Remember the last time you reacted to making a mistake with compassion?
You gave gentle understanding to yourself.
You spoke calmly and problem-solved inwardly, without belittling yourself.
… sound foreign? Perhaps, “Hahahahahahaha. Yeah right?” popping to mind?
This week, I’ve had a massive to do list. I had decided last-minute to take the weekend off to spend it with my sister before she flies off to London for a year, and then unexpectedly took Monday off as well, thanks to several hours of delayed bus service.
Between my regular workload, what I had planned to get done on the weekend, and losing a day of work, I was beyond overwhelmed. Still, with plenty of breaks, lots of tasty treats, and a hopeful and optimistic attitude, I tackled my list. I remember the moment of relief when I looked at my list and thought, “way to go, me! I did everything I needed to get done today!”
And then I realized the next morning that there was a time-sensitive item that I never completed because it somehow fell off the list at some point in the day. The joy and relief I had experienced the night before, which had led to waking up feeling on top of the world, crumbled all around me.
I suddenly felt like a failure.
(Of course, I knew I was not.) Even as I felt it, I knew I was being a bit dramatic.
Still, it did not feel good to jump so quickly from feeling ahead of everything to painfully far behind.
In the past, I might have panicked, dropped everything, and gotten the task done, feeling miserable every step of the way, and also basically falling further behind by missing another deadline (the one I was working on when I realized my oversight).
Instead, I relaxed, tuning into what would make me feel really, really good. Once I did that, my way forward was clear.
I finished up what I was working on – a fun, light weekly task that makes me happy every time I do it, decided to treat myself to a salted caramel mocha just because, and worked on my overdue project at Starbucks. (I laughed when it turned out that the wifi at Starbucks wasn’t working, because I had been nervous that the internet would distract me from getting it done.)
As I did my work, I realized how joyful I was feeling. Even though I still had my eye on the clock, doing my best to slow down time so I wouldn’t be much later, I was so proud of myself for dealing with this from a space of expansiveness.
It can be tempting at times to succumb to shame spirals. It’s a surprisingly quick trip from, “Ugh, this is unfortunate and annoying,” to, “I am such a terrible person, and I don’t deserve good things.”
As important as it is to feel our feelings when they arise, it’s equally important to remember that we’re human
We will make mistakes.
We will never be perfect (perfect is boring anyway, don’t you think?).
So if that’s true, it goes without being said that letting go of perfection can only serve you.
The mental belittling that we do against ourselves in moments where we stumble or “mess up” are the moments that have the most in store for us.
These are the moments that have delicious lessons, magic, and growth opportunity for us to discover.
While we’re lost in our tailspin of self-deprecation and crafting stories of grand failure, we’re spinning further and further away from our truth and growth.
While it is understandable to be frustrated with yourself (and sometimes necessary), taking it too far in the direction of negativity puts you 5 steps backwards and even more frustrated.
In these growth moments, we require compassion through it all to clearly see the lesson we need to grow.
And that’s what I’d love you to remember the next time you’re tempted to crawl under a rock when you’ve made a mistake, even one that seems huge.
Remember to breathe and to consider how you can move forward and right your wrong from a space of pleasure and expansion. I’m certain that, more often than not, there is a way forward that feels wonderful, honoring, and full of forgiveness.