We often talk about tolerance. Tolerance with each other, different cultures, other ways of thinking. But what about being tolerant with ourselves? This is one of the most important issues when it comes to our personal development and a key factor to success in our work life. Unfortunately I am still quite bad at this.
I have now actively worked with my own business for about a month. There are wonderful sides of being free to fill your own schedule. You can work wherever you want, whenever you want, however you want and no one tells you what to do or how to do it. This freedom is a truly precious thing that fills your body and mind with so much creativity and energy.
But there are also downsides.
Suddenly you are facing the fact that you, and only you, are your own biggest critic. Being your own employee is forcing you to get to know yourself, not only your prosperous sides but also the less charming parts of your personality. As long as you are working in a team, with a boss, colleagues and other people in your work environment it is easier to put yourself out of the spotlight. You are so busy facing other people and their issues that you can hide away from your own. But who can you hide behind when you are working with yourself? That´s right. Suddenly you are forced to face yourself. This is of course a good thing in the end, as long as you find a way to make peace with your less desired characteristics.
I was always incredible intolerant with myself. And mostly myself. In fact, when it comes to others I can show an endless amount of patience. Especially with people that are not in my inner circle. I´m sure many of you out there recognize yourself in this. Why is it so much easier to be tolerant with people you don´t know so well, than with your own flesh and blood? Maybe because the closer people are to you the more they will serve as a reflection of your own self.
I remember myself as being quite an anxious child. Doing something wrong and having people being mad at me was my biggest fear. So I avoided this as much as I could by trying to do everything right. If I did face a situation where I had done something wrong (in my eyes) I could beat myself up by this forever. I remember being very afraid of my handicraft teacher. She was a grumpy old woman who had a very frank and brusque way of telling us kids everything we did that was not meeting her high standards. Since not being good enough was my biggest fear I was terrified when we had her class every Friday. I worked so hard not to be one of those kids that failed her class and was very proud when I found that I became one of her best students.
But, what did I actually learn from this experience? That the only way you get other peoples recognition is to work harder? Is this really the way? I didn´t even like textile handicraft, still I felt that it was completely necessary to be a number one student. How absurd is that? Looking in the rearview mirror it would probably have been better if I´d actually met my fears of not being so good in this subject (that I anyway did´t like) and find out that it wasn´t a disaster. So what if I didn´t live up to my teacher´s expectations this time. Maybe I´d learned something very valuable from this. Something that I could use in my future work life. Failing is not something bad. It is just a possibility to try out something different.
Today, 30 years later, I´m slowly getting to the point where I realize for myself that failure is, not only something necessary in life, but something that I should cherish and be proud of. Failure means that I dared to try something, take a chance on myself, without being sure what the outcome will be.
Don´t get me wrong. I´m still very afraid of failing. I very often feel like a fraud that will soon be revealed, and I still worry very much about what everyone thinks of me. But at least I am aware of my own mechanisms today. And I know it is not good for me.
Whenever I see some of my old characteristics in my 6 year old son I become that little girl again. Afraid of the world and the harm that it might cause me. It hurts that I might have passed some of my own demons on to my kids. But, in the same time it motivates me to work with my own flaws even more as an adult. Because if I can show my kids that there is another truth than the one I believed in as a child, I might help them on their path to become self conscious young adults that know their own worth.
How are you handling your demons?