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Be Good to Yourself: It’s Not You, It’s Your Brain

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“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
~Buddha

If you had met me at a party a decade or so ago, I’m sure you would have walked away with the impression I was a bit of a miserable and pessimistic person. I would have happily pointed out to you how much my well-paid job sucked, how stressed I was, and how unfair life was.

And your impression of me would hardly have been elevated if you had been able to hear the conversations that were going on inside my head.

I was giving myself a hard time most of the waking day. Every sale I closed meant I was lucky, and every sale I lost proved I was an idiot. And on the rare occasions I wasn’t blaming myself I was blaming everybody else for my inability to be content and happy with my life.

Do you know there are over twice as many words in the English language for negative emotions and feelings than there are for positive ones? And that’s not exclusive to the English language either because it cuts across all languages and all cultures.

You could hear that and be forgiven for thinking that human beings are a miserable, pessimistic lot at heart, but there’s actually an excellent reason for the imbalance.

As a species we have been sharing this planet with all sorts of creatures that can eat, sting, bite, and even electrocute us for the best part of 200,000 years.

That’s only really changed in the last few hundred years with the explosive growth of mankind. The accompanying deforestation and expanding urbanization wiped out or marginalized entire species that may have previously posed a danger to our existence.

As well as having to be wary of nasty creatures with big pointy teeth we also had to ensure we did not bump into enemy tribes or annoy our tribal elders or peers and risk a lowering of our status.

The brain thinks status is crucial to its survival because tens of thousands of years ago it was status that decided whether you got to stay in the tribe, who (or if) you could marry, and generally how secure and happy you were.

These days somebody unfollowing you on Twitter can be seen by your brain as a decrease in status, as can be being turned down for a date or losing an online role playing game. As such your brain can create a dopamine crash, and that’s why those things tend not to feel good.

On the flip side, it can give you a pleasant dopamine rush by such things as gaining a promotion at work, getting your 15 minutes of fame on TV, and even something as seemingly inconsequential as winning a petty argument with a friend.

Unfortunately for society as a whole, most people feel a strong, albeit short-lived, surge of status through the acquisition of wealth, material possessions, and power.

It was that supposedly elevated status that was keeping me in a job that made me miserable, even if I didn’t know it at the time.

We are living in remarkable times. It’s sometimes difficult to see as we are so close to it, but there’s little doubt that we are going through a technological revolution no less impressive than the previous industrial and agricultural revolutions.

There is one massive drawback with all this rapid change though.

It’s your brain.

Unfortunately your brain cannot evolve at the same rate as technology without a lot of help from you utilizing tools like meditation and mindfulness.

That’s because its default behavior is to cling on to the old way of doing things even when at a rational and conscious level your actions sometimes make little or no sense.

Your brain can, and often will, throw you into the fight or flight response even though you’re only asking for a date or giving a presentation. It can urge you to carry on eating even when you are full because it doesn’t know when you will next hunt down dinner. And it can create fears around people, animals, and inanimate objects that are often completely irrational.

And I can honestly say, I have been the “victim” of all of the above courtesy of my prehistoric brain.

There is little correlation between income and happiness when somebody earns over $100,000 per year. And what correlation does exist completely evaporates when you take that figure over $250,000.

Most people understand this at a conscious level and you may even agree that it makes perfect sense.

However, that’s your neocortex, or conscious mind agreeing. Whereas the dominant and infinitely more powerful unconscious part of your brain is really thinking, “Yeah whatever buddy, I need a pair of Jimmy Choo’s, a pool for my backyard, and a new Mercedes to raise my status and I want them now!”

Why am I telling you this, you may be wondering? What has this got to do with you and of what possible use could this information have on a site like Tiny Buddha?

You my friend are a human being and as such you will frequently make irrational decisions that leave you shaking your head in disbelief. If you are like most people I know, you will then almost certainly beat yourself up for acting inappropriately.

In almost seven years of life coaching I have yet to have one client tell me that when they beat themselves up about something they consequently feel much better about life and never repeat the same mistake.

Giving yourself a hard time just trains yourself to give yourself a hard time.

The reality is you are always doing the best you can. Even the worst decision you ever made was done with a positive intent. It’s easy to look back on poor judgment and presume you were/are an idiot.

You’re not, so give yourself a break.

You’re doing the best you can with a brain that loves to make up stories and react according to stimuli that were developed many centuries earlier. You may have an iPhone running on OS 5, but you have a brain that’s barely running on Version 1.21.

Next time you get hit by one of those negative and draining emotions like jealousy, fear, anger, worry, or greed that are nearly always status related, take a couple of deep diaphragmatic breaths, smile (because smiling sends a positive message to your brain that all is good) and ask yourself with a genuine sense of curiosity:

Is this really me, or is it just my brain up to its old tricks again?


I have just written an in-depth book on values designed to help people understand what motivates them at the level of identity, called Aligning with Your Core Values. If you’d like to win one of three free copies of the eBook and audio version, leave a comment below committing to going easy on yourself today. You can enter until midnight PST on Wednesday, December 7th.

Photo by mislav-m

Avatar of Tim Brownson

About Tim Brownson

Tim Brownson is an English Life Coach, NLP Master Practitioner and owner of the A Daring Adventure blog now living in Florida. He has been helping people get unstuck since 2005.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • Ailene

    Hi Mr. Tim, i promise to be easy on myself today and for the rest of my days :). I would like to have a free copy of your ebook to help me get through that goal. Thanks a lot. More power, contentment and joy for all of us! :)

  • iluvkyoto

    I’m 100% for taking it easy on myself today. Thanks for this post!  I’d love to win the book!

