If being hard on yourself worked, wouldn’t you be perfect by now?
When we start something new, we often are hard on ourselves. We want to rush through the learning process and get to the part where we know it, conquer it, and are perfect. We are looking forward to the part where people say we are amazing, and someone gives us a thumbs up, and nominates us for some kind of award.
The only problem with this mentality is not only do we often do twice the work and get half the distance, we also don’t enjoy the process.
I see this most clearly in my writing bootcamps:
My students come to me with pent-up ideas and huge expectations. I watched as their minds ping pong between opposing realities. One minute they were thinking their writing was not going anywhere, the next minute they couldn’t figure out which ideas to listen to.
They take something which should be fun and turn it into a hard job.
I don’t judge this. I relate to it because this is how I lived for years. My motto was “Anything worth doing was worth making a major project out of”
But now my motto is “Gentle It.”
What do I mean by that? It means taking off some of the expectations to be perfect right out of the gate.
One way is to gentle it is to enjoy the process. Writing, like most of life, is a process not an end product.
Another way to gentle it is to accept you can’t live in the outcome. You can send a resume out but they may not hire you. You might write a book no one will read. But living in that outcome will paralyze you. But remember: keep your pen moving on the page, keep sending those resumes out—and wait in that present moment for something new and exciting.
I try to get my clients to embrace the idea that it’s okay to be a beginner. Whether you are writing new book, starting a new job, or entering a new relationship you can gentle it greatly by accepting you are a beginner at it. You get to learn. You get to get lost. You get to find your way back.
Lastly, if you want to really gentle it, become an inverse paranoid. Believe that everything and everyone is conspiring for your good. This means there is nothing lost by trying something and not getting it right.
Gentle it. Gentle it. Gentle it. Gentle it some more.
Got any good suggestions for gentling it? Please let me know in the comments.