I do my best thinking in the shower. Must be the water. Anyway, I was washing my face the other day and realized I was using a washcloth on my eyelids and rubbing really hard. And it stung – a quick little “Hey – pay attention!” sting. I stopped and thought – “Wait a minute. This skin is really delicate. Be gentle with it.” Hmmm.
A washcloth as metaphor for self-criticism. The very next thought I had was “Stop it!! Quit being so rough on yourself. You’re really stressed, so you need to be gentle with yourself right now.” Really. The very next thought.
Stop Creating More Stress For Yourself
Why is it so easy to beat ourselves up? I know I am my own harshest critic with a constant refrain of “Why didn’t you put up more flyers today? How could you forget that meeting? I should have gone to that networking event!” And on and on and on.
So, for today, let’s stop rubbing our psyches raw and be gentle with ourselves. If you’re having a rough time at work, or finding a new job, or at home, shut-off your inner critic and turn on your inner cheerleader. Recognize that when we’re stressed, we need to give ourselves permission to back off and chill. And, of course, we only increase the stress when we continuously beat ourselves up.
Back off? How?
Back off by pausing to reflect on what’s going right (there is at least one thing that you’re doing right – figure it out), and celebrating it. If you’ve read my blog before, you know I believe in writing things down, so write that one thing down (use your favorite pen or app).
Maybe reach out and call a friend, tell them about what’s going on and get help generating some enthusiasm. By the way, your friend will know other things you’re doing right and remind you of them!
Find one thing that’s going right.
And, if you can’t figure out one single thing that you’re doing right, stop what you’re doing – immediately – and change gears. Take a walk outside, preferably in grass, no phone (put the phone down, I mean it), no music, and look around you. Look up at the sky. Check out the clouds. Listen for birds. According to the Green Cities, Good Health newsletter, “The experience of nature helps to restore the mind from the mental fatigue of work or studies, contributing to improved work performance and satisfaction.”
If you can’t go outside, find that coloring book you bought to help you relax and color in it for 15 minutes. If you don’t have a coloring book with you, try this free coloring book app.
Tune out your inner critic.
Recognize when you’re taking that washcloth to your psyche and take a break. Tune out the inner critic, and tune into something positive. Be gentle with yourself and see what unfolds.
Watch. Read. Learn.