Stop being so hard on yourself, jeez! Do you ever feel like your own bully? Then it’s time to start being nice to yourself, stop pushing yourself to get everything done and start accepting that you can’t do it all. Being hard on yourself may be hardwired; you may have been thinking this way since high school. However, it’s not healthy. “I have to get it all done,” or “If only I would’ve…” Any of these statements sound familiar? We live in a culture where having it all, and doing it all seems possible, and yet in reality, it is incredibly difficult to even get close. Going a million miles an hour to attempt to check off your to-do lists done, beating yourself up for being human, and trying to prove that you can do it, is a set up for crazytown.
I was recently speaking to a client who said if she goes easy on herself she will lose sight of her goals, and become “lazy.” If she gave herself a break and allowed herself a day off from her studies, or a few hours to indulge in her favorite shows, it would be distracting, and she would be unmotivated. I can see how this may seem true, but breaks to recharge or do the things our bodies are begging us for will help more than pushing yourself too hard. You don’t have to avoid the TV or take a vacation from technology. Small, simple things can truly make a difference.
Maybe you skip the gym after a 12 hour workday, get take-out or decide to have a night in, bravo! Be compassionate to your body and tell your brain to take a hike for a minute: sometimes you really just need to rest. Your body needs to recharge and maybe that means spending the evening with some Chinese and Hulu.
Science Says You Need a Break: Don’t be so hard on Yourself
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 depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier overall.
Dr. Kristin Neff, a professor University of Texas at Austin and researcher on self-compassion, says self-compassion is not to be confused with self-indulgence or lower standards. 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,” So 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.
It’s Okay To
- Run late. It happens to everyone, and sometimes we really can’t plan for it, let it go. Don’t be so hard on yourself if you are happening to run late.
- Be mildly obsessed. Okay in moderation, but not all the time. Say you can’t get over your ex’s new relationship status, or a friends wedding pics. Its only natural to be curious. But allow yourself to then come back to reality. The virtual stalking only makes you feel worse in the long run so try and reduce the need to “look.” Don’t be hard on yourself for feeling curious.
- Take a break. Put away the to-do list, turn off the computer, and go do something for you. Take a walk, take a bath, take a moment to look at the clouds and just be.
- Pamper yourself. Feel like a foot rub or want that pain in your neck to finally go away? Splurge on your body, go to the nail salon, local massage spot, or spa and allow yourself to be pampered. It actually helps your immune system as well as helping you chill out.
- Eat that cupcake. Your body is likely telling you something, its craving something because its lacking something. Eating perceived “bad” foods in moderation, versus beating yourself up for them is healthier, avoiding them all together will just lead to a binge later on.
- Let it go. The past is over, what’s done is done. Make a list of all the things you can’t forgive yourself or someone else for and burn it. Holding on to these past perceived failures is only holding you back from self-compassion, and taking hold of your energy for future tasks.
- Take a Nap. Your body is telling you that it needs rest.
- Sleep in. Ditto from above.
- Say no. Sometimes we are unable to take on more or quite frankly don’t want to. This is okay, learn to assert yourself in these situations, it builds a stronger relationship with you, and often those who are asking respect you more.
- Return a call or email, tomorrow. This can be hard, but you are only one person, most people are more understanding than you are on yourself.
- Skip the gym. If your body is tired, listen to it. Going to work out especially when you are feeling depleted can be hindering to your overall health. Find a reasonable amount of time per week and aim for that.
- Turn off technology. Take a break from the computer; put your phone on silent for a little while.
Remember: most things are okay in moderation. 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.
* * * * *
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.