In this episode of the Feel Good Effect Podcast, we’re talking about how to stop being so hard on yourself, to rewire your brain to feel good now for more calm, clarity, and joy in every day
Stop Being So Hard On Yourself: How to Rewire Your Brain to Feel Good Now
Looking back on my life, as a teenager, throughout college and grad school, as a parent, in my relationships- I can see just how hard I’ve been on myself.
I tended to have impossible standards for myself and when I inevitably didn’t meet them, I beat myself up for it, which seemed to be happening constantly.
I didn’t even realize the extent to which I was doing this, as it was such an internalized thing that had been hardwired into my brain.
It didn’t occur to me that there was another way, that I could experience work, life, parenting, and relationships free of self-judgment.
Everything I talk about in this episode is also in this book, The Feel Good Effect.
Trading in perfection for feeling good
My book will finally be in my hands soon and I feel like I should be excited and joyful, but instead, I’m terrified.
The thing is, I realized I was falling back into old, perfection-based thought patterns (what I called the striving mindset).
The striving mindset tells you that if you can get it perfect, you’ll feel good about yourself and have joy in life.
The idea of opening the package containing my book and finding something wrong with it is what was making me feel so bad about it.
I started going through a mental spiral of all the things that could be wrong with it.
I was expecting perfection, and ultimately finding no joy, no ease, no calm, and no clarity in the process.
These thought patterns, perfection, and striving, are so ingrained in most of us that it comes up in moments like this and steals our joy, presence, and the ability to be in your own life.
Maybe it’s looking ahead at a homeschooling situation, or it comes up in your workouts, or your eating.
Most of us expect this of ourselves and when we make mistakes, we spiral.
As it came up for me recently, I had to ask myself, “do I really want to do this or have I learned enough to flip the switch and practice something different?”
That difference is the self-compassion mindset (or what I call the feel-good mindset).
I can acknowledge that I am being hard on myself, expecting perfection, and say that it doesn’t have to be this way.
When I acknowledge that the striving mindset is not the only option and I can flip the script toward this other way of being, it changes everything.
It allows us to be vulnerable in a vulnerable time instead of hiding our light, creativity, and contributions behind this veil of perfection.
If you don’t want to be so hard on yourself in this one precious life that you have, understand that it’s a way of thinking, a mindset.
The power of mindset
Your mind works in certain ways.
Your thought patterns create your actions, which create the results in your life; it’s really as simple as this mindset loop.
You can shift your mindset by rewiring your brain to feel good.
No matter where it might show up in your life, perfectionist thought patterns quickly become a source of stress and suffering.
The research is clear: perfectionism is damaging and completely counter-productive.
In fact, perfectionist thought patterns have been shown to cause a lack of growth while sucking the joy out of everything.
Perfection is a myth, but we actually have a bias toward it in our brains (meaning we tend to lean toward perfectionism).
Our brains appear to be pre-wired to respond to mistakes and failures, called error-related negativity.
In attempts to avoid making mistakes, people with more of these thoughts limit their options.
This hardwiring might have been helpful in the past to avoid serious life-threatening mistakes, but it’s clearly no longer serving us in our modern lives.
Perfectionist thought patterns appear to be on the rise, though, especially in Western cultures.
Even though our brains appear to be pre-wired this way and these thought patterns are so prevalent, they don’t seem to get us the results we want.
We think perfect is the solution, but it’s actually the problem.
Perfectionism isn’t an identity or a type of person, it’s just a thought pattern that impacts everything we do.
Perfectionism sucks the joy out of experiencing your life the way it is right now.
The antidote to perfectionism
You can learn an alternative to perfectionism and it’s really simple: self-compassion.
Self-compassion is the antidote to perfectionism.
Self-compassion is medicine.
Self-compassion is knowing that making mistakes is part of being human and a way of thinking that reframes how we respond to difficult situations.
It helps people get through difficult situations, learn from mistakes, and persist amid difficulty.
In fact, the ability to persist when things get difficult is highly related to self-compassion.
Self-compassion comes from shifting your mindset and the way you experience the world using the power of neuroscience and mindfulness.
As you shift your mindset, you practice self-compassion.
Check out The Feel Good Effect for self-compassion practices.
I want to share one of my favorite self-compassion practices, which I learned from a conversation with Shauna Shapiro, called Good Morning, I Love You.
If you have been following me on Instagram, you know that I have been sharing this practice every day since March.
It has since become part of my self-compassion practice.
Every morning in bed, I start my day with my hand on my heart and saying, “good morning, Robyn, I love you”.
It’s simple, but it works!
This is how simple it is to change your mindset.
This is how you change your brain and this is how you change your life.
Rewire your brain to feel good now.
Gentle is the new perfect.
You don’t have to be so hard on yourself, and it’s probably not getting you the results you want.
If you want to feel good, try self-compassion.