Photos: Violet Guerrero Ponce
Being too hard on yourself sucks the fun out of all the amazing things that are going well in your life. Learn how to save your energy and regain your self-esteem with these tips!
It’s so hard for me to know when I’m being hard on myself. More often than not, if I have to pause and ask myself if I am, it’s because I am.
This past week my personal life gave me a wake-up call and I have found myself multiple times trying to mask my real emotions to appear quite the opposite. As though I don’t feel like I’m carrying the weight of the world while working three jobs, dealing with heartbreak, building a wellness lifestyle brand, and planning my move to California in April.
Instead of taking it easy, I tell myself mean things to push myself to work harder. At the end of the day all my work is done, everyone who needed me has gotten their needs met, and no one can guess that I am holding onto thin air. This makes constantly putting myself down hard to stop.
It’s so normal for me to hold myself to high expectations. I’m used to doing everything on my own and always being available when my family/friends need me. I have a hard time taking time off for myself, without feeling guilty because there is always work to be done when you work for yourself. In trying to troubleshoot my self-deprecating madness, I’ve been asking myself, “Would I tell this to a friend if they were in my shoes?”
When I think about how I can best take care of myself right now, there are five things that have been useful in the past that automatically come to my mind:
A nap is literally one of the most holistic remedies to stress and batshit-out-of-control life things. As a writer with multiple jobs and no consistent hours, I fill up every bit of my free time with writing to meet deadlines. My writing time and personal reflection time often battle each other while I'm in front of my computer. My current constant dilemma is -- should I take the time to acknowledge these feelings or push through and write? The answer: take a nap. I’m clearly overworking and overwhelmed so why not reset? Try resetting your emotional compass next time you feel you are juggling too many things.
2. Adopt a “white flag surrender” to everything and everyone mood
Having a “white flag surrender” mood to everything has become my new favorite thing. I'm also pretty sure I invented this. I do this when I don’t have enough energy to get consumed by everything that is going on around me. My indicator that my energy is depleted is when I feel physically and emotionally drained by how the things I need to take care of are making me feel. Things that would at any other time be doable, such as having a hard conversation with friends, are just not possible when I feel that I have nothing to offer. A “white flag surrender” to everything/ everyone mood doesn't mean you go missing, but more so you give up needing to be right. You accept where your energy level is, you show up and express that your energy is not where you’d like it to be, and search for quick resolutions to things. It’s a matter of how can you handle things within your means for the sake of your sanity.
3. Reach out to friends
It’s really hard to know what is what when our perception of things are skewed against our favor. When a friend validates for me that what someone did was not nice or that what I’m going through is a lot, it lifts an immense weight off my shoulders. I know that being hard on yourself also makes it extremely difficult to ask for help because it might trigger negative thoughts about yourself, but hearing other people's perspective really changes the whole game. When we go back and forth with ourselves about the things overwhelming us, we can’t see beyond our perception of things. When we talk to others and hear their perspective they can provide us not only validation but also with new ways of seeing things that could lessen the mental anxieties.
4. Let go of all expectations of perfection
Have you heard of the saying, “it doesn't need to be perfect, it just needs to get done?” Whether you have or not, you need to become best friends with this phrase. I am the queen of wanting to hide when things in my life don’t feel organized. Even if I let myself hide for a few hours I will eventually need to resurface into the real world to take care of the things that I can’t give up on. For me, I still need to show up to work; I still need to meet writing deadlines; I still need to submit my designs to clients; I still need to show up to the gym for my training. The important thing here is to just show up, give it your best, and keep it pushing. Perfection takes a lot of energy, so much so that it forces us to keep working on things once they're already done. Practice showing up, getting things done and giving it whatever your best is at that moment, then once it’s complete letting it go.
5. Love yourself despite the harsh expectations
I’ll be the first to admit it. I hate that I am so hard on myself. I hate that I can’t just “chill” and cruise through life like some of my relatives and friend are able to. I hate that things in my life overwhelm me really easily. Despite this being the way I feel about those flaws, I always try to meet myself with compassion. I always try my best to understand where my friends are coming from or why they are the way they are. It is an act of self-love for us to give ourselves that same level of understanding. We are most capable of understanding the way we are. It’s about time we start letting ourselves off the hook sometimes for all the things that are outside of our control.