I was driving late one night recently and a song with the following lyrics came on the radio. “I finally found true love. I finally found true love. And it turns out all along, my true love was me.” I was quite moved and thought about how hard the journey to self love can be.
We spend so much of lives being told that we are “supposed to be” different from whom we are. We receive messages from the media, family, friends, and society that we are not enough. Those messages tell us that we need to be taller, shorter, thinner, smarter, prettier, quieter, sexier . . . the list never ends. It is one thing to have these voices bombarding us from the outside, but most of us have internalized those negative messages.
I call that negative voice the inner critic or judge. Our inner critic spends our time and energy focusing on what we “should be”. These critical thoughts feed our inner critic. The inner critic’s job is to tear us down and create self-doubt. For some, the horrible things the inner critic says about us are way worse than anything other’s say out loud to us. It is also says meaner things than we would say to someone we love.
So how do we defeat the inner critic? We start to listen to a different voice.
I call this voice the nurturing adult. The nurturing adult is often a quieter, gentler voice. It can be harder to hear compared the loud, bullying voice of the inner critic. The nurturing adult acknowledges and celebrates who and what we are. The nurturing adult speaks to us with love, compassion and accepts us as we are.
Not sure what the nurturing adult sounds like? The nurturing adult speaks the way you would towards a precious, beloved, child. The nurturing adult provides unconditional love. When you make mistakes, the nurturing adult inquires what you learned. Asks how you want to do things differently in the future. The nurturing adult does not punish you for being human but lovingly supports you in creating the positive changes you desire.
Here are some ways to find your inner nurturing adult:
- Practice mindfulness—when you quiet your mind, it is easier to hear the softer, gentler voice of the nurturing adult
- Practice gratitude—when you focus on the positive things in your life, the inner critic has a harder time complaining about the negative
- Fill your life with positive messages—feed your nurturing adult with a daily diet of positive thoughts and viewpoints. Some easy ways to do this is to:
Your nurturing adult KNOWS that you are your true love. This year be your own Valentine.
If you would like help in finding your own inner nurturing adult or other ways to continue on your journey in self love and acceptance, Claudine Miller, LPC and Michele Grace MFT Intern at Chrysalis Counseling are here to help. Please contact them at 314-780-8328 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.