Round one goes to…

I am learning to celebrate the victories and a job well done.

I have a great job; I get to share my stories with people, through what I write and speaking at events and workshops. I love what I do.  I do not love the day after an event, or after my work has gone out public. 

I find it extremely easy to focus on the little mistakes I made, sometimes real but mostly imagined.  No matter how well an event has gone or the great feedback I get, I go through this process of tearing it all apart and beating myself up for not doing better.  It is a boxing match with many rounds as I try to dodge punches from myself.  I am the meanest and toughest opponent I will ever face in a fight, because I will always go for the low blows, pulling out all the insults and old baggage to use against myself.

The joy of a doing a good job, of seeing all the hard work in planning and preparation come together is stolen through self-doubt and self-criticism. 

Yes, it is always worth reviewing your work and getting feedback so you can learn and grow for next time.  A healthy debrief is vital in improving our performance and services but a personal attack on ourselves for perceived failure or obsessing over it, is not healthy or helpful and destroys confidence and joy.

So, what do we do instead?

What has worked for me is to stop focussing on myself, but instead focus outwards.  Self-doubt, self-criticism, and self-reproach have one thing in common: SELF.  These destructive thoughts are all directed internally.  Too much time spent dwelling in the negative or when we became too absorbed thinking about ourselves is damaging.

To change your focus from your inner critic to the outside world, change the direction of your thoughts.  For me instead of thinking about all the things I might or might not have done right, I think about the people I met or talked to. I pray for the people who heard me speak or brought my book.  Praying for other people shifts your focus.  Do not stay stuck in your own boxing match, fighting against the nastier and meaner version of yourself.  Take off the gloves and step out of the ring. 

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Philippians 2:3-5

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