How often do you berate yourself, feel that you've fallen short, not achieved what you set out to do or done as much as others in your orbit? A 2020 survey of 2000 adults by a weight loss company has found that we criticize ourselves six times a week; personally I think that number is on the low side!
How many of us talk to ourselves more harshly that we ever would to anyone else, calling ourselves stupid, bad, thick over even the slightest mistake or transgression? The reality is, we may have done something stupid, but it doesn't make us so. And later, when we reflect on what happened, it may have been that we were stressed, distracted, preoccupied or any number of other things.
The same survey shows that 80% of us worry about past mistakes, struggle to put the past behind us and often compare ourselves unfavourably with others. It sounds like a very stressful way to live.
Let's consider ways we can improve our perspective and start to feel that we are good enough.
- Appreciate that others are often wearing their public face as soon as they leave the house. You know yourself that even if you're only going to the shops, chances are you'll change out of your scruffs, apply a little aftershave or lipstick. As do others. They display what they want to be on show.
- Remember that when we compare ourselves to others we're not measuring like for like. Each person has their own situation, their own story, priorities, motivations and circumstances that are hidden behind the public persona, most of which we're unlikely to have even the slightest hint of.
- If you're not achieving what you've set out to do ask yourself why that is. Is it your goal; do you want it enough or are you doing it simply to please others? Could it be that your underlying aim is to make long departed parents or grandparents proud, but it doesn't really inspire you sufficiently or is outside your capabilities. Once you stop to reflect you realise that those relatives would much prefer you to do something that makes you happy.
- Being your own worst critic could well arise due to living a friend or family member's dream. They may be living vicariously through you and are highly invested in each stage of your progress, feeling free to advise, coach and criticise. They may feel they're being helpful, are offering encouragement, but in reality are pushing you towards the success they've missed out on whilst taking none of the risks or investing in the work.
- When we doubt our abilities, feel we're not good enough it impacts on everything we do. Our outlook, perspective, self-belief, enthusiasm levels and decision-making may all be tempered by uncertainty and even fear. This can cause hesitancy and result in us second-guessing every decision we need to take. Things that we wouldn't even query when we're in a more positive frame of mind may well become major areas of doubt, should I/shouldn't I dilemmas. Stressful, energy-sapping and diminishing your single-minded focus towards your goals.
- Accept that failure and setbacks bring their own lessons and rewards. Any new venture should test and challenge you; that's part of the experience, fun and ultimate satisfaction. Rather than doubt yourself start to value the tough times that push you on your journey as part of an opportunity to learn new skills and make new connections.
- Allow others onto your 'team'. It doesn't mean that you're not good enough if you have gaps in your knowledge. Knowing where to go to remedy problems and shortfalls is a skill in itself. No one can be an expert in everything, so allow others to contribute their ideas, talents and input and maybe even discover better ways of doing things.
- Be kind to yourself. Breaks, fun and time off are a great way to recharge your batteries and you may find that you return with new ideas, inspiration and solutions to things that had previously been troubling you.
- But equally don't allow yourself to languish too long in your comfort zone. If you've been going through a tough time, have a lot going on, then adopting a steady pace might be fine, but staying too long in cruise-control does you no favours. It's good to move away from comfortable sometimes.
- If you're aiming for a big goal it can be disheartening if things don't come together as you'd hoped. Rather than beating yourself up and telling yourself that you're not good enough why not instead break it down into bite-sized chunks that are more manageable, achievable and set you on the right track? Remember to praise yourself with each stage that you accomplish.
Enjoy knowing that each experience, good or bad, form pieces of the jig-saw puzzle that make up your life. Invest well in each part of the picture that you're creating.
Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.
She's author of 3 books, 'Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact', '101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday' and 'Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain', all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.
To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit http://www.lifestyletherapy.net