Self-Compassion Series: Why Are We So Hard on Ourselves?

By Dianne M. Daniels | attitude

One reason? We live in a negative world. Turn on the news for any major metropolitan area and you’ll see daily stories of murder and other tragedies. Several years ago, a television station, hoping to change the narrative, tried to broadcast only good news. The show was a flop. People expected the broadcast news to be bad, and rejected the positive information as if someone was lying to them – or trying to “fool” them.

This is a BIG reason why we are hard on ourselves. Society trains us to think with a negative spin. Our parents teach us to be cautious, which we may eventually interpret as don’t trust anyone. This creates an immediate bias whenever we meet someone new.

We can also be hard on ourselves because we fear the outcome if we aren’t. If we get our hopes up too high, we’ll be shattered when we’re proven wrong. You do things at work because you know if you don’t your boss may come down hard on you. These fears are very strong and are central to how many of us were raised as kids. This is not to say our parents were bad for doing this, however – they were taught to be that way by their parents.

Even with our children in school, if they do something that other kids are not fond of, they will likely take some heat for it. This could be in the form of verbal backlash, or it could even get physical. Our experiences tell us that unless we’re the alpha personality, we can expect some pain when we try and stand out.

Is there a way to reverse this process and stop being so hard on ourselves? It is not easy but, it’s not impossible either. It’s going to require a shift in our thought processes – starting with ourselves. Anytime you feel a negative thought stirring, make an effort to turn it into something positive. Say out loud to yourself “Stop” and then say something positive. This doesn’t have to be you yelling into a crowd, it could even be a whisper – but you can’t THINK a negative thought and SAY something positive out loud at the exact same time – try it!

Realize that the process of transforming yourself is going to take time. Don’t rush it – commit to at least 30 days of daily changes in your behavior to get you started. You need to reinforce positive messages within yourself and do it frequently and consistently. Over time, the positive thoughts will take center stage and push the negative ones out, or at least, make them less prevalent.

Don’t get discouraged if you revert to your old ways occasionally when trying to make changes, because they’ve been ingrained in you for a long time. These habits are going to take some time to break, but that is all they are. Habits can be changed with consistent, focused, positive effort on your part.

Keep an open mind and know that better days are coming for you – because you are doing the work to make it so. Don’t be afraid of the changes – the process of change can be uncomfortable, but you’re laying the foundation for living your DivaStyle life – your Dynamic, Intriguing, Vivacious and Authentic life – and it’s worth the effort.

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