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Why is it so hard to be nice (to ourselves)?

You know that inner voice that find fault with everything you do?

The “you're such an idiot, I can’t believe you did that” etc etc

The reason it feels so difficult to acknowledge out loud the things you're good at or are doing well.

The way you deflect compliments as an automatic response.

I don’t know the answer to this one.

Or maybe I know there are a multitude of reasons.

It may have something to do with negativity bias- the idea that our brain is hardwired to look out for the negative. Researchers think this this is a survival mechanism that has stood us well over the years in making sure we aren’t eaten by predators. But less useful now that the negative thing you’re focusing is the latest depressing news story or the critique from your boss last week.

Maybe it’s because you were taught not to brag as kid – nobody loves a show-off right? But modesty and putting yourself down are not the same thing either.

So maybe it’s goes back to other things in childhood. Maybe you had a parent or caregiver who lost their temper easily, who said hurtful things that you internalised. Maybe there was a kid who bullied you when you were little.

Maybe you had examples of adults in your life who themselves were very self-critical and that has rubbed off.

Whatever is it, guess what, you don’t have to live with it.

It is possible to train yourself out of it. Here are some things to try

1. Notice it. Notice the way you speak to yourself .

2. Write it down – shine a light on the ugly bits- it’s ok- just because it’s in your head doesn’t make it true. You can do an inner critic exercise- like this one.

3. You can consider things like “Would I say this to a good friend”. If the answer is no, why say it to yourself?

4. Practice self-compassion. Yes - practice – you can develop this as a skill even if it seems like your inner critic looms large and loud. There are heaps of self-compassion practices on this website

5. Notice the good. Notice the things you do well each day- try writing down a handful of things every night that you did well that day.

6. Seek out a therapist to work through issues

7. Stop comparing yourself to others – especially on social media. Unfollow people who make you feel worse about your life. Nothing is what it seems on social media.

8. The next time someone compliments you in some way, just take it, own it, resist the urge to diminish it.

Do you find it hard to be nice to yourself? Do any of these seem like something you would like to try?

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