When I talk about choosing what works, what I mean is always choosing the more compassionate approach for yourself. Compassion always works. First, I want to tell you that you are perfect as you are and don’t need to change and don’t need any fixing. In our society, we are always looking for things outside of ourselves to solve and fix us and our problems. We chase these things and try a lot of them or don’t try anything because we think the last thing didn’t work, so why try this one? We use our last attempt at trying something to create evidence for ourselves that there is something wrong with us. That thinking creates more judgement for us and typically isn’t helpful. I’m offering a different way forward from energy depleting thinking.
My amazing life and well-being coach, Kristin, helped me with this when I was confused that while I was working so hard, I just felt like I was creating more self-judgement and the harder I worked, the harder things got for me. It was all related to my self-judgement thinking and not whether or not I was checking tasks off my list. She said, “Karla, you are a little kid with a scraped-up knee. You don’t need punishment. You need a nurturing hug and care.”
In our society we are often taught that being hard on ourselves is what works and will get us to where we think we want to be. It’s the opposite.
All you have to do is notice you’re being hard on yourself, then you can pause and create compassion and soften, rather than getting rigid and critical. To make a change and take action in your life you don’t have to have all the answers at the start. You just have to get curious and create more self-awareness along the way.
You can also create self-trust to choose what works for you. When you operate with self-compassion you build up self-trust along the way. You learn to trust yourself to figure it out, to not make it mean anything about you when things don’t turn out as you expected, and you learn to trust that you will not be so hard on yourself and judge and shame yourself along the way. All you have to do is notice when you are being hard on yourself, which may come up in different ways.
Someone else’s plan may not be what works for you. Sometimes we even use our relationship with food to restrict and be rigid with ourselves or swing the other way (I’ve done both a lot) and eat to numb out our emotions. We don’t even know we’re doing this most of the time. We just feel stuck and it’s a pattern. The good news is you’re never stuck. When you’re being hard on yourself, just recognize it and pause and instead of piling on yourself, be compassionate with yourself.
No matter what, being hard on ourselves, judging and shaming ourselves simply doesn’t work and can even cause harm. It takes practice to learn to be compassionate with ourselves and sometimes can feel hard to break that cycle of being hard on ourselves. It seems like we should be born with self-love and compassion and maybe we are. Who knows? What I do know is that being hard on yourself doesn’t work.
Sometimes, we double down on the shame, self-blame and judgement and think that will get us to where we need to be. We get nervous that if we let up on that negative self-talk, that inner critic, everything will break loose and things will get even worse than they are now. It’s simply not true. Just increasing your self-awareness around when you’re being hard on yourself, and say to yourself, even out loud, and no, you are not going to look strange talking to yourself, “This is hard. I don’t have to be hard on myself. I will be kind to myself. I will be softer and take it easy on myself.” Figure out what works for you.
When you are willing to recognize that being hard on yourself, judging yourself, and all the negative self-talk doesn’t help getting you to where you want to be and actually causes unnecessary pain and definitely less fun in our lives, then you can start to create more compassion for yourself. Another way to look at it is, “Is your current thinking working for you?” You can start to create a feeling and thought that will help you. Learning to have your own back is the best skill you will ever learn, is part of self-love, and makes you an invincible goal slayer.