Wednesday, July 25, 2018
By Sheana Tobey, MA, LPC
So, I’ve been trying this new thing for about a year now, and I dare you to try it too. Any time I notice that I am being hard on myself—or when my thoughts start to spiral out anxiously—I stop, take a deep breath, and say “I go easy on myself.” I learned this simple mantra from an old therapist of mine. I’ve been sharing this idea with loved ones whom I notice are a bit hard on themselves too. Of course it’s so much easier to have compassion for others than for ourselves, which is why this mantra is so neat to try. It is simply presenting the idea that you CAN go easy on yourself, and things will still get done. You CAN go easy on yourself and learn from your “mistakes.”
So often, I find that we are hard on ourselves because we think we have to be. We believe the tough love approach is the ONLY thing that will keep us motivated and working toward the impossibly high bar that the American culture encourages us to set for ourselves. So, how has that been working out for all of us? For me, it created an internal environment ruled by fear of punishment and a feeling that I wasn’t doing anything _________ enough. It felt like I could ALWAYS be doing something better, more better, or even better than that. It was exhausting. A key piece for me to learn to go easy on myself was to identify my core values and then choose to allow them to be a guiding post. Now the bar I set for myself is simply to live by my values as much as possible. There are moments, of course, as we all have, when I act outside of my value set. And that’s when I practice going easy on myself. I go easy on myself so I can move forward with an internal environment that is nurturing and allows for growth. I am able to take these moments and learn from them, rather than become ashamed of them.
Another large piece of learning was to acknowledge and allow myself to make these “mistakes” and then recognize that it is a human thing to do. I used to believe everyone else was allowed to make “mistakes” except for me. My bar told me I had to be perfect or get as close as possible to perfect. Only then would I have value as a person; only then would I be loveable. Once I allowed myself to make mistakes and go easy on myself when I did, I noticed that I still had value. I noticed that the people around me still loved me. The bar I set for myself wasn’t the bar anyone else even dreamed of setting for me. They just loved me. Because I am loveable. And so are you. So. Is. Everyone! Every. Single. Person. In. This. World. Was. Born. Loveable. Period. And you are no exception.
So, I encourage you to give this a try. Introduce the idea that you are allowed to go easy on yourself by using this mantra any time your thoughts are spiraling anxiously, or anytime you are being hard on yourself. Stop. Take a deep breath. “I go easy on myself.” Repeat as many times as needed.
Sheana is a Licensed Professional Counselor at The Awakening Center working with individuals and groups. She creates an empathic, accepting environment in which she walks with her clients on a path toward peace and happiness. For inquiries or to set up an appointment, please contact her at (773)929-6262 Ext. 16 or TobeySheana@gmail.com.
P.S. If you need help identifying your values, try Googling “list of core values.” Find a list that has A LOT, even one that feels like it’s too many. Then, write down next to each one a V if the value is very important to you, an I if the value is important to you, and an N if the value is not important to you. Then, see if you can identify your top 6 values. See if you can put those in order of importance. If it’s too hard to narrow it down to 6, go for 10 or 20. Whatever works for you. If you can’t identify 6, only list the ones that make sense for you. If you have questions, feel free to reach out and ask or leave them in the comment section below.