Throw out the sergeant and appoint a wise master
When a man makes what he thinks is a mistake, he is very likely to beat himself up for it internally. His mind becomes a highway of self-directed abuse: ‘You idiot!’ The traffic gets thicker as he gets older – he abuses himself for not being where he expected himself to be – until he reaches gridlock, and forgiveness seems out of the question.
What you’re doing, if this is you, is equating being a man, and being worthy, with being a success. At the same time, you’re treating yourself like a child for every perceived failure! It’s time to grow up and release that internalised parent – or that ex-World War II sergeant of a Coach. Tell yourself you’re a man now, and treat yourself like one – one who has always done his best. You’ve dealt with life the only way you could have, right, knowing what you knew at the time? Careful now, any answer that is not, ‘Yes!’ is not you – it’s that abusive sergeant again.
Being gentle with yourself doesn’t mean being soft on yourself
You still push yourself to achieve; you still keep your word, honour your commitments, maintain integrity without compromise. Being gentle with yourself just means that when things don’t work out the way you expected them to, you have an adult conversation with yourself. You don’t put yourself in detention. You forgive yourself – the greater the perceived failure the more this applies – and set yourself free to make another mistake, to learn again.