  • Elena Dfusco

    I’ve been following tinybuddha for more than a year now, but this is my first time commenting on a post. I truly believe in emotional intelligence (thus the control of our own emotions)  and I think your article makes some good points on how to get control on your emotions, instincts and thus establish an emotional intelligence. Hope to win your book on Aligning with your core values. Thank you so much for this post! Taking it easy on me today for sure!

  • Benjamin C.

    Heading into work in a few minutes, definitely going to take it easy on myself.

    What I like about this idea is you can apply it to those around you. Remembering everyone else is trying their best and working with Brain 1.21.

  • RemedialBrain

    Tall order but I will endeavor to take it easy on “me” today. However, I fear that I working with a far more remedial version of the brain than 1.21. While I smile & take a few deep diaphragmatic breaths, you meditate on sending me some good vibes & a copy of your book :)

  • Mmark

    Tim Thank you for your insights and encouragement. I already feel I am being hard on myself as the deadline you want us meet to earn your book was weeks ago. Or maybe I should just see this as a way to understand that time is moving (it isn’t, it’s always now but it’s an expression) and I’m going to take it easy and be supportive to myself and all now.  Thanks for the guidance.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks for pointing that out Mark! That was my fault. I was originally planning to publish this post a couple of weeks back. It’s been fixed. =) The deadline is this Wednesday. Have a great day!

  • audrey

    …how do you actually make your mind stop thinking and worrying when you are without your support system, alone in a distant land? i tried to busy myself and forget the hurt and pain caused by a person I so dearly loved and yet during “breaks” in work, I find my heart beating fast and my minds starts to think again :( I need some good insight to focus on what is essential and truth..

  • Anonymous

    Thanks so much for this insightful post. Am going to try to practice being easy on myself, and telling myself more positive things, as I move into a brand new year!

  • Nicole Marie

    I start a new job tomorrow, and the self-deprecating internal conversation has already started (driven by the anxiousness and fear associated with a new beginning). This article was exactly what I needed to read. Thanks for the advice. I shall heed it wisely :)

  • Kadhek777

    I commit to going easy on myself today!

  • Pegga

    I am really working hard to have a more positive affect.  This was a great read.  I’d love to have your book!

  • JLMS

    I am lucky to be dating someone who has the ability to help remind me to quiet my brain when it is in hyperdrive, but I need a lot of work to do this for myself as well. It’s really difficult to turn off my brain, unless I am alone with no outside stimuli. It’s exhausting! All I can do is embrace one day at a time and breathe. And of course, smile :) Thanks

  • Huiling17

    I’m going through a bad day, with anger, jealousy, lots of whys going through my head.

    And it got this bad cos I verbalized my whys (towards the jealousy).

    As I’m typing this comment, I’m gonna try taking a few deep breaths and smile.

    Can’t stop thinking. But I can keep breathing deep and keep trying to smile.

    Thank you for the article.

  • Ski Gal WP

    I am committed to going easy on myself today. . . .

  • Skimare

    the river of trash that is in my head. if only i thought of myself with the same thoughts that others do.

  • SusanOS

    I really needed to hear this, thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/RhondaReichert Rhonda Thomson Reichert

    Thank you so much!  I just recently returned from vacation, where I did not do my daily practise of positive thinking and wow what a difference it makes to those thoughts in your head!  Daily practise, practise, practise is important :)  Thank you again.

  • Michael R.

    Good insight. Thanks for writing this and putting it up on TinyBuddha.

  • Allison

    Hi Tim, 
    Thanks for your article and providing a scientific insight that will help my highly analytical brain accept and understand the need to be ‘good to myself’ beyond being just a soft/feel-good admonition.  I would appreciate receiving a copy of your book!

  • http://twitter.com/TimBrownson Tim Brownson

    Try and change those ‘whys?’ to ‘hows’ and ‘whats’. IOW, not why did I do that, but how can I do that different next time or what would help me feel better etc. Why is accusatory and problem focussed whereas how and what are solution focussed. 

  • http://twitter.com/TimBrownson Tim Brownson

    Best of luck with that, any worry not, anxiety is normal in such circumstances! 

  • http://twitter.com/TimBrownson Tim Brownson

    You do it through one conscious thought at a time Audrey. It takes patience, kindness (to yourself) and tenacity, but you run your brain not vice versa even though it sometimes feels like that.

  • http://twitter.com/TimBrownson Tim Brownson

    Mark, I’m detecting a lack of commitment. Couldn’t you have merely built a time machine and gone back and won the book? 

  • CrystaL

    i am going to commit to being easy on myself, and i am also going to teach my big sister how to be her own friend and love herself and life.  she has broken leg and shes losing focus.    would love love a copy of the book or e-book   for us to share.  
    thanks.  

  • Tamara Holland

    I will focus on going easy on me today.  It’s so hard to remember to do, I need reminding sometimes.

  • Ljheeley

    Interesting! I’ve been pondering why, when I practice meditation & affirmations I still have lots of bad dreams. This goes some way to explaining it! Yep, I commit. Cheers.

  • DAStorey

    It’s like the phrase, ‘the difference between ‘try’ and ‘triumph’ is that little extra ‘umph’.

  • http://twitter.com/PeeledOnion Sahar A. Schwaninger

    Thanks Tim for great reminder! “Giving yourself a hard time just trains yourself to give yourself a hard time.”It takes a lot of self study to see the plot of our mind against our happiness. Great encouragement to continue meditation practice and smile!

