What do I mean by that?
What if we put our energy into being more curious about our selves, what we do, and how we do it before we jump to judgment?
Many of us feel like the way to be successful, improve, and feel safe from failure, disappointment and hurt is to be perfectionistic or hard on ourselves.
If I asked you to be less critical of yourself does your mind jump to thoughts such as “That’s not a good idea, what if I become lazy and don’t try hard anymore?”
If I invited you to be kinder to yourself and accept who you are today, as you are, would you have a hard time, feel unworthy, or uncomfortable?
Often the following thoughts and beliefs can get in the way of being kinder to our selves and this list is in no way exhaustive:
If you have survived difficult times by being tough with your self it can feel scary to imagine letting go and treating your self with more acceptance, compassion, or, dare I say love.
If you have achieved success by being hard on your self or demanding perfection, then it can feel unwise or risky to walk away from something that has “worked” for you in the past.
Whether being hard on your self has developed out of self-preservation, was a product of the messages you have been given by others, or is a result of other factors please know that we do the best we can given what we know at the time AND there is another way we can move through life toward our goals and dreams that can be more comfortable and enjoyable: Be more curious than judgmental.
When you look back at your life what will you value, what you accomplished or how it felt to be who you are?
Being kind, accepting and compassionate toward your self doesn’t mean ignoring issues or struggles.
In fact, it’s just the opposite.
Would you want to face, accept and share your struggles with a critical and judgmental boss or partner? Probably not! Most of us prefer to be open with someone who is caring and understanding.
“Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.” - Eleanor Roosevelt
If we don’t have a supportive relationship with ourselves how much do we think we can really accomplish if we are criticizing or doubting ourselves.
If we don’t accept who we are and recognize our inherent worth, then how satisfying and deeply can we really connect with others?
What if you practiced moving from your own worst critic to your own best friend?
If you want to take an honest look at your self and continue growing and developing the areas of life you value, then the first step is to be your own caring and understanding friend, someone safe to admit your struggles to, who will support you as you face the challenging work of being:
I hope you will join me.
Go Friend Your Self!
Ps Please share this article if you think it will help someone else.
Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.
~Malcolm S. Forbes
Do the following beliefs sound familiar?
You might be consistently hard on yourself or bounce back and forth between confidence and self-criticism.
We are all susceptible to this kind of thinking.
When we feel challenged or stressed we might reach for control or perfectionism as a way to cope. This is often accompanied by self-criticism, stress and more pressure. Staying busy and being tough on our self can escalate from a coping strategy to a habit and way of life. We may feel uncomfortable, nervous, or ashamed if we slow down.
You are what you think.
We have 1000s of thoughts a day and so often they are the same thoughts on repeat, like a broken record. They can easily become harsh, critical or negative. The way we think about our self, talk to our self and treat our self can have a powerful effect on your life, for better or worse. If we think things are possible then we try. If we think highly of ourselves then we treat ourselves well and build relationships with others who treat us well also.
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. " - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Strengthen your connection with your self and you can strengthen your connection with:
I invite you to consider these questions:
It is possible to change your relationship with your self. You can grow, succeed and connect with those important to you while being supportive and kind toward yourself.
I am excited to share information and inspiration with you!
Go Friend Your Self!
with Dr. Baker
An invitation for you:
1. Think of the one person you are closest to.
2. Think about a current stressor or challenge in your own life.
3. What would you tell the person you thought of in #1 if they were facing this issue?
4. Practice saying this to yourself when you think about it this week.
5. Feel free to share your experience with the community in the comments section.
We have over 50,000 thoughts a day and for many of us it can feel like we are listening to a broken record of painful messages. How often do you criticize or judge your self, tell your self that you have to be hard on your self or you won’t succeed? Are you afraid to let your self off the hook, even just a little, for fear that if you do then you will become lazy or give up and you won’t do well, get in shape, succeed at work, impress someone, be likeable or valuable, etc.? Do you feel guilty about wanting to take a break or slow down? Are you uncomfortable having compassion for your self or taking in compliments?
If so, then you are not alone.
These self-critical strategies may have seemed effective at one time, however, they can create a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety, sapping your energy and joy from life.
You might say to your self “It has to be perfect!” or “I can’t make any mistakes” or “If I rest and take care of myself then I am lazy and worthless!” It’s as if we walk around with an enormous gavel over our heads hanging by a thread, just waiting to slam down upon us. Yet, we are the ones holding the scissors, cutting the thread, and inviting the crushing blow of self-judgment. We would rather endure exhausting days filled with doing too many things rather than slow down and listen to our bodies and our gut when they say, “that’s enough.”
We become attached to this harsh way of thinking about our selves and erroneously attribute it to our success. Therefore, we feel afraid to stop and try something else, like compassion, acceptance, or saying “no.” It takes strength, courage and vulnerability to be willing to try a different approach to life.
It is not only possible to enjoy success while also being kinder, more compassionate and patient with your self, it is also a key factor in really thriving.
When you are being harsh and self-critical and it is causing stress you can ask your self if you would talk to or treat your best friend, partner, or child that way. If the answer is “No!” then it is a good reminder that you are likely being far too hard on your self. You can build awareness of your ongoing negative cycle of thoughts and cultivate a different way to respond to stress and challenges and meet your goals.
How different could we feel if we loosen our grip on extreme and perfectionistic thinking and instead strengthen our impulse to be curious, compassionate and more objective? I have witnessed so many people who bravely let themselves off the hook and enjoy the freedom, energy and happiness that comes along with it. I am confident that you can do it too.
Dr. Baker has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. She moved over 20 times by the time she was 13. She studied and adapted to her environments and wore many masks to fit in until she learned how to thrive by owning who she was and showing her real self to the world. She hopes to inspire and inform others as they own and embrace who they are. Go friend your self!