Treating yourself like a best friend would

Those of you who follow me on Instagram would have seen my story. On Sunday I woke up sad.

This overwhelming feeling of sadness just washed over me and all I wanted to do was cry.

So I did.
I sobbed my little heart out for about an hour while my poor boyfriendo hugged me and got toilet paper to wipe my snotty nose.

Then he had to go so I cried into a soft toy for another half an hour until I fell asleep. My body felt so heavy and I was totally drained.

The weird part about all this was that I had no idea why I was sad.

I thought maybe I was frustrated that I had wasted a Saturday evening watching games of touch rugby I’d already seen before and gave no fucks about. Or that my promised pancake breakfast was a definite no go since someone hadn’t been to the supermarket.

But I wasn’t.

I also wasn’t overwhelmed with business work or feeling stressed about it.

I even checked my phone to make sure no-one I knew had died and I was getting this weird 6th sense of emotions about it.
Can confirm that I’m not psychic.  

Ironically, I’d just started writing a sentence in a new blog about how peachy positive pineapply my life is.
So maybe the universe just wanted to let a little air out of my over-inflated balloon.

Trying to figure this out made me feel even worse because I was just running through all the slightly negative things in my life which isn’t great to put a spotlight on when you’re already going full Eeyore.

So I took my own advice from a blog a few weeks ago and just let it happen.

I’m feeling shit and that’s ok.

Welcome to Tahirih’s pity party!


All this got me thinking about looking after yourself when you’re feeling crap and how important self-compassion is.

Compassion in general is a key practice of mindfulness and integrating it into your everyday can make you feel more connected, build stronger relationships and reduce conflict.
Now I’m not going all Mother Teresa on your ass and encouraging you to donate half your salary to charity causes.

Just to consider how another person might be feeling instead of how their behaviour is inconveniencing you.

I’m talking about instead of getting irritated, feeling bad for the lady at the supermarket who’s kid is screaming while she tries to pay for her groceries.

Or if your boss is putting pressure on you, wondering why he is so stressed and whether he’s feeling overwhelmed.

I go so far as to feel sorry for a road ragey driver who’s tooting at other traffic like a dickhead.
It must be the worst have no emotional control, feeling so angry all the time and everyone thinking you’re a dickhead.

Now I could be wrong about all these situations. That lady might spoil her kid and that little Miss runs riot all the time, your boss might love to over-delegate and micro-manage, and that driver is actually just the worst human.

But it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that as soon as you step outside your own bubble and think about another person with kindness, you feel better about the situation.

Try it.


Self-compassion

Self-compassion is stepping back inside that bubble and showing yourself that same understanding and kindness.
It’s showing yourself love.

A lot of us find this much harder.

We all have those mean, harsh voices in our heads telling us that we aren’t good enough, too fat, not pretty, stupid, being a baby, always messing things up… You get it.

Self-compassion turns inwards, acknowledges those voices and says
“I’m sorry that I’m feeling like this right now, how can I best support myself?”.

It’s treating yourself like a best friend would. It’s talking to yourself like a best friend would.

One of my favourite questions to ask myself when I’m feeling anxious about something is “What would my best friend say to me about this right now?”.

Cue a very kind, reassuring and motivating pep talk!

So that’s self-compassion and it is a skill you are very capable of.

“We don’t have to try and be kind. Kindness is innate. It will always be here. We just have to stop being unkind.”

Here are some ways we can practice showing ourselves compassion when we need it.


Cut the expectations

Being sad sucks. It physically drains you.

So go slow and lower your expectations of yourself.

On Sunday, I had big plans. I was supposed to be writing this blog, two Friday emails and going for a 10km run.

I dragged my ass out of bed at 12:30pm, showered, met my friends at the pub for a roast, went back to bed, got up to prep food and get ice cream, then went back to bed with ice cream.
I could’ve beaten myself up, stressed myself out, felt like a failure.

But I was gentle.

You don’t have to always be doing something great.

What’s a few days each year just being a potato?


Cut the guilt.

Self-compassion also means releasing the guilt.

If you forgot your friend’s birthday then yeah, you messed up but you don’t need to beat yourself up about it.

If you ate way too many cookies and fell so hard off the healthy eating bandwagon that you bruised your ass then dust yourself off and jump back on.

If you sacked off the gym for the third day in a row in the first week of your #summershred, don’t make yourself feel like an actual sack.

Give yourself some positive motivation for tomorrow.

Being a totally bitch and bathing in a pool of guilt is unhelpful and unkind.

Remember, what would your best friend say? The one who’s birthday you didn’t forget ;)


Fill up your tool box

Practising self-compassion isn’t just soothing yourself with nice words.

It’s an action. You need to do things that make you feel good.

Have a wallow in your bed for a few hours if you really feel like it but then get out of your cave, put your snotty pillow cases in the wash and start actioning self-care.

It’s helpful to have a tool box of goodness to open up when you need it.

This is a mindfulness exercise to help you when you’re feeling stressed but I think it works perfectly for a low mood as well.

Write down some activities in each of these categories that you know make you feel good.

  1. Nourishing

    Something that is relaxing and makes you feel good.  Take a walk, curl up with a cup of tea and a book, have a nap or soak in a bath.

  2. Mastery

    Achieving something. Ticking something off that to do list and feeling accomplished. You could smash a gym workout, clean your room, bang out a bit of life admin. Anything with action.

  3. Mindful

    Bringing you into the present moment, calming and grounding you. This can be through meditation, focusing on your breathing, or going for a mindful walk. Get out of your head and into your body.


Take a few minutes and write out a list of things you can do when you need to take care of yourself.

Then when you feel upset, overwhelmed or drained, actually do them!

Top on my nourishing list is ice cream. I know for sure that makes me feel bloody amazing.

Is that emotional eating? Maybe.

Does the sugar release feel good hormones giving me a happiness spike? For sure.

Do I give a fuck? No. Pass me the Hagen Daaz.


Your pity party should not be exclusive

If you are feeling crap, having self-doubt or upset about something, tell someone.

I asked boyfriendo to come over so I had company and bring ice cream (obviously).
I announced my sad sack day on Instagram and had so many pals check up on me.

There’s nothing worse than feeling sad AND alone, so connect with people and tell them you need a chat or some hang time.

It’s normal to not be OK.

Telling someone else how you’re feeling can make them feel better about being vulnerable too.
And more likely to ask you for help when they need it.

Sharing is caring.


Let go of the rock

My final piece of advice.

Let go of the rock.

Sometimes we upset ourselves by resisting change, emotions or where we are in our lives right now. We just caught up in the ideas of what we used to be or should be instead of accepting each moment as it is.

Let go of the rock and go with the flow.

You are exactly where you need to be right now and you know exactly how to care for yourself in the kindest way x


Tahirih McLaren-Brown