You start by being nicer to yourself

Brace yourself, big shock, really hard to be nice if you are an asshole to yourself. This took me about 10 years to discover. If you’ve ever done therapy or support group type things the advice they tell you is to re-write all the negative messages you give yourself. This is hard. I mean, ridiculously hard, because of course when you catch yourself saying mean things in your head you follow-up with a little insult. For me it typically goes like this:

Big Loud Mean Voice (BLMV): Well, no one cares what you have to say so why start a blog, idiot.

Quiet Doubting Voice (QDV): ah fuck, I am so mean, I need to stop beating myself up.

BLMV: See, can’t even do that right

QDV: Crap

BLMV: delete that, stupid

And on and on it goes, all day long, so you get lots of practise, skads of practise. In fact, you get so good at being your own number one critic it makes it really easy to do that to other people. Next thing you know you’re saying Big Mean Loud Voice out loud, to other people, because they too can benefit from your wisdom.

BLMV: I can’t beleive she said that, what an idiot.

This, my friends, is how one can become quite an asshole. I remind myself that this was my number one way of interacting with the world when I was a teen. Being catty and mean meant I had less time to turn that inward. So I try to be compassionate to others when they say mean things to me, I once was Queen of Meandom, now I just travel through from time to time.

I hadn’t realised I had changed until a friend, a few years back, stated I was the nicest person she knew.

Pardon? NO, not me, I’m really mean, actually. I flushed red, embarrassed. She insisted that I did things that nice people did, like complement others, smile, hug and laugh. Turns out, along the way of fighting my depression and inner critic, I’d become a bit nicer to others too. Huh.

BLMV: took you long enough

Ok, so BLMV is still,like, 10% of my inner voice and, sometimes, she is fucking HILARIOUS. Some of my best laughs come from her, but she’s only funny in small doses. When Big Loud Mean Voice is your whole world, life is dang depressing and awful.

Speaking with another friend (I have lots of amazing people in my life, I’ve fooled them into thinking I’m not a total asshole) about my whole self compassion thing she said I was a Buddhist. I laughed. Buddhists are nice people and I’m only just starting to be nice so I couldn’t imagine that they would be up for an asshole to hang out with. After a few months though, I read about Buddhism and a central theme seems to be compassion, for yourself, and others. So I’m going to go hang with some this afternoon. Maybe their niceness will rub off on me.

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