After a year and a half of “rest” (can we really call it rest when we experienced a traumatizing global pandemic?), we have entered an era of excessive, and even toxic, ambition. These times make no room for rest and recharge. It seems as though we must constantly be making some sort of progress toward building our perfect future; this can encompass our academic, professional, and social future. Another factor of today’s toxic ambition is the pressure to curate award-winning success as soon as possible. The toxic ambition that has surfaced in 2021 and 2022 is so harmful not only to professional environments but especially to our self-worth.
To combat the pressures of constant productivity, which leads to self-doubt, I am practicing self-compassion.
Self-compassion is a concept that is too often forgotten in the midst of our busy lives; I hadn’t even fully understood the term until recently. Self-compassion means giving yourself grace, patience, and understanding as you navigate this very confusing life.
Think of the compassion you give your best friend when they’re going through a difficult time. Would you ever chide them for not feeling their best, for being unproductive? Of course not! We promise support and encouragement to our friends when they struggle.
So, why do we refuse to practice compassion toward ourselves?
We must give ourselves the grace and patience that we offer to our loved ones. We can do this by changing the way we talk to ourselves. Intentionally changing the channel in our brain away from self-doubt and shame is a beginning step in practicing self-compassion. In the moment, it can be difficult to remind yourself to change the channel. Personally, when I am experiencing negative thoughts concerning my self-worth, I listen to my favorite band, refocus my attention on the task in front of me, or rebuttal with compassionate thoughts.
Compassionate thoughts can look like:
- I am doing my best given my current situation.
- Considering the difficulty I’ve had, I am doing really well.
- Whatever is meant for me will find me. I am not missing anything.
- Healing is not linear; I am doing well.
When you become overwhelmed with self-doubt, please remember to have compassion for yourself. We are only human, and we are not equipped to constantly handle the toxic ambition that fuels our culture today.
Have patience with yourself. You will get where you need to be, I promise.