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13 Struggles That People Who Are Hard On Themselves Would Understand

13 Struggles That People Who Are Hard On Themselves Would Understand

Being a person who is hard on himself or herself is very challenging. Some people think that we create our own problems by being hard on ourselves. The thing is it’s not natural for us to be kind to ourselves. We didn’t learn how to be compassionate to ourselves when we were young.

Here are 15 struggles that we people who are hard on ourselves would understand.

1. We seek perfection because of our past experiences.

We have zero tolerance for our own faults. Perfection is important to us. Maybe it’s due to our childhood experience like heavy expectations from our parents. Though you know the cause clearly, it has become a habit that you find it hard to get rid of it.

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2. We are only hard on ourselves.

When other people make mistakes, we forgive them readily. We are kind to other people and set low standards for them. But when it comes to ourselves, we set impossible high standards that can never be reached. We believe that other people deserved to be treated kindly, but not us.

3. No matter how talented we are, we still think it’s not enough.

We focus on achieving success, but no matter how much we achieved, we still feel that it’s not good enough. We don’t recognize our own talents because we think that everyone can do what we do.

4. Criticism makes us feel even worse.

It’s not because that we aren’t open to suggestions. It’s because people are telling us things that we already know about ourselves. We are good at finding faults with ourselves. Their criticisms just reaffirm how bad we know we are.

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5. But we keep asking for feedback to seek reassurance.

Even though we seek perfection in everything we do, we don’t know what perfection is. Our parents never praise us when we did something good or when we get good grades in school. They don’t want us to get too big-headed. But that also made us feel that we didn’t do well enough all the time.

6. Yet, we can’t receive compliments.

We never hear enough positive things about us growing up. When people compliment us, it’s hard for us to believe what they said is true. We think that they are just being nice to us. So every time someone gives us a compliment, we would give the credit to something else.

7. We hate to open up and be vulnerable.

We are afraid to let others know that we are less than perfect. We know we aren’t the perfect child, the perfect parent, the perfect student, the perfect employee, the perfect boss etc. But other people cannot know about this. We feel insecure when other people know that we aren’t as strong as we looked.

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8. We don’t ask others for help even when we need them.

Asking others for help makes us look weak. It also make us feel incompetent. We don’t want others to know that we can’t accomplished what we set out to do. No matter how hard it is, we want to do everything by ourselves. We want to be perceived as capable. So we help others and not let them return the favor.

9. We don’t want to disappoint others, especially our parents.

We try to get everything right the first time. It is painful to let other people see us fail. Failure not only affects our self-image, it affects our parents’ image too. Remember how disappointed they were with us when we got bad grades in school or messed things up. We want our parents and others to be proud of us. We don’t want to let them down.

10. We feel responsible for other people’s happiness.

We are quick to blame ourselves even when things don’t work out for others. For example, when our children didn’t turn out the way we expect them to be, we blame ourselves for not being good enough parents or not loving enough. If other people’s needs aren’t satisfied, we always see us as the problem.

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11. We always ask for forgiveness.

We always feel guilty about our mistakes and apologize to others frequently. “Sorry” is our mantra. We don’t know how to forgive ourselves for our mistakes. If others can forgive us, at least that would make us feel much better.

12. We keep thinking about the things that we did and the things we didn’t do.

We are full of regrets. We are always haunted by our past. We always reprimand ourselves for not doing it better, so that we would learn and not to make the same mistakes again. However, we still make the same mistakes over and over again.

13. We punish ourselves to make us feel better.

Other people think that we create our own problems by being hard on ourselves. That’s not the case. We punish ourselves so that we feel less guilty for the things we have done. We don’t know how to be compassionate towards ourselves. Being hard on ourselves makes us the victim and we can sympathize with that.

Featured photo credit: I Died So I Could Haunt You / Helga Weber via flickr.com

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Yong Kang Chan

Self-Help Author (Writes about Self-Compassion and Mindfulness)

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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