Updated: Sep 8
Are you hard on yourself? What about others?
I have definitely been hard on myself in the past and sometimes on others. I was hard on my looks, my abilities and in other areas. I believe the judgment on my cooking skills was well deserved, however. In regards to others, I would have high expectations and if they did not meet them, I was disappointed. I did a lot of work and, thankfully, I’m not afflicted by self-criticism as I used to be and now have a more realistic approach to others (you can read a related blog post to this here).
Other than getting older and maturing, I now exercise more compassion. I have written about compassion as a tip to apply here and there, however, I felt it deserved its own blog post as so many people and clients struggle with being critical of self and others and how this detrimentally affects their career and life.
One of the origins of compassion is to suffer with another[i] but what if the suffering is internal? A lot of people are able to express compassion for others but have a difficult time applying it to themselves. A recent client is so tough on herself that she feels blocked and unable to feel self-compassion. It took a while for a previous client to feel more compassionate with herself, but she got there and is now happier and more confident than she has ever been before.
Commonly, self-judgment extends to the judgment of others. If our internal dialogue is not the nicest, our dialogue with and to others can be similar. One of my clients had issues with his boss. He found his boss to be very critical and, in turn, would criticize him (not directly). The dynamic was filled with tension and power struggle; however, when I challenged my client to have compassion for him for a week, he found that it diffused the situation and continues to. I said that “if he is that hard on you, imagine how he feels about himself?” He also heard from a co-worker that he does not have it easy. My client was not the only one who felt this way about his boss - others did too and got caught up in a culture of grievance (the negative mindset and dynamic, especially at work). Grievance can be totally justified, especially if there is abuse or discrimination of some kind. In that case, compassion most likely will not cut it and other means will most likely need to be employed and addressed.
If compassion can cut it, here are a few suggestions you can try applying:
Try to communicate directly to the person using “I feel” statements instead of talking behind their back (think would you want someone to talk behind your back?)
Be constructive rather than critical (people can feel the difference)
Try to be compassionate to a person who angers or upsets you and see if the dynamic changes
Read Self-Compassion by Dr. Kristin Neff (great exercises and tools to use as well)
If you have a hard time feeling self-compassion, think of someone it would be easy to express this for and then try to extend it to yourself (use compassionate self-talk)
Compassion and self-compassion are not to slack off or create excuses as some clients initially fear - it is a way to be kind to yourself and others. It opens up a space to interrupt whatever internal or external pattern and warmly create positive change. Valentine’s Day recently passed and there is a lot of talk about passion and courtly love that day, but the day originated with St. Valentine who was recognized a saint for ministering and having compassion for the persecuted Christians under the Roman Empire (64 -313 AD).
What will your legacy be? Will it be one who judged and criticized yourself and others or will it be one who was full of love and compassion?
[i]Etymology of Compassion at https://www.etymonline.com/word/compassion
Ps. If you struggle with this, contact me for a complimentary Get Acquainted Call to see if I can help