It's easy to believe that to be hard on yourself is a motivator on its own right — it's why we have phrases like "tough love" and "straight talk" floating around. If you tip toe around a situation and aren't blunt, how are you supposed to be better? And if you can't tell yourself how it is, wouldn't that just mean you're acting indulgent? But you can just as easily motivate yourself to grow and be better by using self-love and kind words as you can with the language a mean high school coach would use. You can just as easily say "we can do better next time, and here's how," as you can say "you're pathetic." If anything, the former seems like it'd do a world more of motivating, no?
As a society, we have a problem with being hard on ourselves because things like failure and faltering are seen as big no-no's. But just because others subscribe to it doesn't mean you have to, too. You can be kind to yourself and still end up a winner, and I'll show you exactly how. Below are seven tips on how to be less hard on yourself — your confidence and self esteem will thank you for it.
1. Observe Why You're Being So Mean To Yourself
When you trip into a tirade of put-downs geared towards yourself, take a moment to pause and dissect why you feel it necessary to respond in such a way. What actual factor is behind you being so hard on yourself?
Life coach Rachel Jessica Huxtable from self development site Tiny Buddha explained, "Awareness is the first step in acknowledging any life challenge. How are you responding to a particular event, circumstance, or person? What are your initial feelings? And why are you feeling this way? Asking yourself some important questions can help you understand why you are having such a profound response to something."
Are you scolding yourself for the cupcake because you've only sought out poor body image role models? Are you beating yourself up for not finishing the deadline because you know you can be more professional? Are you telling yourself you can't complete that one goal because you're scared you'd fail? Observe the root of these emotions.
2. Tailor Your Conversations
Sometimes mean self-talk is too fast to stop, but what you can do is apologize to yourself after it happens. Stopping the conversation and telling yourself this is no way to treat yourself will ween you off of the habit of doing it in the first place.
Lifestyle writer Sara Courter from self development site Mind Body Green said, "You can have harsh thoughts (since our minds are working at hyper speed these days), but take a moment to say, Whoa…that wasn’t nice. That right there is the kind of thought that is harming and punishing and mean. That is the kind of thought I’m not going to think towards myself anymore." Train yourself to be kinder, and your dialogue will slowly change.
3. Embrace What You're Struggling With Rather Than Put Yourself Down For It
Think of what you're putting yourself down for — chances are it's to do with a struggle. You might be calling yourself dumb if you constantly trip up at a new job, unlovable if you can't accept body positivity yet, or unattractive if you're in the middle of a dating hiatus. But instead of shooting yourself down for your struggles, acknowledge that they're the things that help you grow, learn, and become stronger as a person.
Margie Warrell, bestselling author of Brave, wrote for Huffington Post, "...rather than expecting yourself to be all together, embrace your struggles for the opportunity they hold to deepen your learning, your living and your loving." To struggle is the only way to learn, so appreciate it rather than beat yourself up for it.
4. Give Yourself Praise Hands
Get into the habit of complimenting and praising yourself, and often. I mean often, people. Get silly with it people, it'll help you get used to giving and hearing praise about yourself rather than just put-downs. Small business mentor Eli Davidson from Huffington Post offered, "Congratulate yourself often. Even for the silly little things."
If you made it to work on time, praise hands. If you made a stellar dinner tonight, praise hands. If your left eyeliner looks the same as your right eyeliner, praise hands.
5. Don't Let Your Ego Do The Ruling
Fine, failing stings. But you never actually fail if you don't give up, so don't let your ego be the one that runs the joint. Keep it in check by putting into focus how much that little blimp or failure actually means in the grand scheme of things.
Courage coach Tess Marshall from self development site The Bold Life explained, "Our egos like to make horror movies out of our errors. Ask yourself, 'Will this matter six months or a year from now?' Lighten up and go with the flow." Some things will go wrong, but that doesn't mean every failure needs to get cataloged and disciplined.
6. Choose To Be On Your Own Side
I know what you're thinking: But who's other side would I be? Well, every time you tear yourself down, you're siding with all the "others" that taught you that you're not good enough to succeed. So forget these people you don't know and never will meet, and be your most wildest chearleader.
Marshall offered, "Remain positive. Refuse to give up. I'm on your side and I have all the faith in the world in you." Live it and believe it.
7. High Five Yourself Every Time You're Not Mean
Every time you halt that negative self talk and give yourself a break, do a mental high five and thank yourself for it. You're making hard changes and learning the hard act of loving yourself and championing yourself completely, and that's nothing short of amazing.
Davidson said, "Thank yourself for making any fabulous choice to take back your life." You're no longer opperating on other people's opinions, rules, or ideas.
Instead, you're accepting yourself fully, and that deserves a big round of applause.
Images: @jessannkirby/ Instagram