Where is the line between striving to grow and being too hard on yourself? Slipping into being too hard can be pretty easy for those who are perfectionists.
If you are wondering whether you are too hard on yourself, I want to share seven signs that may indicate that you could indeed cut yourself some slack.
To make it practical and actionable, I am sharing tips on what you could do instead to become more gentle with yourself and bring more self-compassion.
1. You are never quite satisfied with your results
Your colleagues compliment you on a project you delivered or a presentation you have just given. Your immediate reaction is that it could have gone better or that you could not have done it without others. In your mind, you did not meet your much higher expectations. But could it be that your 100% is someone else’s 120%?
TIP: If you catch yourself doing this, next time, instead of arguing why you did not do as good of a job, as they say, say simple: THANK YOU and smile. Appreciate the compliment you have received and take the credit for your fantastic work! Give yourself an imaginary tap on the shoulder and say, hell, yes, I did do a great job!
2. You beat yourself up over mistakes you made
If you make a mistake or screw up at work, you cannot let it go. You feel awful and guilty for hours (or days) afterward. Even when others forgot about it, you still cannot stop beating yourself up.
TIP: Making mistakes sucks, but the thing is that we all make them. We are all human; we screw up, learn and move on. Try to embrace a new mindset - there are no mistakes, only learning opportunities. Every screw-up will help you learn more about yourself and progress further. Take a deep breath, forgive yourself, and let it go. In a couple of days or weeks, it won’t matter anyway.
3. You criticise yourself regularly
You see criticism as a tool to keep you on track. You are afraid that you won’t grow or improve anymore if you stop criticizing yourself. You may worry that if you start being kind to yourself, you will become arrogant.
TIP: The truth is that self-criticism puts us down. Do you honestly feel encouraged to take action when you hear a voice telling you that you suck, don’t have enough experience, or will not succeed anyway? There is a better way to grow - speak to yourself as you would to your best friend. Encourage yourself and be gentle with any pitfalls. Positive encouragement is a powerful tool in personal or professional growth and helps to let go of that critical voice.
4. You expect yourself to excel in all areas of your life
You may be trying to be the best in everything you do. Be great at work, perfect spouse or a parent, child, or a friend. You put too much pressure on yourself and most likely feel stressed out. There is no judgment in that; anyone would, as it’s hard to live up to such high expectations.
TIP: Pick your battles. You don’t need to be great at everything. Create more focus and set priorities. What areas in your life matter the most to you right now? Focus your energy on those and give only 80% (or less) to the rest. Remember, your 80% is probably in any way someone else’s 100%.
5. You put others’ interests above your own
You finally planned to stop working on time so that you could relax at home or go out with friends. Everything changes when your boss comes to you and asks you to help with something urgent. You immediately cancel your plans and get to work. No questions asked; you are here to deliver. You can relax some other time.
TIP: Pause before saying 'yes' and get more information first. "By when is it needed? How urgent is it?" Explain your availability and ask how you can compromise getting it done on time. When people say that something is urgent, they may have a different interpretation than you. You have the right to put yourself first and recharge. When you feel better, you do better. That means that taking time for yourself is actually helping others.
6. You often don’t let yourself feel ‘negative feelings’
You try to suppress negative feelings, such as anger, sadness, or frustrations, especially when you feel them towards others. You believe that it’s inappropriate to feel this way, and you either ignore them or try to force your way into feeling positive. If you suppress them for a long time, they can emerge on a physical level as an illness.
TIP: There are no good or bad feelings, only feelings to be felt. They guide you in checking whether you are aligned with your goals or not. Once you pause and start to really feel them, they will pass. Try breathing for sadness or stress relief, hitting a pillow, or screaming in a closed room for anger release. When you find the right way to release them, you will feel lighter, and your energy will lift.
7. You compare yourself with others
You see the good and positive traits in others, but you fail to see them in yourself. You are trying to keep up with what others are doing because you may feel that you don’t know, do, or are enough.
TIP: When you compare yourself to others, you are essentially comparing yourself to one element of them that you see. Consider for a moment that you don’t know their whole story. You don’t know all they had to go through to get where they are. Consider that they too have their struggles and worries, just like you (even if they don’t talk about them). Who knows, they may admire something about YOU that they don’t or can’t have.
Being hard on yourself can be mistaken for having good discipline or willpower, knowing what you want, and going after it. But the truth is that it takes away your power and makes you feel like you will never measure up.
Finding a way to be more compassionate with yourself while striving to grow in the areas of your life that matter to you is essential. It will help you keep your mental energy and self-respect and achieve bigger things. Not because you HAVE TO, but because you support yourself during the process.
If you have made it all the way here, I would love to hear from you. Which signs resonated with you? Comment below or email me.
If you want to take this further and break free, I am here to help you. Doing this kind of your on yourself is not always ease. Book a FREE Discovery Call and let's talk about your goals.