  • Kelly

    I was just talking to my best friend about how I often find myself extremely critical of who I am, how I play out my actions & what others may think of me. This article gave me a much needed few minutes to stop, think, breathe & smile. It reminds to me channel my self-conscious worries and fears into more positive thoughts & emotions. Many thanks!

  • Mayra Lopez

    I am always giving myself a hard time. Today I am going to give myself a hug and love myself the way God does. I am going to live my life without regrets!

  • Carey Anderson50

    This article really made me feel better about my existence. I don’t know why it takes an outside viewpoint to wake up. However, I will definitely try smiling in those times I hear negative, racing, and intrusive thoughts. Because When I read the part stating everything we attempt in truly done with good intentions no matter the outcome, I knew it to be true. Thank you. Had a hard weekend and this article hit home.

  • Chrisroberts21

    I want that book and because of that I am going to go easier on myself from today :)

    Chris

  • Michelle

    Thanks for the reminder!

  • Sam

    How serendipitous that this should appear today.  I have been feeling very low for some time now, and a part of it is a touch of social anxiety I have – and both of these act as a positive feedback loop.  Today I realised that I am extremely negative – not just with myself but even with other people – ideas they put forward, comments they make etc.   Actually most of the time I can’t even talk to people because I dont feel like I have anything valuable to say.  It seems I have lost my ‘no fear’ and ‘you can do anythin’ attitude.  I’m much less supportive (of myself and others) and constantly feel in the way and ignored.Sure Im stressed – and I worry a lot about my studies (yep Im a student – we are supposed to be in the pub every night right? Not worrying over if we will get a good enough degree to help them make a difference in the world - I study conservation).  Still, I need to get a grip of my negative brain….deep breaths…smile….

  • Awr913

    Thanks for a great start to the week!

  • lboogie7729

    Definitely enjoyed and needed this post. I would love to get the book and read more! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/chartstein1 Chris Pizzo Hartstein

    I’d like to read what you’ve written.  I began retraining my brain five years ago.  I don’t miss the negative me at all.  Growth is more fun!

  • Colleen

    Wow! What a thought provoking post. And here I thought it was just me! Nice to know that my brain is living with prehistoric perceptions.

    “I would have happily pointed out to you how much my well-paid job sucked, how stressed I was, and how unfair life was.” Can you say ME?!

    I look forward to reading your book (purchased or won).

  • Doreenmichelle

    I love the idea that the only thing you learn from beating yourself up is how to beat yourself up. I’d love to read more about how to become a more positive thinker.

  • Cath Croucher

    This piece is so easy to connect with and not at all preachy.  THANK YOU! This post is the reminder I needed to BE in the moment and accept myself the way I am, to smile and not worry.  To extend love to those around me.

  • suze

    I’m interested in what you said.. and would like to read more.

  • Irtravis At

    I’d be nicer to myself if I wasn’t such a f*cktard. Haha.

  • KMSB

    I have made a silly social mistake at work that has caused a little bit of drama. I didn’t take responsibility for poor work performance that was brought to light in a painful way. I should have kept my mouth shut and ”turned the other check” followed by a correction in performance.  This is so unlike me to be “snippy” and I’m feeling shame, embarrassment, fear. The normal array of negative thoughts are muddling my brainwaves and have consumed me for days.
     At this moment I give up the negative and replace it with positive thoughts. Apologies can be made, hearts healed, forgiveness extended and “this too shall pass”. Soon it will be a non-issue and all will be restored to normal. I am a good person and so is the person I had the issue with. My status is unimportant.

  • Allison

    Great post! As I was reading it, I was reminded of one of my favorite songs to listen to when I’m stuck in the beating-myself-up loop: Ryan Adams’ “Go Easy.” The chorus says:
    “If only to say this to myself
    I will always love you
    I will always love you
    So go easy on yourself”It’s a simple idea but one that took me many years of misery to finally grasp and appreciate. Thank you for the reminder to go easy on myself today and every day!  

  • KMSB

    I have made a silly social mistake at work that has caused a little bit of drama. I didn’t take responsibility for poor work performance that was brought to light in a painful way. I should have kept my mouth shut and ”turned the other check” followed by a correction in performance.  This is so unlike me to be “snippy” and I’m feeling shame, embarrassment, fear. The normal array of negative thoughts are muddling my brainwaves and have consumed me for days.
     At this moment I give up the negative and replace it with positive thoughts. Apologies can be made, hearts healed, forgiveness extended and “this too shall pass”. Soon it will be a non-issue and all will be restored to normal. I am a good person and so is the person I had the issue with. My status is unimportant.

  • Christiane A Marchand

    I love this! <3

  • http://twitter.com/TimBrownson Tim Brownson

    Carey, sometimes it just does. I’m a Life Coach, but I still need the occasional reminder from my wife ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/TimBrownson Tim Brownson

    I like those lyrics!

  • http://twitter.com/TimBrownson Tim Brownson

    Nicely done KMSB

  • Roboffiji

    I am always hard on myself, negative and see all the problems. As I approach a new phase in my life I commit to going easy on myself. I’ve taken a few deep breaths and smiled and already feel I can face the challenge positively. Thanks for the post – awesome.

  • http://twitter.com/TimBrownson Tim Brownson

    Yep, it’s not easy Chris, but well worth the effort!

  • Deanna

    Today is a new day, with new challenges. And while fear wants to stifle me, I will
    instead choose to be grateful for new
    lessons to learn and new opportunities for growth. Today I will remind my brain that I’m doing the best I can. :)

  • Michael

    Definitely liked your view, would love to read more of what you have to say.

  • Cstoehr12

    This is great…thank you!

