Have you ever said one of the following to someone after they messed up (even big time)?
-Hey, we all make mistakes.
-No worries. Not a big deal.
-Well crap that didn’t go the way either of us expected.
-Why don’t we step back a moment, and then let’s try that again.
You see the discomfort on their face. You hear the embarrassment in their voice. You might even recognize fear in their eyes as they prepare to get their ass chewed out. BUT likely if you are one of the people who instead of berating them or getting angry, you remember to be kind instead. Cause let’s be honest we are all human and No One likes fucking up.
Here’s my question though…
Do you apply the same kindness and understanding to yourself when you make a mistake? When you drop the ball, do you start with compassion for yourself? Or do you berate yourself automatically and apologize profusely.
Case in point. This week I was trying to confirm a time with a podcast host. I sent the wrong time and date. Not once, but 3 times. I had this moment where I wanted to just smack the shit outta of myself. Felt like a complete idiot. For about 60 seconds, I was convinced that she was going to just email me and say ‘never mind’. But guess what? She didn’t cancel. Most people like you (and I) start with being understanding first. If they aren’t kind or understanding first, recognize that their reaction has to do with them and not with you and the thing you didn’t do or say right.
I want to remind you that the kindness you show yourself first is the kindness that will create the biggest ripples of change in your life. Repeated exposure to your own special understanding, compassion, and kindness will shift how you believe, what thoughts you are having, and affect what actions you take.
My tendency to be very apologetic first when I mess up started in childhood. I think I learned to jump my own s.h.i.t. before someone else did. I have been building the practice of pausing before apologizing for the last few years. IT IS HARD. Listen I am not advocating for not being responsible or acknowledging missteps. But when we are a jerk to ourselves in our heads, it actually doesn’t change or fix what happened. It just makes us feel terrible.
After I spent a minute feeling like an idiot, I pushed away from my desk. I took 5 deep breaths. Then I just realized that I had been sitting at my desk for too many hours without a break. I walked away for a few minutes, got some water, and with a clearer mind wrote a new email to the podcast host. I acknowledged my mistakes and confirmed the correct time.
The next time you find yourself in a situation like I did today. Foot in mouth (email in mouth doesn’t sound quite right). Please remember to treat yourself like you would treat someone you love. Start with being kind. Even be curious about how you can take care of yourself at that moment. Do all of that before you address what needs to be done to correct what happened. Sometimes what we judge as a mess up is just a mess up to us. The other person doesn’t care or even notice. When we take a pause, it gives us a moment to be more present before we act.
Because I stepped away for a moment, I can laugh about what happened as I am writing this. It is those times when we make ourselves really wrong and don’t let it go that the thing becomes evidence for beating ourselves up the next time we “F#*k up”.
Remember we are all human and we all deserve kindness but especially from ourselves.