When you recognize a cycle the best way to break it is to choose differently. When it comes to the cycle of being hard on yourself and balancing every day demands, what does choosing differently look like without adding more pressure?
In my own healing journey, if I had a dollar for everytime i was told to stop being so hard on myself, I would probably be writing this blog from a beach cabana. I knew being hard on myself was something that didn’t serve me and that it needed to change. I tried being consistent in my meditation practice (solved my road rage), drinking more water (no more neon pee), taking time to sit down and relax (my head was still going 100mph), taking probiotics (now we’re thinking at 200mph and have more energy), doing yoga (found muscles I didn’t know where there). These were all great things to apply and had their benefits. I felt better but still felt that nagging weight of something doesn’t feel right, something’s missing, this isn’t enough.
One day I went in for energy therapy and when we were finished she told me what all she found. Everything was right on target! One thing she mentioned was that I had lost my joy of life (also on target), and that she did something to help with it. I left feeling much lighter, and much more hopeful.
A couple of days after the session the idea that I had lost my joy of life stuck out to me. It was like a nagging feeling, like a puzzle piece I couldn’t quite place. I sat down with the intention to find what had caused me to lose my joy of life. I took some deep diaphragm breaths and felt my awareness shift to my internal self. I saw my child self. She felt hopeless. As I talked with her, she told me that she was sad because everything she enjoyed in life was wrong so she gave up on enjoying life. She continued that she decided to push quickly with her responsibilities so she could do things that were more pleasant. We talked about the things she enjoyed and why she thought they were wrong. We talked about changing her perspective on things to see them in a different light and how important it is to spend time doing things she enjoys. She started to seem more hopeful. Then we talked about her responsibilities and why they were important, how they improved her life, how to be grateful for these responsibilities and be present while she is completing her tasks instead of disassociating. Changing these perspectives or reprogramming these beliefs that I didn’t realize were there made all the difference. I came out of this meditation with so much appreciation and compassion and love for myself.
I now saw what it meant to be hard on myself: always pushing to get things done, more often than not putting responsibilities ahead of enjoyment, not letting myself rest until essentials were met, denying my feelings in the name of responsibility. I didn’t realize how toxic I was being to myself. I apologized to myself for being so hard on myself for all of these years. I ask myself for forgiveness, and my soul accepted with gratitude. I thanked myself and said I love you, and authentically meant it. This practice of Ho'Oponopono, a Hawaiian prayer, has been so helpful during my healing.
Of course there are many things that can contribute to the behavior of being hard on yourself, and at the end of the day your soul has the answers as far as where the root lies to all of your tendencies that do not serve your growth or walking in your authenticity. But there are other practices that can help.
How to stop being hard on yourself:
Stop and breathe - when you’re in a manic or anxious cycle stop what you’re doing, place your hands over your heart, and take nice slow breathes filling you diaphragm and lungs, hold for a count of three and slowly release. Once you have released all of the air, wait for a count of 3 before beginning the next breath. On the next inhale, visualize white light coming in your nostrils and cleansing all that feels heavy, and exhale through your mouth with the intention of releasing all that doesn’t serve you. Repeat as many times as necessary until you feel calm.
Recognize self sabotaging thought patterns - Make the intention to pay attention to your thoughts. This may take some practice. All of your thoughts are just that, they do not define you, your thoughts are not your identity, and a lot of times thoughts aren’t even true. When you notice a negative thought especially towards yourself, pause and think of 3 positive things. Be patient with yourself because it takes 21 days to create a new habit. Rewiring the negative self talk script is a foundational key.
Dig for the root - You can see an example of this above. Once you identify a self sabotaging belief or behavior, set your intention to find the root of the behavior. Sit down and use the breathing technique above to still yourself, and something from your past will come to mind, tell yourself what you needed to hear in that time and rewrite the perception to where you feel safe in the situation.
Start a gratitude practice- You can do this for five minutes when you wake up or even in the shower. Think of as many things you can to be grateful for. You can write them down or system out loud. This helps the mind to start the day on a positive track.
Set boundaries- Are you sabotaging yourself by taking on commitments that you don’t have the time or desire to do? Do you have trouble saying no? Do you regularly feel drained and not have enough time or energy to do the things you enjoy? Check out my blog on setting boundaries for more insight!
Celebrate small wins- Did you get out of bed? -Win Did you brush your teeth?- Win for oral care! Did you make it back home safely? - WIN! The key is giving yourself the credit that is due and acknowledging the effort that you put in, no matter how small. Be your own cheerleader.
Make time for yourself- This is key to help you unwind and find peace. Have a cup of tea before bed, enjoy your favorite chocolate (or 3), watch a video that makes you laugh (laughter is the best medicine).