One of the hardest things about my job is hearing people beat themselves up on a daily basis. I honestly didn’t expect that when I started coaching. I know I am a very self-critical person, but I didn’t realize so many of y’all were too (at least I know I’m not alone, right?).

I’ve been diving into research on the impact of your relationship with yourself on change a lot lately because in the almost 4 years (4 YEARS!?) I’ve had my coaching practice, I’ve noticed how key this is for success. Turns out, the research supports it. A strong relationship with yourself improves problem solving, productivity, and overall mental health (including better confidence and self-esteem). All of these things – problem solving, productivity, mental health, confidence, and self-esteem – play SUCH a key role in reaching your goals.

Often when I catch clients beating themselves up over something I’ll ask them, “Would you say that to a friend?”. The answer is always “no”. We innately try to boost other people when they’re struggling. We encourage our friends, cheer them on, try to pick them up when they’re feeling down. Why isn’t our default to do the same for ourselves?

I’ve asked this question before – why is it hard for you to encourage yourself or be more compassionate to yourself? – and the response is usually some form of feeling like we need to be harder on ourselves or we’ll slack off, but research doesn’t support that. Research actually shows the opposite: negative self-talk has an adverse impact on motivation and confidence in our ability to do something. And yet, we continue to beat ourselves up constantly.

So, here’s my challenge to you: sit with the question “what if I was nicer to myself?” for a few minutes. Just turn it over in your brain. Imagine how you’d feel, what might shift in your day-to-day, whether it would make things easier or harder on you.

If working on being nicer to yourself is something you’re ready to dive into, here are a few tips that can help get you going down the right path:

  • Practice acknowledging when you’re thinking negative thoughts about yourself. Building awareness around this type of thinking is one of the first steps to stopping it.
  • Make a list of things you’re proud of and what you feel good about. Pull it out as a reminder when you’re being hard on yourself.
  • Build up your tolerance for your own mistakes.
  • Find a mantra or positive affirmation that resonates with you, and repeat it to yourself when you’re in a negative headspace.
  • Learn triggers or situations that tend to bring about negative self-talk. Understanding what triggers those thoughts and behaviors can help you stop them or know to expect them so you can adjust.

As always, I’m rooting for you!