  • lilewok

    Great article.  I especially agree with: ” The reality is you are always doing the best you can. Even the worst decision you ever made was done with a positive intent. It’s easy to look back on poor judgment and presume you were/are an idiot.  ”
    I certainly look back on decisions I made, wondered what I was thinking, and then realized, well, I didn’t expect this outcome.   But in the end, hindsight is 20/20….what you believed then is different than what experience teaches you.
    Great article! 

  • Basshood2000

    I embrace today that every action I take is motivated by the want to love and be loved and my core commitment to this is the most challenging aspect of loving myself because I am used not having it easy. I want to fight and flight and have to be the bigger person for myself. I love the thought that giving myself a hard time trains me to do that, man I must be a pro! So grateful for this post! It comes at a time when nothing else seems to be working for me, my core values need some love!!

  • Nestorbalce

    Awesome. Had to share it.

  • http://twitter.com/nirosha Nirosha

    Really enjoyed your article.  I find it interesting when science finally provides “evidence” for things we intuitively know.  Recent findings in neuroscience are especially relevant to meditaiton and yoga.  Look forward to reading your book – sounds fascinating!

  • Dannette

    I was actually beating myself up about taking the time to read this when I am already behind on my planned projects for the week. My brain generously allowed me to focus on this, but not the project plan I am trying to write out. Thank you for the clarity and perspective. I truly am doing the best I can, and that is all I should ever ask of myself. 

  • Azi

    Remembering that ‘good enough is really good enough’. :) That can be tough for a perfectionist, but really allows room for self balance.

  • Mary Williams

    Committing to going easy on myself today – really I am or at least try to!

  • http://twitter.com/Poochiepants David Boyer

    Thank you for that. I spent about two hours beating myself up last night as I was trying to get to sleep and then when I finally got to sleep I tossed and turned all night. So this post came at just the right time. I’m going to be easier with myself today and next time I’m in bed worrying in the dark I’ll do my best to remember your words and I’m sure I’ll do better.

  • Dayna

    This is the part which struck closest to home for me: giving yourself a hard time just trains you to give yourself a hard time. Needed this one. That fine line between taking responsibility and taking too much responsibility is a tricky balance to find.

  • Cricket

    Smiling through tears, exhaling the third breath… Again. Thank you for this teaching. Today I will be compassionate and gentle with myself. Aho!

  • Terri Glassman

    thanks to your postings I’m becoming a new person, I have a long way to go, but I’ll get there. I’ve lost so many relationships along with some family members because of my controlling issues, but I’m feeling less & less like a bad person. I’m a very caring & loving person that tends to care to much about people, & that is where my problems start.Letting go from a-zen was my daily read & this has helped me sooo much. Thank you, you are a blessing.

  • Steph Turner

    Dear me, I promise to go easy on you today, xo

  • http://www.facebook.com/marty.whittle1 Marty Whittle

    Love that part about “trainining yourself to give yourself a hard time ” ! Positive self talk combined with proper breathing help me get re-grounded and make sound loving choices.
    Thank you for sharing this.

  • Patty

    This is a theme that keeps coming up for me all over the place…in seemingly “random” things I’ve read and heard (although I truly believe there’s nothing random about these kinds of messages!)..Congratulations on your book…Timely message.  May we see past the illusion our egos create and manifest in loving abundance.
    love’n'light,
    Patty

  • http://twitter.com/KellySeltzer Kelly Seltzer

    I am trying hard to live what I  learn here at tiny buddha <3

  • Yinyangoz

    This is the third blog I have read in the past three days that has used the same Buddha quote. Are there coincidences or is the universe providing a direct message for me? Thank you for your blog which has provided me with tools and guidelines to be a little kinder to myself today.

  • Nittisue

    Thank you for this post…so timely and so relevant.  I have gone through a very difficult few years, culminating this year with my husband’s death and loss of my job.  The half-full part of me sees opportunities left and right, but the half-empty part of me gets increasingly discouraged by no employer wanting to hire me (or even speak to me).  It is easy to allow circumstances to dictate my sense of self-worth, and your reminder that we seek status to ensure survival is helpful to pull be out of the gloom.  I have to remember to seek out activities each day that fed my sense of worth and value, and that do not rely on affirmation form others for that.  Thank you!

  • Joanie D

    Although I am not plagued by negative thoughts when it comes to competitive sport or business, my wins are mine & I hope my losses are temporary,  I am constantly beating myself up over interpersonal relationships.  ”Could I have said something different to elicit the reaction I wanted?”  ”Will he /she like me better if I…”  ”Am I self sabotaging by doing such & such?” “Am I selfish for putting my happiness above another’s?”  
    Today I will accept that I am doing the best for my best self and in doing so I am better positioned to be helpful and love others.

  • Skkozicki

    Thank you for this article – it really resonated! It’s helpful to know how our evolutionary past continues to affect us today. I promise to go easy on myself – not just today but every day!

  • kazooka13

    Recently I’ve felt illegitimate. Like there is always someone better at what I’m doing, even if I’m the one that’s in charge of the job. I’ve felt discouraged and angry at myself for not trying hard enough. But when I think about it, I’ve never not tried hard. I really am trying my best. 
    After reading this article, I can’t wait for the next opportunity to do something, see the results, and say to myself: I am trying with all my might and with my best intentions. Whether it works out or not, I’ll take comfort in this. Thank you so much for the article.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1533571307 Laura Craddock

    I would love a copy of this book, please.  Thanks for all your cool give-away options!  Happy Holidays :)

  • Harmonize20

    after two close friends told me in two seperate meetings: that i have become an obsessive worrier and constantly berate myself, i decided to, stand in front of the mirror and practice saying i love you to myself. this will be sooooo difficult in soooo many ways. I will do it!!

