Be Kind: 1in6 Thursdays on the Joyful Heart Foundation Blog
At the end of emails to good friends, I sometimes add these words: “Be kind to [name] today.”
Occasionally I’ll add, “[Name] is someone I like very much and deserves the kindness.”
Not everyone responds to those words and I don’t write it to hear from them. I write the words because I mean them. I also write them because I’ve had to say them to Cec Murphey many, many times.
When I mess up, say or do the wrong thing, feel low, or lonely, that’s when I have to decide to be kind to myself. For so many years of my life, I constantly criticized myself and treated Cec shabbily.
But with my healing came compassion for myself. I remember only too well my self-condemnation for being needy, imperfect, and worthless. In the past five years, I’ve learned to be compassionate to myself.
How do I show myself compassion?
My words, which I speak aloud, go like this: “I like Cec; he needs me to support him. He deserves all the love and respect I can offer.”
When I mess up, instead of belittling myself—as I did the past—”There you go again. You failed”—I say, “This isn’t typical of your behavior. It’s all right; I forgive you and I’ll help you do better.”
Some might laugh at that, and I admit it’s simplistic and probably sounds like some kind of psychobabble. Maybe it is, but I know two things. First, I remind myself to be gentle, understanding, and forgiving to myself. Second, it works. I have to say the words to myself less often and I’m far less self-judgmental.
And we survivors of childhood sexual assault need that soft, gentle reminder to ourselves. Most of us have been so self-demanding and harsh and we perpetuate those dark, dismal feelings of worthlessness.
We can change by talking to ourselves differently (and all of us talk to ourselves).
Be kind to yourself. Say only positive, loving thoughts to yourself. If I find myself bordering on negative and self-condemning words, here’s what I do. “Cec, I’m sorry I felt that way. You don’t deserve the harsh things I’ve said about you. I promise you that I’ll be nicer.”
Cecil Murphey wrote, When a Man You Love Was Abused and Not Quite Healed with survivor Gary Roe. Murphey is the author or coauthor of 137 books including international best sellers, 90 Minutes in Heaven and Gifted Hands: the Ben Carson Story. His latest book is Stolen: The True Story of a Sex Trafficking Survivor, written with Katariina Rosenblatt. His twice-weekly blog is www.menshatteringthesilence.blogspot.com.
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