Stop Self-Blame And Be Kind To Yourself
I saw my client Mary yesterday who was beating herself up because she hadn’t lost the weight she’d hoped to. Mary went on to say how she couldn’t ever seem to get things right and was feeling really low and unmotivated. Her words made me reflect on how many times I see fabulous women who constantly blame themselves when life doesn’t go the way they want it to. They constantly struggle with such a punishing inner dialogue.
They are usually kind women, who wouldn’t ever speak in such an aggressive, unforgiving way to anyone else but dish out endless criticism to them selves without a second thought.
There can be many reasons why but it’s mostly:
- a lack of confidence and belief in yourself
- taking yourself too seriously
- having unrealistic expectations
The pattern of self blame is often just an unchecked habit learnt originally in early years.
And you know, there are some pretty good reasons to get rid of self blame and develop a kinder relationship with yourself, because your body doesn’t know the difference between you telling yourself you are a failure or a partner or work colleague having a go at you.
Once your body registers the criticism it knows something is wrong and huge amounts of the stress hormone cortisol start to be released into your system to prepare your body for fight or flight. When you tell yourself you have failed again or aren’t good enough, your body feels attacked and gets ready for battle!
This is no problem in the short term but long term these profound chemical changes have a ravaging effect on a body. Immunity is lowered, digestion and straight thinking are impaired, and a host of other emotional and physical changes are experienced.
So what is the remedy? How can you start to be kinder to yourself?
- Set S.M.A.R.T goals. Expecting to loose a 20 pounds in 4 weeks, or to find overnight success may be setting yourself up for failure. So make your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound.
- Don’t just to negative conclusions if an event or relationship doesn’t turn out how you would have liked. Ask yourself a few questions:
- Did you have unrealistic expectations?
- Did you think about the outcome in a black and white way? Had you considered other people’s desires or part they played in the outcome?
- Don’t accept the voice of the negative inner critic. If you find that inner critic driving the self talk or someone else saying you have got something wrong – ask yourself these questions:
- is this true – if so, where is the evidence?
- what are the exceptions?
If you do this regularly you will start to train your mind to look at the truth and not automatically be so critical of yourself.
So, for instance if you think that a party you organized was rubbish, ask yourself the questions above. You may find that the food, atmosphere and gifts were brilliant but you could have ordered more white wine as it ran out. Strive to get a true picture rather than just believing ‘I am rubbish at organizing parties’.
- Be your own best friend – yes you, just like everyone else will mess up at times. So treat yourself as your best pal would – forgive the slip up and be kind to yourself. Just go through in your mind what your best pal would say.
- Take time out everyday to appreciate yourself. Look for qualities you have – even little things like you smiled at a stranger, you want to help others and have a desire to be the best ‘you’. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, even just that you are racing this and want to be kinder to yourself is a great starting point.OK I’m hearing you – and I know this may be difficult for some of you to start with but self-appreciation can help you bypass negative old patterns of thought. Take time out to appreciate yourself every day and you will start to see who you really are, Not what you have made up about your identity.
- De-stress! Find something that gives you a few minutes quiet time every day – this will help you to clear your thoughts and it will be less likely that you are tripped up by old patterns because you are overwhelmed or stressed. Again this doesn’t have to be a huge thing – a relaxing bath, a walk after dinner?
- Spend time every week on some sort of self development – anything that brings in new ideas or thoughts to you. There is so much free on the internet now – I love watching the short You Tube videos some of the personal growth guru’s have made.
- Set an intention to be kind to yourself and remind yourself of the reasons why you are committing yourself to this. And it is simply this.You will have overall better emotional and physical well being and feel happier!
A good enough reason?
“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” Henry James
Written by Jill Wootton, September 2015.