Are you kind (enough) to yourself?
Updated: Apr 9, 2021
There's no one in this life that criticizes me more than myself. There's no one out there putting more pressure on myself than I do and there's definitely no one out there that judges every little aspect of my life as much as I have throughout the years. Of course you're the one that knows the most about your existance and you should analyse what you do so you can improve your life, be happy, be free and all that jazz. You should be in control of what's going on but once the expectations start being a bit too high for every little thing you do, you might have a problem. Having high expectations of oneself is a good idea, until it stops you from doing a lot of things because you have an idea of how the outcome might look and that outcome is just not good enough for you.
You need to make mistakes in life. That's how you learn a lot of the time and it's ok to make them. There's one thing quite a few people I know admit doing when it comes to errors: they are very quick to reassure anyone else that it's ok to make mistakes, and they shouldn't be too harsh on themselves, but when it comes to their own life, they instantly forget it. They forget that all that good advice they've been giving to others applies to themselves as well. Sure, if you do the same dumb thing over and over again, you obviously have a problem that needs looking into more seriously, but at the end of the day, as long as no one gets hurt, it's still ok, you still have time to learn.
I'm a perfectionist and that can sometimes (always) take over. Don't get me wrong, I'm not being absolutely horrible to myself (I'd like to think that), but as an example I won't upload a song I recorded because I feel that my voice isn't in the shape I want it to, because I think some of the lyrics could be improved or any other reason I can find if I don't think the end product looks exactly how I envisoned it. I would also spend many hours recording and taking photos of this new recipe I tried but if the quality of the images is not up to my high standards or if some little thing got missed I will just abandon the project in a unnamed folder, never to be seen again. And I realize I miss out on a lot by doing this. I received some great feedback after I posted something and it helped me big time and saved me a lot of time of wondering for myself how to make things better.
I had to learn how to be nice to myself and I'm still having a hard time applying it on a daily basis. Every once in a while, when I'm not caught up in hating myself for messing something up, I try and take a step back and look at my actions as if they were someone else's. I try and describe the whole situation as if it would be Susan from across the street rather than me making those decisions. It helps me take a clearer look at the actions themselves rather than react because I'm emotionally tied to said actions and their results. When you see your own life from a different angle, a lot of things might start making more sense than they usually do. Being nice to yourself doen't mean you need to pamper yourself 24/7 and forgive and forget all mistakes, for me, it means looking at the bigger picture and trying to do the best thing for you in the long run. You might not feel today (or tomorrow) like learning for that exam you need to pass and if you have to treat yourself after every 20 pages read to do it then so be it. At the end of the day, you need to find a way to motivate and push yourself so you can achieve your goal. You'll thank yourself later.
Try and find the right balance. Between pushing yourself to achieve your goals and cutting yourself some slack when you make mistakes there needs to be a good dynamic. You can't keep pushing yourself until you have no strength left and feel like giving up. You also can't be so 'nice' to yourself that you reward yourself with two weeks of binge-watching TV series and pizza after you accomplished one little task which you postponed for months. It's not an easy task, I'm highly aware of that, and I need to remind myself of this quite often.
Let's put it this way: if you see your kid falling off his bike and he starts crying about getting his knees a bit scraped, the first thing you should do is make sure he's safe, make sure you're there to care for him, put a little colorful plaster on and tell him how the pain he's feeling now won't last forever. Of course, he should be more careful and you probably should have a little talk with him later that day. He needs to learn to pay a lot of attention when on his bike and needs to always wear his helmet but you screaming and shouting at him while he's holding his little knees, crying out of fear, pain and embarassement is the worst idea you could ever have. It's pretty much the same when it comes to you, your feelings, your inner chat and how it would be better to react to your own errors. You made a mistake (hopefully no one else got injured) and after that you should try your best to learn from it, find a solution to make things better now and find out why things happened in the first place. Hating yourself won't solve anything and it will distract you from having a better understanding of the whole picture.
Just a few ideas.Different things help different people. Keeping a detailed journal might help those who like to remember the whole thing or maybe you want to write down a few little notes for you to look at at a later date. Maybe you need to sit down and have a cup of tea (or a cold beer) and think about your actions there and then or maybe you need to talk to someone so you can get a different perspective, either way, you'll eventually find something that works for you.
Next time you get a bit disappointed that you didn't have enough energy to cook yourself that complicated meal you've been craving, remind yourself that you just finished work and you are allowed to feel tired. You're also allowed to have a 'down day' because maybe you're going through something you can't even explain right now, you're allowed to have a mega productive day when you do enough things to tick off three days worth of work and then not do anything else for the next two.
Don't be afraid to reach out to your friends and family. Someone out there will be more than happy to offer support and advice (as much as they can) or simply to listen to your problems.You might end up helping them as well by showing them they're not the only ones to go through weird times in life. You're allowed and you should allow yourself more to not be a robot and to make little mistakes here and there. You're human, it's alright and you're not alone.
I hope life is treating you well.
Take good care of yourselves.