I was having brunch with my sister the other day and the conversation turned to an interesting topic that I thought I’d touch on for this article. We were talking about how there are people that are too hard on themselves; they constantly view themselves as not being good enough and are never satisfied with their results. And then there are people on the other side of the spectrum, who sometimes get overconfident and satisfied too easily with what they achieve, and never really push themselves to become better. It is important to establish a balance between these two mindsets, and finding this balance can be beneficial for not only school, but work, relationships and life outside of school in general. 

As talking about both mindsets in one article would make for an article longer than anyone would want to read, this article will be separated into two parts. For this first instalment I'll be writing about the person who is too hard on themselves:

The person who is too hard on themselves continuously sets themselves high, unattainable standards. They’re not happy with a 9/10, because it could be a 10/10 – but then when they get 10/10 they downplay their achievement and attribute their success to anything but themselves (‘Oh, the test wasn’t difficult so it wasn’t that hard to get 100%’, ‘This subject is a bludge anyways’, ‘Everyone else also got 10/10 so it’s not that great’). And when they might not do as well, they feel defined by that lower score, by that undesired outcome.

They lock themselves away and work tirelessly to become better but however hard they try they never seem to become good enough. They look at others and, in their eyes, the others are on another level; the others are smarter, more successful, richer, more liked. They never let themselves celebrate what they achieve, or rather, they never see what they achieve as anything worth celebrating even though everyone around them believes it to be so. 

I know it's probably quite hard to recognise these things in yourself but, if you are able to, here are a few points you can practice to help you be a little kinder to yourself:

Don’t make excuses for your success

Modesty is in no way an undesirable or negative trait, but if you are too modest and continually accredit your own achievements to other people or certain outward circumstances – anything but your own efforts – it can breed some negativity in your own mentality towards yourself. You become convinced that you’re not good for anything, even though your self-earned success is staring you in the face.

Try to look back and recognise the hard work you put in to achieve 100% in that SAC or be cast as the main lead in the year’s school production. Think back on those hours you stayed up late to study, or all those times you stayed back after school to practice for your audition, and realise that it was you; your hard work, your talent, your smarts that got you over that line. Don’t make excuses for your success, just own it.

Stop comparing yourself to others

It’s good to look for inspiration in others and strive to become like them, but when you continually measure yourself up against other people you are bound to find something of which you find yourself inferior. It’s probably been said many times before, but the best person to compete with is yourself – just focus on bettering yourself and your own personal results and you’ll find yourself much happier than constantly looking elsewhere and finding someone else has done better than you (in your eyes). Compete with yourself to become better, not bitter. 

Take some good out of the bad

Often it’s quite easy to see an undesired outcome and disregard the journey to getting there. There is always something good to take out of a seemingly bad experience. Say you tried out for your local football team but weren’t accepted – it can be incredibly easy to focus entirely on your failure to get in and think all of your efforts were gone to waste. But those hours of training and early morning runs you did in preparation for the try-outs improved your skills and your fitness, making you more eligible for next time you try-out. The important thing is to not be too discouraged and to get back up and try again, knowing that you’re better equipped and more experienced because of your failure the first time.

Reward yourself

It is admirable the way you are trying to constantly improve yourself, but sometimes it can be beneficial to just take a step back and reflect. More than likely, you’ll see that you’ve accomplished a lot up to this point but you haven’t given yourself the chance to reward yourself for it, or you don’t think it’s anything worth rewarding. Of course in some cases you could have done better, but you should celebrate your progress or try to look objectively on what you’ve achieved and you’ll find that you might have been too harsh in your judgements on yourself.

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You are so much better than you think you are, you just need to look back and give yourself credit for it. 

Written by Anna :>

Tune in one of the following weeks for part 2 ~

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