We all have an inner Scarecrow, Tinman and Lion – you know that, right? Half way through My Year of TED, I realised that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the ultimate metaphor for life – and for any self-development process. For me, it aligned perfectly with my year-long project to implement the wisdom of TED Talks into my life.
Many activities in that project were designed to improve my ability to be more connected and compassionate to others. I realised that required me to finally acquire a capacity for self-compassion, or at least quieting my inner critic. I’m sure you know the pain of a nasty inner critic – so many of us have one.
Below are the key lessons about finding my heart and self-compassion – or engaging my inner tinman to stick with the metaphor:
Be kind to yourself first
If you are incapable of self-kindness, how do you think you can be kind to others. Learn to take control of the inner dialogue that chatters about how you aren’t enough – it will change your life if you can reduce that by even a small amount.
Take time for reflection
A lot is made about the importance of gratitude, and I think that daily gratitudes are powerful for achieving more joy in your life. But I think this can be extended more broadly to allowing time in your day for reflection. What went well? What did you achieve? What did you get wrong? How would you do that better in future? Reflection helps you remember the good, and take ownership of the learning experiences.
Remember the good things
As well as regularly reflecting on your achievements and the good things in your life, it will help to keep some lists or placeholders. A list of your career achievements is a great tool for job applications, performance reviews and salary negotiations – as well as a way to remember all of the things you’ve done well, when your inner critic is trying to convince you otherwise.
Understand your values
During My Year of TED, I realised the main reason I left almost every job I’ve ever had was the organisation conflicted with my values. I’d never understood this, because I’d never consciously articulated my personal values. When they are in conflict it causes this inner disharmony that you can’t fully identify, but will destroy your contentment and fulfilment.
Know what success looks like for you
This is much like your values; when you know what success looks like for you, then you can make choices that align to where you truly want to be. It will reduce disharmony and dissatisfaction, which you might be finding it hard to identify. It also reduces that horrible habit we have of envying others, and judging ourselves against their achievements.
Be more open to others
If I didn’t mention Brené Brown in here somewhere you’d know there was something wrong. Her two TED Talks were the basis for 30 days of Vulnerability in My Year of TED after all. Embrace your vulnerability and allow yourself to truly connect with other people. If you’re hiding that heart of yours inside your impenetrable exterior (like the Tinman), how you can expect to form real connections with others. I know it’s scary, but it’s so worthwhile.
Embrace the melancholic or sad moments
You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned happy once in this piece. Not because I dislike happiness, but because that has little to do with your heart. I also think it’s something we shouldn’t strive for, but that’s a whole other blog post. As part of learning the skill of self-compassion, I discovered that it was important to embrace all of the emotions. Melancholy and sadness have a place in our lives, just don’t set up camp in those emotions permanently. Honestly, there is a great kindness in embracing these emotions – who doesn’t love a good cry every now and then?
I learned a lot about how to finally embrace self-compassion in my life. Possibly the greatest gift My Year of TED gave me was taming my inner critic. By having a greater awareness and appreciation of these parts of your life, you too will be able to have greater compassion and connection with those people around you.
By following some of these simple lessons, you can open up that Tinman chest and allow yourself to discover your own heart – then share it with others.