You’ve heard the cliché phrase, “We all make mistakes.” You’ve been hearing it all your life. But why is it that when YOU make a mistake, no matter how big or small, you have a hard time forgiving yourself or getting over it?
Is it possible you set higher expectations for yourself than you do for others? Maybe you still carry noises in your head from earlier years, from parents or caregivers who were critical, or maybe you’re stuck on the notion that every action or choice you make is good or bad, life or death, black or white. As a result, when YOU don’t meet your own expectations, you mentally whack yourself with brutal criticism you’d never even consider whispering to someone else.
If you’re one of the people I just described, the following tips will help you be kinder to yourself (and you—yes, you—deserve that):
- Staying stuck on that terrible thing you did doesn’t fix it, nor does it make you a better person; making a decision to do things differently in the future makes you a better person.
- Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re always making some level of progress in your life. Being human demands we grow and change with the experiences and information we gather. Accept each lesson, and be grateful you’ve got another one under your cap.
- Remember, going easy on yourself doesn’t mean you’re letting yourself off the hook. Go ahead and have high standards, but accept that you’re going to mess up despite your standards. It’s what humans do.
- Ask yourself: What is the intention/purpose of that critical voice inside you? Will it help? Will it right a wrong or keep you from ever making that mistake again? If not, stop it now.
- What would you say to your best friend in a similar situation? Can you imagine offering the same compassion to yourself? Write it down and practice using kind messages with yourself.
- Try changing the self-talk that says you should feel ashamed, humiliated, or punished, to, “I am a person who is kind—even to myself.” Post this on your fridge or somewhere you will see it every day.
- Take a deep breath and imagine wrapping your own arms around yourself in a sweet, comforting hug.
The next time you mess up, remember these tips for softening the mean voice in your head and cut yourself some slack. No matter who you are or what you’ve done, being gentle with yourself will help you feel more grounded and confident, and that will help you be the better person you want to be.
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