Why are we so hard on ourselves? Whether it's not exercising three times a week or eating an extra slice of cake or running five minutes late for work, we tend to belittle and berate ourselves with all the vitriol of our worst enemy.
Why do we engage in such destructive behavior? A range of factors could contribute to such a mindset, ranging from an overly-critical parent, spouse, or teacher to a hard-wired belief that we must be perfect. Regardless of the cause, the effect can be quite harmful.
There's a difference in admitting our mistakes and resolving to do better next time and yelling at ourselves and calling ourselves names. I'm one of the worst offenders. If I don't write one day, don't go and exercise, gain weight, or don't eat right, my mind inevitably responds with negativity and the "Should Committee" starts their barrage.
An example: "You should have ate the chicken instead of the greasy hamburger...you shouldn't make excuses for not going to the gym...you should go even if you feel awful."
It's become like a bad habit.
I'm trying to change this by choosing to respond to myself as a friend might.
In other words, if one of my friends came to me and said, "I skipped my work-out again last night. I had such a headache. I couldn't do it. Now I hate myself!", I certainly wouldn't reply, "You're right. You're a loser. How dare you not exercise? Don't you know you're supposed to work through the pain? You're an idiot." Of course not! Yet that's how we talk to ourselves sometimes, isn't it?
Yes, there are times we need to be firm with ourselves. But you can be firm and kind.
So today, if you make a mistake and feel the need to give yourself a good tongue-lashing, don't. Instead, pretend that you're talking to a good friend, and respond to yourself with kindness.
I'll be trying to do the same.