During a meeting, Tom, one of the participants was sharing how challenging it can be to always stay on top of his ambitions. He had planned to open up a side business for himself during the year but had failed to follow up on it. Noticing this he had started to think about his days. One detail that stood out was that coming home sometimes meant to find himself sitting in front of the TV without really noticing what he was seeing. He was filling the time until joining back into family activities.
One of the participants applauded Tom for his observation skills and his ability to reflect on the situation. Nevertheless, it became clear, that Tom himself remained angry at himself.
He had been telling the story to reflect on how he had gained focus during the year. Instead of blaming himself for not starting the side project, he was acknowledging that his time had been limited and his deadline too ambitious. This observation had served him well to do his work. And yet, by describing that he often wasn’t remembering what he had watched, he had found a way to blame himself for not achieving his ambitions. He hadn’t been changing the story he was telling himself.
The story he tells himself as to how to be successful is the way he pushes himself to success.
It is also the story he uses to blame himself when evaluating the tasks with which he filled his day.
It is measuring results and doing with the same measure.
It fails to acknowledge the circumstances for all the individual activities. It assumes that we can constantly live up to our ambition. It forgets that a journey always consists of disappointments and satisfactions, of highs and lows, as well as of rest and activity.
The result achieved is the sum of it all. It’s never simply straightforward.
Kindness to self involves knowing that the story we tell ourselves may have to vary according to circumstances.