The Recovering Farmer

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself

 I recently saw a quote by Arlene Dickenson that goes as follows; “The most important conversation you can have is what you tell yourself about yourself.”

As the stressors of life overwhelm us it is common to struggle with our internal voice which ultimately exacerbates many of the issues we face.

A few days ago I talked to my sister. We were chatting about the restrictions and what we were doing to cope. It was clear we both new some good coping strategies but had to admit we were not using them. She then began berating herself for not being better.

In response to my dithering on to much exposure to news and social media, a cousin sent me a text and in her words she said, “I’ve slapped my hands a couple of times when I’ve read too much and its causing emotional anxiety”.

Hey, I get it. It’s okay to get frustrated. We all do. We yearn for good news stories which are difficult to come by in our current situation. Most times we come away feeling worse because the bad news stories far outweigh the good news stories.

As that happens, we struggle to find and achieve equilibrium. We know it is possible, we have found our way through other significant stressors, but this one feels different.

How we treat ourselves becomes incredibly important. We need to learn to not complicate or compound our state of mind.

At times we fall into a state of self-pity, defined as “the self-indulgent belief that your life is harder and sadder than everyone else's”. That says it all.

It is easy to fall into that miserable state of mind. My favorite (tongue in cheek) is the feedback loop. I have this uncontrollable way of letting my mind run rampant with negative and morbid thoughts. And because I know better than to allow those thoughts I start bemoaning the fact that I have these negative thoughts and that I am such an idiot for thinking them and such a loser for thinking that I am an idiot and because I am an idiot there is no wonder I am useless at . . . . . And around I go.

As humans we have an intense desire to be understood by others particularly during periods of distress? We never outgrow that. Our pain and anxiety reduces the more others understand and care. Our physical and mental health improves when others show they understand, when they reach out to help.

In the same way we need to better understand ourselves. We need to be kinder to “me”. We need to be able to reach out and help “me”.

Try something different. Use self-compassion. The dictionary defines compassion as “having sympathy for the suffering of others, often including a desire to help”. In the same way that caring for others, wanting to help, is a good thing, using that concept on ourselves also works. It is an important tool in overcoming the anger, the frustrations, and the anxieties we often feel.

Next time you are berating yourself or slapping your hands or feeling down because you feel you messed up again use self-awareness to bring yourself back to the present. Give yourself a moment to have a conversation with yourself. Show some self-compassion. And instead of being too hard on yourself, be kind. Build yourself up and see how that changes your outlook, your perspective on you and on life. Make it a good one.

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