Relationships are the foundation of life, and the one we have with ourselves is the most important. Unfortunately, many of us take it for granted. Here, I’ll share three research-backed ways to calm your inner demons and approach life with a heightened sense of compassion.
#1: Respect your learning curve
Many of us have unrealistic expectations of how long it will take to acquire new skills or adapt to new environments. We believe that if we enroll in a program or take a course, our minds will magically open up and absorb all the new information. Of course, the marketing of quick fixes and speed education programs is responsible for our unrealistic expectations. (Sorry, but there’s no such thing as 8-minute ABCs or 4-hour work weeks.)
Cognitive psychologists will tell you that learning is a gradual process and cannot be rushed. Much has been written about the 10,000-hour rule – the bottom line is that it takes 10,000 hours on average to master any new skill. While there is lively debate over exactly how accurate this rule is, the broadest take is worth it: Learning takes time.
However, we punish ourselves for not getting things right on our first, second, or third try.
When you start thinking this way (and we all do) you have to remember to be good to yourself and respect the learning process. If you don’t, you run the risk of becoming completely disengaged with the learning experience.
We also need to be careful about setting up comparison points. What I mean by this is that if we compare how much progress we’ve made from this week to last week, we might fall short. Remember, learning is a gradual process. However, if we widen the window of comparison, say from last winter to this summer, we can gain a little more appreciation for the gains we’ve made. Remember Bill Gates’ famous quote, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
Likewise, it is important to remember that forgetting is an important part of learning. Don’t beat yourself up about forgetting things. If we don’t forget it, our mind will be filled with useless information. Forgetting allows us to assimilate into usable ‘models’ that reflect how the world works.
#2: Show yourself the same kindness you show others
Many of us find it easier to express kindness when dealing with others. However, when it comes to ourselves, we are overly critical. We may believe that self-pity is self-indulgent and lazy, or that it somehow impairs our motivation.
But this is a wrong and contradictory belief. in fact, Research Published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Led by Drexel University psychologist Christine Chaville, they found self-efficacy to be a ‘motivational supercharger’.
“Our study echoes what studies have repeatedly found – self-compassion not only feels better than self-criticism, but also works better, helping us face life’s inevitable challenges,” says Chuil.
So, the next time you face a setback, try thinking from a place of self-compassion (eg, “How am I a better person because of this?”) as opposed to a place of self-criticism (eg, “Why do I fail at everything?”).
Another new one Research Published on self-compassion Individual and individual differences The ability to look at ourselves with kindness not only helps us get through the hard times, but also helps us enjoy the good times.
Benjamin Schellenberg, a psychologist and lead author of the study, said, “People who are self-compassionate may have the ability to remember and attend to good times and realize that they deserve to have completely positive experiences.”
#3: Practice more ‘behavioral flexibility’
People tend to settle in their ways over time. We will adjust our procedures. We refine our needs.
This is not a problem in itself. A good routine is a great way to try to automate some of your day. And, let’s face it, a little autopilot is good for the system.
However, psychologists will tell you that daily activities are not a problem as long as they are not a problem. If you’re feeling depressed, anxious, or off center, don’t be afraid to make a change in your routine. Don’t beat yourself up about hitting a goal like 30 days of yoga or the Peloton challenge. Be kind to yourself to lighten up the workplace for a few weeks.
In other words, don’t be afraid to incorporate some flexibility into your routine to get your spirits back up. Sometimes it can make all the difference.
Being good to yourself is easier said than done. To do this, try to (1) not rush the learning process, (2) treat yourself with kindness you show others, and (3) try to resolve the rigidity with which you present your daily or weekly routine.