Our relationships with ourselves are complex and vast. It’s the longest relationship we’ll ever endure here on Earth, so it’s important to make sure it’s a healthy one. In a modern world of social media standards, reduced attention spans, and systemic pressures to be successful, it can be tough to be nice to ourselves, especially at work. However, the way we treat ourselves can have intense effects on the way we run our everyday lives, and how well we perform our jobs/daily tasks.
Modern workplaces can be extremely discouraging in terms of self-love, especially in a corporate office environment. When working with so many individuals of all different ranks and roles within a particular company, it’s easy to compare yourself to how efficiently and well you’re working versus your counterparts. Any slight shortcoming can feel like a major failure when those around you are exceeding, especially if it’s a new job.
Regardless of how long you’ve been working in a particular field, mistakes will always happen. It should go without saying that we’re all human and deserve to cut ourselves some slack, however, so many of us overlook this crucial part of living a happy and fulfilled life. Don’t ever compare yourself to those who have been working in your field for longer than you have. They have more experience with the ins and outs of not only the job itself, but the particular company you’re working at. Every place of business has a particular way of running things, so when you mess up on a logistical issue specific to that company’s environment, give yourself a break.
“The practice of being self-compassionate [is] treating yourself with the same type of kind, caring support and understanding that you would show to anyone you cared about,” said Psychologist and researcher Dr. Kristin Neff.
In fact, showing yourself some compassion is what leads to fewer mistakes occurring while in the workplace. When you’re so focused on not messing something up, you’re more likely to actually mess it up because you’re fixated on a possibility, and not the reality of the task at hand. So simplify it; when given a task, lay out the process in front of you, visually. Write out some steps or bullet points if that’s what will help, and if there’s lack of clarity within those steps, ask a trusted co-worker or mentor for guidance.
You should never be afraid to ask for help with anything. Healthy means of communication is a necessity for any type of relationship, especially at work. You should be able to trust those around you to help when you ask, and they should expect the same of you. Be preemptive as well, for example, if you’re nervous that something you’re writing in an email isn’t specific enough, ask a supervisor or co-worker before you hit send, instead of being too nervous to ask for help. No one wants to see you fail, we often get so caught up in our own thoughts that we forget humans are compassionate and want to help us, so instead we remain quiet, which can lead to even more mistakes.
Having the confidence to ask for clarification on something should be your main goal. One of the biggest issues that we all face when it comes to self-confidence in the workplace is assuming that everyone wants the worst for you and won’t want to help. No matter what level you’re at or how long you’ve been working in a particular office, someone else there has been in the exact same position as you, and will have no problem clarifying something they also found confusing when they were in your position. If you’re in a hostile work environment that doesn’t feel like a safe space to ask questions, talk to someone in human resources as to why that is. Everyone deserves the right to succeed and feel safe enough to ask a question.
Accept the fact that you don’t know everything and won’t have all the answers. It sounds simple, but if you go into a meeting confident that you know your stuff, but not everything, you’ll be more ready to speak up for yourself when you become confused. The people you work with will see when you’re genuinely trying to understand, which should make that line of communication a lot stronger.
The reality is, when we’re kinder to ourselves and exude self-compassion, our work feels the effect and we’re more likely to excel. Remember that everyone is just trying to do their best, and regardless of how much any of us try, our best will never be perfection, and it shouldn’t be, so don’t expect it to.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.