Doug Tesnow, LCPC
It's Okay to Stop Keeping Score
Updated: Apr 24, 2021
"How am I doing?"
"Is it normal for me to feel so scattered and unmotivated?"
"Should I be doing more?"
"Should I be feeling stressed out or grateful right now?"
Do any of these thoughts feel familiar to you? I'm guessing they do for most of us! This pandemic has caused us to ask a lot of questions, or maybe just amplified the ones we've already been asking.
Sometimes, especially during stressful situations, our answers to ourselves can be way too harsh, and the scorekeeping can become exhausting. It's easy to feel self-critical or alone in such moments.
Here are some tips and assurances to help you cut yourself extra slack during a time when, let's face it, we could all use some!
1. Yes, it's "normal"! I've never been a huge fan of the word, myself, but do I know that none of us wants to feel alone in our challenges.
It can be immensely comforting to remember how connected we our in the things we feel and think. This goes for those really troublesome thoughts, the ones that we feel alone in, which are shared by so many others.
Even that feeling of "not being normal" is a lot more normal than we give credit for! Remember that you are not alone, even in the hard stuff!
2. Give your brain at least a few minutes of quiet from its thousands of thoughts each day. Allow yourself permission to take a few minutes that don't involve trying to figure everything out. Here are a few methods to consider:
Take a short walk and notice what you see around you. Explore different meditation apps to see which one might fit you best (many of them are free!). Do something you enjoy and focus solely on that. Savor that ice cream.
Even focusing on one thing instead of 10 can feel like a tremendous relief to our brains. I'm also a big fan of shutting off the news (which may include social media) after 8 or 9pm. It's become one of my favorite parts of the day, and a great way to wind down.
3. Give yourself permission to handle challenges imperfectly. Sometimes we think that being hard on ourselves will help us achieve better outcomes. What if being a little easier on ourselves and quick to forgive is an even better way to achieve our goals? I guarantee this is worth a try.
For those perfectionists out there, I'm going to challenge you to redefine "perfection" to allow more room for self-compassion, self-nurturing, and even a little playfulness!
4. Ask yourself "Would I be as hard on others as I am being on myself?" Most of us would not speak to our loved ones the way we speak to ourselves. When you're getting down on yourself, try talking to yourself as if you were someone you love and want to help. Another tip: Did you have someone in your life who treated you with a special kind of compassion? Try imagining the way they would talk to you during a rough time.
5. Don't be too hard on yourself about being too hard on yourself! We all do it, but meeting yourself with extra patience and grace can be a habit worth forming, and even small steps can lead to big shifts!
If you need more help making these shifts, reach out to us and we can help you on this journey!