One of the biggest challenges my clients face (and frankly, probably most of us for that matter) is treating themselves nicely. It’s easy to fall into the pattern of holding ourselves to impossibly high expectations and then bad mouthing ourselves when we fail to meet them. This is especially true of those who already struggle with self-esteem or self-confidence issues, but it can really affect everyone at some points in life. No one is immune to the negative inner critic from time to time.
What to do??
Here’s what I suggest to my clients– practice a little compassion. Go easy on yourself. Some people call it grace, or giving the benefit of the doubt, or allowing for some elbow room. However you prefer to phrase it, it’s that little extra space that allows for mistakes and understanding and says, “hey, that’s ok, you’re doing just fine.”
It may not be easy at first. After all, the negative inner critic might be a frequent flier in your self-talk. Plus, you didn’t end up with Negative Nelly overnight, so it will take awhile to rid yourself of her. But it does get easier over time, and I think you’ll notice a positive change in stress levels and feelings of well-being.
The first step is simply noticing your thoughts. Are they positive? Helpful? Useful? Do they motivate you to improve in some way? Or are they filled with negative messages? Do they involve name calling or putting yourself down? Do they make you feel bad about your actions or thoughts? Do they remind you of past mistakes you’ve made? I often tell my clients that we are the ones ultimately in charge of ourselves and our happiness and well-being. If my own inner voice is telling me negative things about myself, I can’t expect anyone outside my own head to tell me differently! Plus, even if they do, which voice are we most likely to believe?
If your self-esteem needs a little more attention that what’s suggested here, then consider giving me a call to see how we might work together to improve it!