Go easy on your­self in not nor­mal times

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - FAITH & FAMILY - BY BAR­TON GOLD­SMITH

Re­mem­ber, back in nor­mal times, when we could eas­ily get mad at our­selves be­cause we hadn’t ac­com­plished this or that? Well, these are not nor­mal times, and some things won’t be like they were ever again, so maybe the way we treat our­selves needs a lit­tle ad­just­ment as well.

First of all, please re­mind your­self that none of what is go­ing on in our world right now is your fault, so you don’t get to blame your­self. You may not think that you are do­ing that, but just ask your­self, how much more up­set with your­self have you been since the pan­demic started?

Many of us feel that since the world is in dis­ar­ray, we have to do ev­ery­thing that’s put in front of us per­fectly. Well, that won’t ever hap­pen, and it’s not a bad thing. It’s just life, and by be­ing a lit­tle eas­ier on your­self, you can more eas­ily tap into your in­ner strength. Much bet­ter than beat­ing your­self up over not be­ing per­fect.

Be­sides, things are not go­ing to go the way they used to. There will be more bumps in the road, and the way for­ward is un­cer­tain. We re­ally don’t know what’s go­ing to hap­pen in the next year with the virus or the elec­tion, and that just makes ev­ery­body more tense. It just makes sense to ride this out with a cush­ion of un­der­stand­ing about your life, be­cause it will sim­ply help you be more com­fort­able.

If you cut your­self some slack and stop de­mand­ing a per­fect per­for­mance, life will be­come much more re­lax­ing. This doesn’t mean let­ting ev­ery­thing fall apart. You will get things done, but without the added pres­sure of per­fec­tion­ism.

All that’s re­ally re­quired of you is that you sur­vive this time. You don’t have to be on a self-im­prove­ment course, get your real es­tate li­cense or learn a for­eign lan­guage.

You also don’t have to make some­thing hap­pen in an en­vi­ron­ment where most ev­ery­one and ev­ery­thing is re­tract­ing. Wait un­til things im­prove — and they will — and then you will have an op­por­tu­nity to re­visit the dreams you have put on hold.

If you are some­one with lots of drive and am­bi­tion — which is great! — this could be a very hard time for you. I sug­gest that you find a di­rec­tion that al­lows you to up­grade your pro­file, like get­ting an MBA or a PhD. Once this is over, those sheep­skins will come in handy once again.

Many busi­nesses are shut­ting down and con­sol­i­dat­ing, so elec­tive care or even some­thing as sim­ple as a mas­sage is harder to come by. Self-care is your best al­ter­na­tive. Self-ne­glect won’t help you feel bet­ter, so you need to find ways to stay in a place where you feel good about your­self.

Main­tain­ing a good diet and get­ting ex­er­cise are more im­por­tant than ever. Tak­ing care of your health will serve you now and later in life. If that’s not some­thing in which you’ve in­vested much en­ergy, now seems like the per­fect time to start. It’s also a good way of lov­ing your­self, and we could all do a lit­tle more of that. Dr. Bar­ton Gold­smith, a psy­chother­a­pist in West­lake Vil­lage, Cal­i­for­nia, is the au­thor of “The Happy Cou­ple: How To Make Hap­pi­ness a Habit One Lit­tle Lov­ing Thing at a Time.” Fol­low his daily in­sights on Twit­ter at Bar­tonGold­smith.

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