Be generous to yourself: Stop beating yourself up
If you are anything like I use to be, your inner critic is your own worst enemy. We tend to beat ourselves up for all sorts of things- for not being further along, for making a bad decision, for saying the wrong thing (2 years ago), for not being productive or just not doing things “right.” For so many of us, the list is endless.
Do you enjoy it when other people judge and critique you in a rude way? Would you tolerate somebody following you around and saying the things you say to yourself to you? Probably not. So why let the voices in your own head? Why be your own bully? Because that is what you are if you continually self-criticize. No one knows you better than you do; no one knows what hurts you most, or how to attack your weaknesses in the meanest way possible.
Most of the time when we are being hard on ourselves, it is a misguided belief that self-criticism is the fastest way to self-improvement. However, the effects of this repeated practice are detrimental. Instead of helping you reach your goals or become a better version of yourself, beating yourself up belittles you and wears away at your peace of mind.
As Alpha Sigma Alphas, we are taught to be generous to others. Today, I challenge you to be generous to yourself. Stop beating yourself up and give yourself grace to have an “off” day, to be imperfect, make mistakes, learn from them and move on.
It’s not easy to be more generous to yourself. I often catch myself beating myself up and then proceed to beat myself up for beating myself up. It is an easy cycle to fall into and a hard one to get out of. With time and lots of practice, I have learned to ease up on myself. Here are some techniques that helped me:
Beating myself had become such an ingrained part of my thoughts that I did not realize when I was being harsh on myself. Just noticing is the first step to making a change. Stepping back and observing my thoughts helps me gain enough perspective to sort through and calm the harshness of my thoughts.
I try and take it a step further by noticing without judgement. Instead of becoming critical when I catch myself being self-critical, I give myself some grace and let my thoughts pass through.
I found trying do everything “right” or perfectly is emotionally and physically exhausting – and unrealistic. Which means I spent a lot of time feeling discouraged and disappointed.
I got in check with my perfectionism and got realistic by getting more specific in my plans and goals. Also, I am trying to remove the words “always,” “never” and “should” from my vocabulary.
For instance, I have changed “I should always say yes to social plans if I want my friends to like me” to “I will balance my social life with my own needs” or “I am committed to saying no when I am feeling overwhelmed, and it is important for me to take care of myself” or “I will do my best to be honest with my friends about my needs.”
When I am exhausted, constantly striving and forcing myself to work harder (and harder), not only do I make more mistakes; my inner critic gets louder. It helps me to take a break and listen to my favorite music, take a walk in nature, rest when I need to rest, connect with my support system and get enough sleep. Self-care helps teach me self-compassion that extents to my thoughts.
Ask yourself: “Would I say this to a loved one?”
I would never call my best friend is an ugly loser who will never amount to anything; and if I did, she would probably end our friendship. I try to treat myself likewise. If I wouldn’t say it to my loved ones, I do not say it to myself either.
Be patient with yourself
I had been self-critical for most of my life and it has taken a considerable amount of effort to change something so ingrained in me. I committed to practicing being generous to myself every day until being naturally nice to myself become more comfortable. Most importantly, I try not to beat myself up when I slip up or don’t do it as well as I “should.”
-Kelsey Turner, ΔK