Most of us are so tough on ourselves, we are our own harshest critics, our own worst enemies. We all know we should be more self-compassionate, but what does that look like in reality and how can you be easier on yourself? For me, it starts by giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt from time to time and to acknowledge our humanness.
No one is perfect, despite your best intentions, you will make mistakes. Sometimes we can be in the habit of seeking perfection in everything we do, but that is never practical nor realistic. As a reforming perfectionist myself, I had to unpick the limiting belief that I must be unfailingly competent in everything I do.
I’ve come to learn that perfectionism is really the haute couture of lack of worthiness. A mistake is a behavioural error, it has nothing to do with who you are as a person, though sadly we can allow unintentional missteps to erode our self-worth.
As we journey through life, things will go ‘wrong’ despite everyone’s best efforts. Of course, the word ‘wrong’ is open to interpretation. What may appear to be a big setback in the short-term, could over time be revealed as a blessing in disguise.
Most of us like to feel in control and we are not pleased when people or situations are not the way we would like them. Many of us run the program that goes something like – I want you to be different so I can feel better, or I want external circumstances to be different so I can feel better. We are then attempting to control the uncontrollable which is route one to increased stress.
By acknowledging that we cannot control the world and everything in it, we can find greater peace through acceptance. Never confuse acceptance with giving up. Acceptance is making peace with what is and from this calmer place, we are more resourced for dealing with the situation.
I’ve always said that I’d prefer to be someone’s glass of champagne than everyone’s cup of tea. Of course, we all want to be liked and respected, but sometimes we have to acknowledge that other people’s opinion of you has nothing to do with you because it is their opinion. Trying to be all things to all people all the time is futile.
Friends, relatives, customers have off days and sometimes they’re going to take it out on you because you are in front of them. It’s all too easy to respond to aggression with aggression or volley back sarcasm when it is directed your way. But responding to anger with anger only creates more anger.
Years ago I came across a short parable that I think was attributed to Buddha. An angry and hostile person approached Buddha. Buddha asked them – if you had a gift for me and I refused to take it, who would still have it? I remember this insight when I find myself dealing with someone who wishes to transfer an emotion to me that I simply don’t wish to take.
When you feel unfairly treated, take a few deep breaths and notice what you wish were different. Maybe it’s time to assess what you will tolerate or not tolerate. In these situations, you have to look at how you are behaving, not because you are to blame, but because you are the only one whose behaviour you can manage.
We know that we feel good and are the best of ourselves when we view the world through a positive lens. But we will have times that challenge us. Trying our best is important, but realising that your best today may not be the same as your best tomorrow is freeing. We will all have days when we don’t want to get out of bed.
When I have one of those dark cloudy days, I attempt to do what I need to do and I don’t beat myself up about my lack of enthusiasm. Adding shame to the mix is never helpful. I try to show some compassion to that part of me that is sad, worried or frustrated and in need of some soothing rest.
Sometimes we are afraid to relax in case everything comes crashing down. A question that stopped me in my tracks recently was – what would life be like if I knew I did not have to hold it all together? Perhaps it would create the space for others to step forward, or for new solutions to appear. At a minimum, it would remove some of the weight we’ve placed on our shoulders and allow us to breathe more easily.
If this post resonated with you then read this post on How to deal with negative thoughts
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