How to Improve Without Beating Yourself Up

Are you a Tyrant or a Coach?

Two figures, blue and red, merging together
Benjavisa Ruangvaree Art via Shutterstock

The Tyrant Paradigm

If you operate under the Tyrant paradigm, this is how you think:

  • Your flaws are more obvious to you than your good qualities. You are more concerned with punishing mistakes than celebrating victories.
  • You are a slave to your own standards. You only respect the ideal version of yourself. If you aren’t ideal, then you’re nothing. You only see the deficiency between yourself and perfection.
  • You feel you deserve little, even if you work incredibly hard.
  • You refuse to ask for help. Help is for the weak.
  • You only value outcomes and you define your worth by the results you get. (Wanting good results is not tyrannical, but Tyrants only appreciate themselves when everything goes according to plan).
  • You are ignorant of your feelings, and your self inflicted pain.
  • You have adopted someone else’s idea of success, and your life is ruled by “should.” Your success is fabricated by society, peers, or family members. Other people’s expectations trump your own.
  • You’re not willing to be vulnerable with anyone, or be honest about how much you’re struggling. You say to yourself, “No one wants to see who you are.”
  • You try to “prove” your worth to the world. You act from a place of never being enough.
  • You see other’s success as threatening and demoralizing. They are beating you in the race to be acknowledged. This serves as another excuse to punish yourself.
  • You do not allow time for rest, and you often sacrifice your health for work. You want to hustle, don’t you?

The Coach Paradigm

The Coach is the paradigm of compassion and encouragement. Here’s how a Coach thinks:

  • You have faith in your abilities, and in your worth, so you don’t pressure yourself to perform. You trust yourself instead.
  • You treat yourself like a work in progress. You recognize both your flaws and what you’ve managed to change for the better.
  • Instead of rewarding an outcome, you reward effort. You praise yourself for the risks you took, the fears you faced, and the work you put in. You derive satisfaction from things you can control.
  • You are capable of self-validating, meaning other people are not your primary source of worth.
  • You are willing to risk vulnerability to reach others, receive feedback, and get help.
  • You see the value in any progress made toward a goal, no matter how small.
  • Your goals are self-determined and not contaminated by other people’s “shoulds.”
  • You see other’s success as inspiration, and you seek to learn from them.
  • You work intensely to achieve your goals, but you also understand the value of rest, health, and socializing.
  • You strive for excellence because it suits you. You have something you wish to create and share with the world.
  • You treat yourself like you would a close friend.

You Have a Choice

The only significant difference between these paradigms is the degree to which you care for yourself.

Psychology, Philosophy, Hope, Pain, and Vibes.

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