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How to do what matters in a self-friendly way



A woman with closed eyes with a sunrise in the background.
A woman with closed eyes with a sunrise in the background.

“You yourself, like everyone else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

“People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it.”
Edith Schaeffer

A common way to get things done, to achieve something, and to motivate yourself is to be a little hard on yourself.

To set very high standards for yourself that you want to adhere to time and time again.

This approach can indeed help you achieve big things in your life and get things done every week.

But it has a price.

Three negative things about taking this position towards yourself are:

You bring down your self-esteem.

While achieving things you have the inclination to do at the same time undermine your self-esteem.

So you feel less and less that you deserve success. And frustration and anger can become increasingly common as you fail to meet those very high standards.

You suck the fun and excitement out of things.

A harsh or harsh attitude towards yourself tends to make things that used to be fun and exciting less and less fun and exciting.

This attitude instead turns those things over time into regular work that you may begin to dread because you fear failure or not living up to your high standards.

You will perform worse and worse.

As your self-esteem drops, you will feel less motivated to tackle the tasks and projects in your life. As the fun and excitement disappears from many of the things you do, procrastination becomes more and more common.

In addition, the work you do becomes less energetic and focused, so the results are no longer as good.

I used to walk the harder and tougher path. It helped in some ways. But it wasn’t worth it.

So what can you do if you feel like you might be too hard on yourself or if you beat yourself up often?

Here are 4 tips that have helped me become kinder to myself, get more of the most important things done, and feel better about myself and my life.

1. Remind yourself of the negative effects of this attitude.

Reminding yourself of how damaging it has been to be hard on yourself is, in my experience, a very effective way to replace the old habit by making it easier on yourself.

2. Set more human and smarter standards for yourself.

Movies, books, and the people around you can impose standards on you that are just pure fantasy or some kind of perfect dream.

But life is life, not a fantasy or a dream, and setting such extremely high standards that no one can meet only leads to what you may see as failure and disappointment in yourself and in your life.

Instead, relax a little and accept that everything and everyone has flaws and that things don’t always go as planned.

Accept that you can still improve things, but they will never be perfect.

And realize that you will not be rejected if things or you are not perfect. At least not by reasonably balanced people, as most people actually are.

3. Focus on positive and useful feedback during setbacks.

It is very common to be hard on yourself when you make a mistake or fail.

But it is also a very destructive habit because it can magnify such an event into something that makes you feel depressed for days or weeks or cause you to quit altogether.

So if you’re being hard on yourself because of a failure or a mistake, relax a little and be gentler with yourself. Remind yourself why this is a much better strategy for maintaining motivation and self-esteem.

And ask yourself:

  • What can I learn from this situation?
  • How can I use what I learn from this to avoid making the same mistake again and move forward smarter?

4. Celebrate your small steps forward.

If you have the habit of only celebrating when you reach a big milestone or one or two perfect moments, you may lose motivation and feel like you’re never happy or getting to where you want to be.

So make it a habit to celebrate your small daily and weekly successes too.

This will help keep the soul-wearing monotony away and help you stay enthusiastic instead of becoming increasingly unmotivated until you might even consider quitting halfway through that big milestone.