Have you ever noticed a tendency to respond to criticism with self abandonment? To question your intrinsic value in the face of doubt? What if, instead of turning on yourself in these vulnerable moments, you learned the art of having your own back? Here are 3 small ways to start having your own back right now.
I got my own back.―Maya Angelou
The text came in from my client, Sarah, while I was out for an early walk. The message was short, to the point, and laced with panic and self-loathing.
“Rejected by my favorite agent. Beyond horrified and inconsolable. Convinced more than ever that my book is trash.”
A week prior, Sarah had been brimming with enthusiasm for her manuscript and was confident in its quality. The years she had poured into her book had paid off. She was inordinately proud of the book’s core message, promise, and prose.
She had written the elusive must-read book.
And yet, one rejection had leveled this otherwise hard-charging, self-assured woman.
Having Your Own Back in Response to Criticism & Rejection
Of course, it is incredibly disappointing to have your heart set on something only to have those hopes dashed. Rejection particularly stings when it feels so personal as it does with creative work. When we have devoted months and years to a project, exposing our tender hearts in the process, we are uniquely vulnerable to criticism of any sort.
But isn’t it interesting that our brains will grab our hands and leap with us across the chasm of experiencing disappointment to convince us our work—and us—have no intrinsic value whatsoever?
What if having your own back was an option? What if we became our own allies in the face of challenges, setbacks, and uncertainties?
How to Start Having Your Own Back
Having your own back is a commitment to your well-being. You can begin by acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses and embracing your imperfections. The “flawed” aspects of us that we can be so desperate to bleach out are what make us unique and compelling.
Next, you can understand that you are not for everyone and that’s okay. When we mistakenly chase approval by watering ourselves down or twisting ourselves into some kind of shape we hope others will find to be pleasing, we not only fail to find the success we crave, but we fail to preserve our sacred self-trust by abandoning our true selves.
Finally, you can choose to treat yourself with the kindness and understanding that you would offer to a close friend or loved one. What words come to mind when someone you love is hurting from failure or grief? Now, imagine saying those words to yourself while steeped in the emotions of compassion and unconditional love. Notice how soothed and reassured you feel as the anxiety of loss melts away.
When we have our own back, we open the floodgates to innovation, resilience, and unbridled inspiration. Having your own back is not just a mantra for self-preservation—it’s a transformative mindset that unfurls the wings of creativity. It empowers us to face life’s uncertainties with confidence, authenticity, and a deep sense of self.