We all have changes that we want to make in our lives. Maybe you want to change how much water you drink, because you think it would help your 3pm headache. Maybe you want to grow your tribe and have stronger relationships. Maybe you want to get off your blood pressure medication.
Even though we all have changes we would like to make, we don’t often make the changes. Day after day, we still have the 3pm headache, we still pop the blood pressure medication, and we still don’t have a friend to go see a movie with.
If we want to make the changes, why don’t we?
Barriers to Change
Crystal Jenkins is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor at Your Wellness Connection. She says that the biggest barrier to change is a lack of self-love.
If a lack of self-love is the barrier, the question is this: why is it hard to show love to ourselves? Why is it hard to grant ourselves grace?
Crystal says that the reason grace and love are hard is because we believe we have to earn it. In our minds, we have a complex system of checks and balances, and we spend all day, every day, making tick marks in the columns and tallying them up.
Most of the columns in this system are about how we are in the world and what we can do. So we are trying to check boxes like do I have a great job? Am I taking care of my family? Did I stop any arguments today? And at the end of the day, it’s just never enough.
Because we are never able to get on the positive side or get into the black with our complex checks and balances system, we never manage to actually earn our own love. And because we haven’t earned it, we don’t feel worthy of the benefits we would get from making the changes that we want to make. So we don’t make the changes.
Treat Yourself like Your Best Friend
Crystal points out that even though we don’t treat ourselves with grace and insist that we earn everything, we will give grace to other people.
When was the last time you had a coworker tell you about a major problem at work that they have really been struggling with? How did you respond to them? You treated them with kindness. You told that that it is ok, that they will be able to sort the problem out, and that tomorrow will be better. And if it was something you could help with, you offered your assistance.
That kindness is exactly how we need to treat ourselves. When something is hard, or you fail at something, or the day just hasn’t gone the way you wanted it to, treat yourself the way you would treat your best friend. Say the same kind words to yourself that you would say to them. If you would suggest that they go take a nap, suggest it to yourself and go take a nap. Use kind words and actions with yourself.
Practicing treating yourself like your best friend is a small step that can allow you to express love for yourself.
The key to the PsychoSpiritual Quadrant is falling in love with yourself. Falling in love with yourself, is a this simple recognition that you matter. You have value and are important.
When you treat yourself with the same kindness as you treat your best friend, you are showing that you believe that you matter. When you believe that you matter, then you can begin making those changes that you know will make your life better. Those changes become more straightforward because you are a person who matters, so obviously you deserve to have a day free of your 3pm headache.
There is a gap between where we are now and self-love, and the way we bridge that gap is with self-care. Most of the time and for many people, self-care means getting a mani/pedi, going shopping, or eating chocolate. But for me, self-care means caring for ourselves.
The first step to caring for ourselves is recognizing our needs. Do you need a glass of water? Do you need to sleep? Do you need companionship? Do you need movement? Do you need to relax? After you recognize the need, self-care is fulfilling it. If you know you are thirsty, get yourself the glass of water.
The other part of self-care is recognizing when we are struggling. For most of us, this doesn’t feel like a need the same way that sleep and food is a need. But when we are struggling, we need to offer ourselves kindness and compassion.
Start practicing self-love today. Meet your needs and treat yourself with kindness and compassion. It will change your life, because it will allow you to change.