We can be very hard on ourselves. This is especially true in the times we are already struggling. Perhaps it’s the week your diet or exercise program really went off the rails. Maybe it’s a phase where you’re a bit isolated already and really don’t feel up to connecting with others even though you know you should. It could be a time you are finding it difficult to be productive. Maybe you just want more balance in your life, but somehow you never seem to be able to disconnect from your work. You’ve got what you want in your sights, but you never seem to find what it takes to get there.
What’s your response when you find yourself not living up to your own expectations?
Is it disappointment? Frustration? Despair? Anger? Maybe you have an internal voice that berates you, or you sink into feeling like there’s no point in even trying – things are never going to change. While these responses to our own unmet expectations may be normal, and maybe we even think they help keep us on track, they do little to help us feel like we have what it takes to try again. In fact, quite the opposite. Responding to our failures in this way disconnects us from our ability to see that we have what it takes to move forward. Not only that, there seems to be a ripple effect that makes us feel less competent and confident in other areas of our lives too. The way we look at our failures, has a powerful impact. What if we were to examine our unmet expectations of ourselves in a different and more helpful way?
Imagine putting on a pair of glasses that allow you to see yourself with kindness and compassion. You don’t have to buy into what you see. Just try it and see if anything shifts for you. Look at your situation the same way you might look at someone you love who is going through a difficult time. When you set aside your harsh judgements about yourself, when you deliberately look at your situation with kindness and curiosity, what do you see? What do you notice that you didn’t see before? In looking through this lens, ask yourself what you need and what you really want?
You may find from this perspective, you feel more at peace, more willing to get up and try again.
“Remember that if you really want to motivate yourself, love is more powerful than fear.”Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind