You are too hard on yourself and so am I. Well, I used to be. We are taught to beat ourselves up in the attempt to make us stronger and succeed. But in reality it never works. When you learn to stop being so hard on yourself, you gain confidence and control, and feel happier. We live in a culture where having and doing it all seems possible, and yet in reality, it is incredibly difficult to even get close.
So many people think if they go easy on themselves, they will lose sight of their goals, and become lazy. They get stuck in the, “I have to do it all” mentality, beating themselves up when something doesn’t get done or fit into their already crammed schedule. This mindset leaves people feeling exhausted, and unhappy. It did for me, and it will for you too if you don’t stop soon.
The truth is, we’ve got to be kind to our minds, body and soul. We need sleep, relaxation, food and connection. If we don’t get it, we burn out and are faced with more self-loathing and feel less confident in our abilities. We are actually invalidating ourselves when we don’t listen to our needs. In fact, research suggests that giving ourselves a break and accepting we are not perfect is indicative of better health.
People who have more self-compassion have lower levels of anxiety and depression, and are happier in all aspects of their life. Dr. Kristin Neff, professor at the University of Texas at Austin and researcher on self-compassion, says self-compassion is not the same as self-indulgence. For those who don’t give themselves a break, she reports that, “they believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be… when in reality, self-compassion is really conducive to motivation.” When you care about yourself and allow yourself some wiggle room, instead of beating yourself up, you actually make choices that are helpful and keep you aligned with your goals.
Stop Being Hard On Yourself When You….
- Are Running Late. Stop being so hard on yourself. It happens to everyone, and sometimes we really can’t plan for it. Instead of getting worked up over what your friends or boss might think, take a deep breath and let it go. You’ll get there, and beating yourself up over a few minutes is only going to harm you.
- Need help. I cannot stress enough how much asking for help is an act of self-care. Sometimes we need a little help. Apps like Task Rabbit make tasks easier, and using Amazon for groceries or Insta Cart can make a huge difference in your work load and only cost a few bucks.
- Skip your work-out routine. If your body is tired, listen to it. Going to the gym, especially when you are feeling depleted, can be hurting your health. Find a reasonable amount of time per week and aim for that.
- Need to say “Nope.” Sometimes we can’t take on more or quite frankly don’t want to. It’s okay. Learn to assert yourself in these situations; it builds a stronger relationship with yourself, and those who are asking will respect you more
- Need a break. You need a break from the constant hustle. Put away the to-do list, turn off the computer and go do something for yourself. Your body needs you time.
- Are too busy to return a call or email. I know with emails and phone calls, it seems if we don’t get back to someone in a few minutes, we are ignoring them or procrastinating, but newsflash: you don’t have to answer immediately. This can be hard to do, but you are only one person. Most people are more understanding than you are on yourself. If you need to take time to figure out what you want to say or have all your information in a row, it’s ok to get back to them later in the day or tomorrow.
- Tired. Take a nap. You need rest. Your body needs to recharge, sometimes in the middle of the day. If the coffee is doing nothing and your work is starting to falter, your body is probably telling you that it needs rest. Don’t be so hard on yourself when you have to take a quick twenty-minute nap.
- Really tired. Sleeping in. Just like napping recharges you in the middle of the day, getting a few extra hours of sleep will give you more energy to take on everything you have planned for your day.
- Really tired and hungry. Order in. We live in fast-paced world. You are not super-human. A home-cooked meal is great, but let’s be real. We don’t have enough time in our day to spend an hour in the kitchen. It’s ok to order out. Seamless and GrubHub are not the enemy; they are there to make your life easier. Maybe you shouldn’t order that greasy cheesesteak, but find a family restaurant to order from.
- Feeling like a zombie from too much screen time. Take a break from the computer; put your phone on silent for a little while, and step away from a bright screen. Your eyes will thank you.
- Can’t get over the past. Holding on to past perceived failures is only holding you back from self-compassion, and taking hold of your energy for future tasks. What’s done is done; the past is over. Make a list of all the things you can’t forgive yourself or someone else for and burn it.
- Crave dessert. If you are craving that chocolate cake, even though you have been trying to eat healthy all month, your body is likely telling you something. It’s craving that food because it’s lacking something. Eating perceived “bad” foods in moderation, versus beating yourself up every time you eat something, is healthier. Avoiding them all together will just lead to a binge later on.
- Indulge your guilty pleasure. Read a magazine, go shopping or watch that reality TV show. Doing these things will get you out of your head temporarily. Remember: most things are okay in moderation. These guilty-pleasures will keep you happy and entertained without have to strain your mind.
Balance is the key. Having more self-compassion will build confidence in your abilities and within yourself. No one is perfect; we are all doing the best we can. Remember that.
Take Good Care,
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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is The Guidance Girl. Her goal is to help YOU become the most confident person you know! Emily is an award-winning author Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, Educational Speaker, and parenting consultant. She travels around the country educating girls, women, and parents. Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.