We’ve all made mistakes, hurt others’ feelings, pushed ahead to get what we wanted without thinking of how it affected others and been careless at times. We’ve all gossiped and said hurtful words to others. When you make a mistake, how do you react to yourself?

Do you say harsh words to yourself? Blame yourself? Punish yourself? Step back for a minute and observe what you do. That reaction to yourself, is it one that you think motivates you or helps in some way?

Now that you can picture how you react to yourself when you make a mistake, think about how you feel when you do that. When you blame yourself, say harsh words to yourself and/or punish yourself in some way, how do you feel? Is that helpful in getting past depression or anxiety?

One thing is for certain, you will continue to make mistakes and be upset by your own actions at times. That’s what it means to be imperfect and we’re all imperfect.

A more skillful way to respond when you fail at something or make a mistake, regardless of the mistake, is to be kind to yourself. That’s not letting yourself off the hook. You are still accountable and you still have to live with the mistake, but you can be understanding and kind to yourself.

What is the truth? Respond to yourself with the truth. Instead of “How can I be such an idiot–I am the worst human being on earth,” say, “I didn’t mean to hurt her feelings. That was not my intention. I went too fast. That’s what I do sometimes. I am a human being and, just like every other human being, I make mistakes. I am so sad that I said something that upset someone I love.”

In your wise mind, you know the truth of whatever happened. Even if your emotions got the best of you and you acted on them in a way that you knew would hurt others, that is still part of being human. Being angry with yourself makes the problem worse.

Today, think about what upsets you about you. Don’t start with the biggest mistake or most upsetting experience. Start with a small error or fault that you see in yourself. Practice saying the truth to yourself instead of judging yourself. Practice using kind, truthful words with yourself. Practice self-compassion.

Live a skill-full life! By, Karyn Hall, Ph.D., May 21, 2020

 

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