who is continuously negative and pessimistic? What if I’m the wet blanket to myself? There’s no getting away from myself. This is why I consider self-talk to be one of the most important and fundamental aspects of mindfulness. It impacts how I feel about myself and others, and how I perceive myself and the world around me. And in turn, how I think, speak, and act with others.
Flip-flops at Trader Joe’s
I lived in San Diego for two years. During that time, I met countless people who’d moved there from US regions with harsh climates or large, competitive population centers. Many of these people loved living in San Diego. They were shopping in flip-flops at Trader Joe’s while family back home were digging out of a snowstorm.
But then there were others who had a different perspective. They observed themselves slowing down, losing their edge, and softening. And they feared that if they continued that trend, they wouldn’t be able to survive in such a harsh world.
I believe in peace and kindness as fundamental to how I live my life and that starts with how I treat myself and speak to myself.
The more kindness, compassion, understanding, forgiveness, and gentleness I practice with myself, the more I can offer those same things to others. The harsher I am with myself, the more likely it is that I’ll treat others harshly as well.
You Have to Have it to Give
I believe that you have to have it to give. If I want to offer others kindness, generosity, compassion, and love, it stands to reason that I must first cultivate these attributes in myself. Otherwise, how can I offer them?
Does this mean I never criticize myself? No. It means that because I speak to myself from the heart, I can be honest with myself about what I see. This puts me in a position to grow, learn, and change peacefully and happily.
If I speak to myself in a way that I consider harsh, demeaning, or dismissive, I might tune out my own self-talk. Or worse, I might believe it. In either case, it becomes harder to learn and grow.
I speak to myself kindly because that is the way I like being spoken to. It is not to sugar-coat difficult times and circumstances – of which I have experienced many. I do it because I believe in living a life of peace. And self-talk is fundamental to that.