I started a part-time job last week. I went into my training knowing full well that it was going to be a suck-fest for the first little while, during the learning curve. I don't know about you, but nothing's worse than being out of your comfort zone and feeling like an idiot at the same time. So, on Day 1 I inevitably felt like a fish out of water. Day 2, I'm feeling good. Really good. Like maybe this won't be so hard after all. Day 3, not bad. Learning a computer program and still doing pretty good. Day 4, snow day. Day 5, up until 1/2 hour before my shift ended, this is cake! Then, at 3:00 p.m. - HOLD THE PHONE. I made a tiny little mistake on Day 1 that has now contaminated all the work I did the other days. What is my first reaction? "Misty, you idiot! You failure! You can't do anything right!"
Needless to say, this teensy little blunder haunted me the whole entire weekend. My trainer wasn't upset about it at all. Only to be expected, she said. Just a natural part of training, she said. But I continued to feel crappy about it. Why? Because I was being way too hard on myself. Not only did I verbally abuse myself with words like idiot, failure, etc., (words I would never dream of using on my loved ones) but I couldn't let it stop there. I had to badger myself about it for the next 48 hours.
Why do we do this?? I actually have the answer! And yes, I went to therapy a few years ago to obtain it. I think therapy is the best thing in the world. Everyone needs someone to get them out of their own head from time to time. The things I learned from my counselor were mind-blowingly simple, and beyond life-changing for me.
Here's what I learned. The Feeling Good Handbook is worth its weight in gold.
If you can get through a non-fiction book that size, good on you. I won't even try. But here is the basic premise:
You identify an EVENT that made you feel something negative. In my case, the stupid Day 1 blunder that set me back.
Identify negative feelings that resulted from this even: shame, frustration, etc.
Record your automatic thoughts: I'm an idiot, I can't do anything right, I'm a loser, my trainer must think I'm so stupid, etc. Rate each thought from 1-5 (1 being I don't really believe that thought, 5 being I absolutely believe it.)
Here is an example of a worksheet in the book. I actually have my very own composition notebook that I use for this all the time. It is red, and my family knows not to go near it if they don't want their feelings hurt!
Now identify thought distortions in your automatic thoughts. Based on the above scenario, mine would be Overgeneralization, Discounting the Positives, Mind Reading, Emotional Reasoning, etc. We all have these, they are hard-wired in us. It took someone pointing mine out to me before I realized my thoughts were unhealthy at all. Here's a list of the little buggers:
Next you go back to your list of automatic thoughts and re-rate them from 1-5 according how much you believe in them still. If you don't feel better after, then you haven't correctly identified the event.
This has helped me so much. It actually changed my whole outlook on being a wife and mother. And even though it is usually in the back of my mind, I find that I need reminding. So if you, like me, find yourself being your own worst critic, then GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK. If that means eating a Kit-Kat while talking yourself down from a masochistic cliff, then go for it.