A new year brings new goals and opportunities to try new things.
When we start something new, we often have an unspoken expectation that we are going to do things perfectly. And then, when we fall short, we compare our shortcomings against strengths that we’ve spent years sharpening.
Yet, it stands to reason, that we might not be very good at something when we first start.
One of the things I am working on this year is becoming a more confident speaker. I have always struggled to come across in presentations the same way that I do informally because I disconnect from myself and then to my audience as I struggle to remember what I’m there to communicate.
Judging past efforts actually reinforces negative stories deeper into my brain, over time producing the opposite of the intended effect.
It is important when we are trying something new (and actually all other times too) that we be compassionate towards ourselves the way we would be toward a small child or friend.
As adults, we often buy into this belief that we must push ourselves to succeed, and then, when we do not meet our own expectations, we internally judge and criticize ourselves for not doing something as well as we think we should. To make matters worse, we then compare ourselves to others as a measure of what we should be striving for. Ugh. This cycle doesn’t help us grow… it just keeps us stuck in the muck!
Why do we do judge ourselves?
We actually engage in this cycle of self-judgement and self-sabotage to keep ourselves safe. To our minds, uncertainty = dangerous.
While not trying new things can mean that we miss out on new possibilities, our minds can sometimes be less concerned about what is possible and more concerned about keeping us where we are… thereby, keeping us “safe.”
Intellectually, we may recognize that self-judgement doesn’t work, but sometimes, we do it anyway.
This statement helps me to capture negative thoughts, reset and choose again:
“I release myself from judgement and instead choose compassion, knowing I am doing the very best I can.” – Jamie Sewell
The goal is not perfection.
The goal is just to get better than you were the day before.
Simple tips to help you get better:
- Commit to starting – schedule actions related to your goal on your calendar and keep your commitment to yourself.
- Ask a supportive friend, coach or coworker to help you with accountability.
- Take one more small right action on top of another.
- Don’t start too big out of the gate. Just pick one small thing.
- Be willing to look stupid.
Sara Blakely has always been a big inspiration to me and one of the reasons is her willingness to embrace and celebrate failure. In order to grow, we must be willing to find a new edge — and that edge will surely involve failure.
The next time you try something new and don’t live up to the expectations that you have in your head, capture those thoughts of self-judgement, release them and then choose compassion instead.