This article was published on January 30th, 2021
“That was a stupid move; why would you do it?” “You’re such an idiot.” “You just wasted a valuable opportunity.”
Or what about this: “I should have talked to that hot guy at the cafe.”
Most people have a habit of beating themselves up over everything, from simple mistakes to not keeping promises to themselves.
For instance, perhaps you resolved to get in shape in 2021 but have not stepped into a gym or even done anything remotely physical. The guilt keeps gnawing at you, and the more time passes, the worst it becomes.
Or, what about that project you’ve been ignoring for some time despite the urgency?
Beating yourself up, dishing out insults and denigrating comments in your internal monologue gets you nowhere. As a popular saying goes, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” So it is in life. You accomplish more and live a happier, more fulfilled life when you’re kinder to yourself.
However, that’s not the only reason for more self-kindness.
After the year everyone had in 2020 with the COVID-19 global health pandemic and the ensuing challenges, everyone could do with a little more self-care and compassion this year.
Here’s how to be kinder to yourself in 2021 and beyond.
When’s the last time you took time off for you? To do something you love and enjoy that brings you immense joy and pleasure?
Most people live such frenetic lives, “taking care of business,” paying bills, hopping around the social scene that they forget the most important thing: You.
Your relationship with yourself is the most important because you spend every waking moment with yourself. However, you cannot nurture a relationship if you’re always too busy with no time for yourself.
Take time out to relax and get in touch with yourself. This is not a call to lay around mindlessly watching TV, far from it. It’s a call to do something wholesome and fulfilling. To relax and unwind by yourself.
Mind your self-talk
Stand in front of the mirror and notice the internal monologue (or dialogue) that goes on inside your head. “You’re so fat. What’s with the pot belly?” “Your hair is getting greyer.” “You’re a failure.”
The mirror test reveals more about your self-talk. For most, the internal monologue revolves around lack or the negative. Part comes down from parents and other authority figures when growing up. Sadly, most people never shed those negative and reprimanding comments. We pile on our own.
Moving forward, change your self-talk. Say more positive things about yourself, like what you most like about your body or the project you’re working on. Appreciate yourself, the quiet battles you’ve fought and where you are today. It may not be where you want to be, but at least you’re making progress to your destination.
Set clear boundaries
Learn to set clear boundaries with yourself and others. Don’t let people run all over you by disrespecting your time, space, and even emotions.
Assert yourself more. For example, if your boss is always giving your unreasonable tasks, push back, ask for more time or simply say no.
The same applies to friends and loved ones. Say “No” and let it mean something. People appreciate your more for it while you get to spend more time on yourself and your priorities.
Closely related to the above, list everything you need to do to better care for yourself. What do you need to maintain a healthy body, mind, and spirit? Schedule those activities, such as working out, cooking more at home, meditation, or even a work project.
Tackling priorities boosts happiness and keeps you challenged to improve.
Learn from all experiences
Instead of beating yourself up over past mistakes, take them as lessons. So what, you didn’t get the guy or job you wanted, maybe because of something you did (or didn’t!). That’s not the end of life.
Learn from the experience, forgive yourself and let go.
Open up to your feelings
Sometimes people punish themselves by denying their feelings. You tell yourself that you shouldn’t feel what you’re feeling.
However, feelings are not black and white. There’s no correct or wrong way to feel. So, let your emotions bubble up, don’t bottle them. Swallowing feelings only makes them fester, like an infected wound. When they finally break, they create an even bigger mess.
Let yourself feel. Are you angry, sad, happy, excited, horny, afraid, anxious? Sit with those emotions for a second. Feel them and then let them go. Emotions are part of being human, and experiencing them is one of the kindest things you can do for yourself.
Ask for help
You cannot handle everything on your own. Learn to ask for help when you need it.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. If anything, it’s a sign of strength and willingness to admit when we’re way under the water.
Whether you’re going through a rough patch personally, financially, or even emotionally, don’t carry that burden alone. Reach out to trusted friends or a therapist and talk things through.
Laugh it out
We all make mistakes. It’s part of the human experience. Laugh at yours from time to time.
Laughter is the best medicine. It’s spontaneous, brings relaxation, and allows us to live in the moment. A laugh with friends deepens the relationship. A laugh with yourself ought to improve that connection with yourself. It’s a sign of self-kindness when you can laugh at yourself.