  • http://twitter.com/TimBrownson Tim Brownson

    But so worth it in the long run!

  • http://twitter.com/TimBrownson Tim Brownson

    Really sorry to hear about that and I’m glad I helped a smidgeon.

  • Jane

    I have gone through a similar work related situation recently, and I understand the humiliation and pain that can be felt from feeling that you are inadequate in some way. Thank you for your enlightening response :) I too am taking this approach. Returning to the present moment is also a great help. Breathing, and aligning yourself with the present. In the present, there is no pain from the past, or the future, there is only the present task to deal with. If we focus on the present, we can step towards correcting our errors, and the negativity will soon pass.

  • Bingles2

    Yes I can see where this train of thought comes from…had a similar ‘brain’ trick the other day when I just couldn’t get out of the ‘zone’ I then realised that my brain was not as clever as my body in this instance. I threw myself into a workout and obviously the serotonin rush was just what I needed. Thanks for sharing your intersting article. Said in ways that I cannot always voice.

  • Michelle

    Treating yourself as you’d want to treat your friends, family, and other fellow beings, is often challenging. Building a habit of drawing on compassion and respect in the face of my mistakes and mishaps helps me be kinder to everyone, starting with myself!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=537163910 Laura Grace Brown

    This is great! I am not my body. I am not my mind. “Who are you?” my friend Wright asked me during our yoga training, over and over again.  I am that that isn’t.  I am only a soul, a spiritual being in this physical body in this purely physical and spiritual realm just working a few things out.  I wish my brain were not the prehistoric hunk that it is, then I could avoid those ugly green with envy moments, or comparisons to others that always leave me feeling less than.  Luckily there is also this amazing power in this spiritual life that can guide me if only I could quiet that brain just a bit longer.  As everything else in this world, things change and I am enjoying the ride, whether it’s a rocky road or a smooth sail!  Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ginarafkind Gina Rafkind

    Today I am committing to going easy on myself by not doing the ‘should’ game….”you should have done more today”…..I actually did exactly what I needed to today…….and tomorrow I will do the same…..and celebrate all my accomplishments. I commit to being aware of anytime I tell myself I should have done more :).

  • http://twitter.com/TimBrownson Tim Brownson

    Nice Laura and thank you for commenting!

  • http://twitter.com/TimBrownson Tim Brownson

    Agreed Gina, shoulds suck as so do musts, have to’s, got to’s and need to’s. In NLP they are called modal operators of necessity and all they do is restrict choice and make us feel bad. Much better to use like, want, love to etc

  • Harsboy26

    I will commit to go easier on myself. Thanks for the article.

  • Gale

    I believe a time will come when we observe our thoughts and see them as just thoughts. It wasn’t that long ago when people thought the world was flat…but now we know different.

  • Patrick

    Thanks Tim for this post.  Just the other day I was noticing how critical I am and have always been.  A friend who is a yoga teacher wisely taught me to lose the need to criticize my critical nature and instead meet it with softness and laughter.  So the idea of smiling as I see it will help as well.  I am committing to take it easy on myself and learning to give myself compassion and ultimately, love.  Peace.

  • Montana7927

    Loved this post. Where I have a hard time is taking on too much responsibility for others behavior such as intentional misrepresentation. I beat myself up for not being able to see beforehand that anyone would intentionally misrepresent who they are. I have a very childlike innocense and naitivity about me that most would say is endearing. Alas, at times it does get me into trouble and drama in my life as not everyone respects or values those qualities. I have been told that I need to take on an air of distrust and not be so naive about people. You know what I really think about that advice? I do not want to be someone I am not and those qualities are dear to me, they help me to continue to believe in the human spirit. No, I don’t want to give them up but yes, I do want to give up beating myself up for being true to my nature and trusting despite at times that being taken advantage of. That’s their karma, mine is having a loving, trusting, childlike nature that I absolutely love. Learning to continue to trust myself despite how anyone else chooses to behave is part of learning to relinquish an also childlike characteristic of believing I am responsible for how someone else chooses to behave.

  • David

    Hi Tim & Lori,
    A great read as usual, Tim. I’m struggling to come up with the right words however what you say makes great sense. It’s hard to shake that ‘prehistoric’ brain at times. Accept that you will make mistakes however always have the best intent when making your decisions. When I cock up, I smile…..eases the hurt.
    Thank you
    be good to yourself
    David

  • erinH

    getting laid off is triggering ALL sorts of status-who-the-hell-am-I issues, coupled with everyone’s opinion of what I should do next. But I know deep inside that this lay off is just necessary transition for the next step in my life! 

  • http://www.jerrystocking.com/blog Jerry Stocking

    I thought that “don’t beat yourself up” thought was right on….although anyone with a pension to beat themselves up will jump at the opportunity to beat themselves up when they catch themselves beating themselves up. I have found observing yourself in the midst of irrational behaviors, will over time, reveal that the behavior has roots in other areas of your life. When you observe it enough, you can see the connections so plainly that you will think “duh, how did I miss that?”

    When that happens it is like the tumblers that kept you locked into that behavior fall into place and you drop the unproductive behavior and you get a dose of self awareness at the same time.

    My flight, fight or eat is stirring up again…

  • Laurenneko

    Today out of the blue was a particularly emotionally draining day, I spent most of it spontaneously bursting into to tears. Suddenly i felt an urge of homesickness, and it was making me feel rather useless, that not only that I couldn’t change where I am currently, but also that I had no desire to fight back the years either.

