By Rachel Hill

Why is it so hard to treat ourselves with kindness? My therapist once said to me, “You wouldn’t say that to a friend who was struggling. So why would you say that about yourself?” And it’s true — while we like to believe we give ourselves credit for our accomplishments, we often brush them aside in lieu of “what’s next?” What goal can I reach, or what accolade can I achieve next? As I write this post, the lyrics of a Charlie Puth — yes, I said Charlie Puth — song ring in my head.

I can see you’re strugglin’
Promise you’ll find love again
Yeah, it will be alright. Why are you so hard on yourself?

So why are we so hard on ourselves? Why do I think I have a “weird” body? And why do we constantly play this comparison game with our peers? Honestly, I think it’s “a tale as old as time,” and the beast is this carrot at the end of the stick that we’re always chasing. It’s a bigger house a nicer car and a higher-paying job. So how do we stop this vicious societal cycle?

Practicing Gratitude

I think breaking this pattern has a lot to do with retraining our approach to how we view our lives. Some days it may be as simple as practicing gratitude. When we wake up in the morning, just acknowledge what we’re grateful for. And it doesn’t have to be this huge thing. Yes, maybe some days it’s expressing gratitude for something as vital as our health, but maybe other days it’s something as simple as waking up to the smell of coffee that your partner made or the sound of your kids laughing in the living room.

Getting into the routine of practicing gratitude can lead to such a perspective shift. This certainly isn’t always the case and sometimes can be difficult to do when we’re really struggling. But the more we do it, the more we begin to appreciate the life that we’ve created for ourselves. And once we do that, this idea of wanting what others have begins to fade away.

I once heard on a podcast, “Envy is the thief of joy,” and that statement rang so true to me. We’re always content with what we have until we see what someone else has. So, let’s begin to fight against that!

Setting Clear Boundaries

I think the next step is to really draw that clear line between “Instagram and reality.” Social media continues to be a highlight reel of someone’s life no matter how hard we try to break down those barriers and allow authenticity to shine through. But defining this line allows us to give ourselves more grace and to stop holding ourselves to such high expectations. It’s also important to celebrate someone’s wins rather than immediately turn inward and think we’re falling short in our own lives.

Lastly, I think it ultimately comes back to strong boundary setting. This is probably one of the most difficult things for me and so many of us to do. But when you set clear boundaries, if the people in your life really care about you, they’ll respect them. Whether it’s making a dietary change, deciding to stay in and cancel plans, or taking time to text someone back, boundaries are healthy, and I believe they allow you to show up better in your life.