How can you let yourself off the hook? Reflecting on some of my worst failures I often wonder how I made it through. I’ve been and still am very hard on myself. How we typically respond will set the stage for how quickly we can learn from the fall as well as determine how soon we will bounce back.
Think about your last failure. How did you respond to yourself internally? Like me, you probably called yourself an idiot or dumb. Some might actually have hid themselves away in embarrassment as shame was just to much to handle publicly. Still yet, some might put that blame on others asking why this happened to them. As if the failure was out to get us from the very onset.
If we can’t recover fast enough emotionally, we will not continue. An approach I’ve spoken about here and there loosely is the practice of self-compassion. It’s not easy to master as a skill, but I do feel I’ve gotten better over time and more resilient by practicing this competency as much as possible. Emotional resilience through our practice of self-compassion is a key in moving on or continuing our drive to the goals we’ve set. It involves simply giving yourself the same support you give others that find themselves in a bad place after a fall. We need to treat ourselves with the same kindness.
There are three basic things that need to be practiced and used in connection with one another for us to truly be better at self-compassion:
- Mindfulness or self-awareness
- Common humanity
Mindfulness or our awareness of what’s going on in the present moment is a great start. In order for us to even be kind to ourselves we have to know we’re in the moment of adversity while we’re in it. One of the best things over this past year of meditation practice daily is giving the emotions we’re feeling a actual name. This has helped me be grounded in the here and now of the feeling. I might not be ready to solve, but that’s okay because at least I know what it is I am feeling. Now I can do something about it.
Common humanity is an understanding that someone else has been in the same state we’ve landed in. Knowing that we’re not alone in this work of learning from our failure to move on. Our community or social circles around us are powerful reserves of learning. Many others have been where we are so there are many lessons to learn from others. Perhaps if we can do a little more digging or research in others works, we might even find the answers we need to get through our current state.
Self-kindness for me was the hardest and still is to practice often. It helps to think about times you’ve been kind to others. How did they feel after you extended your kindness? I’ve found I can do this with myself in a few different ways. Smiling in the mirror. Positive self-talk. Listening to my favorite tunes or watching one of my favorite fun movies. I had to validate how I felt, not burry it. I needed to put myself in the posture that I was fine. Doing something I enjoy or that makes me feel good is a great way to do that. These practices of self love moves us through the fog of war a failure puts us in. Do something you love to do right after the feeling of failure washed over you.
When we really land hard in our fall, I understand it’s really hard to practice self-kindness. But what if we don’t learn to move through it? What will we end up like then? What will others who watch use for inspiration or motivation think? Don’t put your anger and frustration on display for others. Show your leadership skills off instead. It’s not a default option for us to play to. But, anyone can learn the skill of self-compassion with practice. Being that person doesn’t make you less ambitious or show you have less push to succeed.
Our emotional reactivity can get the best of us, but it doesn’t have to this year. Failure and the fall will come. You won’t avoid it, the fall comes to us all eventually. Activating self-compassion in the heat of that moment will make you stronger than ever to become more resilient for tougher falls that lay ahead.