Speak Kindly To Yourself
I wish this journal entry was a stand alone event.
It wasn’t. To be fair, it still isn’t.
There are many journal entries where I spent time outlying my faults, tearing myself down, warning others away from me, or listing out my failures.
Learning to speak kindly to myself, or about myself, has been a long and difficult journey. I still catch myself falling into the habit of hurtful words and have to be intentional about changing the things I say to myself.
There are three reasons why this has become an important issue to me.
- It is a biblical command
- I found myself trying to manipulate others with self hate
- Self hate feeds the depression
Let’s break these down.
It is a biblical command.
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Verse 39 is what I want to focus on, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’.
Break this sentence down grammatically, taking out the comparator, ‘as’. We are left with two phrases: ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘Love yourself’. The smilie created by combining these two phrases with ‘as’ communicates that the love you have for your neighbor should be similar to the love you have for yourself.
So let’s re-examine the first stanza of my poem using an imaginary neighbor, Frankie.
Mirror, Mirror on the wall
Thou art Frankie’s enemy always
You blankly show the ugliness
The ugliness that lies in Frankie’s face
Frankie’s face and very self
Now, if I gave this to Frankie, I imagine they would be non-to-pleased and probably hurt. It isn’t a very loving thing to do.
So why would it be okay to write this about myself?
It isn’t. If I choose to write this about myself but not others, than I am disobeying the second greatest commandment by choosing to love others more, or dissimilarly, than myself.
I found myself trying to manipulate others with self hate.
I unintentionally became very skilled at conversations like this:
Me: “Arrgghhh…Calculus is so hard!! I’m an idiot.”
Friend who does not take calculus: “You’re not an idiot, you’re really smart. You’re taking calculus for pete’s sake!”
See what I did there? I used my insecurity and self-deprecating words to coax a compliment out of my friend. These twisted compliments were a type of emotional fix which temporarily buoyed my self worth. However, like all addicts, it wouldn’t take long until I needed another fix.
I realized in my early adulthood this type of behavior was a presentation of false humility. Tearing myself down doesn’t show humility. More importantly, I was attempting to compel another person to contradict me for the sake of politeness or friendship.
The manipulation was also a symptom of being in emotional self-defense mode. If I verbally punched myself before another person could make a punch line about me, I was safe. I had already acknowledged the fault. Others couldn’t cut me down if I had felled my self esteem first.
Ironically, it was also a false confidence. I was scared of being told I was crazy, so I claimed insanity on a regular basis. I didn’t like being told I was a dumb blonde, so I embraced the qualities of a ‘dumb blonde girl’.
True humility and confidence is knowing who you are, good attributes and bad, and standing on them. It’s learning to be comfortable in your own skin.
Self hate feeds the depression
My mind is a strange and wonderful place. Like Wonderland, or any other enchanted forest of old, it occasionally gets dark and scary and whispers lies to me. That seems to be the reality of my disease.
However, I have a choice in whether I listen to and repeat those lies. I can choose whether I will feed the disease or starve it.
Choosing to speak kindly to myself, whether it feels true or not, is one of the ways I can remove the power of the lies. Speaking against the lies with truths from God’s word and what I know about myself help to stop the darkness in its tracks. It helps to get me back on a path to the light.
Speak kindly to yourself.
Listen carefully to how you talk with and about yourself. If you find there are more unkind words than kind, venture to shift the balance.
The truth of the mirror on the wall is that you’re stuck with the person reflected back for the entirety of your life. Learn to love them and speak kindly.