If you’re currently beating yourself up for not being ‘good’ enough at a particular thing, you’re not alone.
Most of us have a pretty long list of skills we want to improve on—and you might be pleasantly surprised to find that a lot of what’s on your list is on many other people’s lists too.
While there’s always room for self-improvement, there also needs to be space for self-compassion.
Nobody is good at everything, and most of us aren’t particularly good at the skills we’ve highlighted below.
The fact that they’re often referred to as ‘skills’ shows that they’re a craft to be honed; something on a spectrum.
The important thing is being self-aware and giving yourself the space and kindness to grow and improve.
1. Communicating effectively with others.
Communicating is hard, let’s just call it what it is.
From opening up about your feelings to letting someone know they’ve upset you, it can be tricky to find the words (and courage) to communicate honestly.
It’s no wonder there are so many self-help books dedicated to improving your communication skills.
You might be nervous to share your insecurities with someone or admit how you feel. This is normal, and it’s something that we’re all working on all the time.
Communicating can be scary, even when it’s with people you know and trust. Communicating with people you don’t know well is a whole other challenge.
If you’re in any doubt, just ask a loved one—we guarantee they’ll be feeling the same way.
They probably even have a funny story that demonstrates just how hard communication can be at times!
2. Keeping control of our emotions.
Are you the kind of person who gets upset over something small or, out of nowhere, does a full 180 on their feelings?
Join the club.
Even the most Zen among us struggle to regulate our emotions at times!
When we’ve had a stressful day, it is pretty normal to break down over something small that wouldn’t normally bother us that much.
It’s completely understandable for simmering emotions to boil over or be triggered, even if it feels intense or out of control in the moment.
Accepting this is part of developing emotional regulation, so give yourself some time.
Try to remember that you’re not alone in how that feels. With the amount of information and content we have access to, and how ‘available’ we have become, it’s no wonder we’re all one inconvenience away from snapping.
So, next time your bag or belt loop gets stuck on the door handle while you’re running out in a huge rush, be compassionate with yourself about how angry it makes you!
3. Managing our time and being punctual.
Most of us have experienced the horrible feeling of realizing we’re really, really late.
You might have been immersed in a task and lost track of time, or you might have just planned your day badly and not left yourself enough time to physically get to places on time.
Either way, not excelling at time management makes you human, just like the rest of us.
So many of us live busy lives, and it can be hard to keep track of where we’re meant to be and when.
With so much going on online, it can be tricky to stay present and be in the moment. So, when we try to embrace that by not checking our phones, it often has the knock-on effect of us losing track of time.
While it can be stressful when you’re running late, it’s rarely the end of the world.
You might worry you’re letting people down by turning up late, but they will 100% know how you feel and will have been in a similar situation multiple times.
4. Setting (and sticking to) boundaries.
How many people do you know that actually set boundaries?
And, out of them, how many do you think are having an internal freakout because it’s mildly terrifying?
Talking about your needs or expectations, or even your limits, is difficult. It feels very vulnerable, and that scares most people.
What if you tell someone they hurt your feelings and they do it again anyway?
What if you try to set a limit and the other person gets upset?
What if everyone thinks you’re selfish because you’ve established boundaries?
It’s always better to be honest than put up with things that make you unhappy or uncomfortable.
In fact, most people respect the fact that you’re able to set boundaries rather than saying nothing and then getting angry.
In your head, though, it can feel like the end of the world.
Nearly everyone who has set a boundary with you in the past will have practiced what to say and evaluated every possible outcome or reaction.
You’re not alone in finding it difficult, so give yourself a break and keep taking baby steps!
To everyone who’s ever invested in a gym membership on January 1st and cancelled it by February 12th, we see you.
It’s so hard to stick to commitments.
There are more distractions than ever before. Our phones are endless sources of content, everyone feels more accessible, and there are so many cool things going on at all times.
You might have an iron will, but it’s undoubtedly going to be tested at some point!
There are so many opportunities that are too tempting, and, understandably, many of us don’t follow through on some of our less exciting plans…
Don’t beat yourself up for not always sticking to your initial goals. Part of enjoying life is embracing spontaneity and going with the flow!
Remember that progress is a better, more achievable goal than perfection. Stop giving yourself a hard time for being human.
6. Being assertive and expressing our wants and needs.
A lot of us find being assertive hard. It doesn’t come naturally to most, and it’s something that takes a while to build up as a skill.
Being assertive can often feel like confrontation if you’re not used to it. It’s quite daunting to tell someone what you want to do or what you want them to do.
Although it’s healthy to be open about your needs, it doesn’t make it any easier.
Rather than berating yourself for struggling with it, lean into learning and developing this skill. It takes time and courage, but you won’t be alone!
