How much time do you spend criticizing yourself?
From analyzing one’s actions to imposing harsh self-judgments, people can put immense pressure on themselves to have it all figured out. Being human is not always rational, and emotions are complicated. Taking yourself too seriously can hinder happiness, waste energy and amplify stress and anxiety.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, I think it’s time we give ourselves a break and focus on self-love instead of self-doubt. Appreciate your gifts, forgive yourself for your perceived imperfections and most importantly, celebrate just being you! Check out these tips to lighten up and let go of unhelpful thinking:
10 Reasons to Lighten Up
- The future is unreliable. Unfortunately, we can’t always control what happens. If things didn’t go exactly according to plan, there will likely be new chances and opportunities. Relax. You may realize that the things causing you unnecessary worry in the present could mean nothing in five minutes.
- You’re probably not a mind-reader. There is no reason to guess what others are thinking. If you do, you might project your thoughts instead and create a nonexistent storyline.
- There is nothing mandatory about being human. Thinking/saying ‘I should’ (or shouldn’t) or ‘I must’ puts unnecessary pressure on yourself and sets unrealistic expectations.
- You’re harvesting negative thoughts. If you can’t accept mistakes, you will erode your self-confidence. Let go of self-criticism, jealousy, and dissatisfaction, and pull yourself out of that negative, judgmental spiral.
- You’re limiting your joy. Stop minimizing the positives or exaggerating the negatives of a situation. Do things that make you happy, and celebrate your successes — however small they may seem! Give yourself permission to step outside your comfort zone and embrace positivity every now and then. You deserve it.
- Nothing is black and white. Consciously or subconsciously judging how you think things (or people) should be is not helpful. Your way is not the only way, and your judgments may be wrong. Find the gray area by considering situations or ideas from other perspectives.
- Everyone is figuring it out. Stop comparing yourself to others. You don’t need to be better than someone else to be happy. Remember Cady’s epiphany in Mean Girls? Everyone is solving the problem in front of them, and I guarantee your journey is different from theirs.
- No one likes the blame game. This unhelpful thought process will quickly diminish your self-worth and isolate you from relationships. People make mistakes, so be aware if you tend to prioritize perfection. Stop blaming yourself – or others – for things that may not be your responsibility or even within your control.
- Energy is valuable. Taking yourself too seriously causes a lot of stress and anxiety, which can rob you of precious energy. Aren’t you tired of constantly worrying and analyzing? Spend your time wisely, and use your energy to enhance the present and see situations in a more helpful way.
- You’re standing in your own way. If you find yourself stuck in a particular mindset, you may tend to dismiss things that don’t fit perfectly into your ideal worldview. This can cause you to miss other opportunities or to feel let down. Learn to appreciate and embrace whatever life throws at you.