Our culture has defined success in line with being humble. From the age we learn to compete, we are simultaneously taught that celebrating one’s own victories too loudly takes away from our success and makes us less popular – ‘nobody likes a show-off’.
What we take away from this notion as adults is that we must quietly recognise our achievements, accept praise only when it is given to us, and never forget to be our ‘own worst critic’.
I’d like to challenge this ideal. Being one’s own worst critic sure can be helpful in keeping our egos in check from time to time, and it can remind us to work our hardest. But the absence of self-esteem and self-compassion can seriously hurt our careers in the long run.
We focus on what we lack; ruminating on self-perceived weaknesses, which does nothing but drain precious energy that could be used more productively.
A little self-love goes a long way:
Creating a mind-set of self-compassion has countless budding benefits for our professional lives. How and where do we start, though, if we’ve been stuck with this mind-set all our lives?
- Practise mindfulness. To be mindful is to achieve a mental state by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and sensations. Before we tend to ourselves with self-compassion, we must quiet our minds and acknowledge how we are feeling. This way, we give ourselves the emotional space needed to move forward.
- Acknowledge our common humanity. This means reminding yourself that every person you meet is undergoing the same human experience you’ve battled through. Accept that a mistake is just that – and it’s normal to feel a little down or ashamed from time to time. Then, allow yourself to move on.
- Rewrite the stories you’ve been telling yourself. We think of our past, and even our future, through a series of narratives we construct in our heads. We may or may not be aware of them, and some may not even be true, but they are reflecting some of our core beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. When something in our lives goes wrong, that inner critic inside gets louder. But once we learn to tell ourselves a new story, one that focuses on our common humanity and being mindful, we can reshape the way we react to setbacks.