I used to really beat myself up for all kinds of reasons. Not being ‘good’ or ‘virtuous’ enough, for making mistakes, for having ‘bad’ thoughts, for all sorts of things. I have softened that tendency now with self compassion and self forgiveness. I see that guilt and shame perhaps serve an evolutionary purpose of keeping us in check as we all try and live with one another as a society. I thank them for any part they play in keeping harmony and preventing ‘bad’ behaviour. (there might be something in that theory – apparently these are qualities that psychopaths lack!).
However while I still experience guilt and shame, I don’t spend so long beating on myself. I forgive, let go, move on. I look for the learning in the experience and there is an opportunity every time.
I made a big mistake very recently. I underpriced a project amid a fit of overoptimism and desire to please the client. I am half way through this project right now and I realise that I would not even be able to even cover costs at the price I gave, so if I continued I would have to use the profit from another future job to pay to do this job. So instead of swallowing this cost, I told the client it would be £8k more. She was ok with it, though naturally a bit disappointed. (I knew she has a lot of money which helped with my guilt!).
Feelings arose like dread and guilt. I open the front door to them, acknowledge them and show them to the open back door. No invitation to them to tea. They come in waves and leave, and again and again and leave.
I forgive myself. I made a mistake. I am grateful to the client for not being furious and making the situation even more horrible. I am grateful that I had the courage to speak up. I use this situation to decide to be more careful in my costing of projects in future so that I don’t have to do this to another client, and to watch out for my tendency to try and please people or promise more than I can deliver.
I sometime have nasty thoughts about people. I forgive myself for that too. I get angry at drivers at times, I forgive myself for that. I stole some pondweed from a local park, and I forgive myself for that too! I am lazy at times, I forgive myself. Sometimes I am simply lazy! At times I am greedy, and eat and drink too much. I am curious about that, and I forgive myself. I care too much what others think of me sometimes. I forgive that too.
It is quite fun once you get into it. A wee metaphorical hug for qualities we have which we find hard to embrace in ourselves.
I just read this in the Huff Post, found it encouraging and reassuring