Following a recent conversation with a friend, during which I recommended that she think about her own situation from the outside – how would she advise a beloved friend who was going through what she was? – I realised I should probably start taking my own advice.
I have read a lot recently about not demanding unachievable standards of yourself – would you ask anyone else to live up to the impossible? But these things are easier said than done and I’m not 100% sure I agree that having (too) high standards forces others to live up to them too…that feels a little like victim blaming somehow.
What I can get behind is treating yourself as you would treat a loved one…Be Kind.
Let’s pretend I have a friend who is floundering a little in her new job. She enjoys working for that company and finds satisfaction in many parts of the role, but her new manager is incredibly hands-off (the polar opposite of the previous line manager) and she is finding it hard to dredge up motivation and enthusiasm without direction and feedback.
- Tell her that she was stupid to end up in that position, she only has herself to blame.
- Tell her that she should just suck it up and be grateful for having a job in the first place.
- Tell her to stop worrying because one day fairly soon someone is going to realise the huge mistake they made and take the job off her.
Or I could:
- Remind her that this role was given to her by intelligent people convinced that she could succeed in it.
- Remind her that the overwhelming stress of her previous role has skewed her thinking and that not all jobs have to make you hate Sunday afternoons (because they lead into Monday mornings).
- Remind her that the work she has done over the last year wasn’t handed to her on a plate, she did it…and she can do it again.
- Remind her that in a few trillion years the Universe will end and the worries of one tiny speck of a human will have been meaningless (trust me, that’s comforting).
There are other things I could say to this imaginary friend, I could remind her that regular exercise makes her brain work better and that talking to other living, breathing humans can be a good thing, but the simple act of thinking about how to be kind to her (me, you know it’s me, right?) lifts some of the weight almost instantly.
Kindness is not a weakness and it isn’t selfish to be kind to yourself.