Monday, 24 November 2014 00:00

Cut Yourself Some Slack

Article as it appeared in Trail magazine. By Sue Fuller-Good

This article could change your life if you have an oversized inner dictator that sets tough goals and puts you under pressure.
Life is tough enough without setting the goal posts so high you can almost never reach them, and then beating yourself to a pulp whenever you mess up.

 "This is less about the inner dictator and more about low self-esteem. People with low self-esteem always need to prove themselves," says Durban life coach and psychologist Claire Newton.

It's unfair to shift the goal posts the instant you accomplish something, without even taking a moment to say: 'well done'. So for those heavy drivers, can you be more mindful of what's going on inside your head?

What would life be like if you treated you the best of all? If you only gave yourself the fairest and most caring, appreciative, kind treatment, how would you feel?

How often do you go to bed dead-beat, but feeling as if you haven't touched the edge of the tasks you planned to do in the day? How often do you get to the finish line of a run or a race and feel dissatisfied, like you should have done better?

Maybe you can admit to your own inner jury that you have been unjust in your self-handling. That you have committed unfair labour practices on yourself. Try running your self-expectations and labour practices past your own inner human resources department.

Fewer people might suffer from burn-out and low energy, chronic fatigue and auto-immune conditions if they embarked on an inner inquiry and changed their self-management strategies.

These 11 maxims will silence your inner drill-sergeant to give you a break: 

1. Be perfectly human. You can't stay on the wagon and perfectly disciplined all the time.

2. You can't work full-time and compare your physical ability to that of a pro athlete.

3. You can't be the best at everything. You will excel at what you value most. "When you realise there will always be others better than you (and others worse), you can spend your time doing what it is you want to do and stop competing," says Newton.

4. Don't compare yourself with anyone. No one has experienced your unique journey, challenges or supports, fears or insecurities.

5. Other people's perfection is often flawed and may even be a veneer. "Perfection for one is a flaw for another. Think of all the muscle-bound men working out in gyms to have the 'perfect' body, when so many women say they look ridiculous and like muscle-bound budgies!" says Newton.

6. Life is a journey: you don't have to do it all now.

7. Winning is not necessarily the purpose of life. Define your own success.

8. Much creativity and brilliance comes from relaxation time. Einstein spent up to four hours a day in a bubble bath.

9. When life is effortless, we do our very best. It's never effortless when we push too hard.

10. Your body will show signs of an over-active inner dictator. Just tune in and you will hear the warning bells.

11. Remember, taking bite-sized chunks constantly is the key. Sometimes, when we have big goals to achieve, it feels overwhelming to get to where we want to go. Little steps are the key.

Be kind, be fair, and have fun as you get fit for summer. Live in the now and enjoy it for what it is.