Put The Bat Down
The most important relationship you need to improve, in order to to be effective at handling stress, is the relationship with yourself.
This is something I always struggled with. As someone who is very results focused and competitive, I would push myself as hard as I could. However, when things inevitably didn’t go my way, I would beat myself up. The best advice I heard on this topic is "put the bat down"
Let's use this scenario, say you have a friend who is really mean to you every time you make a mistake. They judge you, say awful things about you and hurt your self-esteem. Even worse, when you are under pressure, they say you will fail and don’t stand a chance at coming through a challenge successfully. What a terrible person that is, right?
What would you do in a situation like this? Maybe you tell them off, point out some of their flaws, or end the friendship? All of those are fair and an effective method of managing your inner critic. Next time you catch yourself in one of those loops, try to just notice that it is your mind telling you stories and ignore that voice in your head. Even better, you can challenge it. Try to think of a similar time when you felt doubt and actually overcame the challenge. Next time you noice that self doubt, think of a time you felt the same way and challenged. Remind yourself of the fact that you were able to overcome it. Focus more on the fact that you DID overcome it and not as much as how you overcame it as situations can be different.
Another technique is to look to others for support going through a similar situation. Chances are, few of your obstacles are completely unique, so can you find some people in your life that may have gone through, or know someone who has gone through it. Now I know you might feel like a burden, but once again, imagine someone asked you for how you overcame an obstacle. You might be likely to help the person out, wouldn’t you?
Anytime you are having a challenging time with yourself, think of what you would tell a friend going through that scenario. Would you tell them they are a failure, are bound to fail, or shouldn’t even try? Or would you have some compassion and give them advice? There’s a reason advice is easy to give and so hard to follow because we are removing the personalization and creating some distance and looking at the situation more objectively than emotionally. By creating that same distance with our thoughts and thinking self will help us think a little more clearly.
We often see failure and mistakes as a pariah in our culture, but if you look at any successful person, they will be quick to own their failures and mistakes. The important thing to understand here is that our minds can be tough to us so it's very important to use objectivity and distance in order to lower our struggles about the issues.
We are all human; we make mistakes and that is ok. The key is to learn from them and keep moving forward.