Be kinder to yourself

By Lucy Hulm.

Sometimes the person we are the hardest and harshest on is ourselves. Today I’m sharing five simple tips to be kinder to yourself, which will help you focus on the right things and find more joy in your life.

 ‘I should of known this was going to happen, I should have planned this better’, ‘I’m an idiot, everyone else can do this why can’t I, ‘I never achieve anything’ – have you ever said these types of things to yourself? It might seem like your just letting off steam with yourself, but if you keep talking to yourself like this it can slowly begin to impact your confidence and self-esteem. There are some simple things you can start doing right now:

Ban the word ‘should’

‘I should have gone for a run’, ‘I should have remembered that’, ‘ I should have done a better job’, ‘I should be a better daughter’… This kind of thinking is exhausting. Constantly focusing on what you ‘should’ have done, not what you are doing or have done makes you live in world where you’ve never done enough. When you ‘should’ yourself, you are judging and putting pressure on yourself. You are also dwelling. Stop focusing on what could, would or should be and focus on what is. This brings you back to real time and makes you focus on what you have done – what you have achieved and what you can do right now.

Run your own race

‘Everyone else can do this, why can’t I’, ‘I’m the same age as her and she’s done so much more than me’.

When I started running, at the beginning I would run the same pace as the other runners around me, I’d get exhausted and drop back, thinking I wasn’t as good as the other runners. I focused far too much on what everyone else was doing. Overtime I learnt to listen to my body and know what I could do – I started to block out what everyone else was doing and to set my own pace. When I started running this way I enjoyed it far more.

Funny thing is, I didn’t see this in other aspects of my life. I was constantly comparing my weight, my career progression, my house, my fitness, my travel and my ability to get things done in my life – to what others were doing. By comparing yourself to others you are putting your focus on the wrong person. You can control one life—yours. But when you constantly compare yourself to others, you are wasting precious energy focusing on other peoples’ lives rather than our own. Comparisons are also unfair. You will typically compare the worst you know of yourself to the best you presume of others. Be kinder to yourself by asking more of yourself and building on your abilities.

When looking at others, find inspiration and learn from their experiences, but don’t compare.

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How high have you set the bar

‘I’m such a failure, I can’t do anything right’. When you try to make things perfect, straight away you will fail. Here’s the thing, nothing is perfect – so for a perfectionist even when you get close to having something be just right, you probably look at it critically and think, it is not my best, I could have done more. Perfectionism or being a perfectionist is rarely about trying to do your best. It is not about healthy success or progress; it can be a way of protecting yourself. Without being conscience of it, you may be trying to make things a certain way so can avoid something – what are you afraid of – Shame? Blame? Mistakes? If I have things the ‘right’ way – I can avoid people judging me. In a world where you feel the pressure to strive for sometimes unattainable goals, you can set yourself up for failure. This can lead to you feeling no personal satisfaction with anything you do.

It can be a cycle – set an unreachable goal. Then fail to meet the goal because it was impossible to begin with. Repeat…this cycle leads perfectionists to be self-critical and self-blaming which results in lower self-esteem.

Try to set realistic goals – this may mean breaking a goal into steps, rather than having one big goal. Look at what can be learnt from mistakes and confront your fears – what is the worst that can happen if I just give this a go. Recognise when you’ve done something well and when you’ve enjoyed doing something.

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All or nothing

Lastly, having an all or nothing view of your world can also lead to you beating yourself up. How many times have you said to yourself – I’m going to go to the gym three times this week, and then only gone once. Instead of thinking about the once you went, you automatically think about the two times you didn’t go and rule that the week was a failure. You see the lack, not the progress or achievement. You see what you didn’t do, not what you did do.

Sometimes you will make a long list of thing you need to get done, you might get half the list done – but you’ll be disappointed in yourself instead of proud for what you did get done.

Here’s the thing – you only have so much energy, you only have so much time in the day and sometimes you have to park a task, change your plan or accept you were unrealistic about what you set out to do – and that is OK.

Learn to categorise the tasks you want to give high priority to from those tasks that are less important to you. On less important tasks, know it is okay to choose to put in less effort.

Remember to pat yourself on the back for what you’ve done, not hate on yourself for what you haven’t done.

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