To survive in this high pressured, crazy world
most of us have to become highly
adept at self-criticism.
We learn how to tell ourselves off for our failures
and for not working hard or smart enough.
But so good are we at this
that we're sometimes in danger of falling prey
to an excessive form of self-criticism
What we might call self-flagellation
a rather dangerous state which just ushers in
depression and under-performance.
We might simply lose the will to get out of bed.
For those moments, we need a corrective.
We need to carve out time
for an emotional state of which many of us are
We're suspicious because that sounds horribly close to self-pity
But because depression and self-hatred are serious enemies of a good life,
we need to appreciate the role of self-care
in a good, ambitious and fruitful life.
To this end
we can perform what we've called a,
A structured meditation, lasting 15 minutes or so
Lying in bed, or perhaps a bath
Turn over a sequence of thoughts
that interrupt and correct the flow of
your worse self-accusations.
For a time adopt an entire kindly perspective on your setbacks
The self compassion exercise goes like this:
We're so in love with success
we fail to notice the scale of the challenges
we routinely set ourselves.
There is nothing remotely normal about what we've tried to achieve.
We've failed, but given the mountain we were trying to climb,
the conclusion doesn't have to be that we're simply flawless.
We have tricky family histories, we all do.
There were things which happened to us
at the hands of others which can help
to explain some of our current troubles.
We're not entirely sane or well,
but none of us are.
We weren't well set up to carry out certain tasks
It isn't wholly our fault in the here and now.
From the media, you'd think everyone
was rich and famous and successful.
But in reality, undramatic, quiet failure
is by a huge margin the statistical norm.
We shouldn't tear ourselves apart
for not managing to be to what were
in truth, awesome odds.
Tough, self-critical people don't allow themselves
the indulgence of believing in luck.
They take responsibility for everything.
They think winners make their own luck
But they don't for the most part.
Luck is a genuine feature of existence
We're robbing ourselves of fair concilation
By believing that we're entirely in control,
and therefore entirely to blame when we crash.
You are not only your achievements.
Status and material success are one bit of you.
But there are others as well,
those who loved you in childhood knew this,
and in their best moments helped you to feel it.
Rehearse the internalized voices of all those
who have been kind to you.
Bathe in the memory of a laugh
independent of achievement.
It seems it will never end
That's not the truth
It's just how a crisis feels.
You need to reduce expectations to zero
for a time.
Take each new hour as it comes,
and without being banal,
what you need most of all,
is some rest.