Go Easy on Yourself

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
Buddha

“People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it.”
Edith Schaeffer

One common way to get things done, to achieve and to motivate yourself is to be kind of hard on yourself. To set very high standards for yourself that you want to stick to every time.
Now, this way of going about things can indeed help you to achieve big things in your life and to get things done every week. But it comes at a price. Three negative things about taking this position towards yourself are:
You erode your self-esteem. As you achieve things you tend to tear down your own self-esteem at the same time. So you tend to feel less and less like your deserve success. And frustration and being angry can become more and more common as you fail to reach those very high standards.

You suck the fun and excitement out of things. A hard or harsh attitude towards yourself has a tendency to make things that used to be fun and exciting less and less so. This attitude does instead over time turn those things into just work that you may start to dread because you fear failure or not meeting your high standards.

You’ll perform worse and worse. As your self-esteem goes down you’ll feel less motivated to tackle the tasks and projects in your life. As the fun and excitement goes out of many of the things you do procrastination tends to become more and more common. Plus, the work you put in becomes less energetic and focused and so the results aren’t that good anymore either.

I used to be harder and harsher towards myself. It did help in some ways. But it wasn’t worth it.
So what can you do if you feel that you are maybe too hard on yourself or you beat yourself up quite often? Here’s what helped me to become kinder towards myself, to get more of the most important things done and to feel better about my life.

Remind yourself of the negative effects of this attitude.
To just remind myself of how damaging being hard on myself has been is a very effective way to replace my old habit with going easier on myself.

Go for more human and smarter standards for yourself.
Movies, books and the people around you may push standards on you that are just pure fantasy or some kind of perfect dream. But life is life, not a fantasy or dream and to set such extremely high standards that no one can live up to just leads to what you may see as failure and disappointment in yourself and in your life.
Instead, relax a bit and accept that everything and everyone has flaws and things don’t always go as planned. Accept that you can still improve things but they will never be perfect. And realize that you won’t be rejected if things or you aren’t perfect. At least not by reasonably well-balanced human beings, like most people actually are in reality.

Celebrate your small steps of progress.
If you are in the habit of only celebrating when you reach a big milestone or a perfect moment or two then you may lose your motivation and feel like you are never happy or arriving where you want to be.
So make a habit of celebrating your small daily and weekly successes too.
This will help you to keep the soul-tiring monotony away and help you to stay enthusiastic instead of getting more and more unmotivated until you may even consider quitting halfway to that big milestone.

Focus on the positive and helpful feedback in mistakes and failures.
It is very common to be hard on yourself when you make a mistake or fail. But it is also a very destructive habit because it can magnify one such event into something that makes you feel depressed for weeks or makes you quit altogether.
So when you are hard on yourself for a failure or mistake then relax a bit and go a bit easier on yourself. Remind yourself of why this is a much better strategy to keep the motivation and self-esteem up. Ask yourself:
l    What can I learn from this situation?
l    How can I use what I learn from this to not make the same mistake again but to move forward in a better and smarter way?

Then, after you have just been with those negative emotions you got from the failure or mistake until they diminish a bit and you have figured out what you can learn focus on moving forward again.

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