Positive change starts with positive thinking, and one of the most important changes that you can make is learning to be kind to yourself
I have found that it is really easy to get into the habit of being really negative towards people. It's something that I used to be very guilty of. I would see someone and instantly pick them to pieces in my head. I didn't think that it changed me on the outside, I actually thought I was pretty ninja about it. Like I had this stream of venom flowing through my brain but a friendly smile on my face.
My dad was also pretty negative, not in an intentionally unkind way, just really cynical and jaded about everyone and everything. I have always been really close to my dad and so it didn't take long for this habit to rub off on me. Experiencing depression probably made it easier to slip into this habit too. My head was already such a dark place so much of the time, it was easy to start projecting that out onto everyone. Interestingly I was kind of proud of it. I was proud of being cynical. I liked being like my dad and it felt like I was able to see through everyone's bullshit.
After a while the things that my dad would say escalated a bit and started to bug me, maybe because he did it to people that I have some things in common with or maybe it was something else entirely. I don't know.
I finally noticed that although always priding myself on being someone who didn't judge anyone, thinking like my dad was causing me to judge everyone. And I mean everyone. The girl with the unwashed hair, the boy who incorrectly pronounced a word, the teacher who was boring me, the parent scolding me. No one was immune to my hateful thoughts and criticism.
This was also when I realised that all the judgement and negative thoughts I was having were ruining my life from the inside. They made my head into an awful place to live. A place of merciless criticism, insults and negativity.
It certainly wasn't making me any friends either. No matter how ninja you think you are, people have a way of feeling those secret negative thoughts.
As an added bonus, the judgement didn't stop with the people that I saw on the street or at school or in my day to day life adventures. I was so into the habit of hating everyone I saw that it didn't stop when I looked in the mirror. Just like with everyone else I would think of or see myself and without hesitation proceed to rip myself to shreds. This made me feel worse about myself, which then caused me to think more awful things about everyone else, which made me think more awful things about myself. It was a vicious cycle that it took me a really long time to escape. But I did escape.
When I started noticing all these things I resolved to change. I decided that I would stop thinking awful things about everyone. This was a hard thing to do at first. I would look at someone and find that I was criticising them without even consciously deciding to do so. So I decided that when that happened, I would counteract it by making myself stop the awful thoughts, really look at the person and find at least one interesting or beautiful or positive thing about them and think about that instead.
It is important to notice that I didn't reprimand or get down on myself any time that the negative thoughts slipped in. I just stopped them where I could and focused on the positive.
It was a slow process at first, but eventually the kindness and positive thoughts started coming to mind easier and the negative ones occurred less and less. Of course I still get annoyed at people and that might make me have a little tirade of nastiness in my brain, but I think that's normal and natural and not something to try and stop. You have to be able to express your feelings at times like that, but it's important not to let it slip back into needless and unwarranted negativity.
Eventually I noticed that I was able to follow the same process when I looked at myself. I learned to be kind and positive, if not all the time then most of it. This ended up helping a great deal with my mission to overcome my depression. It helped make my head a much nicer place to be (most of the time)
We know our faults better than anyone else so it's really easy to tear ourselves down. Sometimes they are things that other people have pointed out or things we notice ourselves, and somehow they are always the easiest things to believe. But there is so much more that is beautiful and interesting and perfect, if we can only learn to see it.