It’s the month of Valentines Day and while the day has been most associated with romantic love, I’d like to shift our focus to the concept of self-love, or more accurately self-compassion.
I have found through my practice as a psychotherapist that despite the vast issues that my clients struggle with, the common denominator is the need for self-kindness. While it may seem like a small task, to cultivate a compassionate and loving inner dialogue can be a lifelong endeavor.
Here are 9 steps to cultivate greater self-compassion:
1) Develop awareness of your negative inner voice. This is the voice that is lead by guilt or martyrdom and can be a real bully.
2) Give the negative voice a name. Some examples include: judge, gremlin, or perhaps the name of the person who spoke to you with this tone (i.e., mom, dad, Edgar, etc).
3) When you hear the voice of your judge (or gremlin) commenting in your daily life, you can say, “Oh that’s my Gremlin.” Or “Hi Mom, I am not listening to you.”
4) Own YOUR voice as a kind and compassionate one, and practice making kind statements to yourself. For example, “I am not lazy, I need to rest.”
5) Watch your guilt as a powerful yet destructive motivator. When making decisions, ask yourself if you are being motivated by guilt or kindness.
6) Don’t SHOULD on yourself! Eliminate the word “should” from your vocabulary. Try to replace it with want or need or prefer.
7) Replace the word SELFISH with SELF-PRESERVING when it feels like it is not okay to take care of yourself.
8) Saying NO to others is often an important part of saying YES to yourself. Play with saying “No” more. Try saying, “I’m sorry, but that will not work for me.”
9) Energetically feed yourself first before feeding others. Play with saying “Yes!” more to yourself. Listen to your loving inner voice and honor your heart’s desires.
If we can be kinder to ourselves, we can be kinder to each other. It will require taking risks and listening. This month, I dare you to ask yourself what you need and want – and to listen as deeply as you would if you were asking a loved one. In the process, you might just find a new beloved.
Happy Valentines Day.
Jodi Schwartz-Levy, PhD, LPC holds a doctorate in the pioneering field of somatic (body-oriented) psychology. Her individual sessions synthesize movement, sensory exploration, energy work, mindfulness, breath work and various other integrative interventions. As well as maintaining a full time practice at The Resiliency Center, Jodi is an adjunct professor at Arcadia University. Keep an eye out for her movement classes beginning at The Resiliency Center this spring! For more information: www.DrJodiSLevy.com, JodiLevy@mac.com, 215-370-7878.