DECISION MAKING WITHOUT SHITTING ALL OVER YOURSELF
When I sit down to write my posts, I sometimes have a plan, but more often than not, I don’t. I sometimes draft out a few in the notes app on my phone (my favorite app!) or I take a marker (whichever color I'm in the mood for) and think for a bit before I start writing. I don't always know what I want to say until I finish writing - I like to give myself space for just letting things flow and then I decide after if its fitting or not. This post was one of those posts that after writing it, I had the sense that it was one that would hit home, and luckily, it did to many of you!
We as a society are taught the wrong lessons about the self, self-motivation, empowerment and growth ALL THE TIME. What are we taught? We are taught to value criticism and negative reinforcement. We are are socialized that to see ourselves as not good enough is a good thing! That if we see ourselves as having room for improvement we are humble, motivated and eager for change and improvement.
Yes all those things are wonderful in theory, but when put into practice, we tend to downplay the "ever evolving" piece and we focus on "room for improvement." When we focus on the void inside ourselves, it promotes a false belief, or assumption, that if you have room for improvement you are not good enough, and those who are not good enough need to be better: enter berating/punishing yourself.
We start to jump to conclusions, so we assign a problem: the voids within us, and a solution: be hard on yourself and you will fill this void and be better for it! Jumping to this ill advised, and false conclusion, is like listening to the GPS to turn left even if you can see that left is a dead end into a pond (a nod to Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute). You know that turning left will be a bad thing for you, you know it won't help you, and instead hinder you and ruin your car and your journey, yet you do it anyway. You do this because something else has a stronger hold on you; something else (other than yourself) was more reliable and convincing than your common sense.
We know berating ourselves does not feel good. We know it hurts and its ugly, and we would not be as harsh to others as we are on ourselves, and YET WE KEEP DOING IT. We go against our common sense, and do it anyway. Billions of us, all over the world, we do this day in and day out. And we get the same results: short term satisfaction/hope that we are in control by punishing ourselves with the goal of improving ourselves, and long-term dissatisfaction and anxiety because this method does not work.
Life is not easy. Decisions are not perfect, nor are they meant to be. The signs are not always clear about what to do, how to do it, how to make the “right choice” etc, but that is just it – that is life. We need to accept that there is nothing we can do, purchase or use that is going to make our decisions and behavior work out for us each and every time. When we make a decision that does not pan out perfectly, choose to see this as you "ever evolving" RATHER than "room for improvement so that you can be enough." The only thing we can do is support ourselves through the process whilst we try and figure it all out. So, if this is the only thing (our mind/our sense of self) we can control and can access, why would we SHIT ALL OVER IT?!?!
Improvement and self motivation are wonderful things. When we are meant to be improving and pushing ourselves and reaching beyond our dreams, we will know it’s the right time because it will feel good, maybe a little scary and adrenaline inducing because you are pushing yourself outside your comfort zone etc. BUT, it will not feel debilitating and painful and soul crushing – when it does, you are being TOO hard on yourself and pushing yourself too much and too fast. In those moments, notice that you are buying into the FALSE belief that if you berate yourself and push yourself you will improve and succeed. Instead, do the opposite.
Talk to yourself like you would a friend. Be patient with yourself while trying to make a decision, take a break if you are getting overwhelmed. DO not see that as weak or lame or giving up or complacent or any other shitty word you can come up with to criticize and shame yourself into improving. Just take a break, sit in the grey for a moment and pump yourself with compassion, support and encouragement.
This could sound like: "this stuff is hard! Its taking me a bit longer than I would like, but that is okay. Worthwhile things take time and patience. There is no completion date for this journey I am on, and that is okay by me! I'm doing my best and that really is good enough."
Some of my clients at this stage usually reply to me with: "that's great Kim, but that sounds kind of lame..." my answer: "you can keep doing things they way you have always done them and expect a different result, or you can try something new and see what happens."
We are socialized to value criticism, and shame patience and understanding. So try valuing the latter if the former is not working for you.
This will lower the stress reaction of the brain, put you at ease and thus less likely to make rash and poor decisions. Speaking to yourself with respect will give your brain a moment to rest and feel nurtured – this break could be a minute, or it might need to be a day or so – feel yourself out. Do unto yourself as you hope someone will do for you – comfort you, nurture you, and be there for you regardless.