I don't know about you, but I've been feeling considerably more self-critical this month. It is probably because of all of the changes I am undertaking in my personal and business life. This year has been all about reorganizing priorities and learning to meet new challenges--creating many breakthroughs, as well as instilling a lot of self-doubts. I want to talk in this post about shifting our emphasis to the process of reaching our goals, rather than focusing on the goals themselves. I think this shift will go a long way in allaying the inner-critic. At the end of the post please email us with any comments. Here we go. I'm guessing that the majority of you, like me, were raised in a culture of doing, achieving, and self-improving. One of the most common replies to 'how have you been' is 'I've been busy.' The popular mindset drips in this ethos. Consider the myth of the self-made woman or man, or consider the sports or entertainment phenoms whom we all emulate. The power of this myth is made manifest by our infatuation with end results, like wealth, fame, and championships, rather than the grueling process of creating them. No matter where you look, someone is doing it better, yet fortune plays a much larger role in people's success than we want to admit. As a result, we are simultaneously being told that 1) we are not good enough and 2) all that we need to do to attain our dreams is work a little harder. The internet is particularly dangerous in this regard, as how-tos exist for almost everything you can imagine, even happiness.
Health is a major point of self-criticism for many of us, and it is easy to get stuck in our own way when we focus on all of the negative aspects of our condition. Pain, extra weight, skin issues, fatigue, etc. These are all of the symptoms of a system that is out of balance. One of the benefits of thinking about health holistically is that it allows us to focus on the processes of good health (diet, exercise, sleep, relaxation, etc.) instead of forcibly trying to erase undesirable symptoms. By thinking this way we can enact positive change and let go of what we expect to happen. The key to success then lies in enjoying the ride towards our goals. In embracing the learning that happens in the interim between here and there, so much so that the end result no longer is important. The Taoist texts have a parable for becoming too fixated on expectations: "If you try to catch a feather in flight, it will escape your grasp. You must open your hand and wait for it to come to you." Throughout my own health journey, one of the most important practices has been self-compassion. Whenever I find myself being overly judgemental I ask myself if I would talk to a good friend of mine the same way I talk to myself. The answer is always no. As part of self-compassion, I seek what can be enjoyed at this moment, what can be learned, and what can be shared with those around me. This is my own antidote for despair, depression, and cynicism. I want to hear from you. What are some of your own struggles and tools for moving forward?