If a friend is low in mood, or a family member berates themselves in front of you, what’s the first thing you do? We mainly seek to support and uplift those around us as part of an intrinsic understanding that every human has worth. This needs to be recognised and appreciated, even when someone cannot see this themselves. However, in modern society there is a worrying trend of self-deprecation and constant self-doubt. This is sometimes expressed through self-loathing and can even escalate to self-harm. Why are our standards of self-compassion and self-care so much lower than the standards of empathy and love we show others?
Although it has been asserted in some instances that ‘Tough Love’ can be helpful, there appears to be a tendency for individuals to take this self-criticism too seriously,. They might get too bogged down in the self-deprecating behaviour thus losing sight of why the tough love method was employed in the first place.
Sometimes it is difficult to ascertain if you are indeed being too hard on yourself or if you’re simply trying to avoid a difficult situation. Here are a few questions which might illuminate your situation a bit more.
We often treat ourselves more harshly than we believe, but once we consider how another person would react to the same treatment we soon realise that we have been self-deprecating and in fact it may have caused more harm than good.
Usually those who are hard on themselves take on too much at once, often feeling that they should be able to do all of these things, all of the time, and to a much higher standard than anyone else. If you honestly consider the above scenario and, setting competitiveness in relation to an achievement or job completion aside, truly would appreciate extra help it could be time to ask for some or even give yourself some space and opportunity to relax. Remind yourself that it is okay to ask for help and it is okay to share the workload.
People who expect so much from themselves often tend to burn the candle at both ends, regardless of mental and physical health. This usually leads to burnout where your mental and physical capabilities are compromised and it is necessary to take an extended period of rest from all aspects of work. If the above symptoms from this question resonate with you, it could be time to grant yourself a mini-holiday, even a weekend without checking your emails can provide much needed mental space.
Self-compassion can take on many forms and does not necessarily mean that you need to splurge out on luxurious or expensive amenities. Here are a few suggestions of how you might practise some self-love:
Set aside an hour when you get home from work or a long day out to just relax and let your mind wander.
This will give you some mental space and allows your mind to relax, rather than focus or worry on missed texts/emails.
Let’s face it, everyone needs a break every now and again. If you haven’t take a rest day or a day off for over 2 months, it’s time to consider this pace of life and relieve yourself for a day or two.
Book yourself in for that facial or Thai sports massage which you’ve had your eye on for you-don’t-know how many months. Treating yourself for all the hard work you’ve been doing is a vital component in our mental wellbeing, and even helps to motivate you to do more.
We all miss nap-time from our preschool days. It’s time to incorporate a Spanish siesta into your daily routine! A 30 minute nap helps rest your mind and lets it refocus for better output later on. If you find it difficult to nap during the day, just lie calmly and let your mind wander as a form of meditation. Both have similar benefits.
The world will keep on turning if you take some time out. Do not be afraid to appreciate all the hard work you have done throughout your life; practice self-compassion regularly and you will find that you become not only more accepting of yourself, but of others as well.