Since I’ve started as a therapist, I have often said to clients “have you given yourself credit” when referring to something positive they have done. I have no idea where I picked this up from, but it has stuck with me over the last few years. This past week I had two separate clients share that they have used this saying to encourage their family and friends to give themselves a pat on the back. This was really cool to hear that this saying clicked so well with these two clients.
It seems that we are living in a harsh, judgmental society and so many people tend to be really good at being hard on themselves. We tend to focus on things that didn’t go well or how we could improve a situation rather than acknowledging the positive that we have done. While striving to improve is not a bad thing, when we are only focused on doing better it gives us a skewed perspective of how things really are.
When we are repeatedly critical of ourselves it does not create a very encouraging atmosphere to create change. At the minimum it can make us feel discouraged and frustrated and to the extreme it can contribute to mental health issues. If we switch our focus to something that has worked out for us, or find something positive in what we have done it can give us a boost and may shift our perspective to see a situation more positively and possibly more realistically. Step back and think about it for a second, what feels better; being critical and harsh towards yourself or giving yourself a pat on the back for something that you did well? That should be a fairly easy question to answer…
Next time you find yourself being hard on yourself, take a minute to see if you can find something positive in what you did and give yourself some credit.