Strange as it may seem, being too hard on yourself has been scientifically proven to be counterproductive. Understand here why this happens and how you should react to your failures.
When acquiring new habits or when trying to be a better person, if you’re reacting too harshly to your shortcomings, you’ll fail. This has to do with a curious but unavoidable fact of how our brains are wired.
When we feel threatened, we naturally seek shelter. It so happens that when you are harsh to yourself, the brain interprets that just as if something or someone else is threatening us. It just shows how powerful are thoughts are. We can scare ourselves, hurt ourselves and also, equally, nurture and please ourselves – just with our thoughts. And with these thoughts will come physiological and neurological reactions.
The reaction to being attacked is to seek our comfort zone. And our comfort zone is where we are now, doing what we’re doing now. In other words, it’s certainly not the new improved version of us we’re trying to build, not the new habit we’re trying to make. As a result, we are less likely to change after harsh criticism.
Kelly McGonigal describes studies where this was confirmed. During the research, women trying to diet who were given self-forgiveness messages ate half as much candy as the women who were not given this message. The same applied to studies with people trying to overcome smoking, gambling and procrastination. Dr. McGonigal concludes that guilt and stress are an enemy of self-control, thus counter-productive for transformation.
Instead of being too hard on yourself, be kind. The simplest and best way to do this is to pretend you’re talking to your best friend, after he or she tells you about something they’ve slipped up on. For example, imagine you have a friend who is trying to meditate every day, just like you do. And he or she tells you that yesterday they failed to do so, or that they did, but their minds were super distracted. How would you react? With harsh criticism, shame and guilt trips? I hope not! You’d probably say something like, “hey, no big deal, what’s important is that you’re trying. You’ll get it. Just try again tomorrow”. Or, “yeah, that happens, we’re not perfect”. Right?
It turns out that’s how you should treat yourself. The term used is “self-forgiveness”. By being kind to yourself, you expand your comfort zone, you feel safe and encouraged to grow and transform. It’s a win-win. You feel good and you progress. Nice, huh?
In my book, “The 3T Path” (https://3tpath.com/books/), I explain many wonderful new habits and techniques you can introduce in your life to massively increase your well-being.
Check out my video on this topic here.
Check out my people are saying about my 3T Path book: “I loved the book… it helped me a lot.” – Rosana Ramos