Why are you being so mean (to yourself)?

We can be so judgy.

Do you notice the thoughts you tell yourself? Especially when things don’t go the way you want them to? In a situation with your friend, where things don’t turn out the way they wanted, you’d likely be supportive. You might say, “There’s something better out there for you,” or “You’re so great, you’ll find another opportunity in no time,” or “You learned a lot from this to take to the next experience,” or “I’m so sorry you’re disappointed. How can I support you?”

In these situations with yourself when things don’t turn out the way you want, what are the words you say to yourself? What do you make that situation mean about you?

It can be easy to beat ourselves up after a perceived failure. Instead of focusing on the facts of what happened or what we learned from the experience, we tend to make what happened mean something about ourselves. This can look like thinking to yourself, “I knew I wasn’t good enough,” or “What’s wrong with me? There’s got to be something wrong with me,” or “I’ll never get it right–I’m such a failure,” or “I shouldn’t be feeling like this. Get over it!”

The words we say to ourselves can be pretty mean. So not only have we “failed” at the thing we wanted, we then proceed to beat ourselves up for it–and feel even worse. And we’re likely the only ones telling ourselves these mean things and making ourselves feel terrible about it.

Then we start to hide, play it safe, and protect ourselves from “failing” again. So we don’t even attempt to go after what we want. But we’re only trying to avoid the words we say to ourselves, which create feelings of defeat, disappointment, hurt, and shame.

If we think we’re trying to avoid the judgment of others, in reality, we can’t control what they think about us. Even if we “succeeded” at something, there are still some people who will judge us for succeeding as much as they might judge us for failing. (And are you sure you want those people in your life?)

So if we’re not really avoiding the judgment of others, whose judgment are we trying to avoid? It could be the mean thoughts we’re used to telling ourselves.

Once we’re aware of what we say to ourselves, we have the power to change what we say and choose to be kinder to ourselves.

Your turn: What if there’s no such thing as failing, only winning or learning? How would you talk to yourself then? What thoughts about yourself could you have that are a little kinder? What if you talked to yourself and supported yourself the way you’d support a friend or even a kid-version of yourself who’s learning something new? What would you say to yourself then? And how would your relationship with yourself change?

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What if you started your day differently?

You’re in charge.

Do you look at your phone and check email the minute you wake up?

I did this when I worked in private equity. Every morning, my alarm would go off and since it was on my phone, I turned it off and had my phone in my hand. So naturally, I’d immediately check my emails to see what my day might look like.

It seems like a productive thing to do, right? To “prepare for your day.”

I want to offer that when you do this, your day might appear to “come at” you.

All the requests from other people and all the time you need to spend on emailing others for info, looking for info, and creating responses once you have the info. Along with the other meetings and projects you had planned to do that day. It might be overwhelming. Starting your day immediately feeling overwhelmed likely doesn’t contribute to productivity in a way that serves you.

What would happen if you didn’t look at your phone and check emails the minute you wake up?

I’ve talked to clients who said they feel anxious just thinking about not checking email first thing.

What if instead, you have an alarm that’s separate from your phone? And what if you took five minutes after waking up to start your day in a way that you want.

This could look like intentional breathing, a short meditation, or some gentle movement and stretches for your body.

It could look like lying in bed and recalling a dream you had or just savoring those five minutes for yourself.

It could look like writing down your thoughts or drinking a glass of water to rehydrate your body and feeling it flow through your system.

It could look any way you want it to look. This creates space for you to step into your day the way you want to. Instead of having your day come at you.

Your turn: How would your days change if you stepped into them the way you want to? What would happen if you start by exploring with five minutes to yourself at the start of your day, without your phone? And what if you could stretch that to 10 minutes? What about 20 or 30 minutes?

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You: Empowering and Disempowering Questions 

When we ask ourselves questions, our brains love to go to work to find the answers. When we ask ourselves disempowering questions, our brain will likely find disempowering answers. When we ask ourselves more empowering, curious, open questions, our brains will likely find options that feel more empowering or productive. 

What are three disempowering questions that you find yourself asking?

What are some more empowering questions you could ask yourself?

Below are some examples of disempowering (sound familiar?) and empowering questions:

Disempowering

Why do I keep doing this?

Why did I have to make that mistake?

Why isn’t he calling me back?

Why is this so hard?

Why can’t I get it right?

What’s wrong with me?

Why am I so messed up?

Empowering

How is this working for me?

What if this was all happening perfectly?

What if it’s okay that this is hard?

What would this look like if it was easy?

What am I learning from this?

How do I want to show up in this situation?

What’s right with me?

Who do I want to be?

Let me know if you’ve been asking yourself disempowering questions and are struggling to find more empowering questions to ask instead. We’ll work it out together!

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