“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” ~ African Proverb
Have you ever not beat yourself up, mentally or emotionally? Unlikely. One of the key components of the human consciousness that most of us could consider changing is our tendency to be hard on ourselves. We do this overtly and subtly, and often we don’t even recognize we’re doing it at all.
Do you find it difficult to graciously accept compliments? If yes, it could well be a sign that you tend to be hard on yourself. Consider these tendencies: always wanting to be and do better, getting angry with yourself for getting sick, never feeling satisfied for a job well done. Getting angry with yourself often indicates that you need relief from a learned ability to be unkind to yourself.
What purpose does it serve to beat yourself up? Do you feel better after having done so? Does it make you a better person?
When we are hard on ourselves, we send our bodies the message that we aren’t good enough. How do you think other people view us in this state? It’s not an attracting quality. Whenever we do this, we do damage that will need to be addressed later, and we sap ourselves of needed energy. Being hard on ourselves is a waste of time that we could use in positive ways.
To understand how this works, think about times when someone made you feel that you weren’t good enough. Just thinking about it will create an effect in your body that doesn’t feel good. You may be used to the feeling, but when you really tune into it, you instinctively know that it is not good for you.
As with any bad habit, being hard on ourselves can be a challenging one to release, but the more we feel the burden it places on us, the more motivated we will be to change. At first, just noticing when we are doing it and how it makes us feel is enough. As our awareness increases, our impulse toward health and well-being will be activated, moving us out of danger and into a more positive relationship with ourselves.
If you want to be less hard on yourself, here are three actions you can take:
Make time for yourself. You’re no good to anyone else if you’re depleted from trying to exceed every expectation all day long. Allow yourself the time and space to take care of yourself; it’s not optional. Everyday choose something you’re going to do for yourself. Write it down and do it. (An earlier post on Self-Care elaborates on this.)
- Be mindful of how your inner dialogue sounds. Like any other habit, we habitually talk down to ourselves. You know how you’ve always been told to “think before you speak?” Try it internally. You can have harsh thoughts, but take a moment to say, Whoa… that wasn’t nice. That right there is the kind of thought that is harming and punishing. Catch yourself and say, That is the kind of thought that I’m not going to think towards myself anymore.
- Get off the pity pot. Everybody has problems. Nobody wants to listen to you complain about yours. If you need to feel sorry for yourself, put a limit on it. Give yourself 24 hours to be miserable; then get over it. Count your blessings, not your troubles.
It’s not a novel concept. Just be kind to yourself!