What causes us this excessive feeling of being hard on ourselves?
This feeling consumes us and leaves us at the limit with ourselves and makes us wonder if we are really on the right path.
Recently, I was caught in a conversation that made me reflect a lot on how I have been dealing with that feeling of putting myself under pressure and internal questions I had.
A conversation that I had with my girlfriend, who is a primary school teacher, and she compared me to one of her students who is originally from China.
And that at the moment she has been going through an excessive feeling of stress and disappointment. Because she has moved recently to Ireland has not had the opportunity to learn English fluently yet.
In turn, periodically one of the activities proposed in class according to my girlfriend is a kind of dictated word, where she can measure the difficulties of spelling of each student and pass activities to exercise more etc.
However, the average of the room in this activity is excellent, because according to her the students, in general, can achieve at least 8, 9 correct answers of 10 questions. However, this specific student is the only one who has gotten 0 since the beginning of the year.
And my girlfriend told me that compared to the other pupils, she is impressed by the huge effort and work that student proposes herself to become better and improve her own performance, but often unsuccessfully and she cries, feels frustrated by not being even able to communicate as she would like with others around her.
And until recently, in the last activity of dictated words, she got 3/10 what for my girlfriend as her teacher, was exciting and made her very happy to realise her pupil progress.
However, her student still felt devastated by not getting the grade she wanted.
And with all this my girlfriend explained to her, look at the big picture and see how much she has progressed and achieved. It’s not about having the highest score and getting all the questions right, it’s about seeing how much was improved and realise that there’s still more that can be done over time.
This story made me cry.
Because, many times in life we are frustrated by not reaching the beloved and desired grade ‘10’, but everything is about perspective.
In this case, it is obvious and more likely the native students have higher grades than this Chinese student who is starting from level zero and who has still done her best in each class.
But unfortunately, we have the problem of comparing ourselves with others as a way to gauge our progress, when in fact it should be different.
Our progress must be measured by our reality, by what we have as our background. And our perspective towards our neighbour should only be one of admiration and appreciation, but without belittling ourselves and judging ourselves incapable of not having reached 10.
Behind all discipline and pressure, there must also be self-compassion.