“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” – Louise L. Hay
When I was younger, in my early twenties I wasn’t always my own best friend.
Especially when I made a mistake. Or when I failed.
No matter if it was in my personal life or in my studies at the university.
I didn’t have much patience for myself when I stumbled and so those situations usually wound up in days or sometimes even weeks when I beat myself up repeatedly about what went wrong.
Now, 10 years later, I have learned to be kinder towards myself.
Because even though self-beatings might sometimes work to perform better the next time it is in the long run a very destructive habit for your motivation, happiness and your self-esteem.
But what do you replace it with when you stumble or have a setback?
Let me share four insights and habits that have helped me with that.
1. Remember: If you want to do something of value in life then you will stumble.
If you want to go outside of your comfort zone, if you want to do things that really matter then you will stumble. You will fail or make mistakes from time to time.
It has happened to everyone over the past thousands of years that wanted to do something of value in the world.
So it is normal and it is OK. Even though some people may try to convince you otherwise.
2. Be your own best friend.
It is OK to feel angry or disappointed for a short while. But don’t fall into the common trap of beating yourself up and acting like an unkind boss towards yourself. That will erode your self-esteem. Be a kind and supportive friend to yourself instead.
Ask yourself: How would my friend/parent support me and help me in this situation?
Then do things and talk to yourself like he or she would.
3. What is one opportunity or lesson here?
A failure or a mistake is very rarely permanent. It might feel like it is. But most often it is temporary and there is something you can do about the situation.
So tap into optimism and being constructive instead of becoming passive and pessimistic.
Ask yourself: what is one opportunity or lesson in this situation?
My experience has been that there is almost always something that is helpful or good – in the long run – to find in any situation.
4. Take one small action to solve the situation or to move forward.
With your lesson or opportunity in mind ask yourself this:
What is one small step I can take right now to start solving or to moving away from this situation?
Then take that small step. Focus only on that step and on getting it to done.
And after that find the next small step and do the same with that one.
Step by small step keep moving forward towards something better, even if you may stumble again.