On Learning to Not Beat Myself Up
I remember a high school gym class where I was explaining – in what I thought was a wittily self-deprecating manner – why I was unable to touch my toes. (Simply saying I wasn’t very flexible didn’t seem as fun.) The exact details are blurry, but for some reason that is about the time my memory says I started hearing people say I was too hard on myself. I was a negative person, talking myself down instead of pointing out the positives I had going on.
Now that’s not to say I was a ball of rainbow-filled optimism before that and people were simply not seeing it. There was obviously some basis for their comments. But sometimes having your negative tendencies pointed out feels like it leads to them getting worse before they get better. And 20+ years later, I think I’m finally getting to the “getting better” part. I’m learning to not mutter or think “Idiot!” when I make a mistake, to not worry I could lose my job or end up with a horrible performance review over such-and-such a gaffe at work, or that I will never change because I’m making the same or a very similar mistake for the thousandth time.
The thing is, those reactions and responses have seldom – if ever – led to my making any sort of a lasting, positive change. They’ve led to my feeling weighed down by every fault and mistake, with at-times debilitating mantras of “What Ifs” and “If Onlys” running rampant through my head and across my heart.
But where I have taken a firm hold of mercy and grace (In Hebrews 4:16, The Message Bible succinctly says to “Take the mercy, accept the help.”), I’ve started to see positive changes. I’m able to stop more of the negative mental diatribes before they get too far into their rants. I can admit to and owe up to the wrong and/or dumb things I have done without thinking it will lead to, in a manner of speaking, the end of the world. In other words, I’m finding a proper balance to bring about positive changes. And the added bonus is it’s helping me to show and extend more mercy and grace to those around me as well. As my pastor often says, we cannot give what we do not have.
I’m also realizing not everyone get what has been described as my dry wit. But you know what? I’m not going to beat myself up over it anymore. It's time to hang up that particular pair of gloves.
*Photo Credit: Generation Bass ©2008 (Flickr via Creative Commons)