When Cate sent this idea over, I was SO excited for this post because this is something that I’m terrible at. I’m the best advice giver for anyone but myself. I have a hard time cutting myself the same slack that I do for others and truly am my own worst critic. These are things that I need to do myself and I think it’s time that I start focusing on myself in that area.
Enough of my babbling, here’s Cate!
Hello After 9-5 readers! It’s Cate from Sangui(knit)ie, and I’m here to share 5 steps for a kinder-to-you you. Whoa, that sounds a little touchy-feely. But treating yourself well is not something you shouldn’t do because it sounds too woo-woo or self-indulgent. And most of us, myself included, spend a lot of time forgetting to stop being our own worst critic, and not a lot of time treating ourselves more like we treat our best friend—or really, any friend.
We’ve probably all heard how being comfortable in our own skin makes us more attractive, healthier, happier (obviously) people. A big part of being comfortable is learning to stop the critiquing and guilt-tripping we constantly do– which is often easier said than done.
But never fear! Here are five simple ways to start treating yourself with understanding, respect, and (gulp) kindness.
- Treat yourself to some of your wants. Start small. Say you get an itch for a special chocolate. Before you brutally knock it off the face of your brain (“I don’t deserve it;” “I should have something healthy instead;” “I shouldn’t waste the money”), consider it. Would it make you happier to have it? Is it going to break the bank? When’s the last time you did it? If the answers don’t give you any good reason not to (and I mean a good reason), do it. And enjoy the indulgence. But not in an “Ohmigod, I’m going to have to make up for this” kind of way; instead, take your time, enjoy your treat, and let it make you happy. For real.
- Every time you berate yourself, or think/say something unduly critical of yourself, follow up with two things that make you an awesome person. Put these good things in writing, repeat them in your head, or say them out loud. It’s hard to catch all the times you say critical things you wouldn’t dream to say to another person you actually like, so patiently and carefully start paying attention to your thoughts and comments in this direction. Then, patiently and gently start replacing them with your positive critiques.
- Get rid of the things you have for a “better” version of you. Namely, those jeans that are a size smaller than you have been for the past three years, or the pilates mat you will never actually use, or those really-good-for-you beans you don’t actually like. Remove the guilt a little. Replace them with items that truly make you happy. There are always alternatives.
- Similarly, start setting healthy versions of your goals. Sure, it’s great to eat better, and exercising is awesome, but start doing it because it makes you feel better, not because you think you’ll look better, or you could lose a few pounds. If you want to hit 500 sales by such and such a date, but it means you’re going to forgo sleeping, your significant other and all of your little enjoyments for that time frame, it’s time to revise a little.
- Be honest. It’s okay to push yourself, but it’s not okay to brutally exact unrealistic things from yourself– and then beat yourself up when you fail. Be honest about what you really want in life (you know, the things that you would do if you weren’t worried about what other people think). Next time you hear yourself think or say “should,” ask yourself if it meets up with the things you really want. The answer is very probably no. Sometimes there are necessary evils or means to an end, but a lot of us end up doing things because we are being nice or feel we should do them, not because we actually want to.
As a final note, these are five simple ways to start changing your perspective: this does not mean they are easy, especially at first. But with practice and gently plugging away, you can start leveling out that inner critic with a little more tooting of your horn, acknowledging the awesomeness that is you. And when that paradigm shifts, you will be a better version of you— a happier and more loving one.