As we prepare to close out one year and move into another, many of us look back with disappointment. We could have done this or that better. We didn’t take advantage of an opportunity that arose. We didn’t act our best in a certain relationship. We beat ourselves us and make a resolution to be different in the new year. We attack ourselves for being human and create goals for being perfect next year.
Why do we always seem to be so hard on ourselves?
One reason is that we are looking for closure. We never want to have to go through X again. We think that if we can finally get it right, we will never have to go through it again. Sorry to say, this is not true. What I have found in my life and while coaching others, is that we all have certain challenges we will experience again and again. If we finally handle the situation perfectly, then eventually the challenge will appear again but this time it will be a little tougher and more complex. Instead of expecting that there will be a final resolution, identify your personal challenges and accept that you will see them again and again and again, no matter how well you handle each occurrence. Every time your challenge presents itself, focus on the how the challenge is helping you grow and learn.
We are also hard on ourselves because we look for blame instead of focusing on the lesson. When we keep receiving the same challenge, we want to know why we are victim of this issue. Who is to blame? Genetics? Karma? We spend years in therapy delving into the why. But in this case, the why doesn’t get us anywhere. It is what it is. This is our challenge. It did happen. It will happen again. The goal now should be how to make the most of our lives knowing this is our obstacle. Stop looking back to the why and instead focus on how to best manage what we are challenged with.
And, of course, for my Type A’s out there, we are hard on ourselves because we believe we must be perfect or we are worthless. We hold ourselves to standards we would never hold anyone else to. We create impossible goals which can never be met. If we show even the minutest human frailty, we attack our imperfection with a vengeance. Instead of focusing on what you did “wrong,” spend a bit of time looking at your growth. What did you handle better this year than last year? How did you show up differently now than five years ago? When you look at your life as a whole, can you see the successes and progress you are making overall? Instead of beating yourself over each incident, take a broader look at your accomplishments and growth.
As the year draws to a close, identify and accept your reoccurring challenges. Take the time to look at your progress. Looking and celebrating your growth is a much more positive and useful way to enter the new year.