Do you find that you are often too hard on yourself? But instead of pushing you to achieve your goals, being hard on yourself brings you down instead?
Self-love is an important aspect of self-care, and one we think you should practice every day.
Being gentle with yourself does not mean that you are not trying your hardest, it's simply giving yourself love and allowing yourself to go through life at a slower pace.
Try on these 13 ways to be gentle with yourself ❤️.
1. Connect with an Affirmation
One very simple thing to try in any difficult situation (not just being gentle with yourself) is to connect with an affirmation. It’s so helpful to find a saying that you can repeat to yourself as a reminder of what your intentions are.
Mantras and affirmations are incredibly useful tools. Having a mantra (or many mantras) can serve as a gentle reminder of what your true intentions are.
Sometimes, saying a mantra in your head isn’t enough. You can increase the impact of a mantra by saying it out loud, writing it down, or putting it someplace where you can see it.
2. Change the Way You Work
Sometimes our work setups and systems don't account for the wellbeing of the people using them and instead focus on efficiency and productivity. This goes for big companies as well as the systems we create for ourselves.
If you’re hard on yourself when it comes to work (whether it’s your 9-5 job, your side hustle, work around the house, being a parent, or anything else that can be classified under the loose term ‘work’), then maybe it’s time to change the way you work.
For example, It's very hard for most people to focus for 8 hours straight, our brains just aren't wired that way. Instead, can you work in smaller chunks of time (1-2 hours) and take breaks in between these chunks? You might find that in addition to feeling better with more breaks, you also get more done in those focused blocks of time.
Take a bit of time to assess the way you work. What systems and structures can you adjust to make them more in-line with your needs?
3. Motivate Yourself With Positivity instead of Brute Force
Being gentle with yourself does not equal being lazy just as and pushing yourself does not equal being productive.
We now live in a society where even when we are giving our all, it doesn’t feel like we are giving enough. To try to compete with these standards, many people are incredibly hard on themselves.
The problem is that being hard on yourself, pushing yourself to your limits, doesn’t always lead to productivity and doing good work.
What if instead, you motivated yourself in a positive way instead of ‘forcing’ yourself to do things?
For example, instead of telling yourself that you have to work harder because you're falling behind of society standers, you can reprioritize your values, drop unimportant tasks, and remind yourself how good it will feel when you complete a task that is in line with your values.
4. Set Realistic Goals and Tasks
Another way to be gentle with yourself when it comes to work is to set realistic goals and tasks.
Why? Because we set insanely unrealistic goals for ourselves. And not only does this make us less productive, but it also lowers our self-esteem when we don’t accomplish the things we set out to do.
One way you can do this is using the 'Next Most Important Thing’ method.
Whatever you're doing, simply ask yourself “what is the next most important thing?” What is the absolute most important thing that must be done next in order to continue doing the work?
Another way of looking at it is: If you could only get one thing done today, what would that one thing be?
It’s helpful to keep a running list of things that must get done and of course, there will often be deadlines for the work ahead. So keep these lists and calendars to remember the things that must be done, but do not let them allow you to overthink the amount of work that must be done. Set them aside and instead write down the next most important thing (or 1-3 of the next most important things).
5. Respect Your Physical Health
Our mind and our body are so interconnected that it’s important to take your physical health into consideration when you set expectations for yourself.
By setting your expectations (about how much work you can do, how much energy you can give to others, etc) with your physical needs in mind, you’re less likely to become disappointed that if you didn’t live up to the unrealistic expectations you set for yourself.
Be gentle with yourself because it is unrealistic for us to not respect our bodies. If we don’t feel good physically, it’s much more difficult to do anything.
These next few ideas also pertain to respecting your physical health.
6. Don’t “Power Through” Being Sick
Do you ever fall into the guilt trap of feeling like you should be doing productive things (whatever that means for you) even though you’re sick?
But powering through being sick is not an effective way to do anything. Give yourself the rest that you deserve when you’re sick.
7. Give Yourself Permission to Rest
Humans need rest, it's non-negotiable.
Remember that it’s okay to rest when you need to rest. It’s more than okay because it’s necessary. We cannot be productive or enjoy life when we're exhausted.
So, give yourself permission to rest.
8. Remember that Brainpower Requires a lot of Energy
Using your brain requires just as much, if not more, energy than physical activity.
Be gentle with yourself by remembering that even if you worked from the couch today, you spent a LOT of mental energy, which translates into using a lot of physical energy.
Remember this, and choose to respect your energy.
9. Cultivate Self-Love Daily
Practicing self-love shouldn’t be something that you do only when you feel burnt-out and overwhelmed.
Instead, be gentle with yourself and practice daily self-love to ensure that you feel good about yourself and your energy feels full every day.
Here are just a few ways to do so.
10. Express Gratitude Toward Yourself
We are prone to this idea called the negativity paradox. The negativity paradox basically means that we tend to focus and obsess about negative events or ideas. Even if 99% of our life is positive, we focus on the other 1% (1)
There has been a lot of focus in recent years about expressing gratitude What if, in addition to expressing gratitude outward, you also expressed gratitude toward yourself as part of your regular self-care ritual?
In what ways can you be grateful for your body, mind, soul, talents, and past accomplishments?
11. Do The Things That Fill You Up
Sometimes, we spend all of our energy doing all of the things we think we 'should' be doing to be productive and at the end of the day have no energy left for the things that light us up.
We feel guilty when we spend time on ourselves and often label this as 'unproductive' time.
What if, instead of depleting all of your energy, you took time to do the things that fill you up? The things that make you happy?
You can be gentle with yourself by allowing yourself the time to do the things that fill you up. And then, you’ll have energy to use.
12. Re-define ‘Success’ and ‘Failure’
What if we’re so hard on ourselves because our definitions of ‘success’ and ‘failure’ (often determined by societal influences) demand it?
So, could we be more gentle with ourselves if we changed those (unrealistic/outdated/total crap) definitions of success and failure?
I don’t want to try to define your idea of success or failure, but I do want to offer up some thoughts to consider when you do so:
- Don’t compare yourself with others – your success is different from someone else’s success.
- Meet yourself where you’re at. If you’ve never climbed a mountain before, you can’t consider yourself a failure if you can’t climb Everest by next week.
- The quickest way to succeed is to fail faster.
- Failure isn’t the opposite of success, it’s a stepping stone to success (Accelerated Learning As a Path to Freedom | Jim Kwik)
Journaling is a great way to meet yourself where you're at instead of assuming.
It's a practice that helps you put your thoughts, ideas, and worries down on paper so that you can begin to understand them.
When it comes to being gentle with yourself, a good starting place may be writing down all the ways you feel that you are hard on yourself and why you are hard on yourself.
With these ideas written down, you can begin to dissect and understand the why. In time, this deep dive can help you be gentle with yourself based on your specific needs.
We hope you enjoyed this post and found a few ways to be gentle with yourself that resonated with you. Love yourself every day, you deserve it ❤️.
If you enjoyed this list, we think you'll also enjoy our Free Essential Oils for Self-Care Guide where you can learn our favorite essential oil for self-care picks and lots of ways to use them all. Sign up below and we'll send it right over.