    Today I gave myself the break of it being ok to cry. I aim to wake up tomorrow, a new today, and know its ok to go through an emotional roller coarser, and that it doesn’t render me useless. Just a bit soft on the insides

  • http://twitter.com/TimBrownson Tim Brownson

    I agree with you,  do NOT Give up on that the world doesn’t need any more distrust Montana.

  • Randy

    Excellent contribution.  Because we know and fear the perceptions that others may have of us that could “reduce” our status, we must take care not to project those same judgements in an attempt to elevate our status relative to others.  There is no relative status among unique beings.

  • Sherry

    Every day I deal with anxiety and sometimes even panic attacks. I commit to continuing to be good to myself, continuing to breathe and meditate through them, and to continuing to keep going.

  • Kimberleyfloyd

    I have recently begun working after being at home with my children for 5 years. I have been very hard on myself about my abilities since I started. I’ve been feeling like a fish out of water. Today, was a good day. My fellow staff members are being really patient and helping me when I do not understand. I decided that it may or may not be the place for me but I am trying to give it a shot by living in the moment and working as best I can. This article has helped me because I know I am not alone. Thanks.

  • Pamela Jorrick

    This is very timely for me. When life stresses come at high speeds, my patience reservoirs drain, and I end up being crabby and annoyed, which I in turn feel awful about, especially when my family is involved. Even when you know it’s not productive it’s hard NOT to do the negative self talk thing. It’s an ongoing process to learn to cut ourselves slack, that’s for sure, but I’m committed to trying my best (and not beating myself up for it if I do slip up)

  • Wanrongc

    As the single child in the family, brought up by a near-perfectionist mum, I am harder on myself than anyone else because there are no other means of comparison. This just makes me feel that I am never enough. But when my dad got his visa to heaven, I realised that life is not about achieving what others think I should achieve but what I want to achieve. I have been living up to others’ standards but not what I enjoy. So nowadays, when I feel the stress of being inferior to others, I ask myself it I get the visa to heaven tomorrow, will I hate the current me? This somehow grounds me to live life the way I enjoy more than just blindly following the crowd.

  • Stanfordb

    This is exactly what i needed today. I went through the day reminding myself to go easy and was rewarded with valuable insight on a lot that happened. Thank You.

  • Weber-family

    Thank you!! Just what I needed to read at this moment! Kersten

  • Anonymous

    Hi Tim, I really enjoyd this reading, how did you get to this insight??  Sometimes I tend to be really hard on myself… Today I read your post and was really useful. Right now I´m trying not to beat myself up by hinking and desiring past events and people that are not longer in my life, and I´m saying to myself that I did what I did at that moment because it seemed to be the right thing to do… I´m also taking long deep breaths to be at this present moment :) thank you for sharing! I would love to read your e book!
    Big hug from Colombia!

  • http://treatmenttalk.org Cathy Taughinbaugh

    Hi Tim,

    Wonderful post. Technology can feel overwhelming to our brains. I appreciate your comment to meditate and be mindful. Our brains need that welcome relief from all the input. Self care will continue to be so important as the outside world moves further along. Great reminder that we can control how we feel and react to situations.

  • Sarah

    This reminds me of what a good friend told me once:
    Become your own best friend. If you know how to nurture others, you surely know how to nurture yourself. You wouldn’t put your best friend down, criticize her for making mistakes, or harm her in any way, so don’t do any of those things to you!

    It helps me out when I’m being hard on myself.  :)

  • Taduest

    Tracey DuEst taduest@gmail.com I got this email from a friend and I believe in divine intervention. The universe works in mysterious ways and this passage could not be any more perfect.

    I would be honored to have a free copt of your book or audio book. I am a Type 1 on the enneagram and this passage describes me very well.

  • Sam

    Dopamine crash. Wow. Now I have a name for it. I get those, and the tough part is letting go of the feelings it causes. I don’t mind feeling agitated for a little while, but to stew for days over a mistake or faux pas or misunderstanding is debilitating. I’m getting ready to taper off my anti-depressants, so your post was really well-timed. Without pharmaceutical help, I will need to develop a stronger sense of mindfulness so that I don’t get mired in a pit of despair when something goes wrong. Thanks! I’ll keep reading your stuff…

  • Jntran124

    When I am able to commit myself to days of non-negative statements, I feel blessed. I feel blessed because I know that my tendency is to self-judge and criticize. With that said, I am so happy to have found tiny buddha and to have readings like this to help guide me toward a life of greater inner peace and meaning. I am already noticing changes within myself and external changes in how I interact with the world that have shown me that these readings have helped me tremendously get through my day to day and helped me to become a better person one post at a time! :) So thank you! 

  • Gwaschke77

    “The reality is you are always doing the best you can. Even the worst decision you ever made was done with a positive intent. It’s easy to look back on poor judgment and presume you were/are an idiot.” all around awesome article… Just today I had a whole conversation about how intent is everything… Thank you for reminding me that there is a certain level of paleolithic mindset we all have to overcome to find that inner balance.

  • http://blog.sarahtunstallphotography.com Sarah

    Thank you so much for this! Your insight has helped me out so much over the last few months since I’ve found Tiny Buddha. Today- i’ll go easy on myself. :)

  • Silvie Skalilova

    Thanks to my joga practice and also reading articles like yours, I feel I became more mindful & positive person…yes there are ups and downs every now and then, but  I believe this is actually THE CORE for all of us in our attempts to find and maintain the balance:)

  • Cass

    I’ve been blaming others for ultimately giving my own power over to them in relation to my career, life and happiness. As much as I’m trying not to blame others for my own actions I’m now also trying not to beat myself up over my wrong choices. It’s a tough battle and an ongoing process trying to change your mindset. Gradually getting there and it is one day at a time. Thank you for the clarity Tiny Buddha, your blogs always seem to relate with how I’m feeling or what is happening in my life at any given moment. You are a blessing!

