It’s easy to lose confidence in yourself. I, for one, have a tendency to rely on others’ views about me to validate my own abilities.
I love it when people praise me for good work that I do - knowing that I’ve put a lot of hard work into something and then finding out that others appreciate my efforts tells me that it was worth my time. It’s like getting a cookie!
When I receive criticism, however, I don’t take it so well. When I mess up - no matter if it was a minor mistake or huge, world-crashing error - I go completely numb. The reaction’s not just mental, either: I can’t move, I have trouble breathing, I’m completely incapable of doing anything.
On my best days, I’m out for only a few minutes. On my worst days, however, I’m incapacitated for an hour or more.
My brain goes into a whirlwind of questions: What did I do wrong? What could I have done better? Could I have avoided this? Should I apologize? How should I apologize? Who should I call? How can I fix this? Should I take a nap? What’s the cheapest way to get out of the country? Why can’t I stop the questions? Why have I completely shut down?!
Needless to say: it’s a bit overwhelming.
But at the end of the day, what gets me back in the groove and away from the airport, is the knowledge that if I’ve managed to make it this far, then I must be pretty good at what I do. Whatever mistakes I’ve made, whoever I might have angered, whenever things have gone horribly, terribly wrong, I’ve come out on top at the end.
So what do I do to get myself back on track? It depends. For smaller issues, I’ll call someone who I trust can talk me back down to earth. For bigger issues, I’ll take a nap or play with the dog in the backyard. And then I get back to work. I’ll put together a list of action items, and knock them out. It’s a lot easier to get stuff done when you know you have things to do than when you’re staring at a wall, contemplating the questions of the universe. Never underestimate the satisfaction you can get from crossing something off a list!
By the end of the day, I’m back on track, ready to tackle my next challenge.
We can’t always fix every mistake we make, but we can always learn from them and keep going. One step back, two steps forward, right?
Trust me. I know I do.