Women come into my office and want to change their lives. They are frustrated with different aspects of their life including their looks, their jobs, their parenting, and their relationships. If there was one thing that I could change about my clients, it would be to get them to stop being so critical of themselves. Women are inherently harder on themselves and oftentimes evaluate unrealistically. They don't believe they work hard enough and they constantly assess their behavior with self-loathing. This has many ramifications for self-esteem, performance and success.
The truth of the matter is that women need to be kinder and gentler to themselves. Whenever I meet a woman who is overly critical, I explain to her that not only does this make it difficult for her to believe in herself; it also interferes with her ability to change. She will be much more successful if she focuses on her attributes and what is going right in her life.
One thing we know about change and success is that people are more likely to do better when they feel they are competent and capable. This means that they have to look at what is going right in life as opposed to what is going wrong. They have to have a certain level of self-esteem before they can actualize their potential.
This may be contrary to what you have been taught. You may have learned that change really only occurs when you get sick and tired of being sick and tired and fed up with a certain aspect of your life. Although this is true, it often reflects how sick you are of YOU.
Good self-care means that you appreciate your strengths and build upon them to tweak whatever it is that you believe needs to change. I know many clients who have ruminated about how they look or how unhappy they are in a relationship and in actuality these feelings have immobilized them from creating a healthier life.
One of the first steps to change is accepting things exactly as they are. As difficult as it may sound, I encourage people to appreciate their life regardless of their circumstances.
Are you 30 pounds overweight? Can you still see those things that are beautiful about your body despite the fact that you are 30 pounds overweight?
Are you in an unhappy relationship? Can you still find positive things about your relationship and focus on what would enhance that relationship?
Do you hate your job and dream of finding a new one every single day? While you are in that job, it's important to focus on what you like so that you can enjoy what's in the present while you look at building a different future.
When you're able to create both of these realities at the same time you're much more likely to actualize your life and make it different. But this again means that you have to stop being so hard on yourself and that means noticing the positives regardless of your situation.
I would invite you for the next 30 days to spend at least five minutes every day focusing on something that you would like to change and remaining positive about your strengths and the situation while you are constructing the needed strategy for change. That means noticing the inherent strengths or the good that is in each situation. I guarantee this will empower you to change and like yourself in the process!