Here’s another guest post from Kathleen Gawlik, founder Pure Purpose Coaching & Consulting and also my sister. Read her post on The Counterintuitive Path to Peace & Joy here.

I had a tough day today in the middle of a tough few weeks.

I feel like I have been working virtually nonstop. Progress seems slow, and I can’t seem to make a deadline no matter how hard I try.

So today, as I drove home from a very challenging appointment, I struggled with the thoughts going through my mind.

“Maybe I’m just not cut out for this type of work…I’m not good at this…All of the opportunities that God has been sending my way seem to be drying up…What will happen if it keeps getting worse?”

With each new thought, my world seemed darker and darker and I felt smaller and smaller.

My world seemed darker and I felt smaller.

I have a history of being pretty hard on myself. Can anyone relate?

Thankfully, God has been guiding me down a different path in the past few years, and this new path has included a lesson in self-care.

Self-care goes beyond pedicures and buying ourselves a new pair of shoes – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Sometimes it just comes down to being as caring toward ourselves as we are toward others.

How are you treating yourself?

This includes speaking to and treating ourselves with the same (or dare I say more) kindness that we would show someone we love or care about. The truth is, many of us treat strangers or people we don’t like better than we treat ourselves.

Self-care is less about earning something and more about grace which is by definition undeserved.

So on the day when your performance is less than stellar at work or at home, maybe that’s the very day we need to take the gentlest most loving care of ourselves – treat ourselves to whatever it is that we most need to nourish our body and spirit, whether it’s time with friends or time alone with the Lord.

It’s only recently and with God’s encouragement that I have changed my strategy of how I respond to myself when things don’t seem to be going well, and I’m not pleased with myself.

It seemed so counterintuitive at first. If I’m not performing and accomplishing what I should be in the way I could be, shouldn’t I buckle down, work harder, talk a little tougher to myself? Doesn’t it make sense to go down every negative path I can think of to make sure I understand how much pressure I need to feel to do better and how bad things could be if I don’t?

Ok, I realize that when I put it that way it seems like a pretty poor motivation strategy. So why do so many of us fall into it?

Here’s the good news. All you have to do to change it is be nicer to yourself.

Try being nicer to yourself.

It may take some time to begin to recognize what you’re saying and doing that may be more hurtful than helpful. But it’s amazing how much brighter the world can feel and how much more motivated and productive we become when we begin to be our own encourager and treat ourselves with love.

And, we’re not on our own. When we take the first step of just being aware of how we treat ourselves, God meets us there and carries us forward.

Ok, so back to my depressing drive home today. Once I began to realize that what I was saying to myself wasn’t very positive or encouraging, as only God can orchestrate, I turned on the Christian radio station to hear Casting Crowns singing,

But the giant’s calling out my name and he laughs at me

Reminding me of all the times I’ve tried before and failed

The giant keeps on telling me time and time again,

“Boy, you’ll never win! You’ll never win!”

But the voice of truth tells me a different story

And the voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”

And the voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”

Out of all the voices calling out to me

I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

Well, that message seemed pretty clear and only confirmed that I needed to take action and stop being hard on myself and negative about my circumstances.

So I began to consciously change my thoughts and listen to the voice of truth. “This is just one of those tough days; God is still in control, and He will never leave me or forsake me; It is unlikely that others are judging me and my performance as harshly as I am; I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and God has plans to prosper me and not to harm me – plans to give me hope and a future.”

Once I got home, I sat down, put my feet up, and did some therapeutic writing.

Thanks for listening!

Love, Kathleen

Kathleen Gawlik received her BA in English and MA in counseling from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. She completed her ICF-approved training as a Christian Coach through Christian Coach Institute and founded Pure Purpose Coaching & Consulting, LLC. She now helps women weather the storms of life and find their value, unique purpose, and peace as Christ’s Beloved. She is a Christian Coach, Counselor, Consultant and Motivational Speaker.