So it recently occurred to me that I’ve been indulging in rather a bit too much negative self-talk lately. I’ve been cross with myself about all kinds of things from eating too much junk food to making errors at work – and that critic inside my head has been having a field day.
Well, I’ve decided to put a stop to this, and I’ll be dedicating this particular blog post to some of the techniques I’ve been using to stop emotionally beating myself up.
Give yourself a break
If you regularly beat yourself up about things that you perceive as mistakes or failures on your part then you’re probably a bit of a perfectionist by nature. This is certainly true with me. What I’ve found helpful is to try to view the situation from someone else’s viewpoint and ask yourself whether they would be as critical of you as you are being.
Perhaps they might say to you that not everyone’s perfect and mistakes happen; we all lose our way sometimes. Perhaps they might not see your ‘failings’ as such a big deal and would cut you some slack. Or look at it this way: if your best friend was upset with themselves for having a junk food binge would you criticise them for their lack of willpower and call them weak? Not if you’re a good friend. So start out by being a good friend to yourself and give yourself a break.
Address the problem
Constantly berating yourself for your mistakes isn’t going to help the situation – it’s just going to make you feel worse about yourself and most likely more resigned to failure in the future. Instead, try to think about what steps you can take to address the problem.
If you made an error at work, come up with an action plan for how you can prevent that error happening again – perhaps talk it over with your boss or a colleague to get some advice. If you’re angry at yourself for not sticking to your exercise regime, enlist a friend to join you and encourage you to keep it up.
Take small positive steps towards fixing the problem and you will immediately feel better because you’re progressing towards change rather than being stuck in a negative state.
Focus on the good things
You may have noticed from previous postings on the Daily Mind that I’m a big fan of making lists. I think it’s a great way of focusing the mind and encouraging you to take action.
Think back over the past few weeks and months and list 10 positive achievements that you accomplished. No matter how big or small the achievement, make a note of it, and then pin the list on your wall or somewhere where you can see it easily. Why not add in some pictures to illustrate the points? If you ran a marathon, put up a picture of you on the day.
If you got a pay rise at work, put up a picture of some money. This will help to trigger happy, positive memories of your achievements and remind you that you don’t deserve to keep beating yourself up because you can do good things.
Use a mind mantra
Finally, a very simple but effective way to stop being so hard on yourself is to start repeating a positive affirmation or mantra on a regular basis. My particular favourite, which I learnt from self-help guru Louise Hay, is: “I love and approve of myself.”
Repeat this affirmation constantly throughout your day and write it down somewhere that you can see it regularly – perhaps on your phone or on a post-it note by your mirror.
Pretty soon I can guarantee that these words will sink in and you will stop being so hard on yourself.