One essential aspects of holistic stress reduction is self-nurturing, in particular cultivating a compassionate attitude towards yourself.
Unfortunately in a real life it works quite opposite: when under stress and when this is the last thing any of us need, we tend to be critical and hard on ourselves.
What we really need is a more positive, loving attitude towards ourselves. However, most of us are experts at supporting and being understanding of other people, but when it comes to ourselves we fail miserably.
We all have an inner critic sitting on our shoulders watching and judging our every move.
Do any of these phrases sound familiar?
- "You look like hell, even your earlobes have wrinkles."
- "If your head weren't attached you'd forget that too."
- "Try as you might, you're never going to amount to anything."
The sad truth is that we continually have this kind of running dialogue with ourselves.
Have you ever noticed that no matter what you do your critic is never satisfied, never happy? Nothing you do seems to please her or more importantly, gets her to shut up.
Would you want a friend who was constantly critical of you, blamed you for everything that went wrong, put you down no matter what you did, kept a running tally of all your failures, and beats you up for even the smallest mistakes? Not if she were the last person alive. Yet repeatedly we give in to this tyrant.
What you need to do is to start to cultivate your compassionate, nurturing voice by first sending your inner critic on an all expenses paid vacation to the Bahamas.
Get her off your case. However, even if you do get a break you can count that she's going to reappear from time to time. That's why it's essential that you cultivate a voice that can defend you against her harangues.
Next step -- develop a nurturing inner voice.
This is a voice that will reassure you, "of course it's okay to put off paying those bills until tomorrow and take a hot bath," "yes you deserve to escape to a day spa," "no you don't have to cook dinner tonight when you're so exhausted, just stop and pick something up."
Transform your negative messages into positive supportive statements. Use your nurturing inner voice to defend yourself against your critic.
Remember, it may take some time before your nurturing voice begins to dominate your internal dialogue. However, over time your compassionate voice will overcome your inner critic. What a relief this will be.
As you make more space for yourself on the inside you'll have an easier time creating space in your everyday life.