Has anyone ever told you that you’re too hard on yourself?
And have you responded with some version of:
“Yea, I know I am. I’m just not sure how to be any other way.”
For ACOAs or anyone that grew up in dysfunction, being relentlessly hard on yourself is unfortunately common.
The connection between the adaptive behaviors we adopted while growing up in chaos and confusion and the negative and unforgiving attitude we have towards ourselves today is undeniable.
I know this first hand.
Growing up it was much safer for me to demand perfection from myself then it was to confront my parents about their drunken misconduct.
I believed that if I was smarter, prettier, taller or better at math that I could stop my parents from destroying our lives.
Of course nothing I ever did met those goals because I wasn’t part of the problem. But I didn’t know that as a kid. All I knew was that I had to keep trying to fix what was broken. And every time I failed to do that, which was every time, I had no one else to blame but myself.
And that’s how the war on me, myself and I began. I learned that nothing I did would ever be good enough. I learned to follow the precise formula that would guarantee that I’d be hard on myself and unforgiving no matter the situation or circumstance.
Living life this way sucks!
So, if you recognize that you too could be kinder to yourself but you just don’t know how to do it, this post is for you.
Today you’re going to discover 5 tips along with a few perspective shifts to help you in your “be kinder to yourself journey.”
Once you’re done reading, in the comment section, tell me about one area of your life where you’re ridiculously hard on yourself. And then tell me which of today’s tips you plan to implement to be kinder.
As the great Thomas Edison once said, “Discontent is the first necessity of progress.”
So if you’re dissatisfied with the way you’ve been treating yourself then please know that you’re in the right place and that you’re not alone. We’re all in this together!
Remember your voice, experiences and insights are vital to this community. And what you have to share is not only unique but it may be exactly what someone else needs to read. And that someone could be you.
Thank you for being part of the GUC community!
Until Next Tuesday,
#1 Take A Daily Dose Of Vitamin D
This first tip may appear to be nothing more than common sense but sometimes it’s the simple ideas that we need to be reminded about.
Vitamin D in this case is your power to decide that it’s no longer acceptable for you to beat down on yourself. It’s your power to decide that you’re no longer willing to live your life following the outdated rules and beliefs of your family. Especially as they apply to you and what you’re capable of accomplishing in your life.
Every day you get to decide how you’re going to treat yourself. And when you recognize your power to decide: every failure, misstep or mistake you make becomes an opportunity to make the choice to choose responses that reside in the categories of kind and caring.
Again, I know this is a simple tip and for a majority of us it’s way easier said than done. But sometimes we need to be reminded of our power to decide. So going forward it’s up to you to determine how much Vitamin D you need in your life.
Remember that you have the power to decide and that power is just a choice away.
#2 Become A Student Of The Real World
Do you know the number of failures and setbacks Abraham Lincoln experienced before he became the 16th president of the United States?
In 1831, Abraham Lincoln failed in business.
In 1832, Abraham Lincoln was defeated for state legislator.
In 1833, Abraham Lincoln tried a new business, and failed.
In 1835, Abraham Lincoln’s fiancée died.
In 1836, Abraham Lincoln had a nervous breakdown.
In 1843, Abraham Lincoln ran for congress and was defeated.
In 1848, Lincoln ran again, and was defeated. Again.
In 1855, Lincoln ran for the Senate, and lost.
In 1856, Lincoln ran for Vice President, and lost.
In 1859, Lincoln ran again for the Senate. He was defeated.
So what does this tell you about what it takes to be successful in the real world? For most people, even people like Lincoln, it takes a hell of a lot of hard work and persistence.
Unfortunately, I don’t think most ACOAs have a healthy understanding of what success takes and what failure means in the real world. I know this not only from the work I do with other ACOAs but I also know it firsthand.
Instead of understanding what it takes to succeed and realizing that failure isn’t a reflection of our worth, ACOAs take what happens personally. Instead of learning, we forget or don’t even realize that success doesn’t happen over night. We become impatient and buy into the fearful belief that we’re not seeing results or making progress because we just suck at everything.
We beat ourselves up, berate our efforts and lose sight of our goals.
But if you can “get it” that success is an uphill battle for most people, then you’d be less likely to be so damn hard on yourself.
A failure or a setback isn’t evidence that you suck. So don’t beat yourself up when you hit a few bumps in the road.
Which leads us right into tip #3.
#3 Take Back Your Focus
The more time you spend beating yourself up, the less time you have to build yourself up.
What we’re talking about here is focus and what you choose to focus on.
If you’re focused on the thoughts and behaviors that beat you down then you can’t, at the same time, be focused on what will move you forward.
Making the choice to be kinder to yourself is taking back your focus and spending that focus on where it will have the biggest and most positive impact in your life.
#4 Stop Trying To Buy Bread At The Egg Store
How ridiculous would it be for you to walk in to a store that only sells bread, hoping that you’d be able to find some eggs?
I know, it’s a silly question but it’s one that I ask to get you thinking about the negative people in your life.
You know the people I’m talking about. These are the people, whether friends or family, that have nothing supportive or positive to say about your accomplishments.
While you’re working on building a kinder relationship with yourself it’s best in my opinion to stop looking for support from these people.
Why? Because they may not have it to give and right now you need to surround yourself with people who do.
Any effort you make to become kinder towards yourself is worth celebrating. Don’t destroy all of your hard work and choices by sharing your momentum with people that won’t be able to appreciate it.
Don’t let anyone, not even family or friends, shit all over your new and improved choices.
#5 Ask New Questions To Get New Answers
Without fail, some version of – I suck, I’m a loser, I’m a failure, I’m a waste of space – loops around in my head when I’m being hard on myself.
It’s kind of embarrassing to admit that I’m definitely weak on creativity when it comes to beating myself up.
Regardless, I still have to make a choice about how to handle this negative loop. And one way I to do that is by turning those statements into questions.
So for example when I say:
I suck. I flip that statement into a question and ask myself – “Do I really suck?”
I turn, I’m a loser into – “What is it specifically that makes me a loser?”
I’m a failure becomes, “Can I honestly say with all that I’ve accomplished in my life that I’m a true failure?”
And I flip, I’m a waste of space, into some version of a question that starts off with, “What does that even mean?”
As you can see by turning these generalized statements into a more specific question to answer you not only break up that negative loop running around in your head but it also forces you to see that in all cases you can’t prove these negative ideas you have about yourself to be 100% true.
When you ask new questions you discover new answers. And what you discover will probably be a whole lot lighter and a hell of a lot more positive.