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We all have two voices in our head (let’s be honest most of us have way more), but for the sake of this article let’s stick with two: the “nice one” and the “mean one.” The nice one is supportive, accepting, and encouraging. The mean one says things that scare you. It prevents you from trying new things, and tells you how much better, skinnier, prettier, smarter, happier, more successful and more talented everyone else is than you. It’s constantly beating you up, and it’s not just you it picks on, it’s the people around you as well.
Here’s the deal … we only have so much mental and emotional real estate inside of us and when we spend any amount of time judging, comparing, putting down, or gossiping, we are taking up space that could be used discovering, exploring, learning, loving, and … wait for it … being. That’s right—one of the best gifts you can give yourself is to just be, exactly as you are, in any given moment.
We live in a world that teaches us to achieve at all costs. Whether it’s achieving professional success, popularity, physical appearance, or a relationship, we are taught that these things equate our worth on this planet. This means the stakes are high and the result is us being really hard on ourselves, and on each other. What actually matters in this lifetime is how we treat people, how we treat the world, and if we leave this place better than when we found it.
I am aware of the bigger systematic shifts that need to occur in our society for us to raise the cultural standard. That said, there is something we can individually do and collectively hold each other accountable for right now that moves us in the right direction: Compassion.
Related words are empathy, care, sensitivity, warmth, tenderness, tolerance, kindness, humanity, and love. My brilliant Co-Founder, Alexis Jones, always turns nouns into verbs and so I will borrow that method here:
Let’s do compassion. Here are five ways to start.
Another Alexis Jone’s one-liner is: “Hurt[ing] people, hurt people.” None of us know where someone might be coming from, what dis-ease they might be suffering from, what terrible news they may have just received, or how they have been treated by the people in their life. So before reacting, if we can stop and consider those possibilities first, and then send love to the part of them that is in so much pain that they feel the need to inflict pain on others, we can make progress.
Otherwise, both of your “mean ones” will just go head to head and everyone loses. And don’t worry, compassion is something you can do from afar, the recipient doesn’t even have to know you’re doing it.
It’s in there, I promise. But for some reason the “mean one” is so much louder. Both voices are talking directly to you, so once you’re aware the “nice one” exists, you can start listening to it. It has compassion when we compare ourselves to others, or can’t get out of bed, or feel insecure and scared. It’s the voice of our best friend, just loving us through it. Whatever “it” might be.
Like everything else, we have to re-program the habits we’ve created and that just means doing the new thing over and over until it becomes second nature. Be patient and have compassion for yourself in the process of learning. You will start to notice your “nice one” showing up a day later like, “Oops, I forgot to tell you it’s okay that you got insecure at dinner last night, and it’s okay that you were mean to yourself about it, I’ve got you.” And then eventually it will happen in real time!
Touch is powerful and as humans we need it just as we need food and water. If you’re feeling anxious, or sad, or spinning out in web of self-doubt just stop everything, take a breath, and put your hand on your heart (skin to skin). It creates a direct line to your “nice one” and if you listen in that moment, you will hear your own kindness.
Eyes are the great equalizer. For yourself, practice looking in the mirror. Just keep staring. There is a moment when you start to see beyond your face and into who you really are. When that happens say all the beautiful things to yourself you’re wishing others would say to you. You can say it out loud or in your head. For others, look in their eyes and know that behind them there is a person who just wants to be loved, love on him/her and ignore the thorny version who might be showing up on the outside. The eyes are, in fact, windows to the soul.
Doing compassion is so important that I’ve devoted my work to spreading this message. Now other companies are getting on board, too. My nonprofit, I AM THAT GIRL, is proudly partnered with Biossance, a skincare brand, to help transform girls’ self-doubt into self-love through digital empowerment teaching girls how to take care of themselves holistically. If brands can do it, then so can you.
My request of you is to take action. Pick one of the practices above—or use your own—and watch what shifts. Compassion is a power that changes the world. If we can find a little more within ourselves, we can start to spread it to others.