By: Priyanka Hardikar
Photo by Raamin Ka for Unsplash
Last year was a difficult year for everyone â€“ the effects of the pandemic increasing feelings of loneliness, isolation and hopelessness all around. We found ourselves alone, facing our inner worlds and thoughts for what may have been the first time. For me, it was the start of my spiritual journey where I found “shraddha,” which means faith in the ancient language of Sanskrit. “Shraddha” is to love something you don’t know. It is more than a spiritual-based faith, but having faith in oneself. It is said that the one who has shraddha will get knowledge and wisdom.
Faith can mean something different for everyone. Sometimes, it is knowing and believing there is a glimmer of light on our path of darkness â€“ even when we cannot see it yet. In the new year, I hope we approach every task with this mindset â€“ one that inspires hope, patience and a sense of possibility.
Here are three tips to help you practice shraddha and self-compassion in the upcoming year, to honor yourself and the people around you, and to embody the mantra: “I allow myself grace.”
Allowing yourself grace means you are creating space for yourself to learn and grow without the constant pressure to be perfect. You are creating space to fail, to make mistakes, to take a break and pause, if that is what you need. Nothing can be achieved without patience.
1. Set Expectations that Align with Your True Values
I have learned that much of the stress I experience in my day-to-day life is a result of the expectations I set for myself in all aspects of life â€“ from who I think I should be, to how I believe I should be performing at work, to what I feel I should be achieving within specific time frames (Ex. “I should have done this before age 30”). It is the expectation to be perfect, and the inevitable realization that I will never be perfect.
Yesterday, I was looking through some of my old writing, and I have so much work that is unpublished. I felt this pressure to get something published, and I had to pause and ask myself: Why do I want to publish this anyways? Is it out of expectation or is it because I have something I truly want to share, that I think will connect with someone else?
When you set expectations for 2021, make sure they align with your own values. Make sure your expectations embody what you actually want, not what you think you should want. Ask yourself if the expectations you are setting are realistic and if they help you feel a fullness in your heart. Sometimes, we expect too much from ourselves, and it leaves us feeling emptier and less satisfied with our lives. Make sure the expectations you are setting bring you not only a sense of accomplishment, but also, “santosh,” the Sanskrit word for contentment.
2. Instead of Pretending to Know, Have the Courage & Humility to Ask
Yesterday, my friend said something to me that stayed with me: Asking for feedback should never feel like a burden.
Asking for help has always been so hard for me. I worry about looking stupid, being judged, but this year I have learned how valuable it is. And not just asking â€“ but asking in a timely manner, without hesitating. Often we wait too long to ask, building anxiety. But if we ask when we feel the need and desire to, it is as though a burden has been lifted off our shoulders and we are free. We feel lighter, knowing what we did not know, and we are less likely to make assumptions or jump to conclusions.
The next time you aren’t sure about something, ask. No one expects you to know everything. Asking is a good thing â€“ it demonstrates your desire to know and learn something new. That is how we grow.
3. Instead of Aiming for Perfection, Focus on Getting Started
Instead of aiming for perfection, focus on getting started â€“ no matter the outcome. I spend so much time psyching myself out by setting too high of expectations that I become paralyzed, unable to get started at all. The more we psych ourselves out, the longer it takes us to get started on the actual task. That, in turn, builds unnecessary stress inside â€” this self-loathing (Ex. Why is it taking me so long? Is someone waiting on me? Why can’t I do it?)
But the truth is, the skill has never been the issue; it is your mindset. I am starting to understand that just because we love something does not necessarily mean it will always come easily to us. We can love something and be gifted at it, and still struggle with it and put it off and feel the weight of it. That is human nature.
I am also learning that there is no shortcut. There is no way to avoid the discomfort of starting. You really do have to go through it to get through it. When you are getting started and the task feels especially uncomfortable, and unfamiliar, you have one choice: Stick with it. Push through it. Come through to the other side.
Aiming for perfection is not a bad thing altogether. It just means you want to create something of quality, that adds value. But too much of that can become paralyzing and keep you from the act of creating. Instead of trying to write something extraordinary every time, I learned that I can add touches of what feels like me and have fun with the piece, so it remains authentic and true. I learned that the trick is to appreciate the process, and to let each step you take build your confidence and help you take the next step until you finish the task at hand.
We worry so much about not being able to do something, but the truth is that was never the problem. We can do it all, just not all at once. Have patience, trust the process, and most importantly: Allow yourself some grace as you move through this year and face new challenges and the unknown.