How to Be a Little Nicer to Yourself

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@victoriadawsonhoff

Throughout three years of weekly therapy, my breakthrough moments have been more of a slow-and-steady trickle than the dam-bursting, watershed variety. This alone was something that took time to come to terms with; that growth doesn't tend to manifest in aha moments. But one anomaly to this rule occurred a couple years back, when my psychologist asked me a very simple question that still reverberates in my mind: "Do you talk to your friends the way you talk to yourself?"

It was during a time in my life when I was still steeped in the muddied waters of old wounds and insecurities, and the answer was, of course, a resounding no. I told her I'd be horrified if I heard anyone speak in such a toxic manner to my loved ones and heartbroken if I heard them speak to themselves in the same way. And there, in a room where things always seem so exhaustingly complicated, I found my lightning bolt of clarity.

As impressionable as this exchange was, it still took time, practice, and immense growth to learn how to un-train the negative voice I had spent an entire lifetime cultivating. Even now, at a time in my life that so closely resembles inner peace, I am still not totally immune to the occasional shame spiral. But I also know now that in these moments, there are certain strategies that allow me to turn my back on these old narratives before they tighten their grip on my psyche.

With this in mind, I deferred to our resident psychologist Heather Silvestri for her pointers on engaging in more positive self-talk and heading off a negative spiral before it begins. Find her advice below.