Shortly after returning to the office after the birth of my third child, I had a call from the HR team. I'd only been back in the office for a few weeks and immediately thought, "Wow, this is great that they're following up to see how I'm settling back in." Within a few minutes it started to click that this was not the reason for the call. The HR representative was using terms like, "anonymous tip," "aggressive," and at once point even used the word "abusive."
With all those post-partum hormones running through me, it took every ounce of my being to not start crying while she informed me that she'd be launching an informal assessment and would be back in touch shortly. Those next few days dragged by like a slow and terrible dream, with me constantly feeling like someone had sucker punched me right in the stomach.
A few weeks later, her review concluded and we sat down to discuss the findings. The good news is there was no evidence of abuse or any indication to proceed with a formal action, but she did however share some of the common findings from her interviews. The general consensus was that I was loud, asked a lot of questions, and had incredibly high standards. When I look back, I'm still not even sure if the feedback was positive or negative, but at the time, because of my mental state, I most definitely perceived it as negative. I walked out of that meeting a totally different person; I suddenly started to second guess everything I said and everything I did.
Months later, with the help of an amazing executive coach, I ultimately realized it wasn’t that incident or any one individual holding me back, it was actually me; I've always been my own biggest critic. The expectations that I set and more importantly, the consequences of not achieving them, were so high that I was stuck in a vicious cycle of constantly beating myself up over one thing or another; the straw that happened to break the camel's back was the HR review that happened to come at a time when I was feeling especially vulnerable.
For some reason, as soon as something doesn’t go exactly as it should, I've got a little nasty voice in the back of my head that starts spewing negative self-talk. There are days where the internal dialogue gets so bad that deep down I know it’s holding me back from becoming the best version of myself.
With the 52 weeks journey coming to an end, I couldn’t think of a better way to finish it off than to release myself from negative thoughts and unrealistically high expectations. The fact of the matter is, we're all human and we all make mistakes, so rather than focusing on negativity and immediately unleashing attack mode, I've actively been working on taking a step back and looking for opportunities to relax and be a little more open and understanding.
People who surround themselves with positivity have an easier time seeing the good in themselves as well as in others. Also, people who teach themselves to see the good in others tend to be more positive and experience happiness more deeply. So, rather than always focusing on the negative, I encourage you to look for the good in yourself and others, as well as finding unique ways to give yourself a break.
At the end of the day, taking it easy on yourself is not something that demands hard work or huge amounts of time and is something all of us can strive to achieve. The power of positivity and its benefits are immense, so why wouldn’t we all want to find ways to see the best in not only ourselves but in others too?