As imperfect humans living in a world where every action and achievement is judged according to some made-up standards, it is understandable — and to some extent healthy — to be self-critical. But, in the pretext of bettering ourselves through self-criticism, we often end up causing more harm than good. While it may allow us to become aware of our shortcomings and perhaps even help us grow slightly, self-care is still a much better and healthier alternative to achieve the same and more.
Self-care is for everyone: women, children, and men; healthy and struggling alike. Whether it’s a self-care journal that you’re keeping, or simply indulging in relaxing activities like reading, listening to music and cooking, or delighting yourself with a whole bunch of activities that are included in a self-care kit; no matter how big or small the initiative on your part, it matters.
On International Self-Care Day, here is an important self-care reminder from the Mooditude team to those who are guilty of never being satisfied with where they are in life and what they have. And those who are always worrying about reaching the next station of life and criticizing themselves for not being able to reach there soon enough: Don’t be too hard on yourself, you’re exactly where you need to be.
You’re Exactly Where You Need to Be
One thing people mistake for ‘self-care’ is criticising one’s flaws excessively in the name of self-awareness. Setting unachievable goals is not the right path towards success, because success looks different for everyone. Berating yourself for not being as good of a musician as XYZ is while disregarding your own artistic potential in other fields is not only ungrateful, it is also very damaging to your self-esteem.
How many times have you envied someone’s success, silently questioning your potential and wondering where you went wrong?
How easily do you fall into despair when faced with difficult times, wondering why this had to be your fate?
How many times have you questioned your aptitude for not having a well-established career, or for not having a healthy relationship like your friends do; of still living in a cramped apartment when everyone your age owns beautiful homes?
I bet it’s quite a common occurrence.
Truth is, when you’re looking at yourself critically, the only things you end up actually noticing are your flaws. Your strengths go unnoticed because you expend all your energies wishing you were the best in all spheres of life, which is quite frankly, impossible.
Growth looks different for everyone. Just like plants, who each take their sweet time growing according to their own pace, or perhaps like some stars on certain nights that seem to shine brighter than the others, while on some nights, the others appear to be brighter.
When you look at yourself now you won’t be able to see how you’re growing, but ten years from now when you reflect on what and where you were at that time in your life, you’ll appreciate how you have grown and achieved so much. It’s like looking at old pictures. You never realize you’ve bloomed so brilliantly until you reflect and realize you used to wish for the things you are now a proud owner of. As for the sufferings, they are essential for psychological and emotional maturity and development.
So, to have unrealistic expectations of yourself and anticipating fanciful circumstances is unfair to all the good things in your current life that are being ignored. It is important to realize that you’re exactly where you need to be in life and it’s on you to transform your predicament into an opportunity for growth.
Self-Care is For Everyone
Being too hard on yourself can be debilitating and counter-productive. Everyone needs self-care days when they can tend to themselves for the sake of their mental health without outside influence. As opposed to general belief, self-care is age and gender-neutral. Women, men, and children can benefit greatly from self-care activities. Sadly, self-care for men is often undervalued due to which men’s mental stability suffers a lot.
Since self-care is for everyone, it can easily be transformed into family time! Here are some engaging activity ideas that you can enjoy by yourself or encourage your family to indulge in as well!
- Buy/Gift a Self-Care Kit: A self-care kit can include all kinds of personalized items including painting items, headphones, weighted blankets, skincare items, healthy cookbooks, stuffed animals, fun DVDs, bath bombs and more!
- Keep a Self-Care Journal: Journaling is evidenced to help increase feelings of well-being and counter depressive moods. It is an easier and healthier method to unwind and understand your feelings to encourage self-awareness, as opposed to self-criticism.
- Exercise/Yoga and Meditation: Working out is a great way to de-stress and so is yoga and meditation. Even taking a walk together with family is a great activity to include in your self-care routine.
- Self-care for Men: Men’s self-care doesn’t have to be any different from self-care for women or children. However, they can include activities that cater better to their personal interests for a better experience.
- Affirmations: Positive affirmations are a great way to kick-start your day. They aid in self-improvement and are a good source of inspiration.
How to Stop Being Too Hard on Yourself
In our struggle to be the best; to attain perfection, we end up becoming enemies to ourselves when we should have been best friends to our bodies and minds. Sure, it can be tough to break out of this habit, but it’s not impossible. In fact, it’s very easy. Here are ways you can stop being too hard on yourself and start showing kindness and love to yourself because self-care is for everyone!
Stop Beating Yourself Over Negligible Mistakes
There is not a single person in this world who does not make mistakes. So, if you’ve made a few mistakes here and there, it’s not the end of the world. Chances are, your mistakes are only going to help shape you into a better, experienced person. Lingering on them for the only purpose of criticizing them — and yourself for committing them — is futile unless you pull yourself out of your misery and decide to do something about it.
A great way to combat this is to contemplate in a positive light, how your mistakes have — or may have the potential to — made a positive impact in your life, and perhaps even going the extra mile to jot them down in your self-care journal so you can revisit them whenever you feel down!
Stop Dwelling Over Things You Can’t Change
No matter how much of a control freak you may be or how put-together you may want to keep your life, there are just some things; some events and happenings, that will remain out of your power to alter; like a sudden death of a loved one, loss of a job, sudden illness, etc. The kindest thing you can do for yourself during such times is to accept your predicament as fate, or destiny and let life take charge instead of forcing and anticipating circumstances that seem good to you.
Perhaps, the loved one you lost encouraged you to learn the value of life and not take any opportunity for granted, to fulfil your desires and achieve your goals. Maybe the job that you lost is paving your way to your dream job that you lost hopes of securing years ago. You can learn something positive even from the darkest times of your life because every dark cloud has a silver lining.
Learn to Be Grateful
A lot of us are very impatient and very ungrateful. When we want to move ahead in life, we start complaining about our current position. It’s true, we all have aspirations and dreams, but the way we go about achieving them is not the right way. We tend to focus on all the things we don’t have while the things we do have, we deliberately shut our eyes to. We tend to forget that we were once ready to do anything to obtain the things we take for granted now that we have them.
It may sound counter-productive, but showing gratitude for the little things that you have in life right now, will allow your self-worth to bloom by encouraging you to reflect on your accomplishments. This beautiful self-awareness can open new paths for you to move forward by allowing you to make use of your qualities the right way. Maintaining a self-care journal for practising gratitude is an excellent way to keep yourself grounded and aware of both your flaws and qualities as well as for practising gratitude.
Don’t Just Mope, Work to Achieve Your Goals
Mistakes and flaws are opportunities for learning and growing, while excessive criticism is the perfect recipe for the opposite of learning and growing. Criticism without improvement and effort is futile. Hard work and patience are the two main ingredients of success. Desiring and wishing and hoping will get you nowhere. You see someone with your dream car and you wonder why you couldn’t be that person but you do nothing about it except for being sad and sulky.
First, remember that you are exactly where you need to be. Second, make a plan to get to where you want to be next. Third, execute the plan. Fourth, if the plan doesn’t work, you do not go back to berating yourself for being a failure, instead, you learn from your mistakes and try not to make them again.
Self-care is for everyone; it’s beautiful, it’s easy, it’s healthy, and most importantly, it can allow you to enjoy your current station in life in its profundity before gradually letting you move forward. It may seem like your life is stagnant right now and that you have made no progress whatsoever in life, but it is just life’s way of letting you appreciate the beauty of each feeling and experience fully while allowing you the time to develop the qualities that you lack in the meantime. So, while you may not be where you want to be, it’s a cause for celebration that at least you’re not where you once used to be.