‘You can’t love someone else until you learn to love yourself’
not just a ‘cheesy’ quote to advocate self-love,
but a fact
with the science to back it up.
You see, when you’re being self-critical, glancing at yourself in the mirror and muttering the word ‘disgusting’ towards your reflection, your brain and, subsequently, your body, has the same reaction towards this as it would if a stranger on the street started hurling insults at you for no apparent reason. Such a reaction sees the sympathetic nervous system being activated, and the body entering ‘fight or flight’ mode. During this time, stress hormones such as cortisol become elevated, and judgement often becomes clouded as a direct result. It’s hardly a surprise then that when you’re being critical of yourself/when you’re feeling troubled internally, you’re also likely to become critical of other people, too, as your feelings of negativity and what is, ultimately, unresolved hurt (i.e., the brunt of your inner turmoil) end up being projected externally, often onto those whom you are closest to (e.g., friends, family, loved ones, etc.). Why? Because, with stress hormones elevated, in situations such as these, you might find yourself over reacting to things that you would have otherwise been able to ‘let go’ of, perhaps because you’re not thinking rationally during such times…
If you have a very loud, very persistent inner-critic (as I do), then you’re likely to find yourself reacting negatively to other people to the same, persistent, extent. From personal experience, I know that when I’m feeling bad about myself for one reason or another, I end up feeling irritable and snappy towards other people, too (the expression ‘hurt people hurt people’ coming to mind?), and I recognise that I’m not the most ‘pleasant’ person to be around at these times. Though, in contrast, when I’m feeling good about myself/when I’m feeling calm and, ‘at peace‘ internally, I’m more likely to pass those feelings of positivity onto other people, as I’m less reactive to the little things/less irritable and snappy.
The benefits of maintaining a positive inner-voice therefore go far beyond our own mental health and wellbeing, they extend to all those around us, too.
Keep your inner world loving and hopeful, and your outer world will begin to reflect exactly that.’Cleo Wade
Moving forward, we must all make it our mission in life to be more gentle with ourselves when confronted with painful experiences, swapping self-criticism for self-compassion to maintain our peace of mind, rather than allowing ourselves to get angry when life falls short of our set ideals.
If we can do this, if we can show ourselves greater compassion and self-love, swapping out self-criticism for self-compassion, then we will, in turn, be able to show greater love to everyone around us, too, thus creating a positive ripple effect through our family, friends, community, and beyond.