Be gentle with yourself, you’re doing the best you can. That devil sitting on your shoulder is full of mind games. Tell that negative committee that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up.
It’s certainly a great thing to set high standards for ourselves, to strive hard and dream big. But when our own self-imposed high expectations cause us to turn on ourselves with nasty, self-deprecation words, it is then that we become our own biggest critic.
I have my experience of “I’m not good enough”, “How could I be so dumb”, “I never do anything right”, “why do I always fail”, “I can’t believe I gained all that weight”—which ultimately strips our self-worth and sabotages any progress and hinders our growth. With that follows a feeling of shame.
We have been taught most of our life to measure ourselves, and our own self-worth by standards that are not real. For example, pick up any magazine while waiting to check-out at the grocery, We buy the magazine that has the newest workout because OMG, I am going to look like the girl on the cover. Besides all the airbrushing and photoshop, that picture is NOT reality, yet we make it our reality. We then live our life in disappointment because we didn’t lose that 10 pounds, instead, we gained 20 pounds. We don’t get around to living our life on our terms and we allow things we can’t control to haunt us and in a way, somewhat run our life.
We waste so much of our life living in labels we have given ourselves, believing lies to prove ourselves to the world. When your self-image is rooted in shame, you fear being exposed as flawed, insufficient, a failure and you care too much about what others might say. Life is way too short to live like this, yet we all live like this at some point.
We are all allowed to make mistakes. It does not make you less worthy, not dumb, nor less smart. Be deliberate in nursing positive emotions and approve of yourself more and more. Did you get 3 workouts this week? Praise yourself for that. Find what you are doing because the more you feel positive about you will continue this feeling to form a new healthy habit.
Be mindful in how you talk to yourself. Our language to ourselves is the most powerful. Be mindful how you talk to yourself because you are always listening. Choose to empower yourself with positive words. You are enough!
When you feel the shame triggers, ask yourself these six reality check questions:
- How realistic are my expectations?
- Can I be all these things all of the time?
- Do the expectations conflict with each other?
- Am I describing who I want to be or who others want me to be?
- If someone perceives me as having these unwanted identities, what will happen?
- Can I control how others perceive me? How do I try?
As I write this, I ask myself “How realistic are my expectations? NOT realistic at all. I am middle-aged and I’m tired a lot. I am in grief over the death of my mom. I have gained 20 pounds this winter, my kids do not know the word “clean up”, and I am really, really tired. Did I mention I am tired? HA…. The truth is that I am not always going to be thin and sexy all the time. I have had to realize in my process that the expectations I put on myself and the images I measure myself against, the more I realize that I literally can’t have that. I can’t look like the photoshop unrealistic woman on the cover of a magazine. I might be able to feel sexy and fit, but I won’t look like the 20-year-olds on the cover of a magazine. It’s really not ok to look 40 these days. BUT if a commercial or magazine cover came out and said “Hey America”! This is what 40, 50, 60 looks like, then we’d all want to look our age. Again, expectations of society are not reality, therefore we become our biggest critics.
We can’t control society or how some may perceive us. When we allow others to control how we feel about ourselves that is shame. Perception is a no-win situation. No matter what one does, you can’t control how other people see you. You need to see you and really see you for the person you are.
I challenge you to start a daily journal. In that journal, write 5 positives that happened that day. Reflect on those positives. Then write 2 negatives. What could you have done to change the negative? Reflect a positive that can come out of our negative.
For example…Today, I wanted to cycle 20 miles. I only cycled 18.50 miles. I was upset with myself because I shouldn’t have slacked off and I could have ridden another 1.5 miles. However, I did ride 18.50, that is more than if I didn’t go out and ride. I decided to be proud of my 18.50 miles, as this was actually one of my hardest rides so far this summer with hills. Could I have added that last 1.50 miles? Absolutely. But I didn’t, so I am going to have to suck it up and feel positive that I hit 18.50 and realize, I still rode 101 miles in a week. Be proud of what you do accomplish. Don’t allow a lousy 1.50 miles to ruin your day. We do that way too often.
“Give yourself some slack. You’re probably doing better than you think”