Are you your own worst enemy? I have spoken to three people this week who are being hard on themselves. It can be easier to forgive others before we forgive ourselves and some of us hold ourselves more accountable and to a much higher standard than we hold others.
“The negative emotions we create by being overly hard on ourselves not only erode our happiness, but change our physiology. Beating up on yourself actually narrows your peripheral vision so that, both metaphorically and literally, you can see less opportunity to address your challenges, fix your mistakes, and create the opportunities you want.”
No-one is perfect
Now, we all make mistakes, we are all human, and if you were talking to a child you would say they were learning so it’s time to take that advice for yourself.
There is a quick technique that you can use, with yourself and the kids. Result.
- Step back into an observer role
- Ask yourself what the good things are in the situation
They could be things like:
- something positive you have learned about yourself
- observing how the experience has helped you grow in some way
- seeing your friends/family/colleagues in a new, more appreciative, light
- knowing that if this happens again you have the confidence to know what to do
- you have gained a new skill
One of the people I was talking with had done exactly this. Faced with an injury which forced them to slow down they realised that they had to slow down in life more generally and told me that if this hadn’t happened they would have missed the bigger lesson.
I am not saying that it’s easy, that you will find the good immediately and/or in every situation but for many people even the worst events can bring about something positive in the long run, even if it ‘just’ knowing you got through it. When we make mistakes we gain wisdom and strength, often that we didn’t know we had. Remember that life is a learning process, a series of steps we take, hopefully towards our best self. Handle yourself with care and patience as you take this journey.
What would you say to someone else?
I want you to imagine another scenario for a moment. Imagine that someone you love said to you “I am useless at everything”. What would you say? Perhaps something like “of course you’re not useless, you need to keep trying” or “OK, so that didn’t go to plan but I bet you have learned from it?. How we speak to ourselves is important, when we tell ourselves over and over that we are “useless” or “too slow” or “not experienced enough” you are hurting yourself.
To combat it, do the technique above or imagine you were giving yourself the same advice as you would to that loved on and remind yourself of the good e.g. “I learnt a lot and next time I will do it differently”or “I have come a long way since I started this journey”…you get the idea.
As I have said before, we are all doing the best we can with the information we have at the time. You can’t know something until you know it; that is the beauty of hindsight. So be kind to yourself; you may learn additional things later that would change the way you’d respond in the future but at the time of the event, you made the best decision you could.
We have a choice
The other thing I have said before is that we have the choice to choose how we react to a situation.
“You can suffer from a life experience, or you can learn, move on and thrive. The choice of how you react to an experience is yours.” – Sid Smith
You can continue to be hard on yourself, but ask yourself if it is helpful. I can tell you that it isn’t. To give yourself meaning you need to find a way to learn and grow from the experience. If you are someone who replays a situation over and over in their mind then there are other strategies you may need to employ, from examining your feelings and why it matters so much to how you focus on what you do want- all of which I would recommend talking to a coach about.
Finally, I know it’s been a long one (!), you need to move on, let the past go and give yourself permission to stop being hard on yourself. Self-critique is important for growth but you need to commit to being fair with yourself. Constant negative self-assessments lead to low self-esteem, which in turn lead to acts of self-sabotage. You can begin to feel you don’t deserve happiness and so you put less effort into achieving your goals and so you fail and you feel bad. Queue a vicious circle.
The key? Acknowledge you have learnt your lesson, you have grown and start focusing on your future.
If you need to talk to someone about being hard on yourself, self sabotage and finding a more positive focus then you can book in for a free discovery call on 07791767654