During tough times we all tend to be harder on ourselves. It’s an interesting piece of human psychology, the reasons why we do this.
Of course, there are many factors and the combination of them is as individual to each of us as our fingerprints. But some of the most common contributing factors that come top of the list for all of us are things like the messages we learned growing up, and the programming we all get from society.
As kids, we all had a harsh family member or school teacher who asked us,“Who do you think you are?”
Whatever we did to provoke that question will have caused us shame and began the process of us questioning who we are, and importantly, questioning our worth.
As we get older, specifically entering our teenage years, we are constantly comparing ourselves to our friends, and typically we start feeling ‘less than’ others.
Then we enter the world of work and with that comes a whole host of painful life lessons. We make a mistake at work, and we instantly blame ourselves and question our self worth.
Are we as good as our team mates?
Would somebody else have screwed up in the same way?
Change your perspective
Of course, while most of us do this to ourselves, we rarely judge others in the same way. At least, not other people who we like!
Our friends and family are people we hold in high esteem... When they screw up at work, we tell them not to blame themselves and remind them that they are human.
So, here’s a radical idea… How about trying to apply this same kindness to ourselves?
If that feels hard, then try imagining that whatever mistake you made, was actually made by a friend.
Picture that friend being hard on themselves, and say out loud (or write down in your journal if you prefer) what you want to say to them.
Now ask yourself this simple, logical question:"If this kindness is appropriate for your friend, then why not for you?”
Behind the childhood conditioning that we all grow up with, our logical minds now know that we are just as worthy as everybody else.
So, it is high time we started treating ourselves better.
Make it a daily practice
We all know that learning a new habit takes practice and time. This applies to all habits, from the physical stuff like my recently adopted running habit, to the mental ones such as the way we speak to ourselves.
It is simply a matter of persistent repetition. Over time, as you remind yourself that you are human and worthy on a daily basis, you will start to default to this kinder way of speaking to yourself.
Now I know that not everybody is comfortable with saying affirmations in the mirror, and not everybody loves journaling. But I bet you could come up with a simple way to remind yourself that you are worthy at least once per day.
For example, a friend of mine has a daily alarm set on her phone. But she doesn’t want the name of the alarm to be something about self worth in case somebody else sees it, so she named the alarm with a star emoji. It means something to her and prompts her to remember the self compassion.
So here’s a little bit of homework – set up your own alarm or reminder in a way that works for you. Once per day, simply remind yourself that you are human, allowed to make mistakes, and your performance doesn’t define your self worth.
You are allowed bad days, and you are worthy just as you are.