Some time ago I read somewhere (probably on the internet, but I don't recall where or I'd link to it) that you should never speak to yourself in a way you wouldn't speak to your best friend. That really resonated with me, because it highlighted just how horrible so many of the things I was saying to myself were. I started trying to put it into practice. When I caught myself muttering self-deprecations, I'd stop, and look at myself in the mirror, and tell myself I was beautiful, or smart, or strong. I'd give myself a little pep talk, reminding me that however bad I was feeling was only for right now, and it would pass eventually, and we'd get through it together, the two of us, sane Clare and crazy Clare.
It sounds terribly corny, not to mention a bit odd, but it worked in that I eventually started to believe the things I told myself, some of the time at least, and slowly began to hate myself a little less.
Then I took it further. I've always struggled in social situations, but I used to dread being alone too, because it meant I had no one for company but myself and my dismal thoughts. I decided that had to change. So I started spending time with myself on purpose, going to interesting places like coffee shops and bookstores, and doing fun things, like writing stories, or creating playlists of my favorite Broadway musicals, or sitting in a park somewhere and reciting poetry aloud till it got dark. Taking myself on dates, essentially.
It was a way of getting to know myself again, since the negative internal monologue had been going on so long that I really didn't have an accurate idea of who I was any more.
I found out I was actually a pretty awesome person. I started to enjoy my own company. By treating myself as a friend rather than a problem, I discovered it actually was possible to love myself, and began to re-learn how.
And now...well, now I can't imagine not spending those precious hours with myself each week. Writing, reading, thinking, browsing, reciting poetry. Fun, happy, blessed hours. Me hours.
Today was a bit tough, a bit panicky, a bit depressed. So tonight I had a me night. And because someone else might find it's what they need, I'm going to tell you what a me night consists of.
1) I do something nice to my surroundings. Tonight I took out the trash, because it stank, and hung up some flowers that were wilting in their vase, so they can dry and look pretty and Victorian on my wall.
2) I do something nice for my outside. Usually that's painting my nails, or giving myself a facial, but tonight I decided to re-dye the ends of my hair bright purple. (Now the inside of my bathtub looks like an Easter egg.)
3) I do something nice for my insides--preferably, something that tastes nice and is still good for me, so I don't end up feeling like crap. Tonight it was a blackberry-and-dark-chocolate smoothie.
4) I do something nice for my mind. Usually this involves sci-fi of some sort. (MORE Farscape! ALL the Farscape!) But sometimes writing blog posts works too.
That's all. If you ever catch yourself calling yourself names, you might want to give it a try. It works for me.