We often believe that being hard on ourselves will push us to be better people. However, that exact self-criticism we are using to “grow” could be the number one thing that is bringing us down. Some common examples of negative thoughts people have about themselves include “I am stupid”, “You can do better than this”, “You aren’t good enough”, “You are a failure”.These cruel words and statements we make to ourselves can lead us to feel depressed, hurt, and angry. While it may be easier to be harsh and critical towards ourselves, having some self-compassion when it comes to personal growth and imperfection may bring us more happiness and positivity to our lives.
Self-compassion is defined as the act of being kind towards oneself which includes being gentle, supportive, and understanding. When we are self-compassionate, we are able to distinguish between making a bad decision or messing up and being a bad person. At this point we are able to recognize our worth is unconditional and move forward without feeling bad about ourselves. Below are a few ways you can start showing yourself some compassion rather than being hard on yourself.
Treat Yourself as You Treat Others
While adults tend to lack compassion for themselves, they often have more grace for other adults and children. You may be engaging in negative self-talk every single day that you would never say aloud to another person. For example, you may call yourself “stupid” or “worthless”. Think about saying these words to another human or even a child. Your response may be, “I would never call someone worthless or stupid”! If that is the case, then why are you saying these things to yourself? Recognizing how mean you are to yourself will give you the opportunity to challenge these thoughts as they come to mind and make them positive.
How Are These Thoughts Making You Feel?
Once you being to realize how mean you are being to yourself, it is important to continue noticing these negative and hurtful thoughts on a regular basis and how they are making you feel. Pay attention to what you say to yourself and how you are feeling at that exact moment. Are you feeling not good enough, sad, or embarrassed? Why are you feeling “worthless” at this moment? Becoming aware of the negative thoughts you say to yourself and how you feel about yourself will help you resolve what you are actually feeling and recognize the impact these negative thoughts are having on you.
You Aren’t Perfect, and That’s Okay
You, along with everyone else on this planet, are an imperfect being. While we like to strive for perfection, it is something that is not attainable. Rather than pushing yourself to be perfect, strive for being the best version of yourself. Believe it or not these are two different things. Being the best version of yourself means you accept your flaws and imperfections and grow from them rather than beat yourself up over them. For example you could challenge the thought “You are stupid” to “I don’t understand this concept right now, but it doesn’t mean I am stupid. I am learning”. These thoughts display that you recognize that you can be flawed and still be a wonderful, happy, and healthy person.
While some of these strategies sound simple, it takes a lot of time and dedication to achieve self-compassion. If you struggle to have some compassion for yourself and would like some guidance, it may be useful to connect with a therapist. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!