Being someone who puts a lot of undue pressure on herself, I hope this post will help those that are like me to ease up a bit and appreciate and be supportive of themselves a whole lot more.
We live a in a world of rules - do this, don’t do that- and expectations - you should be here by now, you should have done this or said that. We often use these rules and expectations to judge our progress in life. We spend very little time trying to see ourselves for what we are and too much time critiquing ourselves for what we are not.
But what does this criticism do? What effect does it have on us? Does it make us do better? Or does it make us despise ourselves?
Have you ever witnessed the effects of overly critical and harsh parents on a child? More often than not, the child believes he is useless, incapable, can’t do anything right. Yet, put the same child in an environment where he is listened to, understood and loved, things become very different.
Even forget the hypothetical child, think about your own life, and a time where you became a better person as a result of a kindness or compassion that was shown to you. Weren’t your favourite teachers always the most patient ones? The ones who had the goal of teaching you until you got it, no matter how long it took you to get it. And when you did finally get the concept, you probably never forgot it.
Now let us take this and reflect on how we treat ourselves. Many of us are so self-critical. We lack patience with ourselves and we do not stop to understand why it is that we are behaving in the ways that we do. We just latch on to the fact that whatever it is we are doing, we are doing incorrectly.
We forget that apart from the way people treat us, we are a product of the way we treat ourselves.
This is an important thing to consider - how we treat our individual selves. Is this treatment conducive to our growth as human beings? Has it been successful thus far? Does the constant thought of “how terrible I am” bear good fruit?
I have never heard of anyone that truly flourished under constant and harsh criticism. That is just not what we best respond to as human beings. It might garner a reaction, or some form of action, but doing is not being our best selves.
Doing is not being our best selves.
We are used to telling ourselves certain things and treating ourselves in certain ways, but it does not mean we cannot change this.
When you are being critical of yourself, you should ask:
“Would I speak to a loved one like this? “
“If my friend was feeling bad about something, would I put him down even more?”
If you are harsh or do put people down - including yourself, think about this:
“of what benefit is this act of making myself feel bad?”
“Is it inspiring me to do more? Or does it just make me want to crawl into bed and avoid life?”
Don’t mistake cruelty for tough love. The two are very different. One leaves a bad after taste and the other brings out the best.
Have you noticed what tends to bring out the best in you? Think about it and whatever it is, do more of it. What might work for someone else might not work for you.
But whatever it is, just makes sure it is something that helps you appreciate who you are, how far you have come and gives you clarity that you will get to where you are going.