How To Stop Being So Hard On Yourself (& Give Yourself The Love You Deserve)

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Are you Bad at Self Love? Here’s How to Stop.
Love, Self

You deserve better, girl.

"I am so stupid…I can’t believe I…"

"I am so lazy. I should have…"

"If only I was smarter, I could have finished…"

Is this something that you hear in your head, daily? Do you list all the things you should have done or should be better at doing? Maybe your spouse, sibling, or friends tell you that "You are too hard on yourself" and "You need to lower your expectations for yourself?"

If so, you might be in need of a tune-up around self-love. 

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I have worked with many women who wonder what "self-love" really is and what "lowering expectations" really means.

How do we lower our expectations of ourselves when we are the ones making the machine that is our family run? Do we not feed the kids? Do we not make sure everyone has a mittens, underwear, and socks? It can feel like we are barely getting by so what do we stop doing in order to lower our expectations?

If we can’t figure this out, it can feel like one more thing we are bad at — we are bad at self-love. 

Many of the women that I see who are extremely hard on themselves are also bad at taking compliments, a "thank you", or allowing someone to help them.

If someone praises their shirt, they might say "This old thing? It’s not really nice." If they are offered help, their automatic response is "no", even if they really need some help. Or they might deflect any gratitude or thank you’s by thanking and praising the other person. These women end up feeling depleted as they care for everyone around them.

The impulse is to go straight toward the "why" of this situation. Why don’t you let others help you? Why can’t you let someone give to you?

And while these are valid questions, they don’t show us how to change our behavior and begin to feel good about ourselves. I propose that rather than trying to understand the "why's", we go straight to allowing praise, gratitude and help into your life. I think of this as a back-door, fast-pass to learning how to find self-love.

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This exercise on how to not be so hard on yourself begins with awareness.

You are simply going to notice all of the times that you are rejecting the praise, gratitude and help offered to you daily. There is tremendous power in observation and attention; change begins to happen as soon as we take ourselves out of the role of actor and begin to observe what is happening in our lives.

Your assignment is, for one day, to take a post-it note and a pen and mark down how many times someone says "thank you" to you, offers to help you, or praises something about you, your work, or your life.

You might be shocked by how often this happens. 

If you feel like having a challenge, then your next job will be to say "yes" or "thank you" to everything offered. You are allowed to only say "yes" or "thank you" — you cannot explain why the praise is not earned or how you usually do everything for yourself but are only accepting help because you have to.

Nope, you say "thank you" and then shut up.

You might find that you become curious about how so much love could go unnoticed in your day.

The hard work with this exercise is to allow the love that surrounds us into our body or our soul. You want to visualize swallowing it in your gut where it might nurture you instead of having it slide right off unseen. Again, the first step is to notice it and the second step is to allow it.

I realize that this sounds very easy but for those of us who are bad a self-love, this is actually quite challenging. Please don’t hesitate to find help if you are struggling with allowing the flow of love, praise, and gratitude that surrounds you.

Working with a therapist, coach or counselor is a wonderful place to begin this journey. 

RELATED: 5 Powerful Ways To Show Unconditional Love — To Yourself!

Ashley Seeger, LCSW is the owner of Couples Counseling Boulder and has over 17 years of experience helping people shift their perceptions to allow more love, joy, and success into their lives.

This article was originally published at Couples Counseling Boulder. Reprinted with permission from the author.