Many people don’t treat themselves very well. They break promises to themselves, eat poorly, don’t get enough sleep, are self-critical or fail to take good care of their bodies. In fact, if most people treated others the way they treat themselves, they wouldn’t have many friends!
A great technique for treating yourself better is by developing your Inner Nurturing Parent. Imagine you had a little child in your care. You’d make every effort to keep her healthy and safe; to love and support her; to be forgiving of her mistakes, her inevitable slips; and to let her know how precious and important she is. That’s what a loving parent does. Only, in this case, you’re the parent and the child. Below are seven ways to strengthen your own Inner Nurturing Parent, and turn the goal of treating yourself better into daily, living action.
Send loving messages to yourself. Tell yourself, “I love you and appreciate who you are.” When you do something well, give yourself a pat on the back. Say, “Great job! I’m so proud of you.” When you’re struggling or feeling low, be supportive by saying, “I’m here for you. You’re not alone.”
Take good care of yourself. A loving parent would make sure you eat right and get plenty of rest, sleep, fresh air and exercise. Keep yourself healthy and fit. Practicing good self-care is an essential part of this process.
Do nice things for yourself. Get into the habit of doing special things for yourself. Make yourself a cup of tea with the nurturing energy that you’d have when preparing tea for someone you love. Visit the sauna, get a massage or draw yourself a bath filled with special salts. Linger in it and relax. Make yourself a candlelight dinner — a delicious meal in a special setting. Coddle yourself. Treat yourself as a loving parent would treat you.
Set healthy boundaries with others. Let people know what you want and don’t want. Tell them what’s okay for you and what’s not. If you have a friend who’s always late and you end up waiting for her and feeling annoyed, tell her how you feel. A nurturing parent wouldn’t let someone treat you badly. A loving parent makes sure his or her child’s needs are met.
Become your own advocate. If someone is disrespectful or hurtful to you, speak up. Tell them you don’t want to be spoken to that way. If someone was unkind, hostile or verbally abusive to your child, you’d stand up for him. Protect yourself as a nurturing parent would protect you.
Believe in yourself. A nurturing parent would highlight your uniqueness, tell you how special you are, encourage you to build on your strengths and support you in a loving, nonjudgmental way. A nurturing parent says, “You can do it.” “I believe in you.” Become your strongest supporter, coach and cheerleader.
And lastly and most important: Be compassionate with yourself. Have compassion for your humanity and your flaws. You’re human and you’re going to make mistakes. Look at yourself through the eyes of a loving parent; don’t punish or criticize yourself. Reassure yourself. Comfort yourself. Accept yourself unconditionally. And show that same compassion for your own parents and others, because they, too, are human.