I can’t believe I did it again. I began so clear. Focused. Attentive. Determined not to repeat my past ways. In a flash my good intentions flew out the window crossing shame as it rushed in to take its place.
When will I learn? How many times do I have to repeat this lesson? What’s wrong with me?
It’s over quickly. I head to the nearest bathroom to recover. I look myself in the mirror and force down the lump in my throat.
For the remainder of the day I cannot remove the image. I struggle to focus on my work as the scene is on constant replay. I have a fun evening planned, but each time the thought of what I did returns and my energy plummets.
It’s bedtime and I can’t fall asleep. When I finally do, I wake up repeatedly with the thought. Of being a disappointment, of not being capable.
It’s one thing to make a mistake. It’s another you notice yourself being on repeat after you’ve vowed to be better and do better. I feel sad. Embarrassed. Ashamed.
For being human.
What was my crime on repeat? Pick one. Overtaking another person’s ideas with my own while refusing to let them finish. Breaking a promise to meet a friend. Needlessly boasting about an accomplishment. Backing my car into an inanimate object.
Had someone else been in my shoes, I would have understood. I might have sprinkled on a bit of comfort rather than rub the criticism salt on the wound. I definitely would not have wanted their suffering to evolve into thinking they were a bad person because they had moment like we all do.
While I would feel my heart open with empathy for a friend in my situation, a response then morphs to “Why am I dwelling on this?” “Why can’t I just move on?”
A wise woman once told me that rather than self-berating, she talks to herself in her kindest voice like she would to her best friend.
Let me pour you a cup of tea.
Tell me all about it.
The contrast between harsh treatment of ourselves and the gentle consoling we would give to a friend is striking. Whenever I ask a coaching client, “If this were your best friend, what would you say to her right now?” the dialogue changes to something like this:
I can see much you’re hurting.
This really matters to you.
You meant well.
We all make mistakes.
Please be kind to yourself.
As the client speaks aloud what she would say to someone she cared about, her heart opens. She realizes that up until that moment, she had not been treating herself with kindness or compassion. Now she knows it’s possible.
I hope you do, too.