Friday, 21 August 2015

Be Kind

Something I am very guilty of doing is beating myself up for various things. Whether I eat something unhealthy, miss a workout, or watch one too many episodes of Parks and Rec when I could be doing something more productive, I'm almost certain to give myself a hard time.

It's all well and good to say 'just be nicer to yourself', but in reality I know how that can feel like an impossible task. Personally I'm working hard every day to soften my internal dialogue and keep my inner bully at bay. It's tough, really tough, so I make sure I follow a few key steps to keep myself focused on being kind:

Firstly it's important to accept that you can't do it all. Knowing and accepting this is half the battle. With so many people putting their lives on the internet and apparently doing so much in terms of jobs, family, homes, hobbies etc, it's no wonder that we pile the pressure on ourselves do keep doing more. But do you know, that's actually exhausting, and I'd rather do what I do and do it well. Think about how many pressures you're piling on yourself - are there any that can be relegated to the sidelines?

Accepting that you can't do it all goes hand in hand with my second step which is: don't set yourself up to fail. If one look at your diary for the week makes the panic rise in your throat, then chances are you're setting yourself up for a fall. And a fall will inevitably be followed by anger, disappointment, and all manner of upset that you aim at yourself. Challenge yourself and push yourself, by all means (how else can we grow?), but don't overdo it. Give yourself space to succeed and celebrate those successes, no matter how small they seem to you.

Once I've got that part down I think about my strengths and weaknesses. Acknowledge your weaknesses but don't forget your strengths. I'm pretty sure we all have a healthy mixture of strengths and weaknesses - we're only human, after all. When we give ourselves a hard time we're more likely to focus on our weakness and forget that we have so many strength to celebrate too. Why not split a page into two and list your strengths on one side and weaknesses on the other? I have a page like this and it can be helpful to refer to on occasion.

I know very well how difficult it can be to adjust your thinking in this way so I have a couple of techniques I fall back on when my inner bully takes over:

Recently I learnt a technique for challenging automatic thoughts as they come. Ask yourself what you would say to a friend in the same situation. If they'd decided to spent Saturday morning in bed instead of hitting the gym would you tell them they are lazy? Or would you encourage them to make the most of the rest and start the next day with a renewed energy? I know which one I'd say! Check yourself: if you wouldn't say it to a friend, don't say it to yourself.

Finally, write it down and move on. Don't dwell on things. Get pen to paper and spill your thoughts until you've released them entirely. Then turn the page and put it out of your mind.

You ARE amazing - don't forget that - so be kind to yourself.


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