Ways To Happiness: Being Nice to Yourself

For years I had been my own worst enemy, getting myself into all kinds of stupid situations and causing trouble for myself, and then piling it on by being my own harshest critic and judge. That night, I started being my own best friend instead. It takes a little practice, but it’s not that hard, and it really works.

Ways To Happiness: Being Nice to Yourself
Remember, the first step is recognizing when you’re getting into a bogus thought pattern. If you start feeling upset or thinking everything is terrible, awful, never, or always, that’s an indicator that you’re making yourself upset. That’s right, it’s not events or other people that make you upset, it’s your beliefs about what’s going on and your reactions to them. Of course we’d rather good things happen, but how you react when anything happens is up to you. Your feelings come from your thoughts, and we’ve just seen that your thoughts are not always right. When your thoughts are causing you to freak out, you need to change them.

Once you recognize that you’re in a bogus thought pattern, study and dispute it. Ask yourself what thoughts are behind what you’re feeling. Then look at each one. Is it true? Do you have proof? How does it make you feel? Is there another interpretation for the situation that’s equally true but not upsetting?

In my case, it’s often one copy of my voice in my head (Critical Me) attacking another copy (Weak Me): “You never do anything right. Why are you even trying? You’ll fail at this, just like you’ve failed at tons of other things, and everyone will know! You’ll be a laughing stock!”

I’ve found the quickest way to defuse that is to have a third copy of my voice (Advocate Me) stand up to Critical Me, just like I would stand up to someone who was bullying my friend: “Hey, [me] has done plenty of things right! You can’t expect to do things perfectly on the first try, but failing is good—it’s part of learning,
and it’s not permanent unless you quit. Maybe there are some mean people who would laugh if this ends poorly, but probably not, and who cares about them even if they do exist? [Me] is an all right sort who’s doing the best she can, so lay off.”

It sounds ridiculous and crazy, but I’ve found it very effective. In fact, I hardly ever even need to do it any more. That’s partly because my life has settled down quite a bit, but mostly, I just don’t think such harsh things about myself any more. By standing up to Critical Me and disputing her thoughts, I’ve retrained myself to be more accurate and more pleasant in my thoughts. I highly recommend this—my head is a much nicer place to be as a result.