Start with gentleness

It's easy to be hard on ourselves.

"I should have done this, I shouldn’t have done that."

"I made the wrong decision. I always seem to get it wrong."

"I could have been more productive today."

We punish ourselves and berate ourselves for being less than we want to be. But the truth is, we won't get any further by hitting ourselves with the big old 'You could be better' stick.

I've been very inclined to do this in the past, and this week I realised I caught myself being pretty hard on myself.

Here's what I'm changing it to these days:

You can only do your best with what you have at the time.

Everything is experience. Rather than ‘If only..’, try ‘Next time I’ll…"

Start with gentleness through change. Here's four ways I practice being gentle with myself.

Feel what you’re feeling.

It's ok to feel. I believe that when we don’t allow our emotions to show, when we push our feelings down inside us, they don't just go away, in fact, the opposite. They stay in us as tension, we carry around that tension and it becomes a part of our every day living until we choose to let them go.

Saying what you feel can help: I feel scared, I feel angry, I feel overwhelmed.  

I get out my journal, writing freely to see what comes. If you’re not so keen on writing, you could record a voice memo on your phone or draw how you feel.

Be honest about how things are

If they are shit, they’re shit. Admit it to yourself, without judgement, whatever you've 'done'. Don’t pretend everything is fine when it isn’t. Know you’re in pain and speak the words. Often the relief comes through it being out there.

Use your words

I’m inclined to say to myself little along these lines: "Oh dear, you messed up again.” "Why haven’t you got everything together yet?"

We listen to the voice inside our own heads. Let yours be the kindest one you hear today.

Words like: You’re doing well, keep going. Don’t worry about what everyone else thinks. Breathe deeply. You’re awesome, it’s ok to feel. You’re a wonderful individual with so much to give."

Give yourself time

Take your own time, however much you need. A little time allows healing. Then you can take whatever steps you need to change things, to lift your spirits and feel yourself again.