The Compassion Of Remembering Basic Competence

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Life has been busy for me lately, as you all know.  I’m sure you also know what it’s like to be busy with something and keep finding more things to do.  It becomes all too easy to keep worrying “How do I do this” or “How do I do that” as more this and that piles up. So you get an idea of where my life has been on and off as of late.

What I started doing when worries intruded was note “I’m smart enough to figure that out” then get back to whatever the hell I was doing. Or wasn’t doing if I was trying to relax, get back to whatever I wasn’t doing.

I quickly found this simple reminder of my own basic competence kept me focused on my current activities or inactivities, as well as reducing distraction and worry.

It’s no surprise something like this helped me focus in hard times. I’ve had to remind others of their own competence and that it’s OK to focus on what is at hand. I just wasn’t as good as applying that advice to myself, to the point where I was startled what I did for others worked for me.

I’m sure some of my audience is nodding along with me. We’re often good at being compassionate for anyone but ourselves, but when we do, it works. It works just like it does for other people, but maybe we forget we’re people as we’re so overwhelmed with everything else.

So now I’m taking time to pause more in the current maelstrom of life and remember my own ability to get things done. A little self-compassion, a little remembering I’m a person and treating myself as I treat others.

Steven Savage

Aspirations Over Affirmations

You know all those exercises where you affirm yourself for your career?  How great you are?  How awesome you are?  All the traits you supposedly have that make you fantastic?

Are these really such a good idea?

We keep telling ourselves how great we are – but does that help us actually become great?

We tell ourselves we're wonderful – but do we truly believe it, or are we dodging deeper issues?

Or, when it gets down to it, are we just stroking our own egos with all these affirmations and not really achieving something?  Are we both building ourselves up while not actually improving who we are?  Do Affirmations actually help us do anything?

(Also, aren't they getting a bit annoying?  How much more can people pump themselves up?)

I'm not sure Affirmations are a good idea.  I'm starting to prefer Aspirations.

Aspirations are what we aspire to.  When we make promises to ourselves and others to get better, to improve our skills.   When we state things like "May I become a better programmer" or "I will become a better writer" those are Aspirations.

Aspirations are more realistic, they give us a guide to get where we want to go, and they don't have as much chance for us to deceive ourselves with egotism.   They're what we're aiming for – so we can se the course of our lives.  They leave room for failure – as opposed to tempting us to deceive ourselves.

So next time you're there trying to find ways to rally yourself, consider Aspirations over Affirmations.  It's more realistic.

(It's also less annoying).

Steven Savage