…….instead become forgiving & kinder to yourself.

I have written earlier in one of the writings how one of my life’s greatest lessons was when, “I started forgiving myself for what I was not and started focusing on what I was”. Here I explain what it means to be forgiving and kinder to yourself and how you can get there.

Beginning early 2014 with the loss of TWB, the voices accusing me of all the things that I was not and that had contributed to my failure were deafening. For years I have been accused of being uncaring about other people’s feelings, being arrogant and headstrong and many other such things. Now my friends, people who worked with me and the larger set of readers and ‘animal activists’ openly said so on different forums. The message was clear ‘He has brought it on himself’. So far I had always brushed it off as the price of being driven. But now in that chorus, the loudest was mine! When I look back my greatest challenge was simply to stop killing myself  — even more than the millions of dollars of debt, being alone and feeling uncared for. But how? As with some the most difficult situations in life the answers are simple.

Why & How we Judge ourselves

We are programmed to judge ourselves. We judge both our experiences and emotions as being “good” or “bad”, “positive” or “negative”. Our conditioning is to criticize ourselves whenever we feel “negative”. Sadness or disappointment makes us judge ourselves “I shouldn’t be feeling negative” or “Why can’t I be more positive?” Then we follow up this self-judgement with more self-judgement — “I am here because I am not _______”  (fill in the blanks with your favourite self-accusation)  or simply that “I need to change. I will not be _________  (fill in the blanks with your favourite dream).

We judge ourselves in the hope that judging yourself allows you to see rationally and clearly how you’ve been bad and rectify it. But judging makes us feel bad so we swing to the other side – wanting to feel good. One way everyone says that can feel good is to keep telling yourself to be ‘positive’ — which is the origin of a legion of self-help myths that start with ‘thinking positive thoughts’ or telling yourself ‘5 positive things about yourself each day’ or whatever. But it doesn’t help.

I found that to stop this self-judgement imposed negativity first I had to stop feeling the guilt of not feeling positive. Then ask myself a different set of questions. Instead of saying “I should not be feeling this bad but should be feeling positive” I shifted to asking myself  “I’m feeling bad but why?”.

It was stupid to ‘feel positive’ because the fact is that I was not in a positive situation and I had to accept it. Instead, I started living with these negative emotions but created a series of ‘but why’ questions that led me to a much higher understanding of myself. As I have said before we clump a lot of negative emotions and label it one feeling – sadness, anger, depression, frustration… they are all different with different triggers but they often come together and express themselves as feeling bad/low.

The power of embracing yourself

From trying to become someone I was not I was embracing myself for who I was. This forgiveness and being kinder to myself was a mind-shift. I had not realised that but beating myself had also made me defensive and risk-averse. When I become forgiving and kinder to myself, I also became more motivated as the appetite for risk and action was back. If I tried something and failed at it that was OK for I was still going to love myself (here I have written about creating multiple intelligent failures as the path to success, instead of creating one big win ). By forgiving myself I had become courageous.

Disappointments, loss and pain are all part of the human journey. Nothing that I have experienced is unique. What was unique was how I responded as an individual — I did not put myself against the reality of life. I stopped making myself the villain of my own story.  Instead, I started writing the story in which I was the hero.  My imperfections are just warts on the back of a courageous, kind, smart, successful man — and I love myself for it.

Stronger with RAKESH SHUKLA™ is a framework for developing unparalleled Mental & Physical toughness developed over Rakesh’s life. It has driven 2 comebacks.

Rakesh Shukla has slept on railway platforms on his way to creating a world-leading technology company — TWB which is the choice of over 40 Fortune 500 tech customers worldwide including Microsoft, Boeing, Airbus, Intel and others. At 43, over one year he lost everything. Alone & friendless he spent the next 5 years repaying over INR 20 crores of debt & taxes, building back his company and reputation. While creating & funding VOSD the world’s largest dog sanctuary & rescue.

Rakesh Shukla has suffered heart disease since he was 7 yrs old, had had 2 heart attacks by the time he was 30, suffers from brain diseases, has broken his back and his kidneys are failing. Towards the end of this 5 year period, Rakesh was 88kg in weight and very unfit. Today at 48 yrs he can lift well over 100kg above his head, run a 10-minute mile, do 2000 push-ups or 250 pulls ups. He has never been to a gym, been on a diet, had a trainer or taken any supplements.