Are you hard on yourself?  Do you align with your inner critic and attack and berate yourself when you’re not perfect or haven’t met your expectations for yourself?

Really aren’t there enough expectations, demands, judgments, timelines, criticisms, harshnesses, stresses, opinions, critiques and comments about who you are, what you do and how you do it?  Without you adding to the cacophony of external, judgmental voices?

It’s really interesting if we think about it.  We worry incessantly about what other people think about us.  Why?  Because we judge ourselves harshly so we’re forced to look outside ourselves for approval and to feel that we’re OK.

The craziest part is that we’re looking for acceptance, kindheartedness, compassion, caring, approval, validation, understanding and acknowledgment from people who often don’t give those gifts to themselves.

Confession:  I’m hard on myself, too, sometimes.  But not as often anymore.

I used to berate myself with abandon.  And ridiculously, it felt almost virtuous.  I thought I was being a warrior by being hard on myself.  Keeping myself accountable.  Being tough on myself so that I would be more focused and successful.

I finally realized that, when I was hard on myself, my soul had no room to breathe.  I had locked myself in the cage of my expectations and shoulds.  A cage without the oxygen of my heart and inner wisdom.

I decided to wake up.  Being hard on myself wasn’t making me more effective, motivated or successful.  And it didn’t feel good.  (Always a sign to wake up and pay attention.)

My inner warrior isn’t about turning everything into a struggling battle and hauling myself over the coals for not being perfect.  The only response to a constant battle is exhaustion.

My true inner warrior is my creative force, not a fighter.  My North star encouraging me to persevere, to hold my vision and walk the path to my dreams and especially to support and believe in myself NO MATTER WHAT.

My warrior pays attention to what I’m doing right instead of focusing on when and where I’ve missed the mark or veered off the path.  She appreciates and celebrates my victories, my courage and my learning.

If you’re spending your precious time being hard on yourself, you’re going to stumble in the weeds of discouragement, frustration and impatience.  Try travelling a different path.

When you hear (or feel) yourself shooting those arrows of heartlessness at your soul, try an experiment.  Instead of jumping on the train of ancient, ineffective habits and getting taken for the same old ride, write down what you’ve done well, your successes and what you’ve learned.

Stepping outside your comfort zone in the outside world is a piece of cake compared to moving beyond your inner comfort zone of old, familiar behaviors.  If being hard on yourself is automatic and habitual for you, I challenge you to do it differently.  And see what happens.  Self-compassion takes courage.

It’s Thanksgiving here in Canada this weekend.  What are you grateful for?  Can you add yourself to the list?