When You Keep Running Headlong into the Same Wall

July 15, 2023

Here's something that may be news to you (it is to a lot of my clients): Being hard on yourself does not lead to success.

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Failure Sucks!!

Have you ever tried and tried and tried at something, and failed and failed and failed? Maybe a career or a passion? A health goal like working out every day or losing weight? A relationship with a significant other, a parent, a sibling, an adult child?
Here’s something that’s not news: failure sucks.

Self-hatred Does NOT Lead to Success

This may be news to you (it is to a lot of my clients):

Being hard on yourself does not lead to success.

Here’s why: When you try to do something and fail, especially if you try and fail multiple times, of course it’s frustrating. It’s discouraging and disillusioning. And the inclination most people have is to clench harder, to buckle down.

This can even lead to just giving up on yourself, getting stuck in grief over how far you are from where you want to be. And this will bring you eventually to a kind of self-hatred.

It’s an endless cycle of “I want to, but I can’t, so I have to try harder, but I can’t, and I’m so afraid I’m going to fail again, and now I failed again, so now I have to clench even harder.” Then “I want to, but I can’t, so I give up, because I can’t, so I’m a failure.”

Self-hatred does not lead to success. Self-hatred breeds stuckness, failure, anger, and depression.

Something that works better – curiosity and compassion.

Say What?

You read that right: curiosity and compassion work better than being hard on yourself. I know it’s surprising. But it’s the truth; not a copout. Let me explain.

First, importantly, if you approach the cycle of whatever keeps happening in your life with a sort of clinical or childlike curiosity, then, and only then, will you be able to see underneath your behavior to whatever is causing the behavior.

Have you ever said to yourself “Why do I always do this?!” You are asking the right question, just probably with the wrong inflection — an inflection of fury rather than curiosity.

There is always a reason you act the way you do, think the way you do, or feel the way you do. You might not understand the reason yet, and the reason might be wildly illogical. It might be a reaction to something that happened 20 years ago or a pattern of thinking that belongs to your parents… but there’s a reason.

And if you’re busy being hard on yourself — criticizing yourself, rolling your eyes at yourself, doubting yourself — you won’t be able to get at the reason. But if you’re curious? That’s the way to find out the causes of your behavior.

Then, once you find the reasons underneath your behavior, it’s time for compassion: self-compassion, most importantly. And also compassion for others – for the people that entangled with you to create all those mixed-up patterns of acting, thinking, and feeling.

Without compassion for yourself, you’ll stay stuck — stuck in anger or a feeling of failure. Without compassion for others, you’ll stay stuck in resentment and a feeling of powerlessness. You can see how this would not lead to success.

But curiosity helps you deconstruct your own behavior, and compassion helps you reconstruct new ways of acting, thinking, and feeling. And all that lets you rise above that wall you kept running into, headlong, over and over and over… and fly.

I hope this helps you to re-see and re-think how you approach yourself. I hope you’re able to find curiosity and compassion on your own. Lots of people need a little support with altering the lifelong pattern of being hard on themselves and finding daily practices to support curiosity and compassion. That’s why I specialize in Get Unstuck coaching.

Work with Me!

My client load is almost full at the moment, so contact me soon and schedule a free Get Unstuck call.

Also — exciting news! I am leading a 6-month group program, Emerge, beginning in January 2024, that will not only help you get unstuck, but will provide a community of like-minded people who are also getting unstuck.

The hardest way to change is in a vacuum, in isolation. So let’s connect.

Text or call me at 917/426-5335, or schedule a free Get Unstuck call with me soon!