Most people I work with aren’t just in a coaching process for themselves, but shine out with compassion and care for others, a deep need to make the world a better place. They’re working with me because in one way or another they are not managing to create the level of kind and positive impact they want to, because they are not feeling kind and positive about themselves.
And when you don’t feel good, confident, content with yourself, it is harder to do good, instil confidence, lead by example and create positive impact.
Over the years I’ve come to learn that in order to build a solid confidence in yourself – you need Self Compassion – and over the last month particularly – this has stood out to me loud and clear.
Isn’t it amazing how once you start noticing something, our unconscious starts to support us in our ‘noticing’ it – we see whatever that something is – everywhere! A type of car, a person, shoes, and idea – whatever it is. And in the last few weeks I have seen, heard and felt self-compassion all over the place. (Those of you who have worked with me know I refer to our Reticular Activating System and how it functions to make this process happen, you can find a good explanation of that experience here )
So, Self Compassion, it has not only been highlighted in my work with clients, but in articles I’ve read, podcasts I’ve listened to – and also within my own family and friends. Once you start listening to people speaking about themselves, it becomes acutely clear how people speak negatively about themselves habitually. It seems unarguably true that we have strong, long standing, solid inner critics. We berate ourselves – consistently beating ourselves up.
I hear it, and, honestly, I do it too sometimes. Not many of us seem immune to this – in fact in European and Asian cultures I’ve been working in this month, it feels as though there is some kind of medal attached to making sure everyone knows that ‘don’t worry! we know our own faults!!’. We beat ourselves up, and vocally. And I have begun to understand that this is not for any negative intention, but mostly it appears to be because we think it will help us to improve. To get better, be better, do better.
So, it’s good to ask yourself, does it really help?
My answer is no: And here is an example of why. At the moment I am working with a primary school teacher who uses self flagellation to make sure she always keeps up, to make sure she does her absolute best, and that everything is done, her classes are ‘perfect’. Which if course they never are. So she beats herself up again, pointing out all she has done wrong to herself – because she wants to be perfect. Of course this pattern is prevalent in her personal life too, as a wife, mother, daughter, friend. Perfect. But the problem with perfect is it is never attainable. Never. Because it doesn’t exist. So she will always be berating herself, which makes her feel exhausted and never good enough – precisely because she’ll never feel good enough. And because she consistently knocks her own confidence she hasn’t actually improved in the way she wanted to. Which makes her agitated, annoyed, and not as kind and giving as fun as she wants to be!
Perfect really is – the enemy of the good – because it doesn’t exist.
The wonderful thing is though is that she is a teacher. And a kind, nurturing soul, who wants to give, and care for children as they grow up, equipping them with a quality education not only academically, but also emotionally and spiritually. SO, she fully understands that in order for a child to
and learn and succeed in school, a teacher needs to operate from a place of
highlighting the achievements….. and more!
It took her a little while but I think you just might be getting the point that she finally realised – Why on EARTH has she never done that for herself to bring the best out of herself? The best out of herself that can then go onto confidently serve and care for others.
In fact – Why on earth don’t we all do that??
The reasons behind it are multi-faceted and maybe we need to be understanding them – societal, family, media – but maybe we don’t need to understand them, maybe we just need to take action to become our own friend.
Take a few minutes to answer this question: does my negative self talk really help me to improve? And see what comes up in your answer. Maybe you think sometimes it does. Sometimes it is useful to critique and learn from mistake – absolutely it is! But how do you do it? And what is the result?
And maybe your answer is, actually no. As a client of mine said of her own ‘inner critic’ – “actually it’s not kicking me up the bum, it’s kicking me down”.
Maybe we just need to start a practice of ‘noticing’ and being mindful of when we are not being kind to ourselves. When we are not being our own friend. You can then stop and ask yourself, what would a kind friend say to about this? Or, how can I reframe this to see the positive side?
I always offer a free coaching conversation as a gift, opening up a space for you to talk, and exploring how you can build a stronger more solid confidence and self-belief – and yes, maybe just be your own friend once in a while.
Have a wonderful Spring,