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Are you too hard on yourself?

You might be adding stress to your life

  1. What are your expectations do you put on yourself?

  2. Do you always meet those expectations?

  3. How do you feel when you fall short of them?

If you answered yes to any of the above (and I bet most of us did in some way!), then you might be a little scarce in self-compassion.


You might think the high expectations of yourself give you the drive to succeed and achieve great things. Being hard on yourself is how you get better.


In which case, you can understand why it might be hard to let go of the inner critic. It's may have been a very successful coping mechanism for you, and helped you achieve great things. That inner critic is there playing an important role for you.


But is that the only way?


When we look at the science of self-compassion, we actually find: people who practice self-compassion get more done and are able to sustain their work, health, and relationships better than those who don’t.


Funny huh?!


One of my clients said to me the other day that she thinks she needs ‘a firmer hand’ from me. My response: I’m curious - why do you think that?


We reflected on some of the themes in her life right now - she has a lot going on, feels in ‘survival mode’ each day, with high levels of emotional exhaustion.


Does a harder task-master sound like a useful addition to this person’s life?

Or is it giving an external voice to that inner critic that perhaps is already within?


Compared to self-criticizers, people who are more self-compassionate:

  • perform better and are less likely to “choke” under pressure

  • are able to bounce back faster from setbacks

  • feel less depressed and anxious

  • have better relationships

  • are more emotionally intelligent and less egocentric

  • are more satisfied with life

All those benefits—which help your emotional, social, and existential health—also positively impact your physical health. They make it easier for you to do all the other habits, like eat and move well, sleep well etc.


We ultimately didn't decide on a 'harder approach' was what my client needed. Rather, someone who was on her team, who was helping her create with kindness what she actually needed.


Starting to click?

How can you practice or build this self-compassion?


Try:

  • Try practices that bring you into an awareness of this moment rather than stuck in thought cycles about the past or future. Includes meditation, breathing, repetitive aerobic activity - anything that cultivates awareness and brings you back into your body. The goal isn't to be 'good' at them - just to practice bringing yourself back to awareness!


  • You’re not alone: remind yourself that all us humans together have similar struggles.


  • Kindness: forgive yourself, practice kinder thoughts, let yourself be imperfect.


Sounding not very attractive or perhaps even a waste of time?

Well yes, your inner critic being hard on you might have got you far in life.


But you’re reading this, which means you’re aware you might want to feel a little different.

Which means what have you got to lose in trying?


Change based in self-compassion.

Might just be exactly what you need.


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