When the going gets tough, be kind to yourself

Is it me or are more people reaching burn out, tired all the time, getting sicker or throwing their hands up in the air in exasperation, disillusionment and despair?

I have a variety of friends and connections who are all showing worrying signs of getting to the end of their tethers in their various job occupations.

Thankfully, being self-employed and due to my PTSD rich in CBT practices, I seem to be avoiding the general malaise (a general feeling of discomfort, illness, or unease whose exact cause is difficult to identify). However, I am being called upon more frequently to act as friend and confidante and help where I can in shoring up their drooping ability to cope.

The biggest and best piece of advice I can offer is “Be Kind to Yourself”.

We all suffer from work related off days, bad days, periods of frustration, anger, resentment, wondering what it’s all about and these can run into weeks, months if not years. Changing your self narrative about these periods is the best way to cope and surmount them.

Being kind to yourself starts from within your brain. Your inner chatter should be asked and answered with the kindness that an outside friend would show you if you were offloading your worries and concerns to them. Your rational ‘friend’ voice lives within your subconscious so has to be asked directly to come forward and help.

The simplest way of doing this is to sit down in a quiet place and voice out loud your problem. Then imagine that it wasn’t you who vocalised at all. Imagine a friend in front of you who has just stated your problem as theirs. (no, this is not schizophrenic behaviour)

Be kind to yourself- what advice would you give a friend?

Consider what you would say to that friend. Would you be as hard on them as you are being on yourself?

Would you not offer them words of encouragement and support?

What would those words look and sound like?

Would you make suggestions as to where they could look for help?

Might you come up with ideas as to how they might improve their situation?

Might you not say, “Don’t be so hard on yourself, be kind to yourself?”

I always record myself when I’m being my own best friend and jot my replies down afterwards. Then I, quite literally, sit down again and give myself a good talking to but using my jotted down replies and vocalising them in the kindly tone I would use with a friend. It’s important to say them out loud as I think it embeds better in your mind and somehow hearing the advice seems to be more believable and convincing than just the written word.

The power of our brains cannot and should not be underestimated, especially in these stressful, uncertain and unsettled times. We all need to learn how to harness this power, so it benefits us rather than harm us and becoming your own best friend is just one step towards doing so. The next time stress wells up inside you, remember, be kind to yourself and give yourself a friendly talking to.