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Don’t Beat Yourself Up – Nurture Self-Compassion


On our way to achieving our goals and aspirations, it’s inevitable that occasionally we won’t live up to the standards we expect of ourselves. We all make mistakes, lose motivation, miss deadlines or put in less than a 100% effort from time to time. At times like this, it’s vital to nurture your self-compassion.

For example, you may have set yourself a fitness goal, and committed to a training regime. One morning you wake up and just can’t seem to get enthusiastic about exercising, and so find excuses to avoid it. Or maybe you’ve made a commitment to study so many hours a day to complete your diploma, but this week has been so hectic, you just haven’t had the time.

Stop Ruminating

When this happens, it’s easy to get dispirited, especially when you think you haven’t measured up to your own expectations. You may start to question your own strength of character. You may begin to doubt your ability to follow through with your plans and reach your goals. You may find yourself saying things like “Maybe I’m just naturally lazy”, “I tried for a while, but then my true character came through” or “I just haven’t got the motivation in me”. This kind of thinking is unhelpful, as it can lead to a downward spiral of self-analysis and rumination, inhibiting your ability to bounce back and take positive action.

Life coaching can help you to let go of unhelpful thoughts and focus on more constructive thinking patterns.

Get back on track

Instead, acknowledge that yes, you may have dropped the ball on this occasion, but that doesn’t mean you’re fundamentally flawed as a person. All it means is that you didn’t quite live up to your own standards this time, and now you’ll make a real effort to get back on track. One of my favourite clichés is “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”. Just because you miss a couple of gym sessions, or fail to meet a deadline, doesn’t mean you need to abandon your entire plan.

It’s important to keep in mind that everyone will let themselves down from time to time (it’s not just you!) and that successful people are the ones who accept it, and quickly move on.

Adjust your plans

Finally, what happens if, even after all your effort and struggle, you don’t achieve an important goal you’ve set yourself? Again, don’t be too hard on yourself. High achievers fail to reach their goals all the time. Tennis great Roger Federer’s goal is to win every time he steps onto the court, but even he loses 5% of the time. It doesn’t have to be devastating. Can you set a new deadline? Can you change the goal to something more achievable? Have you learnt new skills and strategies along the way that will help you to achieve other things?

Beating yourself up about the mistakes you’ve made doesn’t get you anywhere. Learning from those mistakes, practising self-compassion, and carrying on with your plans, will get you anywhere you want to be.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

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