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What it Takes to Treat Yourself the Way You Treat Others

Whether it's intrinsic motivation or personality or subscribing to social norms or habit, many people deem generalized compassion for others valuable. Some people actually work really hard to express compassion for others anywhere they go. Many of the same people also identify as being their own worst critic. So what gives? Why can't I just treat myself as nice (or even half as nice) as I treat others?

Confidence and Beliefs

We've spent a lifetime streamlining the people we encounter into categories of confidence and beliefs. Even if faced with two complete strangers - one smiling and facing me, the other scowling over their shoulder at me- I have confidence that they are both fleeting in my life (strangers usually are), and believe my intuition that the smiling one would be safer to say hello to.

So imagine a coworker that you're not very close with and has been in the workplace for a while and always seems to get work and life done and come back the next day. When they confide in you in the break room that they're having a bad day, you are confident that they get work and life done and come back the next day, so you believe that they are going to be okay, and you say "Hey, sorry to hear that, you've got this, everything will turn out fine." You truly believe your words, so you don't lose sleep over it and maybe they follow up with you later.

When do you take time to reflect on your confidences and beliefs about yourself?

Healthy confidence and beliefs takes time, time that we often re-allocate elsewhere. When something does not go as planned and you could use some self compassion, are you confident in your problem solving skills, or emotion regulation skills, or resourcefulness, or priorities, etc? That confidence tends to impact our beliefs about future outcomes as well. Without identifying and reinforcing our confidences and beliefs about ourselves, even the most eloquent and self compassionate words we tell ourselves will fall on deaf ears. They're just words with no substance.

Below are some ideas for confidence and belief building strategies. Try implementing one of each!

Confidence reflection strategies

  • Focus on your strengths. Think about them, write them down, talk about them, practice them.

  • Engage in a hobby. Things you are naturally interested in come with reasonable expectations and the desire to learn more. Consider how your actions or experience within your hobby could apply to other parts of your life.

  • Check your body. straight spine, shoulders back, eyes up, smile! These positions give your brain biochemical cues that influence confident thoughts. Think Amy Cuddy's "Power Pose".

Belief setting strategies

  • Use an affirmation (or two). For example: I am a good problem solver; I matter, no matter how the problem gets resolved; one event will not ruin my day. Using affirmations during less stressful times makes us more likely to use them during stressful times. Think it, say it, write it down.

  • Challenge. It's never a waste of time to challenge ourselves, beliefs and self talk included. How do I know I can do it if I don't try? What if the opposite is also true? Absolutes like always or never are just begging to be challenged.

  • Beware confirmation bias. No matter how outlandish our belief is, our brain knows it feels good to be right. Evidence for one belief does not automatically discredit any others. Is there evidence contrary to my belief?

I'm not saying you have to exude generalized confidence and have grandiose beliefs about yourself (at some point those become just words too). Confidence and belief in one strength can fuel effective self compassion, which fuels more confidence and beliefs, and the cycle continues.

Life is yours for the taking, one second at a time. Live, laugh, learn, and enjoy.


Amanda is a behavioral health counselor, coach, writer, and midwest farmgirl. She owns Ripples of Hope Counseling, LLC and enjoys helping a variety of clients. Get immediate access to her free download "Three Invisible Barriers to Self Love and How to Hurdle Them" by signing up for her newsletter.

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