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Be Your Own Best Friend: Why You Should Stop Being Hard On Yourself

Be Your Own Best Friend: Why You Should Stop Being Hard On Yourself

Lots of people are hard on themselves. They often feel like they should be doing more and achieving more, and they worry that they are not good enough.

This can cause people to feel constantly dissatisfied with themselves. For example, they might not want to contribute to a conversation because they feel like they are not interesting enough to join in, or they feel self-doubt when they are praised by others.

There are lots of positive reasons why people are hard on themselves; some people have a strong desire for self-improvement, and they think that being hard on themselves is the best way to improve.

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However, dissatisfaction with yourself won’t necessarily encourage you to push forward and be better. In reality it makes life much harder for many people by creating unnecessary and difficult hurdles. This is because if you are constantly hard on yourself, you won’t feel happy when you do succeed as you are used to being dissatisfied. Self-doubt can also get in the way of connecting with others, as you might think that you are not good enough to go out and meet new people. This can cause anxiety and depression.

Living life with self-doubt can cause a lot of stress, and it rarely benefits anyone. If you’re tired of feeling unhappy with certain aspects of yourself, here are 4 steps that will help you to stop being hard on yourself.

1. Be Aware Of Your Negative Thoughts

The first thing that you must do is being aware that you have negative thoughts. Maybe you have negative thoughts every day, or perhaps even every hour. Realize that the negative thoughts are part of your life, and if you want to get rid of them you must be aware of them when you have then.

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It can be useful to record your negative thoughts so that you can see if there are patterns to your thoughts. Start a thought diary and write down every negative thought that you have, from “I am certain that I have failed my English test even though I revised” to “I feel awkward and weird today.” This will help you to realize that negative thoughts are a big part of your life currently, but it doesn’t need to stay that way.

After a few weeks sit down with your diary and analyze the negative thoughts. You might notice that you have an unhelpful thinking style about school or your career, or you may notice that you often think in black and white, or that you always jump to conclusions. This will help you to understand where your negative thoughts are coming from.

2. Challenge Your Negative Thoughts

Make the effort to challenge your negative thoughts instead of automatically believing them.

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This doesn’t mean that you should dismiss the thought; instead open yourself up to the pain behind the thought, and get in touch with your negative feelings by questioning why you think this way. This will help you to have a greater understanding about your negative thoughts.

3. Realize That You Are A Good Person

The reason why you are hard on yourself is because you want to be a good person. If you didn’t care about being a good person, you wouldn’t have these thoughts.

Remind yourself that you have these thoughts because you have a good heart. Write down the things that you love about yourself and carry it with you for a few months. Check the list whenever you are feeling low to remind yourself that you are a wonderful person.

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4. Be Positive And Focus On The Present

Be positive as often as you can; smile at yourself whenever you see your reflection, and make the effort to make other people smile.

Live in the present and focus on the little things, such as wonderful smells and sounds around you. This will help to ease your negative thoughts over time, especially as you no longer ruminate on the past and the future.

More by this author

Amy Johnson

Amy is a writer who blogs about relationships and lifestyle advice.

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Last Updated on November 19, 2020

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments—you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time. That’s why the art of saying no can be a game changer for productivity.

Requests for your time are coming in all the time—from family members, friends, children, coworkers, etc. To stay productive, minimize stress, and avoid wasting time, you have to learn the gentle art of saying no—an art that many people have problems with.

What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger, or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

However, it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to stop people pleasing and master the gentle art of saying no.

1. Value Your Time

Know your commitments and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it.

Be honest when you tell them that: “I just can’t right now. My plate is overloaded as it is.” They’ll sympathize as they likely have a lot going on as well, and they’ll respect your openness, honesty, and attention to self-care.

2. Know Your Priorities

Even if you do have some extra time (which, for many of us, is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?

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For example, if my wife asks me to pick up the kids from school a couple of extra days a week, I’ll likely try to make time for it as my family is my highest priority. However, if a coworker asks for help on some extra projects, I know that will mean less time with my wife and kids, so I will be more likely to say no. 

However, for others, work is their priority, and helping on extra projects could mean the chance for a promotion or raise. It’s all about knowing your long-term goals and what you’ll need to say yes and no to in order to get there. 

You can learn more about how to set your priorities here.

3. Practice Saying No

Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word[1].

Sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.

4. Don’t Apologize

A common way to start out is “I’m sorry, but…” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important when you learn to say no, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm and unapologetic about guarding your time.

When you say no, realize that you have nothing to feel bad about. You have every right to ensure you have time for the things that are important to you. 

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5. Stop Being Nice

Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. However, if you erect a wall or set boundaries, they will look for easier targets.

Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.

6. Say No to Your Boss

Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss—they’re our boss, right? And if we start saying no, then we look like we can’t handle the work—at least, that’s the common reasoning[2].

In fact, it’s the opposite—explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.

7. Pre-Empting

It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting,

“Look, everyone, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects, and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”

This, of course, takes a great deal of awareness that you’ll likely only have after having worked in one place or been friends with someone for a while. However, once you get the hang of it, it can be incredibly useful.

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8. Get Back to You

Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, try saying no this way:

“After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.”

At least you gave it some consideration.

9. Maybe Later

If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say,

“This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].”

Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands. If you need to continue saying no, here are some other ways to do so[3]:

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Saying no the healthy way

    10. It’s Not You, It’s Me

    This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often, the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time.

    Simply say so—you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization—but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true, as people can sense insincerity.

    The Bottom Line

    Saying no isn’t an easy thing to do, but once you master it, you’ll find that you’re less stressed and more focused on the things that really matter to you. There’s no need to feel guilty about organizing your personal life and mental health in a way that feels good to you.

    Remember that when you learn to say no, isn’t about being mean. It’s about taking care of your time, energy, and sanity. Once you learn how to say no in a good way, people will respect your willingness to practice self-care and prioritization. 

    More Tips for a Less Stressful Life

    Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

    Reference

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