  • Madeline2525

    Sometimes I feel like my brain must be one of those 8088 dinosaurs then.  You know with the big floppy disks. 

    All of this makes sooooo much sense.  Of course, I’m still responsible for that 8088 processor, but it may be time for an upgrade. 

  • Kategold192

    I went easy on myself by choosing not to feed my obssessive thinking about my ex narcissist partner who has moved straight on to the next one. I chose to light a fire, cook myself nice food and write positive stuff in my journal.

  • http://twitter.com/TimBrownson Tim Brownson

    And best of all Madeline, the upgrade is free ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/TimBrownson Tim Brownson

    And that’s it Sam, sometimes it’s ok to feel down for a short while, it’s part of life,. But it’s knowing when to move on. Best of luck getting off your meds and definitely do it in conjunction with meditation!

  • http://twitter.com/TimBrownson Tim Brownson

    Very wise words Sarah I agree 100% with your friend.

  • http://twitter.com/TimBrownson Tim Brownson

    Tell me about it, I’m 49 and sometimes I want to scream “Can you please just stop inventing new stuff whilst I catch up please!” ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/TimBrownson Tim Brownson

    “I realised that life is not about achieving what others think I should achieve”

    I’d go a step further and say it’s NEVER about achieving what others think you should achieve.

  • http://twitter.com/TimBrownson Tim Brownson

    Good for you Tatiana and big hugs back at ya!

  • Tabz_2051

    i’m comitting :)

  • Jess G

    How coincidental that in a moment of self-deprecating I receive a txt from a good friend: “In almost seven years of life coaching I have yet to have one client tell me that when they beat themselves up about something they consequently feel much better about life and never repeat the same mistake.” a sigh of relief and I moved forward with my day. This morning, I took some time to reflect over an indulgent cappuccino and read through this post, which I had dog-eared in my inbox. To think that I have support out there that is reading through and paraphrasing my personal resources, directing me toward the ideas that resound true for me — it is hard to deny that I am a part of this universe. Thank you for your thoughts.

  • Jeng42088

    I have been having a very hard time lately; beating myself up over things completely out of my control and it all added up with the negative external events that seem to also cloud the mind like the plague. I’ve been hospitalized twice now for major depression and though not proud of the stays, they taught me to keep going. This article was an emense help in feeling like these never ending struggles are more in my control than I thought, and I look forward to applying the practice to every day life. Thank you! :)

  • Teresajane21

    I love the reminder to be easy on yourself& im excited to share this article with friends who will value the science behind why we do it, thanks!!!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Sarah,

    I’m not sure if you noticed, but there are actually lots of different writers on the site. In addition to my “tiny wisdom” posts, I publish one from a different writer every day! I’m so glad you’ve found the site helpful. =) I also loved Tim’s post. I’ve been a huge fan of writing for a while now.

    Have a great day =)
    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the site.  And thank you Tim for this insightful post!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m so glad the site has been helpful to you! I love knowing the site makes a positive difference, so thank you for taking the time to share how you’ve noticed improvements in your life. =)

  • Josh

     I would really like to receive a copy of this book. I have been struggling with negative core beliefs for a couple of years now, and in the past it has made my life as a student very difficult. Of course, I’ve only just realized what has really been going on, so now I’m endeavoring to turn my thought process inside out and lay it back down in a way that is constructive, instead of the extremely harmful way in which it has been working, up till now.

    Thank you for the great article, and for reminding us again that we are not our fears.

    We make our fears; our fears do not make us.

  • Tim

    Thanks for the wisdom.  Always easy to get caught up in the negative emotions; but today I am taking your advice and will have a positive experience with myself — and others, and let smiles keep the brain at bay :-)

  • Anonymous

    wow… a friend sent this to me. I can honestly say I felt like you were talking about me. I have spent the last two years trying to get my crap together after divorcing my husband. The story is lengthy and I’m sure typical of anyone who goes through a life altering situation. The “story” is not as important as my reaction to everything that happened. I lost myself. Maybe I lost myself even before the divorce, I’m sure. I chose a Buddhist path to find salvation and have been on that road ever since. If you know anything of Buddhist practice, its that you have to master your mind and not have it master you. Its about leaning into the fear and turmoil of life and learning the fears aren’t real, its about how your mind see’s it, perception. Sounds easy… quite the opposite. I have spent so much time kicking the shit out of myself for not being able to turn it around sooner. The mind is so powerful. To harness that power would be nirvana. I liked what you said about…. “The reality is you are always doing the best you can. Even the worst decision you ever made was done with a positive intent. It’s easy to look back on poor judgment and presume you were/are an idiot. You’re not, so give yourself a break.”….  

    No one is harder on me, than me. I am so tolerant and loving and forgiving to anyone on the planet except me. Today, I promise I won’t do that to myself. The quote you put at the top was correct…  “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”  Today, I will give that to me.

    I often forget myself… thank you for reminding me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lynn-Lei/1565023365 Lynn Lei

    I would love to win one the 3 free copies of your book!  I need to find my path and this would certainly help.  It’s ironic that sometimes we realize we aren’t going in the right direction but don’t see any other trails to take.  Maybe this means we just need to make our own :-)

  • Cloud

    Every morning I awaken and think “just for today, I will not worry. Just for today, I will be good to myself. Just for today, I will accept people as they are. Just for today, I will be at peace.” May get me through the morning somedays. Or up until the first crisis.

