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The Comfort in Liking Yourself

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Do you like yourself? I mean do you REALLY like yourself?

At first blush, people often say, “Of course I like myself!” If you really think about it, though, maybe you don’t really like yourself as much as you think you do.

One way to tell if you truly like yourself is by examining your “self-talk.” By self-talk I mean the things that you say to yourself about the things that are going on around you. For example, what do you say to yourself if you spill something? Do you say, “What a clutz you are!” or do you say something like, “Ooops – at least that won’t take much time to clean up!”?

The thing about self-talk is that you hear what you say as if someone else had said it. It follows, then, that you take it in as if someone else had said it and you can actually hurt your own feelings by what you say to/about yourself! It seems kind of silly, but that’s the way it works. Think about it… the more you criticize yourself the worse you feel. It follows, then, that the worse you feel about yourself and the more critical you are of your own mistakes, the more stress you will feel when you make them.

You certainly wouldn’t criticize a good friend. If they made a mistake of some sort you wouldn’t tell them how clumsy or stupid or careless they were; you’d say something supportive like, “It’s no big deal; it’s easy to fix.”

Don’t you think you should be a friend to yourself too?

So… what do we do about this?

I think that the most important thing is awareness of what you’re doing. When you catch yourself saying something critical to yourself, stop, turn it around, and say something supportive. You will hear that, too, and as if someone else said it. You will also absorb it as if someone else said it, and you’ll feel better. Maybe more importantly, you WON’T feel BAD about it.

Be a friend to yourself as you would to your friends. Be kind and supportive, tell yourself positive things, and be encouraging. Even when your friends aren’t around to support you, you will be supportive of yourself and you will find great comfort and less stress.

After all, you are always there in your times of need.

Add a Comment3 Comments

Hey Dave,

I'm going to remember the fact that our brain doesn't seem to distinguish our internal voice from the voices of others. That's really interesting to me. If I heard as many negative things from others in the course of just one day as I do from my internal voice, it would feel like a really, really bad day. And I'm doing that to myself sometimes! Wow.

Thanks so much.

July 6, 2009 - 9:40am

Hi Diane

This is a good question. I think it is a matter of self-esteem. If you don't have good self-esteem it is easier to criticize and be hard on yourself. This begs the question, "If I do have good self-esteem, then why would I have negative self-talk?"

Maybe you wouldn't! But if you still do, then a) maybe your self-esteem isn't what you think it is, or b) you have gotten into a bad habit.

It is sort of a viscious circle - the negative self-talk, I believe, can lower your self-esteem just as it would if it were coming from someone else. After all, we hear what we say and don't seem to be able to distinguish our own internal voice from the voices of others.

By the same token, I believe that positive self-talk can raise your self-esteem and for the same reason.

July 6, 2009 - 8:58am


I love this post. And I agree with everything you say. Self-talk can be amazingly critical, and it's very hard to stop it, even if a person does like himself or herself.

What do you say to someone, however, who believes that her self-talk is truer than what she would get from anyone else? I have such a friend. She is loving, funny, loyal, hardworking and pretty. Those who don't know her probably think she just about has it all. And yet because I'm close to her, I know her negative self-talk never ends. She knows it too -- it is, partially, echoes from her father, whom she felt never able to please (he died several years ago). She finds it very hard to take a compliment, even when it's quite well-deserved. If she loses something, for instance, or misses a deadline, or forgets something she said she'd do, she is much angrier with herself than would seem necessary in scale to whatever it is.

I am not as deep in this behavior as she is, though I identify with it. It is much easier for me to think "This house is a mess, I will never get it organized" than to think, "Just a bit at a time is all that matters." Do I have access to the gentler self-talk? Yes, I do. But it doesn't ring as true as the frank statement does.

Why do we feel that the harsher voice is so much closer to the voice of truth?

July 6, 2009 - 8:40am
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