Do you suffer from a disorder known as "musturbation"? This term was first coined in the 1950s by psychotherapist Albert Ellis and described the way a negative inner voice rules our minds and bludgeons us with words such as "must", "should", and "ought". This negative thought pattern is also known as "should-ing" - "I should do better at work", "I ought to go for that promotion", or "I have to help with the school fete". This is your "musturbully" talking. But if you were talking to a friend about a problem, would you be as hard on them as you are on yourself?
We know about being kind and compassionate to others, but can we also be kind to ourselves? And why is self-compassion so important? Many of us put the needs of others before our own well-being.
We are raised to believe that putting our needs first is selfish. But in reality, being compassionate and kind to yourself is responsible behaviour rather than selfishness.
Self-compassion is often overlooked, but when you are kind to yourself, it helps you reach out and be kind to others. So when your negative inner voice is telling you that you must do something you don't want to do, ask yourself whether you would advise or speak to a friend in the same way. Or would you advise them not to be so hard on themselves?
It's vital to pause, take a step back and treat yourself kindly, whether mentally congratulating yourself for a successful work project or treating yourself to a spa day. And don't feel guilty while you do it!
However, if being kind to yourself doesn't come naturally, you're certainly not the only one! Practising self-compassion makes many people feel uneasy. See our quiz below and find out whether you're really being kind to yourself or "musturbating" too much.
a) Time for myself isn't necessary for me.
b) I don't always manage to make time for myself because I've got too much on my plate.
c) I always build some time for myself into my daily schedule.
a) Meet your friends but make an excuse and leave to carry on working, then make an excuse to go back to work
b) Go along because you would feel guilty if you cancelled, but feel stressed and can't stop thinking about work.
c) My friends will understand - I'll explain things to them, arrange to meet another time, and go home to get a good night's sleep.
a) Feel furious with yourself for forgetting their name and go over and over your mortification for the rest of the day.
b) Bluff your way through the conversation, feeling very anxious.
c) Make a joke of it and say sorry - it happens all the time.
a) Working - I need the weekend to catch up on work stuff I didn't get done in the week.
b) I'll see what everyone else wants to do.
c) I'll be doing something that makes me happy.
a) Go over and over in your head what a disaster you are and lose your self-confidence.
b) Focus on what went well and learn from your mistakes, so you do better in the future.
c) Talk it through with a friend, feel mortified for a while, then move on.
You need to practice self-compassion. Being kind to yourself appears to be the last thing on your mind. Learn to ignore your "Musturbully" with baby steps. Set aside one evening a week one night for some self-care. Switch off your screens and relax in a bubble bath, listen to music or watch a movie.
You're kind to yourself - some of the time!
Sometimes you can be your own best friend; at other times, your inner critic gets the better of you. Try being more assertive. It's OK to turn down an invitation sometimes and have a night at home looking after yourself if that's what you need.
You know the importance of being kind to yourself
You are your best friend. You understand how vital it is to be kind to yourself. If you don't look after yourself, you'll burn out and won't function well enough to look after others, so you schedule regular time for yourself every day.
Being kind to yourself doesn't always come naturally. Many of us are hard on ourselves, but it doesn't have to be that way. Self-compassion is a skill you can learn. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Eat healthy food, go for a walk, or spend the day gardening. Anything you do to look after your body is a vital step to self-compassion. Bach Flowers Mix 44 helps you believe in yourself and reduce performance anxiety.
Meditating for a few minutes or spending time in nature is a fantastic way to be kind to yourself.
When a situation has caused you pain, describe it in your journal without allocating any blame - especially to yourself. This exercise will help you analyse your feelings and avoid getting trapped in a cycle of negative thinking.
If a close friend was facing challenging and stressful times, what would you say to them? You'd try to be supportive, encouraging and optimistic. When you're in a similar situation, ignore your inner "musturbully" and be compassionate towards yourself.
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