Forgive Yourself. It’s Cheaper Than Therapy.
If you’ve never backed your car into a garage door, then I can highly recommend against it. However having done just that earlier this week, I can tell you that beating yourself up does little to help.
My latest blog & home-cooked video message (complete with all its shortcomings, just like me!) has been inspired by this act of distracted stupidity and a lesson on self-forgiveness.
Of course I could blame jet lag for reversing into an only partially open roll-a-door. That would be convenient, but the truth was I was just not paying enough attention. And needless to say, by the time I fix my car roof and have a new roll-a-door installed it will be a costly lapse of focus.
I spent the first day beating on myself for being so utterly stupid. It’s something I’m very good at! And then I realized that beating up on myself was not only futile, it was totally counterproductive! I mean sure, I’d messed up. I’d done something dumb. But I couldn’t change the past. I just had to get on with fixing things up and then focusing on being more present so as not to repeat my mistake.
I know you’ve probably made your fair share of mistakes too right? Who hasn’t?! Which brings me to the message I want to share with you today.
Perhaps you’re thinking that the mistakes you’ve made have been far more grievous than just backing into a garage. And perhaps they have (believe me, this is only the tip of the iceberg for me!) But the truth is that none of us are perfect.
We can all let our pride or greed or ego or selfishness or envy get the better of us sometimes. We can all fall into the trap of surrendering self-respect for self-interest. And we can all fall short when it comes to living up to the kind person that we aspire to be.
Kind. Generous. Accepting. Disciplined. Thoughtful. Brave. Encouraging. Optimistic. Calm. Thoughtful. Focused!
When I was writing Brave, I wrote about the importance of forgiveness; of letting go of the anger that chains us to the past (Chapter 39!). And I explained about how forgiving someone who has wronged us isn’t about letting them off the hook, but letting ourselves off the hook.
But, it’s near impossible to forgive someone else if you aren’t able to forgive yourself.
When you are kinder to yourself – more compassionate, less critical – it enables you to also be kinder to those around you when they too fall prey to their faults, fears and flaws that we “human becomings” all possess in abundance (e.g. like being distracted while reversing your car out of a garage!)
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Wise words those. Which begs the question:
Where could you dig a little deeper and in so doing, be a little kinder and more forgiving of yourself?
And how might doing that allow you to be a little kinder and more forgiving of those around you?
Seriously, a little forgiveness can go a long way. And it's far cheaper than therapy!
To quote Martin Luther King Jr:
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude. Forgiveness is not just a compassionate attitude toward others; it’s a more compassionate attitude toward yourself.”