Sure, we project a confident, positive image on the outside, but inside?
That little voice inside our heads is often our own worst critic, saying the kinds of things we would never stand for anyone else to say to our friends or family members.
But how often do we take it, even when that little voice has been influenced by unkind remarks that we can’t forget? By all the times we’ve compared ourselves to others and found ourselves lacking? Even by our own drive to succeed—and our fears that we will fail?
We all do it: Even if we enjoyed a great day, one negative comment can ruin our evening. When friends cancel, we wonder if they don’t want to hang out with us anymore. We anticipate the worst, because we don’t want to be disappointed if we hope for the best. And any decision we make is either right or wrong—with no gray area.
So how can we be kinder to ourselves? It starts by not saying anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a friend or anyone else, and instead saying things like this:
“So I made a mistake today. It’s OK to be upset and disappointed. But I’ll learn from this, and it’s OK. I’m definitely not the only person to ever make a mistake!”
Don’t force yourself to just think happy thoughts. Life isn’t about just being happy all the time, but it is about taking the bad with the good and not letting it drown you—so that you can be happy again. Acknowledge when you’re upset about something to help release that emotion. Then focus on moving on.
“Just take it one step at a time.”
Projects at work or at home can seem overwhelming sometimes. But take a breath, then break it down. You don’t have to do it all at once, after all. And even if your boss seems to expect you to, you can try to communicate respectfully to reset his or her expectations. You may even be surprised to find that wasn’t your boss’ expectation to begin with.
“No more judging and criticizing!”
Do you find yourself being judgmental about other people, even in little ways? (Like that snarky comment about that oh-so-wrong dress on that girl in the coffee shop, hmmm?) If you find that you have a habit of being negative about others, train yourself to stop. After all, that’s just one step away from being negative about yourself.
“I won’t let being busy get in the way of what’s important.”
Our lives all seem to be on fast forward these days—and especially once you have a family. But don’t let all the busyness become your life so that you’re not enjoying what’s important. Would you rather think back on how your baseboards were so clean or the memory of spending that time playing with your child? Think about what’s really, really important to you, and organize your life so that you can do those things. Maybe it means your house won’t be as clean as it was, but then you’ll get that hour to play or exercise or read a good book, all of which is so good for you mentally and physically.
“I’m going to give myself 15 minutes.”
So there are still going to be those days when you’re running like crazy. But you can still be deliberate about giving yourself 15 minutes to do something good for yourself. Maybe it’s squeezing in a short workout or bubble bath. Or maybe it’s taking the time to organize the rest of your day or just to walk around the block to clear your head. You’ll be amazed at how much it can help to take just 15 minutes to accomplish something that’s been niggling at you or to give yourself time to recharge.
“I’ll work on saying what I mean.”
Communication is hard, folks. So often, our meanings are lost, because we expect others to read between the lines—or maybe that other person is going through his or her own trials and hears our words through a filter. So work on being clear—with kindness and tact—when we are trying to explain ourselves or what we need or want.
“I can’t control everything, but I can control how I react.”
Ever have that one person who drives you crazy? Or a situation that makes you want to scream? It can be so hard not to react in an angry way, but think about this: When you get mad and resentful, who are you really hurting? In many cases, the anger is only internal, which just makes you feel terrible and in turn makes you a not-so-great person to be around in general. Rise above it, and know the moment will pass—and that you will feel better for not having let anger cloud your mind and your emotions.
“I’m happy, because…”
Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves of the good things in our lives. What made you happy today? Take a few moments every day to think about at least one good thing, or write them down in a journal (nothing long…just a sentence or two). You’ll find that there’s something you can be happy about every single day, even if it’s just the smile and pleasant conversation you got from the cashier at Target or hearing your favorite song on the radio at just the right time.
“I will be kind.”
How much better would life be if we were all kinder to one another? Take the recent story of the woman on a plane who stepped in to help a mother who was traveling alone with three crying children, amid other passengers who were grumbling and complaining. Just one moment could make someone else’s day so much better—and you can kind of get addicted to the warm, fuzzy feeling it gives you, too.
“I don’t need permission to follow my passion.”
This is a big one. So many of us put up barriers as to why we can’t do something, whether it’s returning to a hobby we used to enjoy or even pursuing a new career. It’s never too late, and you’re never too old to try to do something that may improve your life and make you happier.