Set realistic expectations and quit being an asshole to yourself
No matter what you think, how you treat yourself is actually within your control. Wild, right? You can choose to be critical... or you can be encouraging. And wouldn't you know it, the people who are understanding and encouraging are much happier.
If you've been an asshole to yourself for long time, don't worry. Change takes time, but it's totally possible and eventually automatic. Here are a couple quick ways to get started:
- Be brutally honest about whether your expectations are realistic. Would you expect the same thing from a friend who feels the same way you do now?
- Avoid using distractions to take your mind off your thoughts, and give yourself permission to think and feel whatever you're thinking and feeling. Even if it's uncomfortable.
- Tell yourself what you might say to a friend in the same position -- if you're a good friend, you wouldn't be an asshole
- Remember that inadequacy/anxiety/frustration/rejection/etc. are common, and there are millions of others going through a similar experience
Take up a (free!) hobby that encourages self-reflection
Without knowing your emotions, habits, triggers, automatic reactions, and so on, you're destined to have nasty fights with your partner and to raid the fridge whenever you feel... anything at all, really.
So how do you get to know yourself outside of therapy? If you're a Google employee, your company handbook requires you to know this, but for everyone else, mindfulness is an easy, straightforward way to begin.
Don't worry, it's not as touchy-feely as it sounds. All it means is paying more attention to the present moment, i.e., stop checking your damn phone. The easiest avenues to this skill are contemplative practices: sitting meditation, or moving meditations like yoga, tai chi, qi gong, and walking meditations are a few ways. You can also try journaling, and thanks to modern technology, you don't have to do it in a skull-and-crossbone-decorated notebook labeled "NOT FOR PARENTS." I like to open a Gmail draft email, address it to no one, and write. Sometimes I go back to it, but most of the time I don't. It's a password-protected, automatically saved way of getting to know yourself better.
When you feel terrible, take a minute to think of areas in which you don't have it so bad
When you're feeling good, being grateful is easy. But when you're feeling shitty, there's an art to it. You don't want to do it in a shaming way, where you're telling yourself, "People are starving all over the world, you have no right to complain about ANYTHING."
You want to start by empathizing with whatever you're feeling (again, mindfulness will help you identify this), then take a step back, look at the big picture, and see what you can be grateful for. No need to post it on Instagram with the #blessed hashtag, either -- keeping it to yourself works just as well.