The Fit Student – Go Easy on Yourself

Always pat yourself on the back and stand tall. By improving your confidence, rewarding yourself, solving problems, and valuing your worth, you create a buffer against anxiety, depression, and many other long-term illnesses. In other words, you go easy on yourself. The bookManaging Your Mind by Gillian Butler, Ph.D. and Tony Hope, M.D, has perils of wisdom to make life less worrisome.

Go easy on yourself by building your confidence through both your achievements and failures.

I felt a surge of confidence when I won the Silver Medallion for my graduating class. Yet, I feared my performance in graduate studies paled in comparison to other graduate students. I felt like my vocabulary was weak and my writing ability sucked. I wish I had known the advice from many professors and graduate students: “Fake it until you make it,” they say. Although I had just won an award, I felt like an imposter.

People may look confident on the outside. They may achieve great things. But, underlying everybody’s confidence is fragility in other areas. On one hand, a professor who wins awards and run marathons may feel like his work/life balance is missing. Similarly, a CEO making millions may have no time for building relationships with family and friends. On the other hand, an impoverished or mentally ill person may have a loving home and a high level of happiness.

Butler and Hope outline that people who seem to possess confidence in one area of their lives may lack confidence in other areas. Where people shine in certain areas, they trade off with a dullness in certain others. There’s no such thing as 100% confidence in 100% areas of life.

Butler and Hope suggest that gaining a mastery of skills bolsters confidence. The more skills you learn, the more potential you have for building greater confidence. When first learning a skill, however, many mistakes may be made. Instead of feeling frustration or self-doubt, these authors recommend you laugh at your mistakes. After all, errors are integral to the learning process. You can’t become the greatest at something without slamming your head against unending walls.

Treat Yourself
Go easy on yourself by indulging in special treats.

Whenever myself or my partner have a victory, we go out and celebrate. We love to dine together: that’s how we treat ourselves for jobs well done. A lot of women like to treat themselves with clothing. I rarely treat myself to a new clothing item, however, as I prefer to spend my money on nonfiction books. I don’t spend on makeup either. No jewelry except a Christian cross strung around my neck. Nothing vain. Just books, meals, and entertainment: real treats.

When you consider treating yourself, it’s important to ensure you have frequent mini rewards and semi-regular large rewards, such as vacations, according to Butler and Hope. Try rewarding yourself on a daily basis with things such as a new clothing item, a hot bath, exercise, a weekend getaway, reading, eating a favorite snack, and the list goes on. Also, plan for the big rewards, like a vacation to Hawaii or a cruise. Even when you face barriers to achieving those rewards, such as lack of funds or time, save up extra hard, make the time, and make it happen. You deserve it.

Time Management; Self Management
Go easy on yourself by making the most of your time.

To make the most of your time, you need to figure out what matters to you. Here’s a thought experiment: What words do you want on your tombstone? A professor of mine, who sadly passed away, would pose that thought experiment to her classes. She revealed that she wanted to be known as the encourager. Now, for anything that involved encouraging others, she made the time.

Now, take this thought experiment a little further and imagine what other people would say about you in general. As Butler and Hope recommend, imagine not what you think others would say about you, but rather what you would want others to say about you. This thought experiment will also help you figure out what matters most to you.

If I bundled my family and friends into a chorus of praise, I would want them to say I was kind, generous, compassionate, loyal, entrepreneurial, and intelligent. But I have somewhat turbulent family dynamics, so I’m not sure they would agree.

Now, think about what you would want others to say about you. By doing so, according to Butler and Hope, you should have identified some of your key values.

Given that you have your values straight, should you do activities that you don’t enjoy? Butler and Hope say you should only do activities you don’t enjoy if they further your long-term goals. If stuck in a dead-end job, you should reconsider your career options. Once you figure out what matters to you, you better understand how you should be spending your time.

Problem Solving
Go easy on yourself by quickly solving your problems.

When I encounter a problem, I seek the advice of others. I rarely try to muddle out my own solution. As a matter of fact, I don’t know how to solve problems outside of worrying until someone reassures me that nothing catastrophic will come of them.

But, I did learn how to solve problems with one system: looking at the pros and cons of one or more actions. I tried using that system to discover whether I should go for a computer science undergraduate degree or an education master’s degree. I assigned numerical values to each pro and con. This problem-solving process helped me to come to a resolve, but seems too much effort for most everyday problems.

Yet, Butler and Hope present a system that you can implement in a heartbeat. Namely, they advise you to first give the problem a name. Yes, label it. Once you have your label in place, then list in ink as many solutions as you possibly can–even the less realistic and more ridiculous ones. Then, pick one solution that seems the most fitting for you to try–and then apply it. Assess whether it works or not. If it doesn’t work sufficiently, go back to your list and choose another one and repeat the process. Keep it up, and eventually you’re sure to find a winning solution.

Valuing Your Inherent Worth
Go easy on yourself by knowing you are eternally worthwhile.

Starting finding your own company worthy. Unfortunately, I have a fear of being alone. So, I’ve begun repeating the affirmation to myself that I like the pleasure of my own company. Whenever I am my own, I remind myself of how pleasurable it is to be alone with myself. As a result, I’ve started to look forward to time alone. And many books suggest that people who need to spend time alone to recharge often have higher levels of intrapersonal intelligence. Higher intrapersonal intelligence indicates you find your own company worthwhile.

Every human being is worthwhile. Butler and Hope encourage you to see your intrinsic worth based on the fact that you are a human being. Even animals are considered worthy, not based on their behavior necessarily, but based on the fact that they exist. A squirrel, for instance, is considered valuable, regardless of how many other squirrels it chased or bit that day. If an animal is worthwhile based on the very fact it exists, shouldn’t you see yourself as intrinsically valuable on the sole merit that you are a living being? That doesn’t mean you should go around and bite other squirrels, but it does mean that you are worthwhile based on the fact that you exist.

Also, Butler and Hope tell you to avoid seeing your achievements as the sole basis for your self-worth. Instead, see your equality to all other people as reason to value yourself. Your achievements? Well, they are mere icing on the cake. Paradoxically, the more you value yourself for things other than your achievements, the more you will enjoy your achievements.

So, go easy on yourself. You’re worth it.

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