be happy

Stop being so hard on yourself

As I mentioned in a recent post, deeply knowing and living self-love is a current lesson, passion, and goal of mine.  This past week I had an epic failure in this department. I realized that not just once, but twice the same morning, I put my assumption of others’ needs above my own true necessity. And this was not just a preference or a desire of mine, but it was downright essential.

At first I went into a pity party. Here I am again, unconsciously and involuntarily not taking care of myself. Then I was pissed. I know better. I am actively working on this, why am I not more conscious? Why is it still a struggle to get this right?

Of course, the pity and the anger felt awful. My day off in beautiful sunshine was marred by the rain cloud I created over my head. Eeyore would have been proud. Ok, so I made a mistake, but I caught it. I did what I could afterwards to make it right. Why do I need to ruin the rest of the day wallowing in anger and self-pity? I just want to be happy.

So I chose to be happy.

And then I was.

be happyReally, I was happy. I didn’t figure out why I acted like I did. I didn’t reprimand myself for my actions. I didn’t even forgive myself for not putting myself first. I simply decided that this incident did not have power over my happiness and I chose to be different.

Oh, how many years could I have used this lesson? All the joy on which I missed out. All the experiences which were tainted because I was punishing myself. All the life I wasted simply because I chose to be hard on myself. All those times I could have simply chosen to be happy.

A few months ago, I was talking to a friend who is working to improve her health. The whole conversation centered on her “cheating” with these foods and wondering why she can’t stick to her diet. I think we all do this some time in our lives. Whether it is trying a new diet or exercise, whether it is trying to be better to oneself, or whether it is trying to be in a new way, we fail. We don’t live up to our expectations. And then we attack ourselves for not having willpower and strength. We attack ourselves for not being perfect. It’s time to stop being so hard on ourselves.

Here are four ways to break out of self-attack:

  • If you are choosing to act a certain way, embrace it. I know you want to eat a vegan diet but if that sausage pizza is calling your name. Eat it. Enjoy it. Love it. If you chose to do it, then accept it. Try not to do it every day, but if today you just need some chewy cheesy goodness, abbondanza! Eat it guiltfree and with joy!
  • Set your own rules. On the quest of self-improvement there are a million gurus ready to tell you the “right” way to do something. The only right way for you is the right way for you. Take their program and customize it to your life and your thinking. Stop holding yourself to someone else’s standards and live by your own. It is easier to live up to your standards than standards imposed on you.
  • Look at how far you have come. In the quest to improve, we often forget to look at where we started. Next time you get down on yourself for lack of progress or a setback, take a few moments to remember where you were last week, month, last year. I am sure you will see progress you can be proud of. Acknowledge and celebrate your growth.
  • Choose to be happy. Being human by definition means being imperfect. Instead of spending your time being angry or upset with yourself for this or that failure, choose to be happy. Nothing is gained through self-attack except a bad day. Uncover and acknowledge your lesson and then move on. Life is too short to be hard on yourself.

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