How to Step Back and Give Yourself a Break

By Sandy Schroeder

Sometimes we are our own toughest critics.  If you always expect things to be perfect, and are extremely hard on yourself when things don’t work, you may want to step back and treat yourself better.

Sharon Martin, LCSW,  counselor, therapist and author, explains, “Perfectionists set impossibly high standards for themselves, and others. Perfectionism is hugely stressful and makes us feel worse about ourselves. We can hustle relentlessly, but it will never be enough because we can never meet our unrealistic expectations.”

How to Let Go and Treat Yourself Better

Martin suggests ways to change things.

Rethink targets - If you are constantly bumping into the real world with goals that crash and burn, think about what happened and why. Look closely at those around you and listen to what they are saying. You may pick up clues that help you create goals that work better.

Don't define yourself by the gold stars - When you rate yourself solely by accomplishments, you will be constantly pushing for more. The strongest people that I know focus on character as they achieve. Martin says, “You are worthy because of who you are. Focus on your assets to reclaim your self-worth.” When you do, everything else will follow.

Replace criticism with compassion - Kindness can motivate people to do better, but sharp criticism may cause them to give up. When your plans go awry, treat yourself like you would friends as you help them regain their balance.

Focus on efforts instead of outcome - Enjoy what you do. When you do, life becomes a lot more fun. The pressure lifts and it’s all about what’s happening. 

Please yourself first - When we try to please everyone, no one may be happy. Serious disconnects can happen and you may lose touch with yourself.  Life becomes one long mission to collect the gold stars or avoid conflict with someone else. The needs that make you who you are take a backseat. Flip things around. Focus on yourself. You may not please everyone, but that’s OK. You can enjoy being you

Learn from mistakes - Perfectionists often see mistakes as failures, but people who succeed in the long run look at the big picture. They know mistakes are part of the learning process and the only people who truly fail are the ones who never try.

Ask for what you need - Denying your own physical and emotional needs never works. Anger and resentment may bubble right under the surface. If you are too stoic, learn how to speak up and ask for what you need. If that is hard you may need help.

As always, when issues persist, you may want to see your doctor for a referral to a counselor or psychologist.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Tempe, Ariz.

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