7. Maintaining focus for longer than 5 seconds.
Is it the 3 coffees, the endlessly-available content at your fingertips, or are you just bored?
If you’re struggling to focus on work or general life tasks, don’t give yourself a hard time over it.
Most of us find it hard to concentrate for long periods of time—and, by long, we mean over 10 minutes.
Joking aside, it can feel frustrating when your mind just will not let you focus on something.
Rather than putting yourself down, give yourself the time to develop this skill.
Try putting your phone in another room when you’re working, setting screen time limitations, or setting timers for 15 minutes of devoted attention to something.
It’s not easy, but you can build up your ability to focus one day at a time!
8. Making decisions, and good ones at that.
Whether you struggle to make decisions full stop or simply make bad ones, you’re not on your own with this challenge.
A lot of people find it hard to make choices, especially important ones. We’re bombarded every day by opportunities, and it can impact our ability to make decisions and stick to them.
Found a nice person you want to date? Great, but there are so many other people on dating apps you could meet instead.
Got a job offer? Amazing, but what about all the other jobs you could apply to and get instead?
We’re all feeling this on some level, most days!
Living with endless choices can feel debilitating—but try to see it as liberating instead.
You get to make decisions and have autonomy and control. And, once you’ve accepted that it can sometimes be tricky, you’ll be able to enjoy it even more.
9. Resolving conflict.
The only thing worse than conflict is conflict resolution, right?
When things feel awkward or up in the air, it can be intimidating to approach the person, or people, involved.
You don’t fully know where you stand or what mindset they’re in, and you might not even know how you feel just yet.
If this sounds familiar, don’t worry—most other people aren’t good at this either!
It can be very daunting, as you’re putting yourself in a vulnerable position, whether you’re going in with an apology or a stern word.
The uncertainty around how the other person will react is what makes a lot of us struggle with conflict resolution.
Cut yourself some slack and acknowledge that you’re doing the best you can.
Try to honor your feelings, be mindful of those involved, and accept that this is a skill you’ll forever be developing—just like everyone else.
10. Being proactive.
Being proactive takes effort, whether it’s going out of your way to do extra work in the office or pursuing a new opportunity that you need to work hard for.
If you asked your group of friends, it’s unlikely that any of them would say they’re as proactive as they’d like to be.
Most people find it challenging. We’re tired from working, socializing, studying, parenting, doing endless rounds of laundry… you name it.
At the end of the day, most of us have very little time or energy left to commit to being proactive, even if it’s to do with a passion of ours.
Put simply, being proactive is hard, so permit yourself to be just as bad at it as everyone else is.
11. Getting enough sleep.
Arguably something we should all be great at, getting enough sleep is near-impossible for the majority of us.
Just look at how big the coffee industry is!
Even though we know it’s crucial to good physical and mental health, it can be hard to get to bed early enough to benefit from a good night’s sleep.
Whether it’s due to working, heading out with friends, or looking after the kids and house, sleep just moves down the priority list way more often than most of us would like it to.
To make you feel less bad about it, just ask those around you—you’ll feel so much better once you realize we’re all in the same boat.
12. Giving things up.
Alcohol, chocolate, takeout—we’ve all tried to give things up at some point.
And we’ve all failed.
Giving things up is challenging! Our minds, and bodies, can get addicted to certain foods or drinks without us realizing it. Giving up coffee, for example, can cause genuine withdrawal symptoms.
If you’ve ever tried to give something up for Lent or as part of a fitness program, you’ll know just how often temptation pops up, and how hard it can be to ignore.
Most people give up on giving up, so don’t feel too guilty for succumbing to your guilty pleasures every so often.
13. Forgiving others for the hurt they’ve caused.
Forgiving others is important for your own well-being and for your relationship with the other person (should you wish to continue it).
But it can feel impossible to move on from things or people that have hurt you.
It’s all well and good being told to let things go or get over it, but, at the end of the day, we’re human beings with feelings. Feelings that have been messed around with.
No wonder it’s so difficult for a lot of us to move on.
Rather than giving yourself a tough time, acknowledge that it’s a point of strength to protect your feelings in this way and that your sensitivity can be a huge positive.
Most of us struggle to let things go (everyone can still name their high school nemesis or the first person who broke their heart), so don’t feel bad about being bad at it!
Whatever first came to mind when you read the title of this article, whether we’ve covered it here or not, we can guarantee you’re not the only one feeling this way.
We’re all human and, despite all being unique, have shared a lot of the same experiences, whether we realize it or not.
Cut yourself some slack, acknowledge that you’re a whole being with both a history and a future, and focus on improving the skills that matter to you, day by day.