  • Maggie McGuire

    I need to do this at the top of the hour every hour for the next little while. Thanks!

  • Elizabeth

    I am currently on the road to recovery concerning negative self talk, low self esteem, and depression. I’m slowly learning that we create our own happiness, happiness does not find us. We could have, what society deems, the worst life – we may not be successful, smart, creative, wealthy, and not have status symbols to show off every day. But, since we do create our own happiness, that “poor” life might just be the richest, most beautiful life imaginable if we only put our minds to the test and believe it is. Today, I vow to go easy on myself… I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked, but I did the best I could. And that’s always enough.

  • Heather

    I have been beating myself up for as long as I can remember. What you described is me exactly. Everything good thing that happens or success that I have, I consider to be luck, but every failure I believe is my fault. It is an amazing coincidence I read this now, as only last week my therapist gave me the task of trying to break this pattern. I know it will be a long hard road though. Evolution is a slow process and hard to force it, but I hope I can. Because my life isn’t so bad… And I deserve to enjoy it. We all do!

  • Keanna

    Loved this post, even though it made me cry. I’m a chronic self-beater-upper. And didnt know it until about a week ago when I picked up a book on self-compassion by Dr. Kristin Neff. So far this journey tough, as it can be difficult to break old habits. But I’m looking forward to progress.

  • Shambalyn

    Perfect timing for me to read this posting.  I just finished with 15 minutes of ‘what if’ negativity and self-sabotaging/fearful thoughts rolling around my head and then stumbled upon this posting.  Yea!  I promise to take these words to heart today!  I’m bookmarking this so I can refer to it probably on a daily basis for awhile.  Thank you…

  • Craig

    Very good article.  I would like to read the rest.

  • Kristen

    I commit to be easy going on myself today! Thank you. I really enjoyed this article. I am constantly beating myself for something… whether its missing a workout, not properly managing my time or even just being shy around new people. Loving yourself is where its at!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1084666806 Blanca Adriana Le Duc

    Thanks for the insight. I ahve been stressed out for a month now, and really have not stopped blaming myself either for allowing the stress to take over or for alowing the stressors into my daily life.
    I will stop putting blame on the nearest someone (me) or the farthest someone (else) now, after all the whole stress thing is my brain reaxting to its own assumptions.

  • Rach

    This is exactly what struck home with me too! When I make a mistake, sometimes I brush it off and then I end up giving myself a hard time “so that I make sure I really learn from it.” But really, all it does is make me doubt and question myself, not learn more from my actions. Thank you!

  • http://www.36broadway.com Amanda @ 36broadway

    Fascinating! I’ve always wondered WHY people are inherently driven by egotistic and materialistic motives and now it makes complete sense. It’s how we lived for thousands of  years!
    I completely agree that the secret to overcoming our instinctual shortcomings is meditation and mindfulness.  Since I have become more mindful in my life and focused on the present moment, I have certainly found that the appeal of material possessions and living beyond my means has dropped and is almost disgusting!
    Thank you, Tim!

  • Nickmeeke

    Im becoming more aware of my ego, the more I read. The more I read the more detathed from it I become, the more detached from it: the more at peace I am with who I am!

  • Chickenfingers46

    I will go easy on myself today

  • http://icreate.qtmcgrue.com/ QTMcGrue

    So true…what you practice persists:-)  Sometimes, we have to consciously decide to practice some healthier…

  • Rising1966

    Too late to try to win the book…but nonetheless, these words are wonderful to read.

  • Tinarose29

    I truly enjoyed reading this article and more so looking at the picture attached. It reminded me of the days I used to sit like that in bed and not want to get out beacause I felt like a fool/idiot, it was the most horrible time of my life, these days I take life as it comes and embrace the shortcomings aswell as the great times. Thanks for the reminder that life goes on and it does get better :)))))

  • http://www.absoluteplacementtoday.com Samar Wilson

    Its never winning a war that pleases the human soul but the small things in life that puts a smile and washes away tears.

  • Mango

    Wow i can totally relate to what you just said. I also thought that as a student all is well and every night is having fun, but no, quite the opposite actually. I try to stay in the present and focus on my breathing when i get stressed and panicky too..and yes, try my best to remember to smile.

  • Dwnricci

    When my demons come out and play I tell them that I can handle whatever they throw my way – after all, I created them! Thanks for letting me know that we are wired to self preserve, and that we really are much more powerful if we ignore that part of our prehistoric brain. I will choose to love myself and nurture positive thoughts and feelings.

  • http://www.jewelocean.com/ draniqa

    100% agree with this. if one does not love himself ,he cant love anyone in this world.

  • Christina

    As an NLP Master Practitioner myself, I work hard on myself to be positive when negativity comes my way. It is all too easy to be drawn into the negativity of others surrounding you. We all have a magnificence about us and it is this we must nurture and celebrate. If you look hard enough within yourself you will find that magnificent person and if someone or a situation leads you to believe otherwise, look for that magnificence in you and hold it for a while. Let the good of you flow through you and this will help dispel any negative thoughts which have crept in from external sources.
    A great Piece Tim – Thank you! 

  • sandra vandyke

    trying hard to be better to myself so that I can give more to others. I found your words helpful to that process. thanks

  • sandra vandyke

    wow almost freaky…look down at comments and one from another stated problems at work that were just like mine. we all truelly suffer the same. I saw my mailman from my porch and seeing him always makes me smile…something about him he always walks slow with a calmness that gleams from his body. I told him that his presence in may daily life makes me happy , I asked him what his secret was. he paused and said he lives one day at a time.