BRENT STOLLER

Writer. Advice giver. Peanut butter and chocolate enthusiast.

Be Kind to Yourself

So much of self-improvement advice is rooted in punishment.

Delay gratification. Take cold showers. Seek out failure. No pain, no gain.

This makes sense, because transformation is hard. Enacting change is hard. There’s a reason no growth occurs in your comfort zone.

The more it burns, the more benefits you reap.

But if you’re not careful, you can burn yourself out.

I found this out recently when I played golf with my father. While golf is recreation for many, it’s something more to me. It’s something in which I want to improve and maximize my ability. I’m convinced that my progression on the course will ultimately mirror my progression in life.

Unfortunately, the other day was an example of that.

I was beaten before I set foot on the first tee. I had no spirit, no fortitude. And when things immediately veered off track, I had no energy to fight back.

Maybe it was just one of those days. Maybe it was because I was sleep-deprived after getting sucked into a late-night viewing of the underappreciated movie, “Boiler Room.”

Or maybe it was because, over the last little while, I’ve been pushing myself as hard as I ever have — writing these articles each day, producing an advice video, expanding my website, taking improv classes — but I’m still not seeing my desired level of results.

And my gas tank had hit empty.

I’ve been able to take on these tasks because I’ve been channeling my inner drill sergeant. My internal dialogue too often is too lazy, so I had to seek out a new voice.

While I’m proud of my efforts, I’m now wondering if I’ve overcompensated. Or if I haven’t found the right balance.

There are times — OK, most of the time — when I need to be kicked in the butt.

But there are also times when I need to be picked up by the shoulders.

Instead of being scolded to dig deeper, I could use encouragement to refill my well of resolve.

As any good coach does, it’s about finding the right buttons to push at the right time.

And though it’s been a stern voice that’s gotten me to engage in life, it’s this lack of kindness that’s killing me.

*****

This originally appeared on 100 Naked Words.

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