The Forgiveness Vitamin

October 5th, 2012 by Kelly Kienzle

What if you were to forgive yourself once every day?  What if you allowed yourself to make at least one mistake for which you would not beat yourself up?  What if you held yourself to the same reasonable standard that you hold others?

Here’s the scenario:  You’ve made a mistake that you’re kicking yourself for.  You see so clearly in retrospect how and when it all started to go wrong.  You have put yourself through the interrogation of what you have learned and put processes in place so that it won’t happen again.  You’ve said you’re sorry and made amends as best you can to something that has already happened.

Yet your mind does not move on.  You remain dwelling on how awful, embarrassing, destructive, unlucky, etc. it all was.  You dwell on it so long that you start to bore yourself.

What keeps us from forgiving ourselves and moving on?  Why do we ruminate and think harshly of ourselves?  We could ponder that question until the end of time, but we still would not know how to recover from it.  Here are a few steps that may help us to move on:

1. Accept it.  When you notice that you’re still upset about the incident, acknowledge it and ask it to pull up a chair.  Invite it to stay as long as it likes, but you will not be paying any attention to it.  The more energy we spend on trying to banish it from our house, the less energy we’ll have to move on. Eventually, it will move away from lack of nourishment.

2. Balance it.  Consider a similar situation and how you were successful that time.  Think of another example.  Count up all the times you did well, if you want to have quantifiable proof that you still have talent.  Consider the impact your good work is having versus this latest flub.

3. Think big.  Where does this particular fiasco fit into the broad universe of all that you do?  Has it altered your long-term vision of what you want to be doing and why?  If it has and is part of a constellation of similar issues, then take a closer look.  If it’s a lone star, then treat it as such.

What I’ve described above might be what you would do for a co-worker who just gave his worst presentation ever or led her worst client meeting.  So can you do this for yourself?  Can you turn to someone to help you through these steps?  Or can you take yourself under your own wing and ask yourself these questions?  If so, you’ll have taken your daily forgiveness vitamin and will be stronger for it.

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