The culture of personal growth is based in idealistic virtues.
Each of us is here for a reason and a purpose. We can be better than we are. We can grow. We can strive to greatness. We do not need to be stuck in limiting beliefs or stories. We can change at any time.
These beliefs can empower us in our mission and our service to the world, in creating a better world for us and for those that come after us.
If we’re not careful, these ideas can cross the line and become part of the expectations of toxic productivity culture:
The beliefs that we should be completely focused all the time, that procrastination is bad, that our 4 PM fatigue is a failure of willpower or discipline, that we should be able to “get it all done,” on our own, that we should be able to be “turn it on” in every moment, or always be ready with a solution.
These ideals are simply unrealistic.
Human beings are not robots. We are not machines.
Even machines don’t function at optimal capacity all the time. Computers freeze. Phones reboot.
Technology glitches out all the time.
And technology is simple compared to the human brain and body.
Scientists have been studying the human brain and physical systems for millennia, and they are still trying to figure out how it all works.
- Which hormones regulate executive function, and how?
- How do emotions impact attention?
- What is the effect of pain on cognition and mental bandwidth?
- How do physical activity and mental processing impact each other?
- How much does mindset impact physical ability, and how does physical limitation impact mindset? Which comes first?
These issues and more are still mysteries. They are evolving fields.
Nobody really knows.
When we’re having a bad day, when we struggle to focus, or when we fall short of our intentions, the best thing we can do for ourselves is accept that we are human, and show ourselves some grace.
At least according to all the current science and research, compassion is a more sustainable motivator than criticism.