Why am I so hard on myself? It’s a question I just keep asking. I’ve always been self aware and analytical (skills, accomplishments, appearance, etc.). I think this is a trait one needs to be highly productive. However, the degree at which I nitpick at myself would ruin any relationship with another human being if I treated them in the same manner that I treat myself. The more I focus on something, the more critical I become. I’m not sure how the relationship with myself can endure if I don’t take time to level set, forgive, accept or praise.
Once upon a time, maybe I could have ignored this thought all together. Or blame it on my perfectionist OCD tendencies. Surely not everyone is this ridiculous. Unfortunately, with continued support of my fellow ketoers, I’m realizing I am not alone. The question becoming, why are we so hard on ourselves? There are plenty of studies I found from googling the topic. Woman lead the pack in self-deprecation though I think it affects everyone.
When it comes to appearance, I give myself tons of slack in comparison to my readers and friends. I’m happy to show up showered. I rarely give a second thought to what someone else thinks of my appearance. That isn’t that case for everyone. I know some of you show up in full makeup to hide the insecurities behind it. I surely do this for all big meetings in my life. It is one step to being perfectly prepared and confident for whatever comes next. Or keep yourself from eating the next bite because you are afraid of what someone will think if you don’t keep weight off or you gain weight. Or you are in a bad mood the entire evening because you let yourself down. You ate the damn cookie and now you are frustrated with your lack of self control and imminent sabotage.
I’m most critical of my accomplishments. I think I’ve just had to strike a balance here because I can only be psychotically in control of so many areas of my life. For example, I rarely track calories unless I am changing a diet up or making a recipe. I find the more I pay attention to the calories and every morsel going in my mouth, the more I dislike myself. My body doesn’t change size fast enough. I should eat less because I’m never at the goals I set. Or I should give up because all this effort isn’t getting me there. Then I just feel ugly because I am being too critical and nothing will satisfy.
My mindset for appearance has to be about health instead. Is what I am putting in my body good for me? Does it make me feel good? Do I have energy to make it through the day with no crashes? This absolutely doesn’t mean I don’t love makeup and getting dressed up. Or that I don’t get on the scales every few days and let an app track trends for where my weight is. Being healthy versus being skinny is just what motivates me with self-love instead of constant critique.
If I focus my energies of self improvement on knowledge and skills rather than appearance, then my self-esteem stays more intact. I run a tight ship highly scheduled. I’m rather disciplined. I only accept limited failures and only under the impression that practice makes perfect in which case I’ll do better next time. The down side of being hard on myself is the inability to relax. It doesn’t come naturally. I have to plan for down time. The never ending task list in my mind demands completion.
If you ask my favorite thing to do, the answer is nothing. The laying on the couch and watching tv with family. The whim to do anything unplanned and unscheduled at the beat of my own drum. I’m highly productive and busy so nothingness is the yin of my yang. Not to mentioned this will be forced if not sought out on purpose. Eventually you need a freaking break. If I am go go go all of the time and not taking time for my own sanity, then melancholy will force me to rest. The color in your life can only be vibrant in comparison with your down time. With the change of perspectives.
If with age/time, there is wisdom, then there is much I would say to my younger self that needs to be continually reiterated for years to come. First, eventually you will accept who you are with less complaints so go ahead and start that now.
Second, find yoga and learn how to just breath. With a stressful job, followed by three kids (who all speak at once) that I get sensory overload frequently. Nothing better than a little silence and meditation. Or a glass of wine. Whichever you can get to first.
Third, stop punishing yourself. Mom guilt is legit so need to find a way to deal with guilt and failures earlier than later. A small set back is not the end of the world. If you eat the cookie, forgive yourself and forge forward like nothing happened. It doesn’t have to be repeated or dwelled upon. You are worth a small treat. You are okay to be more strict tomorrow.
Lastly, I implore you to be nice to yourself. To start your day with an affirmation of self love. To build yourself up with praise like you do any of your loved ones. Whatever it is, you can do it. Be proud of what you have accomplished even when busy working towards the next thing. Then share the love, encourage and uplift others. Whatever is getting you down, someone else is going through it too or something else much worst.