While I’m sure we all have that one person in our life who seems to have made it their full-time job to judge and scrutinize our every decision, for most of us, there is still no harsher critic than our own mind.
We look at ourselves in the mirror and pick apart what we wish looked differently. We reflect upon our career and we beat ourselves up for not being in a better position. And we compare our lives and circumstances to those of other people, which always leaves us feeling frustrated and low.
These are just three of the seemingly countless number of ways that many of us beat ourselves up. While this perpetual judgement can help motivate a select few, it leaves the majority of us crippled with self-doubt and negativity.
But are these self-assessments even accurate? Who better to ask than children, whose innocence, openness, and clarity of thought makes them the most credible source possible for personal matters.
In this video, put together by Chicken Soup for the Soul, mothers are first asked to come in and describe themselves as a mother to the interviewer. Once these answers were collected, their children were then brought in and tasked with describing their mother. The differences between their answers offers wonderful food for thought for all of us:
How We See Ourselves
Why is our first inclination when describing ourselves to focus on our flaws? We choose to bring up where we can improve over where our strengths lie, maintaining the ideal mental breeding ground for negative thought.
Don’t feel that you would do this? Try making a list right now of your strengths and weaknesses in life. Which side outweighs the other? Even if you managed to list more strengths (congrats!), reflect on the pace at which you populated each side. Which list came to you more easily?
How We Actually Are
As the children so eloquently reminded their mothers in the video, no matter how many deficiencies we may feel that we have, we also have plenty of proficiencies to be proud of, too. We’ve all been through a lot in life and deserve far more credit than we may feel inclined to give ourselves.
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Whether you are a parent or not, let the perspective of the kids in this video remind you of just how much good you do for yourself and others in this world. Be proud of where you are, and use that (rather than comparison) as fuel to drive yourself to do even more from this positive mindset.
A Helpful Activity
An activity that I personally find very effective at breaking negative thought patterns is outlined in Tony Robbins’ book Awaken The Giant Within. At one point in the best-selling novel, Tony challenges the reader to complete a list of things that we personally enjoy doing and get genuine pleasure from.
From taking a walk in nature, to reading a book, to spending time with your dog, the list has no boundaries and we are encouraged to keep going until we have come up with at least with fifteen items.
This list is meant to serve as a reference for the rest of your life whenever you find yourself in a negative thought pattern. Rather than continuing to bask in it, turn to any of these genuinely pleasurable experiences to break the mood. Ultimately you want to find a way to make time for at least a few of these pleasurable experiences every day, and in doing so, foster a more content mental environment that is far more likely to focus on the positive rather than the negative.
Give it a shot and let me know your experience via the comment section below.
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