Do you spend a lot of time beating yourself up?
When a friend is in need we step up. We listen, we support, and we let our friend know we’re there for them. We say encouraging words, ask great questions and we do what we can to help them feel better and move forward in the best possible way.
Interestingly, we often don’t extend ourselves the same courtesy. When we are having a hard time we beat ourselves up, berating ourselves for our behaviour or our lack of resourcefulness. We questions ourselves and fill ourselves with doubt, and generally, we make the situation much worse for ourselves.
It would be interesting to stop and listen to our inner critic sometimes, and to notice the things we say to ourselves, whether on a day to day basis, or in times of stress. It would also be interesting to consider whether we’d say those things to someone else. If the answer is no, there’s no way you’d ever speak to someone else so horribly, then it’s time to make a change.
We often feel like we have no control over our thoughts, that they just happen and there’s nothing we can do about it. That’s not the case though. Like any habit, it is possible to change. It may take practice, and there may be occasions where you slip back in to your old habits, but with perseverance and a good strategy, changing your patterns of thought is possible.
As with any habit you want to change, knowing what you want to stop doing is not generally enough. You need to know what you want to start doing instead. That makes it much easier to choose appropriate thoughts or behaviours and significantly increases your chances of success. It’s therefore not enough to say ‘I’m going to stop beating myself up all the time’. Instead your goal needs to be much clearer, for example, ‘I’m going to congratulate myself when I do well,’ or ‘I’m going to be kind to myself when I make a mistake.’ This gives us a clear context and makes it much easier for us to direct our thoughts where we want.
The other thing of importance to remember is that like changing other habits, changing your thoughts takes time, so when you catch yourself beating yourself up, instead of beating yourself up even more, remind yourself that it takes time and that you’re learning. And like all skills worth learning, it’s worth taking the time to learn to do it well.