Compassion for a broken grown-up

I’m a work in progress, but that progression isn’t straight. I’ve fallen off of focus, but I get back on. And no one is perfect. Being more compassionate towards myself does not make me less productive, it makes me more productive. How does that work? Aren’t we supposed to be tough on ourselves and persevere to achieve self-discipline accomplishment nirvana?

Well yes, however, there is a natural cycle (at least for me) of failing myself, making the wrong choice, going into self-loathing and additional destructive behaviors, and then correcting course. By destructive behaviors I don’t mean a needle, a spoon or banging my head into things, more like drinking wine and smoking till 2 AM with friends or eating bullshit food or playing a video game or watching some dumb TV show instead of working out, writing, working on projects, etc. And that shit self-perpetuates. The further you get from the “right” routine and life you want, the easier it is to stay there. Procrastination inertia?

So why is empathy important? Well, although I will fall down, by acknowledging that I fall and that’s part of life, I can then move on from the shame and self-abuse cycle faster. So being easy on myself is actually the first step of discipline. In this way, I don’t wallow, I accept and then coax myself to proper behavior. It’s the difference between yelling at a kid to clean their room and talking the kid through how they like to have a clean room until they get it. Change comes from understanding the self, not from trying forcing the self to a new ideal.

Be easy on yourself while being excellent.

Originally published at on April 12, 2017.

Jacob Singh
CTO in residence at Sequoia Capital. Independent product and Engineering Coach Mediocre guitarist, singer, rock climber, point guard and baker Dedicated dad. American in New Delhi.
New Delhi