Be Kind To Yourself

How often do you berate yourself? Tell yourself off for being an idiot / always being late / putting your foot in it / wishing you’d not said that / failing to hit a goal / missing an opportunity.

As the quote says, we talk to ourselves far more than we talk to anyone else…but we forget to be nice. Half the things we say to ourselves we would never say to another person – why is that? The reality is we know it would affect them negatively; it could affect their confidence, it could cause needless upset, anguish or, in the worst case, emotional and mental harm. Harsh criticism stunts growth, kills creativity and stifles enthusiasm.

What people don’t realise when they talk to themselves this way is that they are silently sabotaging their performance – both now and in the future. Neuro psychologists believe our behaviours affect our brain and the thoughts generated by our brain affect how we feel. Therefore, negative input leads to negative thoughts leads to negative feelings about our capabilities. And if that’s how we feel about ourselves, it is unlikely we’ll try again.

So, how do you talk to someone you love when they are feeling discouraged or feel like they have just made a mistake? Typically, you would be highlighting how this was just one episode, it is just feedback, an opportunity to learn. You’d support them in trying again and point out all the great things they have achieved already in their lives. Even if “tough love” was your approach of choice, it would include an element of compassion! We do this for a number of reasons; it makes us feel good to help others, we know it will have provide much needed encouragement and, most of the time, it leads to a better frame of mind, better focus, a brighter attitude and, usually, improved performance.

Listen out for how you are talking to the person you really should love the most in this world. Stand up for yourself! Come to the rescue of that brilliant person who may just need an extra ounce of encouragement to shine.

The things we worry about

One of my favourite statements I’ve heard this year is;

“Worrying is praying for an outcome we do not want.”

Many of the greatest worry worts will tell you they are being realistic, but in who’s universe? They cite a whole load of examples of when they have worried and been proven right as proof that worrying is a valid approach to life. However, they fail to acknowledge the times when they have worried and their concerns did not materialise. As the diagram indicates, very little of what we worry about actually happens.

One fact we can acknowledge is that worrying does impact what we are doing right now! We are spending our time absorbed in thoughts that we fear will happen, at a time when we can do little or nothing to prevent / avoid / encourage / influence or determine the outcome.

This phenomenon rears it’s ugly head a lot when I am first discussing the career options ahead of my clients. They express a desire to do something exciting like change direction or transform their professional profile and then instantly dismiss their thoughts as “fantasy” when their worries kick-in. Upon further analysis though, we find the worries are without foundation. Very rarely have then taken any action to test if their worrying thoughts are valid. More typically, their worries have riveted them to the spot, stuck like a rabbit in the headlights, unable to move in any direction.

How about a gentle reframe?

When you are next faced with an opportunity, instead of accepting your immediate worrying thoughts as fact, how about viewing them as one possible outcome and spend some time thinking about some positive possible outcomes to balance things up? No-one would expect their image of the future to work out precisely as there are too many variables in play; so it is reasonable to believe the same variables could deliver a good outcome.

Give it a go and let me know how you get on.