How To Be Kind To Yourself If You're Totally Guilty Of Beating Yourself Up For Everything
How heartbreaking is it that we're usually our own worst critics? I want you to take a moment to consider how many times you’ve consoled a loved one by offering wisdom along the lines of, “you’re doing the best you can,” “don’t be so hard on yourself,” or “give yourself more credit.” How many times can you honestly say you’ve cut yourself the same amount of slack? I’m going to throw you for a curve here, but you really should treat yourself the way you treat family and friends, with love, light, and compassion. I understand it can be difficult to figure out how to be kind to yourself when you’re busy navigating how to excel in the workplace, on top of maintaining healthy, happy relationships, and finding a content work-life balance — but it is possible, and it’s important. You, above all people, are worthy of your own kindness.
I know myself, and I’m totally guilty of hardly ever giving myself a break. Thanks in large part to my type A personality, I tend to tell myself there is always more I could be doing, more areas I can improve on, and the very millisecond I let my guard down and relax, the self-assigned critiques come flooding in. And I know it’s not just my fellow, relentless over-achievers who have experienced these feelings.
I’m willing to bet that most of us have, or will have experienced, self-doubt at some point in our lives. We’ll all grapple with that small, pesky voice inside our heads reviewing something we’ve said, done, or failed to accomplish on a loop until it makes us sick. Wanting the best for yourself is fantastic, but wearing yourself down because you’ve slipped up can be exhausting, not to mention mentally and physically debilitating.
Don't know where to start? Read on for a few tips and tricks that can help you be kind to yourself when you need it most.
1. Practice Positive Self-Talk
This might be the most common piece of advice you'll come across when exploring how to be kind to yourself, ways to practice self-love, and how to be more confident. As cliche, and maybe even corny, as it sounds, altering the way you think and feel about a situation can make a huge difference.
Hasn't anyone ever told you to turn that frown upside down? The same goes for negative self-talk. If at first you don't succeed, try a second time, but with a different approach. Accepting a task with a mindset of "I can't do this," immediately sets you up for failure. Play to your strengths, accept your weaknesses, and dive into the project thinking "I can do this," or even "I will try my best to do this," to take a little weight off your shoulders.
It's OK to struggle; it's not OK to punish yourself over it.
2. Show Yourself Physical Kindness
By physical kindness, I'm not referring to a hardy slap on the back, or giving yourself a great big bear hug at your desk in the middle of a tough shift. Similar to positive self-talk, tiny physical gestures that prove to not only your mind, but your physical body, that you love and are taking care of yourself, can go a long way, too.
Kristin Neff, author of Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up And Leave Insecurity Behind, told Psychologies that when your mind is flooded with streams of negativity, a simple gesture such as "putting your hands on your heart or cradling your face or your stomach — some warm, supportive, physical gesture — can often change your body’s physiological response; help you calm down so you aren’t so activated, and then it’s sometimes easier for your mind to follow."
3. Focus On Your Breathing
Speaking from experience, using your breath to become more mindful and aware of both your mental and physical self can genuinely make such a real, visible difference in how you treat yourself.
If you're like me, when you get frustrated with yourself, the first thing to go haywire is your breathing. For me, my heart speeds up, and nothing is OK in the world until I've regulated my breathing. And, trust me, it takes a lot more time to quiet and compartmentalize your thoughts than it does to breathe in, out, and so on.
Gustavo Oliveira, a consultant at lifestyle coaching program The DeRose Method, tells Elite Daily,
Learn to relax your body [with] several breathing techniques. If we change the rhythm of the breathing, we can change our emotional pattern.
When we establish a deep and well-paced breathing, the instabilities of our consciousness and our mind decrease, favoring concentration and focus.
4. Forgive Your Failures
Sh*t happens, and it happens to all of us. If at first you don't succeed, try and try again, or recognize when it's OK to move on.
Obviously this concept is way easier said than done. I know I personally don't react well to failure. Hell, I don't react well when I have trouble opening a damn FedEx envelope. But the truth is, we all struggle with something, and we all mess up from time to time. The important thing to remember and put into practice is that beating yourself up over failure doesn't solve the issue; it inevitably makes things worse.
Auther and lecturer Soulaima Gourani tells Elite Daily that instead of viewing failure as a weakness, everyone should look at failures as life lessons:
Next time you find yourself become too harsh on yourself, tell yourself that this is just merely life teaching you a lesson.
The negative does not have to be the focus of your life unless you allow it. Try to look for the positives in the situation, by turning lemons into lemonade.
5. Don't Compare Yourself To Others
If I've learned anything from social media, it's that comparing yourself to others is often a one-way ticket to a negative, sh*tty mindset.
Most people will rarely, if ever, publicize their demons — which means the depictions of people's lives that you see on social media hardly even scratch the surface of what their day-to-day lives are really like. Everyone is dealing with something, which is why women’s empowerment and business expert, mentor, and speaker Heather Monahan suggests we stay focused on what we've got going on in our own lives instead.
She tells Elite Daily,
Comparison is the thief of joy and dropping the need to look at others to see how we stack up is the basis for a fair playing field.
We never know what is going on in someone else’s life, so it is best we stay focused on our own.
6. Keep A Record Of Your Many Accomplishments
It's hard to be kind to yourself when all you do is harp on the failures of the day. Not only will doing so wear you down, but zeroing in on everything you think you're doing "wrong" will likely negate any positive affirmations you could benefit from.
So if standing in front of your mirror repeating "I love myself" doesn't get the point across, maybe you need to see it in writing.
At the end of the day, sit down with a piece of notebook paper or a journal, and jot down at least three of your day's accomplishments. Whether it's as simple as getting out of bed without pressing snooze, or receiving a compliment on your work ethic from your boss, put it in writing, and bring those accomplishments to life.
After all, whether you want to admit it or not, you do deserve that kindness.