I enjoy reading self-help books and over the years have found positive strategies to ease difficult feelings of depression, grief and loneliness.
I’m also aware they have their limitations, one of my favourite author/speakers Brene Brown is quick to dismiss the term: “We were never meant to do it on our own,” she says.
Through many of the books I’ve read there is a re-occurring theme; if we can be loving and compassionate to ourselves then life can be a whole lot easier.
This is, of course, much easier said than done, many of us are quick to highlight our own flaws, criticise our own struggles and complain at our own uselessness. The truth being if a friend or relative was going through the same thing we would show nothing but kindness to them.
To put self-love into practice the author Elizabeth Gilbert writes a letter to herself every day from love. In the letter she says to herself what she had wished someone else would say to her. She promises to walk beside herself holding her own hand. “You mush learn how to tell yourself that you are loved. You must tell yourself this again and again until slowly you learn to believe it.” She says.
For our British sensibilities, all this is more than a bit cringy, and the default setting of caring for everyone else and not ourselves is much easier. For me personally this strategy has not worked, often leaving me exhausted and battling the mental health demons.
Gilbert suggests for those struggling with the notion of ‘self-love’ how about starting by just being a really good friend to yourself. For me this seems slightly more palatable, being kind and caring in my own struggles has helped me cope better with the challenges I have faced.
So if you do one thing today why not try treating yourself with kindness, compassion and love. You have absolutely nothing to loose.
Liz Gilbert on letters to herself
A Moodscope member.