Be Easy on Yourself

“I’ve learned in climbing that you don’t ‘conquer’ anything. Mountains are not conquered and should be treated with respect and humility. If we take what the mountains give, have patience and desire, and are prepared, then the mountains will permit us to reach their highest peaks. I believe a lot of things are like that in life.” Ed Viesturs, First American to climb all fourteen 8,000 meter peaks and author of No Shortcuts to the Top. (From my Starbucks coffee cup, The Way I See It #140.)

Women in general are too hard on themselves. There seems to be an innate drive toward perfection and anything short can quickly throw us in a spiral. The example that really “stuck a chord with me” yesterday was a gal who was moving a bit slower through the health challenge than some of the others in the program. Her post expressed frustration, anger with herself, the feeling that she wasn’t doing “well enough” or “doing it right,” and a general sense of sadness.
We so often miss what we do accomplish and instead focus on what we think we should have accomplished. However, who is to say what we should do or shouldn’t do? Where does this “should-meter” exist? More importantly, why do we let it exist and have influence over our day to day emotions? Why don’t we celebrate today, and today’s accomplishments, no matter how large or small and quit being pressured by some external clock or system that exists only in our imagination?

Let’s look at some practical ways you can GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!

Quiet your critic: When you hear negative messages and reprimands in your mind, take a deep breath. Stretch. Go outside. Break the moment. Ask yourself: What do I gain by talking to myself like this or treating myself like this? How will this possibly help me move forward toward my goal? All we gain from living beneath a “should-meter” is feeling lousy and pushing ourselves further from our goals.
Talk it through: If you can’t quiet the critic on your own, then talk it through with others. Create a group of supportive women you can discuss these issues with. Work together and brainstorm on how to treat yourself better… then IMPLEMENT the ideas! Talking about it alone won’t fix it, you have to brainstorm an action plan and then DO IT! Don’t become engaged in hours of endless and negative conversation. Share where you are stumped or stuck, then brainstorm solutions. Ask: What is it I am trying to accomplish? State your problem and also what you want to accomplish. Brainstorm together on how to move from point A to point B.
Focus on what you did do, instead of what you didn’t do: Drop the “shoulds and coulds” from your vocabulary. Instead focus on what you DID accomplish. Remember many small steps will get you to the same place. What is important is to keep moving, it is hard to keep moving if we undermine our accomplishments.
Expect life to interrupt: No sooner than we have a goal and a path in mind life will undoubtedly interrupt. Life has a way of doing that and we have to work with it instead of against it. Expect life to interrupt and try not to become frustrated when it does. Instead of abandoning your plan, sit down and brainstorm on what you CAN still accomplish. You might have to slow down for a week, a month or a year, or brainstorm a new way to work with your plan. What is important is to modify your plan, never abandon it. We never need to “start over” although we often need to change direction.
Re-read this week’s quote once again… “I’ve learned in climbing that you don’t ‘conquer’ anything. Mountains are not conquered and should be treated with respect and humility. If we take what the mountains give, have patience and desire, and are prepared, then the mountains will permit us to reach their highest peaks. I believe a lot of things are like that in life.” I think we could actually substitute many words for “mountain” in this sentence. We could use goals, dreams, life–all require patience and desire and preparation. When we forget to cut ourselves some slack and are hard on ourselves, we lose momentum and go down the mountain.

Your Weekly Challenge: What “shoulds” have been causing you to feel lousy? How do you push your self with unrealistic expectations or negative self-talk? What can you implement from this Week’s Challenge to begin getting rid of the “should-meter” in your life?


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