Are We Punishing Ourselves?
We often use self-improvement as consequence for something we perceive is wrong about us. “I’ve been eating garbage/gaining weight so I have to go on a diet and start exercising.”, “I’ve been procrastinating lately, so I have to make a schedule with a checklist and accomplish ALL of the things.”, “I’ve been short-tempered and yelling a lot, I need to be more patient and kind.” Basically, “I’m not a great person, I need to be/do/feel better.”
This doesn’t work for me.
Whether you’re just hard on yourself or you had parents who were extra critical or maybe religion taught you that you’re inherently wrong- *improving yourself because you think you’re bad doesn’t work.* If self-care is self-punishment, you’ll keep sliding back into old habits. You’ll keep overeating, you’ll keep neglecting focus and discipline for the sake of “relaxation”, you’ll continue being irritable because what you do will never feel like enough. This is because you’re not actually caring for yourself, you’re reacting to what you don’t like about you. You’re overwhelming yourself because you’re trying to enforce positive change from a very negative place.
Instead of trying to improve from a place of feeling like you’re not good enough, sit with that feeling for a minute, set it aside, and then think about what you can improve because you are SO good you deserve to: “I’m going to eat healthy and exercise regularly because it feels good and puts me in a good state of mind.”, “I’m prioritizing my to-do list because it feels good to get things done. I’ll focus on what’s most important, giving less attention to what isn’t urgent because I also deserve time and space to relax.”, “I’m going to be more patient and kind because I’m a good person and I value my relationships.”
Essentially, “I’m not bad or good, just constantly flowing into improvement because I appreciate myself.” You don’t need to punish yourself with abrupt and massive changes, you just deserve self-improvement and care because you’re a good person. That’s it.