Fascinating how people wonder why they are unhappy but don’t see how little compassion they have for themselves. They scold themselves for making mistakes and constantly evaluate themselves against those around them.
Make this habitual and even the most successful directors/managers inevitably crumble under the weight of their own emotions.
When I first confessed about my inner critic to a fellow coach, I got a different reaction than I expected. The core of my demons revolved around a value that I thought would make me look arrogant and egotistic to others.
Yet the coach did not think that at all. From that, I realized how much I had been beating myself up over the years for no real reason. This made me look into why I did this and what others do as well.
Let’s dispel some myths about giving yourself some love.
Being Tough On Yourself
This is very common among high performers and entrepreneurs. They set goals and if they don’t meet them, they chew themselves out over this. They place an enormous amount of pressure on themselves to succeed.
Typical go getter thoughts, right?
Not really. This habit may have its roots from childhood. Parents would push their kids to study hard. But eventually, this does more harm than good. Not allowing room for failure creates a lack of resilience. If you fall apart in the end, what’s the point?
So why pick self-compassion over self-criticism?
Because always choosing the latter can burn one out. That could even lead a person to give up on something they actually love to do.
No matter how much you are passionate about something, if you always hold yourself to impossible standards, sacrifice everything to meet them and still fail, that will tear away at the core of your very being.
There is another important reason to not give your inner critic the priority that you subconsciously do: living up to others’ definition of happiness.
This happens most when you compare your life to the lives of others, especially the ones who seem to have it so much better than you. This is when you go on Instagram, admire the lives of others and wonder why they’re so much happier than you.
But is this really the case? What if happiness is relative? How would you know for sure what makes someone else happy will have the same effect on you?
If you use another person’s standards, then that can be seen as lying to yourself on what truly makes you happy. This isn’t self compassion, though there are those who think self compassion is lying to yourself.
There are those who think if they’re not hard on themselves, they’re running away from what happened. But that is not what self-compassion is.
When you are actually lying to yourself, you may try to brush aside the failure and pretend like it wasn’t a big deal. Other times you may prop up your ego and act confident.
But what does this lead to?
If you don’t acknowledge your weaknesses and can’t accurately see where you are, how much do you think you can grow? Will you practice what you think you are already great at when you’re not?
In the long run, this leads you to plateau, where you get stuck and wonder why you can’t keep climbing.
This can be difficult to do in situations where one’s sense of self is at stake. If one used to be a big fish in a small pond and moved to a bigger one, they may feel like their status has changed. This is a difficult transition but if you continue to cling to the past, you can’t move forward.
Having self-compassion is being able to see the truth, accepting it and figuring out what you can do now. This means being ok with who you are and knowing what you have to work with.
The greatest underdogs didn’t give up because they ran into overpowered obstacles. They kept their spirits up, figured out what their strengths were and made history. What’s to stop you from doing the same?
Your Emotions Are There For A Reason
From an early age, we are often told to ignore our emotions, grit our teeth and move on. By the time you reach adulthood, you may not even be aware of your emotions and what they’re signaling anymore. Heck, it may even be difficult to find the words to express those emotions effectively.
Many people go through difficult times and come out telling themselves this: “Ok so this turned out bad. I could have done better. Things like these happen all the time. I should be grateful for what I have.”
But is this really ok?
This is not to say gratitude is bad. But more and more people are turning to gratitude while denying their disappointment and sorrow.
As a result, they stay stuck in this endless of loop of feeling bad for themselves, ignoring it and pretending things are well because they find a couple of things to be grateful for.
Instead, ask yourself this: what kind of signals are your emotions sending to you?
When you feel a certain way, why is that? What values drive these emotions? What do they tell you about your current priorities and the priorities you want to have?
Ignoring things never made anything awesome. Why keep doing that with your emotions as well?
Your inner critics have been reinforced through time and past experiences. This admittedly makes it difficult for anybody to break out of them.
But it all starts with awareness and curiosity. You don’t need to do anything drastic. Gradually, you can start to disarm your inner critic.
Maybe one day, you can even help others do this as well.
What are leaders for, right?