During this period of quarantine, we’ve had an opportunity to see ourselves from the inside out, to see who we are and how we act in stressful situations. In general, we try to be good people, do the right thing and treat others like we treat ourselves. But how do we really treat ourselves?

We’re all aware of the destructive power of bullying and where it happens – by text, on the phone, on social media and in person. “I’d never do that,” we think to ourselves. “I would never be cruel enough to find constant fault with someone and be a mean girl. Or a mean boy. I would never tell someone that they’re not good enough,” we say, “or that they’re fat and unattractive and they just don’t measure up. I’d never tell someone that they’re untalented and they might as well just give up before they embarrass themselves. Right?

Wrong. If we take an honest look at ourselves, most of us are being bullies every single day. We find fault, we speak harshly, we judge and swear and cajole and discourage . . . ourselves. While we work at being to be kind to other people and treating them with respect, why do we leave ourselves out? One day when I was shaming and blaming myself for something that was trivial in the scheme of things, I stopped a moment and thought, “If somone else were beating me up like this, I’d call the cops.”

Being mean to ourselves is a bad habit that keeps us down. It’s how we stop ourselves from trying new things and making new friends. Pushing ourselves around creates so much anxiety and discontent, it stops us from recognizing and appreciating who we are, how we look and what we would like to do to enjoy our lives. So how do we break the habit? How do we cut through the meanness and stop treating ourselves with disrespect?

Like most habits, it takes a lot of practice and repetition to change our behavior. Look at how long we’ve practiced being angry at ourselves and making ourselves feel small and undeserving of love and forgiveness. If we took 10% of the time we spend beating ourselves up and practiced self-appreciation instead, if we committed ourselves to mindfulness and self-love, we’d be well on our way to changing our thoughts that are cruel and destructive and enjoying the good moments to the fullest.

Do you have any idea how often you turn in on yourself and cause yourself pain and anxiety? When you get stuck there, it’s a good idea to call a friend who loves you. Sometimes they see you in ways that you can’t see yourself. I remember saying to friends more than once, “Try seeing yourself like I see you. Have I ever been that mean to you?”

If you stop the bullying right now and begin to treat yourself with loving kindness and compassion, it’ll change your life in the best way possible. The late motivational speaker and spiritual guide, Louise Hay, said, “You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”

Do you bully yourself? Do you appreciate yourself. Do you do some of both?