Think back to the last time you missed an achievement or made a mistake – were you very forgiving with yourself? Or did you berate yourself – maybe not out loud – but in your head, referring to yourself as a failure or an idiot. This is a common cycle for most people. We might make a simple mistake or even a larger one, but rather than show the same patience and kindness we would show for a stranger in the same situation, we tend to cut ourselves down and insult ourselves.
While you may not think that this sort of ‘self-discipline’ is harmful, it can have exactly the same affect as if someone else called us names and tried to undermine our confidence. The next time you make a mistake, have an accident or even just do something wrong purely out of ignorance or not paying attention, take a deep breath and consider how you would treat a stranger in the same situation.
People make mistakes, that’s part of being human. If your colleague or friend made a mistake you wouldn’t scream in their face and call them an idiot. Instead, you’d offer comfort and reassurance, work through the mistake and help to find a solution that rights the wrongs or fixes something that has been broken. When you make a mistake and you are aware of it, you are already on high alert, you are tense, feel stressed and like there is a weight in your stomach. Yet the moment someone offers reassurance and comfort and tries to help you right the mistake, this feeling can disappear and you feel more relaxed and focused on solving the problem.
Sometimes mistakes are more than just letting the dog out in the rain or knocking a glass off of the counter. Sometimes mistakes can lead to a monetary loss. While society doesn’t have an obligation to help people who are the victim of a mistake or affected by a larger factor, providing support for those who have found themselves in awful situations and circumstances can make communities better as a whole. There are plenty of charities that support individuals who are victims – whether it is a government in conflict or a community affected by severe weather conditions – and communities that give charity as a basic requirement of life. For more information, take a look at this What is Sadaqah article and how these selfless acts of charity help thousands of strangers in need.
Have you ever stopped to help someone on the street? Whether it was as simple as giving directions and ensuring they got to their destination or staying with someone who needed a kind face and some company. Most people wouldn’t hesitate to jump in and show kindness to someone who was clearly in need but this is a practice we don’t apply to ourselves. Don’t give in to unkind thoughts. When you are feeling low seek out the things that make you happy – whether that’s a certain song, video, film or even another person. When you are feeling useless, find somewhere you’ve achieved – in a job, a personal project or a fantastic day out with other people. Think about the sort of things you would do to counter someone else’s negative thought patterns and use them to interrupt your own negative thoughts.
Strong mental health starts with proper support from those around us, and most importantly, from within ourselves. Without this support we doubt ourselves and our skills, lose confidence and start the self-depreciating cycle. Build yourself up! Treat yourself – not like you’d normally treat yourself – but with the same patience, support and kindness you’d treat a stranger and start believing in yourself again.